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Food as Medicine - Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • August 24, 2017 12:24 PM EDT

    In recent months we have presented on a variety of topics focused on the important role that diet and dietary supplements play in the management of a variety of diseases:

    Fish oil omega-3 fatty acids have been studied extensively, and because of their physiologic effects they are commonly recommended as part of the management of various disease conditions including osteoarthritis, skin, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, hyperlipidemia, and cancer. 

    When used as a dietary supplement omega-3 fatty acids should be prescribed, and the amount (total milligrams) to be given is calculated - based on the recommended dosage of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) for the specific disease state or condition (i.e. the dosage recommendation for the management of skin disease is different than for osteoarthritis). 

    There are many omega-3 fatty acid-containing products available to consumers, and in recent years veterinary therapeutic diets have been developed to include EPA and DHA, in support of managing various disease conditions. It's important to realize that omega-3 fatty acid supplements and the therapeutic diets do vary in the amounts of EPA and DHA that they contain. As such, it's critical that veterinarians advise pet owners on the amount of the supplement to administer based on its EPA and DHA content.

    Veterinary nutrition expert - Donna Raditic, DVM, DACVN, CVA - recently spoke with us about recommended dosages of omega-3 fatty acids for the management of osteoarthritis, as well as how to dose them when used along with a veterinary therapeutic diet formulated for joint health (as diet alone is not usually sufficient for managing the osteoarthritic patient).

    We know that it can take as long as 6 to 16 weeks of supplementation to achieve adequate blood levels for the therapeutic effects and benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.  Findings of one study (in which N-3 fatty acids were administered PRIOR to the initiation of osteoarthritis and transection of the cranial cruciate ligament in an experimental model) are also supportive of the pre-emptive use of omega-3 fatty acids in breeds at risk for osteoarthritis.

    This week's Specialty Update summarizes findings of a clinical study of dogs that underwent TPLO surgery for the repair of cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Specifically, they examined the effects of diet (control vs therapeutic) and rehabilitation on healing, post-op pain and osteoarthritis scores, and rate of recovery of dogs.  Here's a preview:


    Learn More about the diet that was studied and The Effect of Diet & Post-op Rehab on Recovery Following Surgical Repair of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Dogs (running time: 11 mins)