Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of beneficial oils that are critical to body function. They cannot be produced by the body and so we and our pets must get them in our diets. While most of the research on omega-3’s have been done in humans, dogs and cats are reaping the benefits.
Thousands of studies have proven the benefits of fish oil such as reducing triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, helping diabetics, eye function and even recovery from neurological damage and reducing cancer risks. They are also a natural and potent anti-inflammatory and help with arthritis.
The evidence is so compelling that a pharmaceutical company has recently been promoting a prescription form of simple omega-3 fatty acids. Clearly omega-3’s are the “next big thing” in medicine and veterinary medicine.
Considering the help with arthritis alone our dogs and cats could benefit greatly and perhaps even reduce the amount of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS needed. It is also known to help hundreds of thousands of dogs with allergies that cause so much misery in itching and scratching.
Dr. Robin Downing of Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor Colorado warns; “There is one problem. Supplements are NOT well regulated and quality can vary dramatically”. In fact, the supplement industry is full of infomercial style sales pitches and even more questionable quality. Just think of all the weight reducing ‘gimmicks’ and products you see on television, and believe it or not they are not strictly governed by FDA.
Over the counter fish oil products cannot only vary drastically in quality but can also contain harmful contaminants.
Dr. Downing recommends you look for a fish oil supplement that meets or exceeds pharmaceutical standards and one that engages in sustainable fishing practices. Also she looks for data from an independent laboratory examining the purity of the product.
Concentration of the product is important and other content and balance issues are crucial in product selection. Your veterinarian should advise you on the product and dose for your pets.
We contacted a representative of Nordic Naturals, a leading maker of cod liver oil for many years, to understand key issues in the manufacturing of such a delicate product.
Nordic Naturals uses arctic cod and use the livers for extraction of the oil and there are many important steps in the preparation and filtering process to remove contaminants. Even though fish oil standards do not exist in the United States, Nordic Naturals goes beyond the international pharmaceutical standards to produce an effective and safe product for humans and pets.
Dr. Downing says she cannot believe the positive results she and her staff see in pets put on omega-3 supplementation – both in her general practice and in her pain management specialty.
There is enough evidence to make this a worthwhile part of your pets nutrition and preventive health. However you should only use products known by your veterinarian to be pure and properly handled and produced. For more information on this and other pet health issues, visit our Pet Health Library at www.gardneranimalcarecenter.com.