Fish Oil and Omega 3s

on Wednesday, 02 March 2011.


At a recent canine sports medicine presentation sponsored by the Snowbird Retriever Club, many of us became interested in the benefits of fish oil supplementation for our canine athletes, particularly with regard to joint health. We checked the literature, discussed the topic with various vets, and compared various brands of fish oil capsules including both human and pet grade products. 

The upshot of this research led me to conclude that it would probably be very beneficial to supplement our average sized lab with a maintenance dose of about 600 mg of EPA- the most important fish oil component. Further, perhaps a higher level of dosing would be used to actually treat some joint problems- a dose of about 1200 mg. 

After comparing the cost of various brands, I was on the verge of sending an e-mail to my clients seeking their cooperation and explaining the added cost they would have to pay for this supplementation. 

At the last second I decided maybe I ought to check the label on the dog food I use- Purina Pro Plan Performance. I knew there was some omega-3 in the food, and I thought maybe it wouldn’t take quite as many fish oil softgels to get to the desired level. First, I was surprised to see that the label specifically stated the amount of EPA in the food- 0.12%. I did some quick calculating, later confirmed with Purina scientists, and discovered there were at least 134 mg of EPA in every cup. A typical working lab in our care gets about 4 cups- that means they were already getting a minimum of 536 mg of EPA every day- basically close to the “maintenance” dose recommended by most authorities. 

I should have known- Purina research was ahead of the curve. My dogs have been enjoying the benefits of fish oil all along. Check the prices on fish oil and you’ll appreciate the value you get in Pro Plan Performance. By the way, Purina didn’t ask me to write this- I just wanted to share this discovery and encourage anyone with a working retriever to check out he benefits of fish oil, regardless of the food you use.

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