Rochelle Lesser, who created and manages a great site for Golden Retrievers (and dogs in general), asked about krill oil on a recent post. Here’s the skinny on why I like its cancer-fighting benefits (krill are those tiny shrimp that whales eat).
First, krill oil helps offset the omega 6 fatty acid excess I wrote about in the post before last, by supplying needed omega 3 fatty acids. This helps block the inflammation and suppression of cancer-fighting white blood cells caused by excess omega 6’s. Too much omega 6 fatty acids are found in many commercial dog foods in corn products, vegetable oils, meat fats and more.
Other good sources of omega 3’s are fish oils of various kinds, with Chinook salmon, mackerel, menhaden, and sardine also being up there. So giving these oils stimulates cancer-fighting white blood cells, and decreases inflammation (inflammation is a central part of cancer development). Omega 3’s can also help fight cancer weight loss (cachexia), slow tumor growth, and lessen spread in many cases. So krill and fish oil both are good in these regards.
However, with our understanding of the link between depression in people and cancer, it becomes obvious that this is a massively overlooked problem in dogs. To my knowledge, this is an area that has not been addressed in any formal way and will be viewed at as “out there” by many conventional vets. I firmly believe that this line of thought is on the leading edge of a whole new way of looking at dog cancer.
With this in mind, back to krill oil. Krill do not accumulate heavy metals, so this is not a concern in their oil. Additionally, they are rich in EPA, the omega 3 fatty acid that has been shown to fight depression and inflammation. Krill has more EPA than fish oil. Here is more info. Since depression in people increases cancer, addressing this in dogs is very logical. On top of this, Krill has the capacity to actually restore the size of brain parts that have literally shrunk in depression. This may be due to its phospholipid content, of which krill has more than fish oil. Amazing!
Yes, krill oil costs more than fish oil. However, you can get away with less, probably about 1/4 less than fish oil. I would recommend about 4-6 of the 500 mg krill oil capsules daily for a 40 lb dog, costing roughly $3 daily. Not cheap, but good!
To be safe, stop fish oil or krill oil about 10 days before your dog has any surgery.
Thanks to Rochelle of The Land of Pure Gold for the great question!
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.