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 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.
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!
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.