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Increase Your Dog’s Fertility by Supplementing Essential Fatty Acids

The fertility of your dog is, in most cases, not going to be a major concern. If you are a breeder however, this may not be the case.

There are so many factors that can contribute to decreased fertility and likewise, so many factors that can increase fertility. Normally a healthy lifestyle is enough to ensure good male fertility, however in recent years a study into fertility discovered that supplementing the diet with essential fatty acids can actually improve fertility when combined with vitamin E supplementation.

We’ve previously discussed the benefits of vitamin E in dogs as a key antioxidant, so how is it that it can also help improve fertility?

What are Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)?

Essential fatty acids include, amongst others, the omega oils (e.g. omega-6). Dogs can make their own fatty acids but not essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

There are two main types of fatty acid – unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats are more beneficial for the body as they are easier to breakdown. If you look at most human food products, the back will give a nutritional breakdown of what’s inside – showing you how much unsaturated and saturated fats are in your food.

The benefits of unsaturated fats over saturated is quite heavily marketed in the human food market – most butters, oils and similar fatty products will readily market the fact they are high in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats.

Essential fatty acids are needed by the body for a number of things such as the normal functioning of cells, muscles, nerves, and organs.

How Do Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids Improve Fertility?

Ok, so we know EFAs and vitamin E are important, but how exactly do they improve fertility?

The study that investigated this judged fertility by the quality of the male dog’s sperm. The supplementation of vitamin E and essential fatty acids over a period of 60 days in this study ‘significantly increased’ sperm quality.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is able to pass through the membrane of sperm and protect them from free radicals. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant and stops chain reactions that can lead to the release of damaging free radicals.

Essential Fatty Acids:

The role EFAs play in improving fertility isn’t as clear as the role vitamin E plays. It is thought that EFAs compete with fatty acids produced by the body for the same enzyme.

This enzyme breaks down both forms of fatty acid – however, the breakdown of fatty acids produced by the body can lead to the production of inflammatory meditators (molecules which can cause cellular inflammation and lesions).

These cellular lesions can reduce the efficiency of sperm but because the breakdown of EFAs does not produce these inflammatory mediators – cellular lesions do not develop.

Your Thoughts

Are you a dog breeder? Would you benefit from an increase in fertility? What are your opinions on the addition of omega oils to your dog’s diet? If you have any comments on the matter let us know in the comments below!

Adapted From:

Da Rocha, A.A., Da Cunha, I.C.N., Ederli, B.B., Albernaz, A.P., Quirino, C.R. Effect of daily food supplementation with essential fatty acids on canine semen quality (2009) Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 44 (SUPPL. 2), pp. 313-315.

About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend! Currently developing PetSci HealthTrak, the fast and easy way to monitor your pet's weight and calorie intake. HealthTrak offers a simple way to track your pet's progress, helping them achieve a healthy weight and a long, happy life.

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5 comments

  1. I believe in this 100%. For three years I could not breed a successful litter. These are purebred, registered, health tested dogs by the way. I began supplementing with vitamin E and Omega 3 on days when I didn’t feed oily fish. I now have two pregnant Bitches that are due on month apart.

  2. Thank you for your advice/information. I don’t have an opinion but bought cod liver oil and sunflower seed vit e drops to add to their food. The problem I’m having is they go into heat and have puppies kind of all at the same time. I’m not sure but it would seem they should be spread out having babies. They are free running and free fed. Natural breeding is accommodated aa much as possible.

  3. Which one to feed the EFA and vitamin E male or female dog or both?

  4. I am a Maltese breeder. My daughter’s friend was having trouble conceiving and scheduled a consultation with a fertility specialist, who told them that before they invest a lot of $$$ to take Niacin supplements for 90 days because Niacin is essential to ovulation. 60 days later, they were expecting. So I decided to give this a try with my dogs and gave my bitches 3 drops of liquid Niacin/day stopping once they were in season. I have had outstanding results from this. Princess: went from 3 puppy litters to 5 puppy litters. Secret: only ever had a singleton puppy and went to 2 puppy litters. Victoria (Secret’s daughter) only had singleton litters and went to 3 puppy litters. Most notably Angel: 4 times in a row did not take and with the addition of Niacin had 3 beautiful puppies!

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