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Fish oil and dog aggression - interesting study and anecdote

16 Sep 2009 | by Anil @ DoggiesDude | Posted in: Wag Wiki

Fish oil and dog aggression - interesting study and anecdote

Source : Katrina

I know there are a few people here who have been dealing with very shy or fear aggressive dogs, so I thought I'd recount an interesting conversation I had recently.

I was talking to another rescuer about the work she was doing rehabbing a very fear aggressive Border Collie. Over the last two years with very intensive training the dog has improved a great deal, but her comment was that the dog had to work very hard at controlling himself and never seemed able to relax.

She read the study I have noted below and thought it interesting enough to try an experiment. So without changing anything else, she started feeding the dog a can of sardines every night.

In the last six weeks she told me that the change in the dog has been extraordinary. From a dog who seemed to vibrate constantly with stress, he's finally able to relax and no longer emits a zone of nervous energy around him.

Now I know this is one dog, and purely anecdotal, but since a tin of sardines is neither expensive, complicated nor harmful it might be worth a try. Obviously its not the whole answer and behavioural and environmental modification are still the big things which have to be addressed, but if something this simple can make it easier for the dog to learn it would be worth it.

This is a description of the research and I've added the proper reference beneath that.

Can Fish Oil help cure an overly aggressive Dog?

New research in the human sector has demonstrated that depressive, impulsive, and aggressive disorders can be exacerbated by deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acid intake.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism examined dozens of these studies to determine if low levels of omega-3s (best source found in fish oil) were related to an increased risk for aggressive and depressive behaviors. This is what they wrote in their conclusion: "In human adults and children, clinical studies suggest that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may reduce aggressive, impulsive and depressive behaviors."

So does this research apply to our dogs?

Well, Veterinarians at Italy’s University of Pavia wondered the same thing. So what they did was conduct a study on 36 otherwise healthy German Shepherds averaging 5 years of age.

18 of the German Shepherds were chosen for their stable dispositions and the other 18 were chosen for their overly aggressive disposition.

What they found was amazing…the aggressive dogs, compared to normal dogs, had lower levels of omega-3 DHA, which is critical to brain cell membrane function. Also, the aggressive dogs had higher omega6/omega- 3 ratios and lower cholesterol levels which are all associated with depression and aggression in humans.

The Italian researchers concluded, “Altogether, our results suggest that low [levels of] omega-3 fatty acids may adversely impact behavior in dogs, resulting in greater propensity to aggression.”

The researchers suggest the results will encourage rigorous clinical testing of supplemental omega-3s in aggressive dogs. Since positive effects have already been demonstrated in human studies, there are high hopes that supplementation with a quality omega-3 source, such as pharmaceutical grade fish oil, may reduce aggressive and other impulsive behaviors in the canine!

Comments

jahnavi_uppuleti
thanx for the information it indeed is very useful

By: jahnavi_uppuleti | 14 Oct 2009

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