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DHA~ Fish Oil For Your Blue

One of the major players in this arena is DHA or docosahexaenoic acid that is part of the omega-3 fatty acids that becomes one of the building blocks for neural development in puppies before they are even born. There is data showing the need for supplementing DHA as a vital fatty acid throughout pregnancy. Research has shown that DHA is a major structure and the most abundant fatty acid in the brain; more than 60% of the brain is composed of fats of which 25% of that is DHA. It has been shown that in the first week of the zygote development the brain cell division is most active as well as in the last trimester when DHA content of the puppies’ brain increases 3-5 fold. A significant, very rapid increase in brain DHA content continues from birth through maturity. DHA is vital for the development of the central nervous system and retinal function while developing in the dam. DHA is setting up the puppy for its total life function of mental development and visual acuity as well as building cell membranes with the flexibility needed for efficient signal transmission, that regulates all energy and sources of reproduction throughout the life of the dog. The requirement for DHA is still needed during all stages of development and through all ages till death, but can never be gained beyond its initial capacity and can be depleted to the point of not being restored. This can happen in brood bitches, who will give as much DHA to the puppies during whelp as they are able but they themselves may never regain their full potential and will consequently produce smaller and smaller litters in order to save themselves. Adding DHA to the diet during pregnancy lowers the incidence of low birth weight and produces stronger puppies at the onset ready to nurse vigorously.

Leading researchers devoted to the field of essential fatty acids has shown that the puppies raised from enriched DHA milk grew faster and needed less milk for development. Their conclusions were that brood bitches given adequate amounts of DHA in their diets would produce stronger puppies and while nursing would have a better quality milk, reducing the stress level of the mother. Those puppies that had the benefit of essential fatty acids also weighed more at weaning than those who did not have the benefit of supplemented DHA. Another portion of this study showed that the litters were larger and had fewer stillbirths. Finally the added benefit for the dam that was given added DHA to her diet while she was recovering from weaning the puppies was her coat and other connective tissues were stronger and enhanced, the action of mammary glands tightening back closer to original position and sooner than the counterpart.

In some of the more recent studies DHA (fish oil) can benefit dogs with arthritis as it helps to eliminate the underlying cause of inflammation and pain that continues to disrupt the health of the joint. It is this same manner of blocking certain mediators in the body that slow the healing process in broken bones, therefore shortening the time needed to resurface the bone and lay down new bone to heal the fracture.

With all of the benefits of a well-nourished dog loaded with DHA, we have the flip side of the coin – the undernourished dog; the dog that has learning disabilities, hyperactivity and a short attention span. In short, it could be a dog that is not as trainable to simple daily tasks such as not eliminating in the owners home; the dog that cannot stop barking and will not learn to come becomes and difficult dog to live with and makes him undesirable to keep. This dog then ends up in a shelter and perhaps might even be euthanized.

A great source is available in the oils at most of your health food stores, the typical dosage to be given to your dog at the approximate rate of ¼ of the usage by a human for an average 40 pound dog and a little less for smaller breeds and a little more for giant breeds. Please remember that all fish oils that are commercially purchased need to be kept in a dark cool place. Another tip when buying the fish oils is to be sure it is fish oil and not one from vegetation, as flax seed oil also has a form of DHA, but it is not DHA and will not accomplish the same end. If I have a choice between flax seed oil and fish oil, I personally will always go with the fish oil.

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