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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  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!

  5. how many mg/iu of vitamin e dose a male dog needs a day to improve him fertility.

  6. This seems only geared at studs as it improves sperm quality.
    Bitches are the ones who need improved fertility. Even if half of the males sperm are dead/dying/bad, if you allow them to breed multiple times whole she is ovulating and up to 2 days later than his sperm will fertilize every mature and healthy egg she ovulates. So as long as you can allow them to breed multiple times over a 2-3 day period, she will take as long as she has healthy eggs… If she doesn’t have healthy eggs or doesnt ovulate them then it wont matter how often they breed or how healthy his sperm is, she wont get pregnant.

    This means her fertility is most important. Another male can always be found but it still won’t matter if she doesn’t ovulate healthy mature eggs…

    With that said, I would like to know if these also improve the bitches fertility… And maybe the niacin too? Though each subsequent liter after the first should be an additional pup larfer than the line before up until age 5 and then litter size begins to drop. So the info that was left about Niacin increasing litters by 1 pup isn’t really that impressive. However, if one bitch did go from zero successful breeding to a successful one, that could be some evidence niacin works.

    When I, myself, were going through fertility treatments, I had bad quality eggs and had to prime by body for 3 months with ubiquinol to help with egg quality and cellular growth. I ended up with twins for my last successful cycle.

    I won’t have my first Golden Irish litter until next June so I jave a lot ofbtime to research and plan to look into coq10/ubiquinol to assure my bitch is fertile.. I’ll try the Omega3/Omega6/Vitamin E forbmy stud. Btw, it is also an antioxidant, just not quite as harsh as niacin.

  7. I have a beautiful Eng. Cream Golden who is 5 years old. Her first litter she had 1 female and 1 male…just two puppies. I bred her a year later and she had 12 puppies, the 12th one was DOA. That was two years ago. I kept two females from the 12 litter.

    Last year I bred her again. The vaginal smears were fantastic. We AI’d her several times, skipping a day in between. She didn’t get pregnant. Here it is a year later, she will be 6 in June. I just bred her again in Feb. and March. I increased her food and gave her lunch, she has a fish oil pill daily and two garlic pills to avoid getting fleas and getting bit by mosquitoes. This time we did a progesterone test. It was 3.6 and we were looking for a number 5. The tech at the office told us never mind another progesterone on Monday, breed her. So we bred her on Sunday morning, and Tuesday afternoon and then again Weds. Morning. I just had an exray taken yesterday at 57 days, and there were NO PUPPIES. I am devastated. So many people were waiting for her puppies. I have been breeding Goldens for 29 years and I feel I failed.

    I am intersted in the Vit. E and niacin, maybe it will help my dog.

  8. What omega 3 oil brand would I add to my male dog’s diet to increase his fertility please? He has had matings with 2 different bitches now but neither are pregnant. Thankyou

  9. I have a 2yr old male GSD. I was due to use him at stud. He showed no interest in the female even though she was ready. Ended up at a fertility clinic. During the course of the day he produced 3 collections. Sadly no sperm present. I put him on a Vit E supplement, high dose for 3.months and re tested, once again no sperm present. Do I just have to except that he hasn’t got any or can I do anything else. I do not want to be giving him extra testosterone. It’s been suggested that I should have him collected every day or every other day but wouldn’t this aggrevate the prostate. His health and wellbeing is more important to me but I’m being pressured by the breeder to do more

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