I had to share this one with you in case anyone out there has a poorly dog suffering with inflamed joints. We all know that fish oils are anti-inflammatory in humans and this story shows how one of my colleagues used it to great effect to help her own dog. Heart-warming..
Nutri’s Marketing Supervisor, Jo McFarland-Davidson, gives us an insight into what happened when she started giving fish oil to her dog following a seemingly hopeless diagnosis from the vet…
Omega-3’s transformed my dog!A Case Study – Nanuk and Omega-3’s
We’re no stranger to the wonder effects that omega-3’s provide, especially the benefits that they can offer to those of us suffering with joint pain. But as we start to embrace winter, it’s not just our joints that are aggravated by the drop in temperature… Here, Nutri’s Marketing Supervisor, Jo McFarland-Davidson, gives us an insight into what happened when she started giving fish oil to her dog following a seemingly hopeless diagnosis from the vet…
“I’ve always had a huge soft spot for big dogs so after moving to a larger house a couple of years ago, and some hard negotiating with my husband, we decided to get a Newfoundland/St Bernard cross, or in other words, an oversized black bear. I still remember going to look at Nanuk, he was like an overgrown hamster, a ridiculous ball of black fluff with the occasional flash of pink when his tongue lolloped out of the side of his mouth. It was love at first sight!Needless to say he didn’t last as a puppy for long, he grew by the day and got more mischievous with it. I lost count of the amount of times one of us returned to the house to find yet another soft furnishing fatally attacked or some teeth marks sunken into a chair leg and Nanuk gazing innocently up at you with his big brown eyes, wagging his tail to welcome you home. He became more boisterous as he grew and his favourite game soon became using his epic weight advantage to win at play fighting with our other dog.It was December 2012, when Nanuk was around 6 months old, when whilst doing exactly this, he lost his footing fell onto the floor and started yelping. When he finally got back up he was visibly limping. We took him to the vet the next day and she concluded that Nanuk had just sprained his leg whilst playing. She prescribed some pain killers for him and told us to limit his exercise and monitor him for the next few weeks. This seemed to do the trick and his limp was much improved in a matter of weeks. But, as any dog owner would know, I knew deep down that something still wasn’t right, he just wasn’t himself.
He wouldn’t get as excited as he used to when we’d get his lead out and he’d realise he was going for a walk and he’d struggle to get up after he’d been sleeping.The final straw came when we took him out for a walk one day and he lagged further and further behind, getting slower and started limping again. I took him back to the vets where they X-rayed his leg. They confirmed there was a problem with his elbow joint and referred us to a specialist veterinary practice. We saw an orthopaedic vet who told us that Nanuk had developed something called elbow dysplasia in his right elbow joint, a common condition in large breeds of dog when their joints haven’t formed perfectly and therefore can’t cope with the weight they have to support. Sadly, this nearly always leads to arthritis developing in the affected joints. Just like with us, there is no cure for arthritic dogs, it’s an awful degenerative disease that only worsens and is prone to chronic flare ups. It was devastating to learn that a 9 month old dog was facing a lifetime of compromised mobility and pain.From a medical point of view there wasn’t much that could be done. The vet recommended that they operate on his leg to remove a fragment of bone that had come away from the joint, but following that it would just be painkillers. I wasn’t comfortable with having him on painkillers long term, partly because they have side effects and partly because he would become dependent on them. So I started to look into other ways to manage arthritis…
We started taking him to hydrotherapy lessons to try to build up the muscle around his joint to strengthen it – he was so excited by the water, I’m not sure who got wetter – me or him! We also started taking him on shorter, more frequent walks to stop him lying down for long periods at a time. Then I realised that there was something really obvious staring me in the face…Of course, working for Nutri I have a good understanding of the benefits of omega-3’s, especially when it comes to joints. It had just never occurred to me that dogs could profit in just the same way as we do. Of course, there’s no end to dog food and treats with added omega-3’s to it, but after studying the back of numerous dog food packets and scouring ingredients lists, I quickly learnt that only small amounts are needed for brands to be able to infer benefits. I knew this was no good, firstly because Nanuk is such a big dog that he would require a larger dose than most and secondly because I knew all too well the horrible contaminants and toxins that could be found in low quality fish oil. Given his recent diagnosis, the last thing that I was going to do was start putting unnecessary chemicals into his system!I looked at numerous brands in the search for one that had published studies backing its claims on purity and stability, no added colourings, flavours, masking or bulking agents.
An easy way to do this was to look at the amount of DHA and EPA delivered per dose. As an animal lover, I am also increasingly concerned with threatened eco systems and the increasing demand for omega-3’s which has led to irresponsible fishing of endangered species of fish, so I was careful to select a brand which uses sustainably sourced fish.After selecting a high quality, yet cost effective option, I started adding a spoonful of the liquid to his breakfast every morning. The great thing about any good quality omega-3 fish oil is that if mixed with their food, even the fussiest eaters won’t notice. Within 3 days his fur, which is usually a tangled mess with various parts of undergrowth embedded in it, became really glossy, thick and soft. He immediately seemed a bit brighter and happier in himself, and seemed to have more energy.We’re now 18 months on and Nanuk is like a different dog. He is full of energy, he walks for about 45 minutes every day with complete ease and bounces around just like he did when he was a puppy. He rarely limps these days and gets so excited whenever he realises that he’s going for a walk that he tries to jump in and out of to the back of my husband’s Land Rover in excitement! His new favourite game is to do sprint relays up and down the length of our garden. It’s hard to believe he’s the same dog that we were told, only last year, that would always struggle with his mobility.
In my mind, although Nanuk has undergone a whole regime to manage his arthritis, by far the thing that has brought the best results is the omega-3 supplement. As a nation of pet lovers, I think we’re willing to do whatever it takes when our furry friends aren’t themselves, even if it means costly vet bills. But don’t underestimate the power of something so simple. I was sceptical to begin with, I never thought that something so basic would have such an effect on a serious situation, but the results have been extraordinary. Nanuk’s daily dose of omega-3 works out as just 41 pence per day, a fraction of the daily cost of a canine painkiller.I will always use an omega-3 liquid as part of my daily routine with my dogs now.
Although it’s had amazing results with Nanuk’s condition, it is just as beneficial to give to healthy dogs as a protection against joint deterioration. And as I said before, it also works wonders on their coats, we’re forever getting stopped by people to comment on our dogs glossy coats. Who knows, maybe you’ll see Nanuk become a winner at Crufts next year for shiniest coat! Whatever breed your dog is, give a high quality fish oil a go as part of their daily routine – it could transform their life.”