You learned about the great benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids for dogs and are now wondering how much to give to your dog based on his age, weight, and breed.
Fish oil for dogs may have excellent benefits supported by science, including:
- Skin and coat (may help with itchy skin)
- Cognitive function
- Anti-inflammatory (may decrease pain and inflammation in dogs with arthritis)
- Immune support
- Heart health benefits
While these benefits may have been observed in human studies, AAFCO only supports one claim for omega 3 fatty acids: skin and coat. However, there is enough scientific evidence in dog studies to claim that omega 3 supplementation in dogs supports their skin and coat.
Other benefits that have been observed are not currently backed by AAFCO, which means they cannot be present on fish oil supplements labels, for instance.
Where to find omega fatty acids
Fish oils are the most potent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid). Dogs specifically need EPA and DHA.
There are three main sources of EPA and DHA for dogs:
- Fish oil supplements
- Whole fish (salmon, anchovies, sardines)
- A prescription diet with high levels of fish oils
Since it can be hard to know how much omega 3 fatty acids are in whole fish, veterinarians may recommend using a good fish oil instead.
Please remember that quality pet food such as kibble and wet dog food may also include fatty acids. When this is the case, they may indicate the amount on the back of the packaging.
Since there is a safe upper limit on how many omega 3s dogs may have, you need to add up the omega 3s from the fish oil supplement and other pet foods to get the total amount.
How much Omega 3s do dogs need daily?
There are two common side effects of fish oil for dogs: diarrhea/vomiting and weight gain. The first one usually occurs when the diet change happens abruptly, and your dog does not react well to adding fish oil to his diet.
Most of the time, starting with a lower dosage and gradually increasing it may help avoid this side effect.
Regarding weight gain, since fish oil is rich in calories, it can be easy to go overboard on your dog's total caloric needs. Consulting a veterinary nutritionist may help determine the correct amount for your dog's diet and how much fish oil could benefit him.
The recommended amount of Omega 3 for dogs with arthritis
CARE (Canine Arthritis Resources and Education) recommends a daily dose of 100 mg/kg of EPA and DHA.
The safe upper limit set by the NRC
The NRC (National Research Council) established a safe upper limit of EPA and DHA of 370 mg/kg. You may notice that these limits are set in the amount of EPA and DHA. Therefore, when looking at Omega 3 supplements, look at the breakdown in the guaranteed analysis section to see the exact amount of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
The recommended amount of Omega 3 for all dogs
If your dog doesn't suffer from arthritis, you may be wondering what the recommended dose is. The recommended dosage is 75-100 mg/kg of EPA and DHA daily. Therefore, the dosage of EPA and DHA should be between 75 mg/kg and 370 mg/kg, which is the safe upper limit set by the NRC.
Recommended doses for dogs with skin disorders
This study focused on the ideal dosage for dogs with skin disorders such as food sensitivities and atopic dermatitis. In other words, dogs with skin issues can cause intense itching and irritation.
They determined the ideal dosage to be 125 mg/kg of EPA and DHA daily. We will use this recommendation for our dosage table below. Please note that if you attempt to do calculations on your own, you should convert your dog's weight from pounds to kilograms and then apply the power 0.75 to the weight in kilograms.
Calculation example for a 40-lb dog
- 40 pounds to kilograms: 18.14 kgs
- To the power 0.75: (18.14)^0.75 = 8.79
- Using 125 mg/kg recommendation: 8.79 * 125 = 1,098 mg of EPA and DHA
Be careful: dogs can have too much omega
While giving too much omega-3 fatty acids to your dog is difficult, there is a safe upper limit of 370 mg/kg. Please always use measuring spoons or pump dispensers when using supplements in liquid form, and follow the recommended dosage.
Please find below the combined EPA and DHA dosing table for dogs weighing between 5 and 150 lbs. The recommended dose is following this study in collaboration with the American College of Veterinary Nutrition for dogs with skin issues such as intense itching and irritation.
The following table is independent of dogs' breed and age. However, please follow your veterinarian's advice for puppies and pregnant dogs.
|Dog weight (lbs)||Recommended Daily Dose (mg) of Combined EPA/DHA for dogs with skin issues*||# of pumps using Petsmont Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil Formula|
*: recommended dosage according to this study in partnership with the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. The information in this article does not constitute medical advice and you should always consult your veterinarian before changing your dog's diet and adding any supplement.