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Dear Daisy Dog

Rufus, my elderly Labrador mix, has arthritis. Since he slimmed down and started glucosamine and chondroitin a few years ago, he has done well. But recently, I’ve noticed that he is stiff and having trouble on steps again.

My veterinarian recommended adding fish oil to his diet. Are there any studies showing fish oil is effective in arthritis?

Daisy Responds

Daisy Responds: Fish oil contains the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have been shown to be effective in canine osteoarthritis.

In one study, dogs with arthritis of the hips were treated with DermCaps, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement originally marketed for certain skin conditions. Their arthritic signs improved noticeably within two weeks.

In another study, dogs with arthritic elbows were fed a diet supplemented with fish oil. Within seven to 10 days, lameness diminished, as demonstrated by improvement in laboratory evaluations of the dogs’ gaits.

Another study measured the levels of destructive enzymes and other biochemical indicators of inflammation in the joint fluid of dogs with arthritis of the knee and torn anterior cruciate ligaments.

Dogs that ate a diet supplemented with fish oil for two months had lower levels of these harmful joint chemicals than dogs that did not receive the fish oil supplements.

Fish oil supplements containing DHA and EPA are quite safe, and I find them tasty as well. I think Rufus should follow his veterinarian’s recommendation and give them a try.

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