You've probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids before. We typically take this supplement by taking fish oil, which is rich in these essential acids. In humans, omega-3 helps our body perform at its best.
Taking some fish oil daily can lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and slow the development of plaque in arteries. It is one of the best supplements you can take for overall heart health.
There's also omega-3 for dogs, and it has mostly the same effects in canines as it does in humans. So, if you want to give your pup the very best life, here's what you need to know about giving your dog omega-3!
Omega-3 for Dogs: What Is It?
Omega-3 for dogs is identical to the omega-3 that humans take. Technically, omega-3 is an umbrella term for three essential fatty acids: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Plants contain the first acid, while the last two, DHA and EPA, occur mostly in animal food and algae.
ALA is the most prevalent omega-3 fatty acid. Both human and dog bodies use this acid for energy. EPA has several functions as well, but the most important essential fatty acid is DHA. You'll find it in your dog's brain, retina, and many other parts of their body.
The good news is that since your pup eats mostly meat (assuming they're on kibble or wet food), they're getting plenty of DHA. That also means they're getting a decent amount of EPA.
However, your dog may or may not be getting much in the way of ALA. A lot of that depends on what you feed your dog. If they eat kibble, then that has plenty of starch in it - which does have ALA. It also has many omega-6 fatty acids, whichinterfere with your dog's ability to convert ALA into the more useful EPA and DHA.
If you're feeding your pup food that's closer to what they would eat in the wild, then they could very well have plenty of ALA, EPA, and DHA in their diet.
Why Is Omega-3 Important for Dogs?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for dogs for the same reasons why they're so vital for humans. DHA helps with brain and nerve functionality and development. All three of these acids can potentially help with boosting your dog's immune system, improving heart health (this is one of the most significant scientifically-backed benefits of omega-3), and helping their skin and fur coat.
There's even some evidence to suggest that omega-3 has mental health benefits, as well.
Getting these fatty acids is essential for your pet to thrive. They may be able to survive on a lower amount of these acids, much like humans can, but if you want your pet to have a fun, joyous life, you want to provide the proper omega-3 dosage for dogs.
Omega-3 Supplement for Dogs: When and What Should You Use?
If your pup is eating a natural diet, then you may not need to use omega-3 supplements. The reason for this harkens back to the discussion of ALA, EPA, and DHA. In the wild, your dog would eat very little in the way of starch. They would eat mostly meat. With this diet, your dog is getting plenty of EPA and DHA from the animal proteins. Additionally, your dog will develop the bacteria necessary to convert ALA to EPA or DHA.
However, kibble is not raw, organic food. It doesn't match what dogs would eat in the wild. It's much more starchy and less meaty. It contains a lot of omega-6 acids, which compete with the omega-3 ones.
So, if you're feeding your dog kibble, you probably want to include an omega-3 supplement with it. Or, put another way, it certainly won't hurt your dog to provide it. The omega-3 supplement for dogs that most people give is fish oil. However, some people also use krill oil, which is very similar. Both of these supplements are the same as you would use for humans. There isn't a "best omega-3 supplement for dogs" per se. Either of these options - fish or krill - work well!
What Is the Best Omega-3 Dosage for Dogs?
The amount of omega-3 that you will need for your dog depends on whether or not you're looking to treat a specific medical condition. If you're using omega-3 to help with arthritis, for example, then you should follow the dosage recommended by your vet.
If you're looking to add omega-3 as a preventative supplement, you'll probably want somewhere between 50-100 mg/kg of body weight. So, if your dog weighs 10 lbs, that's 4.5 kg, which means anywhere between 225 mg and 450 mg would be an acceptable dose.
Omega-3 for Dogs: A Supplement To Help Your Dog Thrive!
If you want your dog to thrive, consider giving them a little boost of omega-3 fatty acids. There are no side effects at the right doses, and there's a good chance that it will help boost brain, nerve, and heart health. If you feed your dog kibble, adding in omega-3 can help significantly as these foods tend to be lower in omega-3 fatty acids.