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Dog Training Tip for Reducing Anxiety

Reduce Dog Anxiety – Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Anxiety is a very serious and increasingly common issue in dogs – in-fact it has become an epidemic issue. 
Anxiety when left unaddressed or when addressed in the wrong way can quickly increase in intensity. Anxiety may take many forms, separation anxiety, fear of unfamiliar inanimate or animate objects, sounds, weather – i.e. thunderstorms, or insecurity leading to aggressive-reactive behaviour.

The most effective and beneficial approach to solving your dog’s anxiety issues is definitely NOT medicating your dog with anti-depressants such as Doggie-Prozac. Doggie-Prozac will not cure your dog – in addition it can also cause very serious health issues, you can read about that here. On the other hand, ensuring that your dog has a sufficient daily intake of quality Omega-3 fatty acids can have a beneficial effect on your dog’s ability to overcome anxiety.

In order to successfully remedy anxiety, each factor that contributes to the condition must be addressed. My approach is two-fold  – during the course of a session:
  • My primary focus in curing anxiety in a dog is to observe, analyze and improve the dog’s peoples’ habits and communication skills;
  • Then once habits and communication are addressed it is time to look at the dog’s overall diet.
Omega Fatty Acids are a good example of the gap between that actual ability of a kibble to meet a dog’s nutritional requirements vs. the dog owner’s expectations that he/she has purchased a nutritionally appropriate and complete product. Purchasing an expensive dog kibble (regardless if from a pet store or veterinary office) is not an assurance that your dog’s nutritional needs will be properly met.  
I have yet to find a dog kibble that comes close to providing the correct balance of Omega-3 fatty acids (Polyinsaturated Alpha-linolenic acid [ALA], Eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and Docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] vs. Omega 6-fatty acids. This means that you need to know how to make-up for the lack-of-balance of good fats in your dog’s diet.
EPA’s Importance In Proper Brain Function
A proper daily in-take of EPA can help your dog better handle stress…
  • Increases the fluidity of cell membranes;
  • Improves communication between brain cells;
  • As such daily ingestion of enough EPA:
    • Works to support proper functioning of the brain, and;
    • Enables calming.
Ingesting too much of the Omega-6 fatty acid Arachidonic Acid (AA) causes cellular inflammation.
  • The brain is very sensitive to cellular inflammation. 
  • Cellular inflammation creates a breakdown in the signalling between cells. 
  • When breakdown occurs the brain cannot function at optimal levels.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are ineffective in treating brain cell inflammation as they cannot cross the blood-brain barrier that isolates the brain from undesirable substances in the blood-stream. 
When brain cells become inflamed the only substance that can protect these compromised cells is sufficient levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. 

When the level of Omega 3 fatty acids available to the brain are insufficient, neuro-inflammation is exacerbated and disruption of signalling between nerves becomes significant. 

The brain uses two Omega 3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA. While DHA is an important and necessary structural component of the brain, EPA is the primary anti-inflammatory Omega fatty acid for the brain. When used by the brain EPA has a short life-span. This means that the supply of EPA (via the blood stream to the brain) must be constantly present.For this reason it is very important to make sure that your dog is taking in a sufficient amount of EPA on a daily basis. 
Commercially manufactured dog kibble has relatively high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and respectively low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • To make matters worse, when coupled with increased consumption of omega-6 fatty acids refined carbohydrates (such as wheat flour, rice and sugar):
    • Increase insulin production;
    • Which in-turn increases the amount of AA (the Omega-6 fatty acid which causes inflammation);
    • At the same time decreased consumption of EPA:
      • Results in an increased AA to EPA ratio;
      • Which further exacerbates inflammation.
DHA’s Importance To Brain Function

When the brain is not receiving sufficient daily amounts of DHA, serotonin levels are decreased. Decreased levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety.
Other Impacts on Brain Function, of Insufficient Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Deficiency Can:
  • Compromise the blood-brain barrier. 
    • This barrier protects the brain from uninhibited flow of undesirable substances/matter into the brain;
  • Decrease normal blood flow to the brain;
  • Decrease phosphatidylserine (PS) levels; 
    • PS is a naturally occurring anti-depressant, and also helps improve the ability to concentrate.
In Conclusion…
If you are feeding your dog commercially manufactured dog kibble:
  • I encourage you to read the food manufactures’ label,and;
  • Check the Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 fatty acid percentage, and; 
  • Then supplement your dog’s diet with Omega-3 fatty acids to suit. 
If you are feeding your dog a raw diet or homemade dog food you will still need to supplement your dog’s intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • You can read more about Omega Fatty Acids for your dog:
  • All of the other ways Omega-3 fatty acids support your dog’s health;
  • Options for providing Omega-3 fatty acids in your dog’s daily diet;
    by clicking here.

About Karen

Dogs are my life, my work, my passion… I am a Dog Whisperer, Dog Behaviorist and Holistic Canine Wellness Adviser with a wealth of real-time, real-life experience living and working with dogs. For two and a half decades I have worked with and shared my life with dogs. My own dog pack is comprised of eleven dogs, various breeds and ages. I provide a full range of services including Obedience Training for puppies and dogs; canine Behavior Modification; canine Psychological Rehabilitation, specializing in assisting dogs that are experiencing extreme states of insecurity, anxiety and aggressive-reactive behavior; Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Advice and Plans for canines and felines…natural wisdom for you and your companion animal.

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  1. Thank you so much for this incredible site!
    WOW this is life changing!

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