The objective of this double-blinded crossover study was to examine the effects of marine oil supplementation with high-dose eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on canine pruritic skin disease.

Sixteen dogs that completed this study had clinical signs related to idiopathic pruritus, confirmed atopy and/or flea allergy. Each dog was randomly placed on one omega-3 fatty acid capsule (MVP: Meridian Veterinary Products, St. Augustine, FL, U.S.A.) which contained 1 ml of marine oil (180mg EPA and 120mg DHA) or one capsule containing 1 ml of corn oil (570 mg linoleic acid and 50 mg gamma linolenic acid) per 4.55 kg of body weight q 24 h for 6 weeks.

After a 3-week washout period in which no supplement was given, each subject was crossed over to the other supplement for an additional 6 weeks. Dogs receiving marine oil showed a significant improvement in pruritus (P < 0.001), self-trauma (P <0.05) and coat character (P<0.01) over time. When compared to the corn oil control over time, marine oil supplementation significantly improved pruritus (P < 0.02), alopecia (P < 0.05) and coat character (P < 0.001).

This study demonstrates the effectiveness of high doses of marine oil as an alternative anti-inflammatory for canine pruritic skin disease.