The effects of n-3 fatty acid supplementation on bleeding time, plasma fatty acid composition, and in vitro platelet aggregation in cats

J Vet Intern Med. Jul-Aug 1994;8(4):247-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.1994.tb03227.x.


Dietary supplementation with fish and fish oils rich in the n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been shown to alter eicosanoid metabolism and impair platelet function in several species. As an initial step in evaluating the antithrombotic effect of these n-3 fatty acids in cats, purified EPA and DHA were administered daily to 8 clinically normal cats for 2 months. Platelet function was evaluated biweekly by determining mucosal bleeding time and in vitro platelet aggregation parameters. Plasma fatty acid profiles were obtained before fish oil supplementation and at the termination of the study. In spite of significant increases (P < .0001) in the plasma concentrations of EPA and DHA after n-3 fatty acid supplementation, there were no significant changes in platelet aggregation or bleeding times. Although it is tempting, based on extrapolation of data from other species, to recommend dietary supplementation with fish oil for cats prone to arterial thromboembolism, these results indicate that administration of large doses of purified EPA and DHA once daily does not inhibit platelet function in normal cats and is unlikely to prevent thrombosis in cats with cardiovascular disease. Additional studies are recommended to ascertain whether more frequent administration of these purified n-3 fatty acids or continual feeding of diets high in n-3 fatty acid content will impair platelet function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Bleeding Time / veterinary*
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Cats / blood*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / blood*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Platelet Aggregation / physiology*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid