Can Fish Oil Benefit Pets With Cancer?
Fish oil is among the most popular natural supplements around, both for humans as well as cats and dogs. The health benefits from fish oil are attributed to two long chain essential fatty acids (EFAs)-- eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) fatty acids. These are commonly called Marine omega-3 fatty acids. Both EPA omega-3 and DHA omega-3 are polyunsaturated “good fats”. Dogs and cats poorly synthesize essential fatty acids (EFAs) within their bodies thus there is a need to get adequate amounts of Marine omega-3 from foods in their diets as well as fish oil pet supplements.
The most common sources of Marine EPA and DHA omega-3 include salmon, mackerel, menhaden, herring, sardines, anchovies, krill as well as select algae.
How does fish oil work?
Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) fatty acids in fish oil are vital components in both human and animal cell membranes. They work by signaling cells to decrease inflammation. With less inflammation, there will be less pain and swelling in the affected parts of the body.
DHA omega-3 also helps promote brain and neuron development by affecting the permeability of the cell and nerve cell growth. Thus, supplementation of Marine omega-3 fatty EPA & DHA acids is important during pregnancy and during the first few months of life (suckling and weaned) for optimal development of the brain of kittens, puppies and babys!
Benefits of fish oil for dogs and cats
- Anti-inflammatory effect
Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) omega-3 figures prominently in the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil. This is one reason why fish oil supplements high in EPA omega-3 are excellent for reducing the pain of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions affecting the joints, heart, skin, kidneys, and other major organs of the body.
The anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil can also help ease allergy symptoms, including itchy skin and possibly hot spots.
- Skin and hair coat health
Fish oil promotes a silk glossy coat and helps reduce ther dryness and itchyness of skin. It can also help reduce fur shedding which equates to fewer hairballs in cats since as they won’t be able to ingest as many loose hairs while grooming themselves.
- Brain and eye development
Fish oil supplementation of pregnant or nursing pets can benefit their offspring. DHA has been demonstrated to support the development of the brain and eyes of puppies and kittens.
- Improve cognitive function
There have been studies that demonstrated the positive effects of DHA in reducing the effects of canine cognitive dysfunction (dog dementia) in senior pets.
- Other benefits
Other benefits of fish oils in pets include prevention of diabetic neuropathy (a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes, supports the immune system, prevention of autoimmune disorders, and boosting the effects of anticonvulsant drugs in the control of idiopathic epilepsy. Fish oils have been shown to reduce triglyceride levels, reduce cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), and frequency of seizures in pets.
Anti-cancer properties of fish oil
Several scientific studies have demonstrated that fish oils can help slow down the development of cancer. A study conducted on the effect of fish oil on the remission and survival time of dogs with lymphoma showed that supplementation of fish oil resulted in an increase in disease-free interval and survival time for dogs with lymphoma.
Another study also showed the potential for EFAS to help enhance the effect of conventional therapies as well as reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapeutic agents.
Fish oils slow down and possibly inhibit tumor growth by stimulating the differentiation of cancer cells. This means that the cancer cells are stimulated to turn into specific types of cells which will eventually lead to their limited division and survival. DHA in fish oils works to promote the differentiation of cancer cells. When differentiation happens, the cancer cells are unable to continue dividing thus the tumor is unable to grow.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also prevent weight loss in pets with cancer that can lead to cachexia or wasting syndrome.
While there is a need for more studies to reach definitive results, fish oil is a supplement commonly recommended by veterinarians for pets with cancer.
When used in appropriate amounts, fish oil offers a long list of benefits. Considering that fish oils are not created equal, it is highly recommended that pet owners should only use fish oils from reputable manufacturers. IT IS CRITICAL THAT THE FISH OIL IS NOT RANCID OR OXIDIZED.