The purpose of this study was to determine whether the dose of (n-3) fatty acids (FA) administered, independent of the relative ratio of (n-6) to (n-3) FA in the food, influences plasma FA composition in dogs.

Healthy female, geriatric beagles (7-10 y old) were fed foods containing (n-6) to (n-3) FA ratios of either 40.0:1 or 1.4:1 for 12 wk (study 1) or 36 wk (study 2). In study 3, beagles were fed food with the same 1:1 ratio of (n-6) to (n-3) FA, but with increasing concentrations of (n-6) and (n-3) FA. Plasma FA concentrations were measured after completing the feeding studies. In studies 1 and 2, dogs fed fish oil-enriched food with a high (n-3) FA concentration had higher plasma total (n-3) FA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentrations and lower plasma total (n-6) FA, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid concentrations than dogs fed corn oil-enriched food with a low (n-3) FA concentration (P < 0.001).

Both inclusion of fish oil (P < 0.001) and increased food intake independent of treatment effects increased the plasma DHA (P = 0.05) concentration. Furthermore, constancy of the dose of (n-3) FA administered over long periods of time was necessary to maintain plasma levels of total (n-3) FA, EPA, and DHA.

In study 3, up to certain dietary concentrations (6.3 g total (n-3) FA/kg food for DHA and 9.8 g total (n-3) FA/kg food for EPA), the dose of (n-3) FA administered, independent of the (n-6) to (n-3) FA ratio, determined the plasma (n-3) FA composition. Results from our studies indicate that approximately 175 mg DHA/(kg body weight . d) is required to attain maximum plasma levels of DHA.