Effects of feeding a high omega-3 fatty acids diet in dogs with naturally occurring osteoarthritis

J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2013 Oct;97(5):830-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2012.01325.x. Epub 2012 Jul 14.


The aim of this randomized, placebo-controlled and double-blinded trial was to compare the effect of a veterinary therapeutic diet (VTD) rich in omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3) from fish origin to a regular diet used as control (CTR) over a period of 13 weeks in dogs afflicted by naturally occurring osteoarthritis (OA). Thirty privately owned dogs were selected. Dogs had lameness confirmed by an orthopaedic examination, had stifle/hip OA and had locomotor disability based on the peak of the vertically oriented ground reaction force (PVF) measured using a force platform. At Baseline, all owners were asked to determine 2-5 activities of daily living that were the most impaired. Activities were scores (0-4) in accordance with severity using case-specific outcome measures (CSOM). The PVF was also measured. Dogs (15/group) were then randomly assigned to receive either the CTR or the VTD. The CSOM was completed twice weekly. The recording of PVF was repeated at Week 7 and 13. The VTD-fed dogs showed a significantly higher PVF at Week 7 (p < 0.001) and at Week 13 (p < 0.001) when compared to Baseline. From Baseline to Week 13, VTD-fed dogs had a mean (± SD) change in PVF recording of 3.5 ± 6.8% of body weight (%BW) compared with 0.5 ± 6.1%BW (p = 0.211) in CTR-fed dogs. This change in primary outcome was consistent with an effect size of 0.5. Conversely, dogs fed the CTR did not show significant change in PVF measurements. At the end of the study, the CSOM was significantly decreased (p = 0.047) only in VTD fed dogs. In lame OA dogs, a VTD that contains high level of omega-3 from fish origin improved the locomotor disability and the performance in activities of daily living. Such nutritional approach appears interesting for the management of OA.

Keywords: docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; force platform; functional disability; peak vertical force.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dog Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Osteoarthritis / diet therapy
  • Osteoarthritis / veterinary*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3