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Omega-3 fatty acids

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Introduction

Name

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (FA).

Class of drug

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA).

Description

Chemical name

  • Ω-3 fatty acids or n-3 fatty acids.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids having a double bond (C=C) starting after the third carbon atom from the end of the carbon chain. The fatty acids have two ends - the acid (COOH) end and the methyl (CH3) end. The location of the first double bond is counted from the methyl end, which is also known as the omega (ω) end or the n end.
  • Three important omega-3 fatty acids for veterinary medicine are the short chain FA α-linolenic acid (ALA) and the long chain FAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
  • α-linolenic acid is generally found in plant sources (flax, corn, soy).
  • ALA must be converted in the body to EPA and DHA. This conversion by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase is very inefficient and is in competition with omega-6 FAs. Cats in particular have functionally no delta-6-desaturase activity; therefore their ability to obtain EPA or DHA from an ALA source is extremely limited.
  • EPA and DHA are found primarily in marine sources, like cold water fish, and do not need further processing by the body to be used; therefore, direct sources of EPA and DHA are preferable to ALA-based sources.
  • Omega 3-fatty acids are found in either an ethyl ester form or a triglyceride form. Omega-3 fatty acids in the body are in the triglyceride form.

Physical properties

  • Oil.

Storage requirements

  • Keep in cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Keep container tightly closed.

Uses

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Indications

Administration

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Pharmacokinetics

Precautions

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Adverse Reactions

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Bauer J E (2011) Therapeutic use of fish oils in companion animals. JAVMA 239 (11), 1441-1451.
  • Lascelles B D, Depuy V, Thomson A et al (2010) Evaluation of a therapeutic diet for feline degenerative joint disease. J Vet Intern Med 24 (3), 487-95.
  • Lees G E, Brown S A, Elliott J et al (2005)Assessment and management of proteinuria in dogs and cats: 2004 ACVIM Forum Consensus Statement (Small Animal). J Vet Intern Med 19 (3), 377-385.  
  • Bauer J E (2006) Metabolic basis for the essential nature of fatty acids and the unique dietary fatty acid requirements of cats. JAVMA 229 (11), 1729-1732.

Other sources of information

  • Based on Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook. Plumb D (2011) 7th edition.
  • Freeman L (2010) Optimal nutrition for feline cardiac patients. Proceedings, ACVIM Annual Forum.
  • Smith F (2011) Complementary therapies for cardiac diseases. Proceedings, Western Veterinary Conference.
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