Studies have also shown that fatty-acid supplementation decreases lameness in dogs with osteoarthritis. In one study, 13 of
22 dogs with osteoarthritis of the hip showed improvement with a mixed fatty-acid supplement as reported by the owners.26 More recently, forceplate technology was used to evaluate the benefit of long-chain n-3 fatty acids in dogs with osteoarthritis
of the elbow. Ten adult dogs with clinical lameness were fed a diet containing fish oil. Concurrent medications for osteoarthritis
were not allowed. Each dog's gait was evaluated using forceplate analysis on Day 1 and again after seven to 10 days. Gait
analysis was conducted using two biomechanical force platforms positioned sequentially to allow data collection from both
rear limbs during each trial. During the period the dogs were fed the eicosapentaenoic-acid-supplemented diet, lameness scores
improved (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Gait analysis was conducted using two biomechanical force platforms positioned sequentially to allow data collection
from both rear limbs during each trial. Each trial consisted of the dog moving across the 2-meter measurement area, with no
distracting head movements or gait abnormality, at a speed of 1.7 to 2.1 m/sec. For each limb, data from five valid trials
were used. Improvements in vertical peak force were observed following seven to 10 days on the test diet (p = 0.08).
These studies in dogs and other species confirm that long-chain n-3 fatty acids—specifically eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic
acid—can have a significant effect on osteoarthritis. It's clear that nutritional intervention plays a prominent role in the
management of canine osteoarthritis. Nutritional management of canine osteoarthritis should also include an appropriate dietary
caloric density and feeding regimen to promote ideal body condition score, and high levels of antioxidants to help reduce
the free radical damage associated with osteoarthritis. Dietary glucosamine for cartilage and joint health may also be beneficial.
It's important to note that a diet that leverages fatty acids to promote a reduction in proinflammatory cytokines and eicosanoids
must contain the correct type and amount of n-3 fatty acids and eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.
1. Waldron, M.K.: Dietary fat effects on canine neutrophil membrane fatty acid composition and cell functions (PhD dissertation).
Texas A&M University, College Station, 1999, pp. 57-98.
2. Su, H.M. et al.: Fetal baboons convert 18:3n-3 to 22:6n-3 in vivo. A stable isotope tracer study. J. Lipid Res. 42 (4):581-586; 2001.
3. James, M.J. et al.: Metabolism of stearidonic acid in human subjects: comparison with the metabolism of other n-3 fatty acids. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77 (5):1140-1145; 2003.
4. Brenna, J.T.: Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to long-chain n-3 fatty acids in man. Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 5 (2):127-132; 2002.
5. de Deckre, E.A. et al.: Health aspects of fish and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from plant and marine origin. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 52 (10):749-753; 1998.