My Foxhound, Maggie, is 9-years old, and unfortunately she has developed some arthritis in her hind legs and back. For a while, I was giving her glucosamine, and then I switched to flaxseed; however, after doing some research, I have switched to fish oil tablets.
Fish oil tablets are far more effective at treating osteoarthritis in dogs than flaxseed oil and glucosamine. If you are giving your dog a flaxseed or glucosamine supplement to help relieve their arthritis – especially the former – you are essentially wasting your money. Continue reading to learn more…
Fish Oil vs. Flaxseed Oil
According to the James L. Voss Veterinary Teach Hospital at Colorado State University, flaxseed oil basically does nothing for dogs with osteoarthritis. That’s not to say it doesn’t have other benefits, but when it comes to specifically treating arthritis, you’re just throwing money down the drain.
Based on more research from Harvard, the reason for this has to do with the way omega-3s from flaxseed oil are converted in the bottom. Without getting into all the wonky science, the fatty acids that help with arthritis – EPA and DHA – are mostly burned up as energy as they’re produced within the body.
If none of that made any sense to you, all you need to know is that dogs cannot sufficiently metabolize flaxseed to get any arthritic benefits from it.
Fish oil, on the other hand, contains much higher ratios of these acids, and the body doesn’t have to convert other fatty acids to make them – they just come directly from the oil.
Fish Oil vs. Glucosamine
The bottom line: Evidence based medicine suggests that fish oil is more effective at treating arthritis in dogs than glucosamine. It’s not that glucosamine does nothing for them, fish oil is just much better. I was giving my dog glucosamine, and that seemed to help a bit, but now I’ve switched to fish oil.
How Much Fish Oil to Give Your Dog
You should consult with your vet before giving your dog fish oil. But for general purposes, the recommended dose of fish oil for a 50 lb dog is roughly 2g (2,000mg) per day, and you can extrapolate that evenly up or down. So, a 25 lb dog would need about 1g per day, and a 100 lb dog would need about 4g per day.
Another way you can look at it is you should give your dog 22 – 55mg per pound of bodyweight.
What Happens if Your Give Your Dog Too Much Fish Oil?
Too much fish oil can have negative effects. It can weaken your dogs immune system, as well as reduce the rate of blood clotting and wound healing.
What Kind of Fish Oil Supplement Should You Give Your Dog?
Fish oil supplements come in liquid and capsule forms. It doesn’t make much difference which one you choose. I like the soft gel tabs because 1 tablet is 1g, which makes dosing easy.
Other Ways You Can Help a Dog with Arthritis
In addition to fish oil supplements, here are some other things you can do to help your arthritic dog…
Regular, moderate exercise is good for dogs with arthritis. What you don’t want to do, however, is let them sit around most of the time, and then have short, intense bouts of exercise. In other words, shorter walks more frequently are better than longer walks less often.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Thinner dogs have less problems with arthritis. If your dog is overweight, it’s time to put them on a diet.
Ask your vet if they can prescribe a pain medication that is safe for your dog. This can help with discomfort.