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Explore the Science

Omega-3 Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)


Studies have shown that Omega-3 contribute to a wide range of health benefits.

Acts as an anti-inflammatory:

Studies confirm that supplementing the diet of dogs with omega-3 fats resulted in significantly reduced discomfort, lameness and joint severity.

In addition to this, omega-3 balances out the effects of omega-6. High levels of omega-6 can lead to inflammation. Imbalances between the two can also lead to health problems for your pet. In general, commercial dog food is high in omega-6 and deficient in omega-3.

Kidney Support:
Dietary omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the production of inflammatory compounds that create oxidative stress to the tissue of the diseased kidneys, thus contributing to slowed progression of chronic kidney disease. This works by reducing protein 'leaking' through the kidneys. The same study has also shown that feeding omega-6 rich vegetable oils (safflower) significantly worsens the condition of the dogs.

Aids Heart Health:
Several studies involving dogs of different sexes, age, breed, size and weight, have shown benefits of omega-3 on canines suffering from different heart conditions. The positive effects include improved heart function and appetite, lower blood pressure, inflammation and reduced muscle loss.

Skin and Coat Health:
Research also shows that omega-3 fatty acids benefit dogs suffering from the harmful effects of allergies, atopy, pruritus and flea allergies. These studies have shown that adding omega-3 fatty acids to a dog’s diet has an alleviating effect on their over-reactive immune systems. This leads to reduced itchiness and substantial improvements of their skin and coat health.

Supporting Brain Development and Cognition:

Studies have shown that an omega-3-rich diet in a dog’s infancy can improve cognitive and learning functions in growing dogs. Puppies fed food containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids rich in DHA performed better in various tasks than puppies with a low omega-3 diet. The tests the young dogs performed in this study included the visual differentiation of objects, memory, balance and coordination tasks.

Immune Support:
Evidence shows that the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids (rich in EPA and DHA) in a dog’s diet supports immune function. Effects described include alleviating the harmful effects of allergies caused by an over-reactive immune systems response, to substantially higher antibody titers after vaccinations. Vetactiv8 Omega 3 can also support puppies’ underdeveloped immune systems.

Reducing Anxiety, Depression and Hyperactivity in Dogs

While the precise mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acid exerts effects on behaviour such as anxiety, depression and hyperactivity, is not known, they have been proven to modulate neurotransmitters and to affect neuroplasticity. In fact, fatty acids have also been found to influence the same pathways that anti-anxiety medications do, most notably fluoxetine, a commonly prescribed treatment for anxiety disorders in dogs. 

The calming effect has also been confirmed in a study conducted on 24 anxious Labradors in 2016. There is further evidence in literature that supports using omega-3 fatty acids as a potential reliever of depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity in numerous species. It appears that this may hold true for dogs as well.

The Results


Evaluation of cognitive learning, memory, psychomotor, immunologic, and retinal functions in healthy puppies fed foods fortified with docosahexaenoic acid-rich fish oil from 8 to 52 weeks of age.


Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association , Vol.241(5), p.583-594

Dietary fortification with fish oils rich in DHA and possibly other nutrients implicated in neurocognitive development following weaning improved cognitive, memory, psychomotor, immunologic, and retinal functions in growing dogs.

Multicenter Veterinary Practice Assessment of the Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Osteoarthritis in Dogs

JAVMA; 2010; Vol 236, No. 1.

Ingestion of the test food raised blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and appeared to improve the arthritic condition in pet dogs with osteoarthritis.

The role of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in the nutrition of dogs and cats: a review

Progress in Nutrition; 2004; VOL. 6, N. 2, 000-000.

The use of fatty acid supplements has proved to be beneficial in the treatment of several pathogenic  conditions, such as chronic inflammatory diseases, atopy, chronic renal insufficiency, and some types of cancer. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the type and quantity of fat sources that are used when diets for dogs and cats are formulated, in order to assure the optimal amount and balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the food.

Association of Body Weight and Body Condition with Survival in Dogs with Heart Failure
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine; 2008; Vol. 22, Iss. 3, pp 561-563

These results suggest that changes in body weight might be an important consideration in the survival of dogs with heart failure

Nutritional Alterations and the Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation in Dogs with Heart Failure

J Vet Intern Med Nov-Dec 1998;12(6):440-8.

The purposes of this study were to characterize nutritional and cytokine alterations in dogs with heart failure and to test the ability of fish oil to reduce cytokines and improve clinical outcome.

Omega‐3 Fatty Acids in Boxer Dogs with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy

Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine; 2007; 21:265–273.

These data suggest that fish oil, but not flax oil, supplementation for 6 weeks reduces arrhythmia in Boxers with ARVC and that it could be useful in treating this common disease. Further studies are needed to determine optimal dose and duration of treatment.

Double‐blinded Crossover Study with Marine Oil Supplementation Containing High‐dose icosapentaenoic Acid for the Treatment of Canine Pruritic Skin Disease

Veterinary Dermatology; 1994; Vol. 5, Iss. 3, pp 99-104.

From this study it is evident that high-dose marine oil supplementation is an effective and apparently safe alternative to glucocorticoids for short-term relief of the symptoms of canine allergic skin disease.

A blinded, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy of borage seed oil and fish oil in the management of canine atopy

Veterinary Record; 1999; 144, 405-407

This study has demonstrated that the high concentration of gamma-linolenic acid in borage seed oil, in combination with fish oil, does appear to possess an anti-inflammatory action.

Comparison of therapeutic effects of omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid and fluoxetine, separately and in combination, in major depressive disorder

Aust N Z J Psychiatry; 2008; 42(3): 192-198.

Fatty acids have also been found to influence the same pathways that anti-anxiety medications do, most notably fluoxetine, a commonly prescribed treatment for anxiety disorders in dogs.



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Cody was getting stiff joints and over time he needed to get injections for his arthritis as it got to a point where he would hop on 3 legs as he couldn't walk on one of them. We thought we would give VetActiv8 Joint Health a try as we wanted a more natural approach if there was one available.
He has been on it for about 2 months, and we have seen such an improvement as he now enjoys his walks and no longer struggled going up steps.

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