Three papers published in the January and March editions of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association investigated the effects of feeding a diet supplemented with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on dogs with osteoarthritis, and all three papers concluded that the results were positive.
In a paper titled "A multicenter study of the effect of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on carprofen dosage in dogs with osteoarthritis", a team from Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc’s Pet Nutrition Center studied whether dogs with supplementation ended up receiving less of the anti-inflammatory drug carprofen. The dosage of carpofen was decided based on investigators’ assessments of 5 clinical signs and owner assessments of 15 signs of osteoarthritis. In dogs with supplemented diets, the dosage of carprofen they received decreased significantly faster over the 12-week study period that in the control group. The team concluded that where dogs are receiving carprofen to reduce pain, a diet with increased omega-3 fatty acids will decrease the carprofen dosage required for alleviation of symptoms.
In another paper, titled "Multicenter veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs" and supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc, researchers investigated the effect of food containing high concentrations of fish oil omega-3 fatty acids and a low omega-6–omega-3 fatty acid ratio on the clinical signs of osteoarthritis in dogs. According to the owners of dogs on a supplemented diet, their dogs had a significantly improved ability to rise from a resting position and play at 6 weeks and improved ability to walk at 12 and 24 weeks after starting feeding.
In the third paper, titled "Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis", also supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc, researchers investigated the effects of a food supplemented with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. The team concluded that dogs eating the supplemented food had improved weight bearing.
All three papers appear to show that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids can bring a range of benefits, at least in the short-term, to dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. Dog owners can expect to see increased mobility, weight-bearing and more playful behavior in a relatively short period after beginning to feed a diet rich in fish oil omega-3 fatty acids.