Although most dogs are docile and loving, particularly towards their family, some dogs can be aggressive towards other dogs and even towards humans who aren’t a part of their pack. This sort of aggression can cause problems for both dog and human if not corrected. Although most interventions designed to stop aggression in dogs centers around behavior training, a study shows that the problem could be at least partially physiological. One proposed cause of aggression in dogs may be a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although much has been written about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in terms of human health, less is known about its effects in dogs. These fatty acids, found most commonly in fish oil, have been shown to lower triglyceride levels in humans as well as play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. What’s less known is that a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in some forms of human psychological illnesses such as depression, illustrating the importance that omega-3’s play in brain health.
A study published in a veterinary journal in 2007 looked at blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in dogs that were known to be aggressive compared to those who didn’t exhibit aggressive behavior. To the surprise of the researchers, it was found that dogs who manifested aggression had lower levels of omega 3’s in their blood compared to well behaved, less aggressive dogs. Could low levels of omega 3’s be a correctable cause of aggression in dogs? Interestingly, studies of aggressive human prisoners have also shown deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s thought that omega-3 fatty acids may play an important role in the function of brain cells by stabilizing the cell membrane.
While it may be premature to attribute all cases of aggression in dogs to an omega 3 deficiency, increasing the amount of these fatty acids your dog receives in his diet could have a positive impact on both his behavior and his health. Because the dose to potentially stop aggression in dogs hasn’t been well established, it’s best to check with your vet to find the amount that’s right for your particular dog. Not only can the addition of fish oils possibly stop aggression in dogs, it may also have beneficial effects on your dog’s heart and can reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Many pet stores and pet supply catalogs carry special fish oil supplements for dogs. If the right dose is selected, you could also use fish oil supplements designed for humans, but always check with your veterinarian first.