Fish oil supplements are on many pet owners' minds. I used to take fish oil pills in college as I heard it helped boost cognitive functions. Back then, I was studying seven days a week. I was preparing for an entrance exam to a prestigious university, and I would have taken any edge.
Fast-forward a few years, the benefits of fish oil for dogs are equal or even superior to those it brings to humans. Unfortunately, in my few years of research on dog supplementation, I have yet to see another supplement that brings as many proven benefits to our furry friends.
You may have stumbled upon this oil in a pet store or heard about it from a friend. If you are looking for more information on this beautiful supplement and how much fish oil to give to your dog, you are right. So let's start with the benefits of fish oil for your dog's body.
The benefits of giving your dog fish oil
Adding fish oil to your dog's diet is essential as your dog cannot synthesize some essential fatty acids. Most kibbles and even fresh home-cooked or diet recipes will bring some of your dog's nutrients. Not only that, but fish oils can be more cost-effective than buying sardines or salmon a few times a week for your dog.
1. Allergy support
As many as 1 in 5 dogs suffer from allergies in the United States. If you have noticed your dog scratching or licking parts of his body excessively, it might be a sign of allergies. A visit to the vet can rule out most conditions that would cause itchy skin.
Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements support healthy skin. When the skin is healthy, it is more potent against common allergens such as pollens, dust mites, molds, and grass.
A study was performed on 16 dogs with itchy skin. Compared to the placebo group, dogs on fish oil supplements started itching less and showed improved hair coats.
Allergy support is the most famous benefit since it's a condition that affects so many dogs. So say goodbye to flaky skin!
2. Improves cognitive function
Have you heard of docosahexaenoic acid, also known as DHA? DHA is one of the components of Omega-3 fatty acids and supports dogs of all ages. For instance, it helps puppies' brain and eye development. In older dogs, it promotes cognitive function.
Cognitive function refers to learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, making decisions, and paying attention. So as your dog gets older, fish oils can truly benefit him.
A study on 142 older dogs had issues with orientation, sleep, interacting with family members, and activity levels. For 60 days, one of two groups was fed DHA-supplemented food, and that group showed a significant improvement in all cognitive functions.
By improving pets' brain health and general health, fish oils give pets more quality playtime.
Both EPA and DHA help decrease inflammation due to arthritis. Fish oils are the most potent source of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. If your dog suffers from arthritis, inflamed and painful joints, itchy skin, or gastritis, fish oil supplements could benefit him.
In a study of 127 dogs with arthritis, dogs fed Omega 3 fatty acids showed significant improvement in rising from a resting position and had more energy to play and walk. You might also notice that arthritis medication for dogs is heavily supplemented with fish oils.
4. It supports the immune system
Perhaps one of the essential benefits of them all. A healthy immune system supports the rest of the body. This fish oil supplement can make your pet's coats silky smooth by boosting the immune system so it can fight off allergies. In addition, good immune health can help your dog stay more active and extend his lifespan.
5. Rejuvenates soft and shiny coats
Another great benefit of fish oils is the new glow to your pet's skin and coat. Fish oils promote a silky coat and help flaky and itchy skin disappear for good. In addition, it helps keep their coat moisturized and shiny. It's not unheard of to see your dog with a brand new luxurious coat after only two to three weeks of daily supplementation. In addition, fish oils help relieve allergies which are often associated with itchy skin or flaky skin.
I used to believe that good skin needed suitable creams and grooming. The truth is, it starts from the inside out. Having the proper diet and balance naturally brings out the best and strongest skin.
6. Supports heart health
A study showed that dogs with heart failure and fish oils supplementation experienced longer survival times. Fish oils also reduce the degree of severity in dogs with heart arrhythmias. In addition, it increases metabolism in heart muscle cells and overall decreases the risk of heart disease. A healthy heart is a healthy pet!
7. Fights cancer
One of the other great benefits is that this type of oil may benefit dogs with cancer. A 2019 study was published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. The study found that dogs on Omega 3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of T-zone lymphoma or cancer. While there aren't many studies on this type of supplementation in dogs in relation to cancer, the literature is quite extensive for humans, and it confirms the same benefit.
8. Supports kidneys
In a study of dogs with kidney disease, fish oil supplementation significantly slowed the progression of kidney damage. Therefore, it is one of the veterinary recommended solutions for dogs with kidney disease.
9. Improves organ function
Fish oil supports various organs in your dog's body, especially the liver and other organs that make up the digestive system. With a healthy gut comes many benefits!
10. Improves overall health
As you are starting to notice, fish oil or salmon oil for dogs is very beneficial to your pet's health. It is a tasty treat, but pet parents can also finally relax and enjoy a more active and healthier pet.
Omega benefits to your pet's body are extensive, and not even veterinary medicine can do better sometimes. So omega 3 should be a part of your dog's modern diet to boost overall health.
Often, dogs may be fed a grain-based diet or processed foods that cause allergies on their own and lack the necessary Omega 3 fatty acid for your dog to function correctly.
Other oils you can research but may bring different benefits are cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, and nut oils. Stay away from refined oil, trans fats, polyunsaturated fats, and many processed ingredients. Instead, a daily dose of omega-3 can be your pet's temporary nutritional boost to return to puppy-like activity levels.
What are the fatty acids in fish oil?
Fish oil for dogs goes hand-in-hand with fatty acids. You may be wondering: what are these fatty acids? And isn't fat bad for you? Fish oil supplements contain three fatty acids: Omega 3, 6, and 9. Let's look at what they bring and which one is most beneficial to your pup.
Omega 3 fatty acids with EPA and DHA
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as fish and flaxseed. Therefore, it's one of the main components of fish oils. Omega-3 is itself made up of 3 acids:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This one is found mainly in plant oils and not as much in fish oils.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Omega 3 is one of the most beneficial omega fatty acids in fish oil. Some fish oils will be named "Omega 3 oil for dogs" as a common search term. However, they are not the only omega fatty acids in fish oil, so let's go over the other two now.
Adding Omega 6 fatty acids to your dog's diet
Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and are commonly found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Omega-6 is good for the heart and may protect against heart disease. Like Omega-3, it is considered an essential fatty acid for your dog's health. Salmon oil, one of the fish oils, is a natural source of Omega 6.
Linoleic acid is an Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid essential to dogs, and it helps maintain the skin's outermost water barrier.
AAFCO recommends a ratio of no more than 30:1 for Omega-6:Omega-3.
Omega 9 fatty acids health benefits
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats. It's mostly made up of oleic acid. Omega-9 fatty acids are not considered essential since your dog can synthesize them. However, they support immune systems and are therefore regarded as healthy.
Why is fish oil good for dogs?
As we saw above, fish oil is good for dogs as it brings at least ten benefits:
- Supports allergies
- Supports the immune system
- Rejuvenates soft and shiny coats
- Improves organ function
- Supports kidneys
- Fights cancer
- Supports heart health
- Improves cognitive functions
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Improves overall health
Not all fish oils are good fish oil, as they can include unnecessary ingredients and of various quality levels. Let's go over how to choose an excellent fish oil for your dog.
How to choose the Best Fish Oil for Your Dog?
Now that you know how beneficial this oil can be to your dog, you may be wondering how to choose the best one. Unfortunately, I have seen some very low-quality oils on the market. You can usually spot these quickly as they are obscure about the ingredients and source of the fats.
As a general rule, I would stay away from any oil marketed as "fish oil" or "omega oil." While they are not necessarily bad, there are other oils on the market of much higher quality. So let's look at the main criteria you need to keep in mind when shopping for fish oil for dogs.
1. Fish source
It is common knowledge that some countries are natural exporters of salmon, like Norway. Since such countries benefit so much from exporting this product, they don't necessarily control the quality as much. Also, most salmon is farmed and not wild-caught.
When your dog eats farmed salmon, he could be consuming chemicals linked to cancer: polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. PCBs were banned in 1979 in the US, but remnants still exist in aquatic food chains.
When choosing fish oil, I recommend Wild Salmon and Wild Pollock. They both bring potent values of all the fatty acids your dog needs, are extremely clean of contaminants and have a more pleasant scent and taste than other fish sources.
Pollock is not as known as salmon, but it has the benefit of having a slightly less powerful smell than salmon, making it great both for your dog and you. Many people are scared that feeding fish to their dog will give them bad breath or that their dog won't eat the food with a strong fish smell: pollock solves that.
Therefore, wild Alaskan Salmon Oil and Wild Alaskan Pollock Oil are my favorites and are known to be the highest quality products on the market. Additionally, my company sells Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil Formula, a balanced blend of both oils, and has many reviews claiming it's a more pleasant option than other oils on the market. Nevertheless, complete your due diligence first.
Ideally, a high-quality fish oil supplement will only include one, two, or three ingredients. Sometimes, you will see "mixed tocopherols" in the ingredients list. That one is a natural source of Vitamin E and is used to preserve the oil, so it stays fresh longer. It's not synthetic. It's natural.
Fish oil can include the following ingredients:
- Salmon (farmed or wild)
- Pollock (farmed or wild)
There is no harmful ingredient in that list, but I want to highlight two things. First, you should look for products with as few ingredients as possible. Products that include 3+ ingredients suggest that they have been heavily processed and that the ingredients may come from various places.
Second, keep the scent in mind. I have tried many products, seen them, and smelled them. The loveliest orange color and pleasant scent were from salmon and pollock. You can go for a cheaper option with anchovies, but will your dog like it? Will you like the smell? You can invest a little more and get a higher quality oil that your pup will love.
3. Nutritional value
Compare nutritional panels to ensure it has the right amount of Omega 3 and 6 that your dog needs. Most panels I have seen were for about a serving of 3-4 grams.
In dogs, recommended EPA and DHA supplements doses range from 20 to 100 mg per pound of body weight.
Our oil comes with 675 mg of EPA and DHA for one serving, for 10 lbs of weight. So that's about 67.5 mg per pound, right in the middle of that recommendation.
If the nutritional panel only lists Omega 3 without the breakdown, you won't be able to know for sure if it has the right level for your dog.
The following important criterion for buying high-quality fish oil is the dispenser. Unfortunately, some bottles come without a pump dispenser, making daily use complicated and potentially messy. I highly recommend pump dispensers as one pump is usually a serving for 10 pounds of weight, and it makes it easy always to give the right amount to your pup.
Commonly, fish oils come in 8, 16, and 32 oz bottles. Smaller formats are attractive for smaller dogs because the price point is lower. However, the price per ounce can be significantly higher. I recommend the 32-oz bottle since this type of oil is usually suitable for two years and won't go wrong. In addition, you don't need to refrigerate it.
6. Vitamin E
Ensure you see Vitamin E in the ingredients (it can be under "mixed tocopherols") as it's very beneficial, and some products don't have it.
Tell me the best fish oil for dogs?
This article is an honest and objective source of information on fish oils for dogs. Look at the criteria above to pick the best option on your own.
However, if you don't have the time to research, I recommend our fish oil: Petsmont Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil Formula. It's specifically made for dogs and cats, adequately dosed, with only Wild Salmon and Wild Pollock in the ingredients. It has Vitamin E and comes with a pump dispenser. You won't run out too fast since it's a 32-oz bottle!
Where does fish oil come from?
Fish oil comes from various fish, such as salmon, pollock, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and herring. The process usually involves a low-heat cook, a press, and purification.
Only use fish oil specially formulated for dogs
This may seem obvious, but only shop for fish oil specifically made for dogs and cats. It will be perfectly dosed for them and easy to dispense.
Fish oil and Omega 3 for dogs
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the components of fish oil.
Why should I give my dog fish oil?
Fish oil brings at least ten proven benefits to your dog, ranging from allergy support to heart support. Read our article to find out more.
Omega 6 in fish oil
Fish oil naturally contains three types of Omegas: Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 fatty acids. The first two are considered essential. The third one is still healthy but not regarded as crucial.
Benefits of Omega 6's for dogs
Omega-6s are specifically great for the heart and may protect against heart complications.
What are Omega Fatty Acids?
They are polyunsaturated fats and a long string of carbon atoms. They are either Omega 3, 6, or 9.
What are essential fatty acids?
They are considered essential because your dog cannot synthesize them himself, yet needs them: Omega-3s and Omega-9s.
How much fish oil for my dog?
Products made specifically for dogs will include the dosage on the bottle.
In dogs, recommended EPA and DHA supplements doses range from 20 to 100 mg per pound of bodyweight.
Can dogs have fish oil?
Fish oil is highly beneficial for dogs! It's easy to add to your dog's diet.
Can I give my dog fish oil pills?
Giving your dog fish oil pills is not very practical, and we recommend adding the oil directly over their food instead.
Can I give my dog human fish oil?
Human fish oil is similar but might not be formulated for pets specifically.