Dog Hair and Skin Problems

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     DHA and Dogs  

For a long time we have known that the fish oils can help with skin and hair problems in dogs.

Recently research has been being done on the effects of DHA (a complonent of the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils) in regards to dogs health and behavior.

One study had to do with puppies learning faster when their mothers and they were given doses of DHA. The mothers were given this component of fish oils during pregnancy and the pups for the first part of their lives. They were compared to the same type of puppies, but neither mothers nor puppies were supplemented with DHA. Most of the DHA puppies learned much faster and retained the skills.

Unfortunately, no dose was listed for that study. One to two tablespoons of fish oil/cod liver oil can be given every couple days safely in adult dogs (care must be taken with any oils in animals prone to inflammation in the pancreas, though.) I would try lower doses based on size in puppies and watch for any signs of diarrhea of stomach upsets.

Other benefits of DHA are support of the retina (the part of the eye that receives light and sends signals to the brain.) This can be especially important in older dogs or ones prone to degeneration of the retina.

Combined with arginine (an amino acid), DHA may prolong remission and lifespan of dogs with a cancer known as lymphosarcoma while on cancer drug treatment.

Lately, it has also been shown that fish oils (more the EPA component) can benefit dogs with arthritis. It helps to block certain mediators in the body that cause inflammation and pain and further destruction to joints.

In our current processed diets, these oils aren't very plentiful. In the wild, canines get supplies from eating organ meats, bone marrow, fish and even some reptiles. Our domesticated pets obviously don't feast on that often, so we need to supplement.

It will be interesting to see what further research discovers for these oils. In the meantime, if your pet has any difficulty with the above, talk with your veterinarian about adding fish oils to the diet.

Dr. Jan

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