Maternal omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on offspring hip joint conformation

PLoS One. 2018 Aug 9;13(8):e0202157. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202157. eCollection 2018.


Unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), when fed to dogs improves cognitive and neurological development. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has also been associated with lipid peroxidation, which in turn has been implicated in reduced body weight and altered bone formation. To assess the impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on skeletal growth, diets containing three levels of DHA and EPA (0.01 and 0.01%, 0.14 and 0.12%, and 0.21 and 0.18%, respectively) were fed to bitches during gestation and lactation with puppies also supplemented through weaning. Thus, the subjects studied were the puppies supplemented with DHA and EPA through gestation and early postnatal life. The hip joint conformation of the puppies (n = 676) was recorded at adulthood using two radiographic, non-invasive evaluations. In this population, females had higher hip distraction indices (DI) than males. Males from the lower two levels of DHA and EPA supplementation had significantly smaller hip DI than all females and males from the highest DHA and EPA supplementation. In contrast, there were no diet effects on anatomical indicators of hip joint conformation and no visible arthritic changes. These data suggest that dietary supplementation of DHA and EPA during gestation and the perinatal period to weaning does not adversely influence hip joint formation of dogs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Dogs
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / drug effects*
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pregnancy
  • Species Specificity
  • Weaning


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • eicosapentaenoic acid ethyl ester
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid

Grants and funding

RK was an employee of the Iams Company at the time of the study and his salary was covered by the Iams Company, the same company that provided the diet resources for the study; RK is presently and employee of Royal Canin. KL, RD, and PM and were employees of Canine Companions for Independence at the time of the study and that entity paid their salaries. RK was not involved with the collection of the data. The funders provided support in the form of salaries for authors (KL, RD, PM, RK), but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.