Omega 3s and Your Senior Dog by Denise Fleck

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Photo credit: 
Jonathan Daniels, Unsplash

The purpose and intent of the information presented in this article is to encourage thought and discussion among pet caregivers and their veterinarians about the benefits of fish oil. Grey Muzzle is inspired by Fiona's story and her dedication to Rosie's health, but in no way is endorsing or recommending the Newflands product. It is simply highlighted to tell a heart-warming story of the love we feel for our senior dogs and showcase how some fish oil products may be beneficial to senior dog health.

Fish oil is one of the most important supplements you can give to dogs of any age, but it is a powerhouse for man’s older best friend.  In pups, fish oils boost mental development and make their coats shine.  Research has even shown that it can help slim down overweight canines, but what are the benefits for your senior pooch?

As dogs get older, just like us, they become more susceptible to illness and injury.  Just watching your older fella or lady struggle to get themselves up from the floor with joints sore and weak can be heart-breaking.  A dose of fish oil however, can strengthen joints and help your grey muzzled pal enjoy walks and a more active lifestyle.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are good for just about every part of the body.  Research suggests that Omega 3s improve brain activity, eyesight, help both heart and kidney function, eliminate dry skin and boost your senior dog’s immune system, but will any fish oil do?

May 12th, 2010 is a day Fiona Robertson will never forget. Her beautiful Newfoundland dog, Rosie, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a terminal heart condition common to the breed. Veterinarians told Fiona she’d be lucky to have 8 months with her precious Rosie, but she was gifted 3 more years thanks to what Fiona did next!   With an extensive background in veterinary nursing, Fiona was not about to give up on her pet. She had read widely about the benefits of fish oil and decided she would try to find a fish oil supplement in the hope that this would improve the quality of her dog’s life and perhaps even prolong it.  Although she adored her Rosie, Fiona’s love wasn’t confined to dogs alone.  Fiona has a great respect for all animals and for the environment, so she wasn’t interested in just any fish oil. The fish oil supplement she wanted to give Rosie had to be sustainable and ethically sourced and produced, and furthermore, she wanted it to come from her homeland, New Zealand.  Fiona searched and searched but could not find the product she wanted, so she decided to manufacture her own and started Newflands, named for her beloved Newfoundland dogs.  She began her trials using a refined human-grade product and the results were spectacular:

  • Coat and skin health improved
  • Rosie’s arrhythmia was better controlled
  • Fiona’s oldest dog, Flame, had increased mobility as a result of improved joint health. 

Neighbors even noticed the difference in Fiona’s dogs’ health and wanted to know what product she was using.

So What is it about Fish Oils?

Fish oil is probably the most important supplement you can add to your dog’s diet, senior, adult or pup.  EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, provide widespread benefits for canines of any age.  EPA is found in large amounts in cold-water fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, krill and hoki) and has anti-inflammatory properties while DHA is of vital importance in the development and functioning of the brain, skin and retina.

Proven benefits from EPA and DHA include:

  • Improving the coat and skin (and the skin is the body’s largest organ, so this is major)
  • Reducing inflammation due to conditions such as arthritis, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Regulating the immune system, boosting suppressed systems while calming overactive ones in dogs with allergies or autoimmune diseases
  • Aiding in mental development of fetuses and puppies, and improving cognitive function in older dogs
  • Lowering blood pressure and triglycerides
  • Providing support for dogs with kidney disease, heart disease, and cancer
  • Promoting weight loss in overweight dogs
  • Slowing down retinal degeneration
  • Anti-convulsant for dogs with epilepsy and other causes of seizures

Rachele Baker, DVM and author of 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy claims, “20% of dogs suffering from itchy skin due to allergies can be adequately controlled by supplementation with omega-3s.” 

Cautions?

  • Fish oils are fragile and unlikely to survive storage in bags of kibble. Oils often added to manufactured dry food are actually rancid even before being added so adding Omegas yourself to your dog’s diet is preferable.
  • Fish oils must be protected from light, heat and air so should be stored in dark bottles under refrigeration.
  • Oils should be used within 1-2 months of purchase (opening) to avoid rancidity and should be discarded if there is an “off” odor.
  • Do you research and know the oils you buy are coming from fish caught in pristine waters to avoid chemical toxicity in the product.

What Did Fiona Create?

For eight years, Fiona Robertson (a great fan and supporter of The Grey Muzzle Organization) has been working on all things Hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae).  “This fish,” she says, “has higher EPA and DHA (long-chain omega 3 fatty acids) than salmon oil with little risk of toxins. Hoki are only found around the coast of New Zealand, and are a world first species on the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) stage for sustainability. In fact, the wild caught stock has doubled in size since certified!”

The oil Fiona has created is human-grade and safe, highly digestible and can be used at any age beginning with puppies and is recommended during pregnancy.  Additionally, Fiona challenged herself to make a range of products that utilize the whole fish with no waste.  “For generations, man has trialed and tested all sorts of products on animals in order to evolve in the medical field, yet little has been given back.  Animals deserve respect and the fruits of their labors as we receive theirs,” she says.

Her brand creates Omega-i Oil and Hoki Oil from the livers, freeze-dries the flesh as treats and now…in a world first, Newflands is utilizing the rest of the Hoki to make a wonderful gravy that is strong to the taste (Fiona thinks it tastes like fresh mussels plucked from the sea) but that dogs love.  This creation has been possible only due to collaboration with other companies and the time necessary to perfect the recipe.

“Every product Newflands has brought to market has its own conception story, where a fur baby needed help and we were able to provide that help by designing and making a product to enhance the quality of his or her life,” Fiona explains.  “The gravy started with a call from my friend Mishael Logan:

Help, please! My Roxy Diva is not eating – not even your oil (which she loves). She has hurt her leg and is in pain and is lame and needs TCL (torn cruciate ligament) surgery, but the vet has said she has to eat over the weekend to have the anesthetic. She has lost 2kg.s which is way too much for a little Swedish Vallhund right before surgery. Can you help to get her eating so we can do the surgery on Monday?

Fiona went to her Hoki pantry, combined a few ingredients, and then dropped off a sample to her friend.  As she was driving home she received a wonderful text message about how Roxy was eating and how thankful her friend was. Monday arrived, and the vet was able to perform the surgery, and Roxy recovered.

Happy stories like this just may happen for a senior fur baby in your life as well.  Visit www.Newflands.com and also check out the products on Amazon to see if they might enhance the life of an older dog you love.

About the Author:

Denise Fleck is an award-winning author, animal care instructor and radio show host who developed the curriculum for her Pet First-Aid & CPCR and Pet Disaster Preparedness Classes after training with dozens of schools and organizations, practicing, attending seminars and practicing some more.

Known as The Pet Safety Crusader™, Denise has personally taught more than 15,000 humans animal life-saving skills and has appeared on Animal Planet’s Groomer Has It and Pit Boss, A&E’s Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, CBS-TV’s The Doctors, CNN Headline News, PBS-TV’s Lassie’s Pet Vet and KTLA Los Angeles as well as on radio and in magazines. 

She is currently the President of Grey Muzzle's Board of Directors. You can read more about her here