Monday, August 3, 2015

Fish oil for cats: The pros and cons of this pet food supplement

Sleepy brown tabby cat
During Eamon's veterinary visit on Friday, we discussed a number of different lifestyle alterations we could make to keep him feeling calm and comfortable, despite his arthritis and possible senility. (More on that visit here, if you're interested.)

One thing we discussed: A fish oil supplement.

Here's the thinking.

Fish oils are high in omega-3 fatty acids. One such fatty acid, DHA, is considered an essential nutrient for healthy brain function. When DHA intake is at an optimal level, researchers say, cognitive tasks are easier to perform, and it can bring about boosts in learning ability, too.

Of course, there's a lot more to brain health than one little fatty acid. Hydration levels, kidney function and glucose levels are also important in terms of keeping a clear head. But, many human doctors use DHA supplements to assist their patients living with Alzheimer's disease. By giving it to addled Eamon, I may get some of the same benefits these doctors aim to give their human patients.

Other fatty acids in fish oils come with lubricating components. These acids have a role to play in keeping the joints smooth and slippery, so the tendons can do their work without getting stuck on snacks and spurs. By boosting acids, Eamon might have less arthritis pain, too.

Brown tabby in grey cat bed looking pensive
But fatty acids and fish oils aren't without their drawbacks.

For starters, some pets develop deep-set burps and signs of nausea when they're taking fish oil supplements. That was an issue I ran into with Liam years ago (which I wrote about here). When fish oil supplements hit this pug's digestive system, he had diarrhea, nausea and breath that would knock you out. It's an unfortunate side effect of some supplements.

And, some finicky cats just won't eat a supplement oil at all. That's an issue with Eamon, as some supplements I've tried have been a little too fishy and a little too pungent for him to tolerate. Instead of eating foods with these oils, he tried to bury them.

The key to a good fish oil supplement program starts with good shopping. And I've found a manufacturer I really like.

Grizzly Pet Products makes a supplement made of pollock. This little fish is quite close to salmon, but it's less expensive to harvest. That means I can get a bottle of the oil (like this: Grizzly Pollock Oil Supplement) for much less than I might expect to pay for salmon oil.

And, this product seems to have the right ratio of taste to efficacy. Eamon will eat it, without burying it, and it provides the nutrition his brain and his body needs. We're fans!

I'm hoping this is another intervention that might help to smooth his health. But if you have another supplement you use and like, I'd love to hear about it! Shoot me a note in the comments.

And don't forget: If you're feeding cats, you won't want to miss out on my picky cat sweepstakes! Click here to find out more.

Disclosure: This is not a compensated review. I like this product, so I reviewed it. But, some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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