Owners of dogs showing signs of osteoarthritis are asked by the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences to take part in the first-of-its-kind study to find out if an algae-derived omega-3 oil can cause osteoarthritis (OA) dogs can help.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, funded by the Dogs Trust, is led by Dr. Jo Murrell and a team of animal health and welfare specialists from the Vet School.
The aim of the study is to investigate whether docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) reduces pain and improves the quality of life in dogs with osteoarthritis. Dogs will be randomly assigned to either the treatment or placebo group and will be given capsules daily throughout the study.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil and in higher concentrations in algae. Fish oil supplementation can have beneficial effects on some aspects of osteoarthritis in dogs, and recent research has shown that DHA can have specific anti-inflammatory effects when found in higher amounts than fish oil. There are no known side effects associated with DHA.
OA, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis in dogs and is a very common cause of chronic pain, especially in older dogs. OA is a slowly progressive disease in which the cartilage in the dog’s joints breaks down, causing friction between the bones, resulting in the outgrowth of new bone formation known as osteophytes.
Signs of OA include difficulty jumping up, stiffness after walks, difficulty climbing stairs, and a decreased willingness to move or play, and the study team would like to hear from owners of dogs who have these problems.
Owners are asked to take their dog to the veterinary school for five separate visits over a four month period, filling out questionnaires at each appointment to assess the dog’s pain, stiffness and quality of life. The dog’s body weight distribution is also measured at each appointment with a pressure-sensitive plate.
Megan Goff, Research Technician in Companion Animal Studies, said, “By participating in the study, your dog can help us understand the role this specific omega-3 plays in relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis. The insights we gain from this research will help improve potential treatment options for osteoarthritis and improve the lifelong wellbeing of the many dogs affected by osteoarthritis around the world. “
Citizens who own a dog of any age or breed weighing over 12 kg, showing signs of osteoarthritis of the hind legs and who are not receiving regular medication are invited to join the project by emailing dogarthritis- Send study @ bristol. ac.uk or by phone at 07510 993922.
More information is available on the project’s website.