Everything you need to know before giving your dog fish oil

What’s so great about fish oil and why should you give it to your dog?

The basics  

  • Fish oil is a dietary supplement high in fatty acids that helps support dogs’ hearts, joints, coats, skin, and immune systems.
  • There are a variety of fish oils, deriving from different types of fish and other marine creatures.
  • Always talk with your vet before starting your dog on fish oil (or any other supplements).

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is one of the best supplements to add to your dog’s diet thanks to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. It supports their heart health, promotes a shiny coat, alleviates itchy and irritated skin, and can help relieve allergies and inflammation. It can even help strengthen their immune system and has been known to help fight canine cancer. 

If you’re thinking about adding fish oil to your dog’s meals, here’s what you need to know!

About omega fatty acids

Omega fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated fats and create important hormones that regulate blood flow and inflammation. They aren’t created naturally in the body, so they need to be supplemented into your pup’s diet. Omega-3 comes from cold-water fish and is the key fatty acid in fish oil -- it can also be found in shellfish, plant and nut oils, and flaxseed. 

Omega-3 also helps balance out omega-6 fatty acids which are commonly found in processed foods and most grains. Dogs often have an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids, mostly from dog food made with meat from corn-fed animals and refined oils. And while our pups need omega-6 fatty acids, they need both in balance.

Why should I give my dog fish oil?

The EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in omega-3s can be incredibly beneficial to your pup’s overall health. Here’s a list of the benefits of omega-3s for dogs:

  • Allergies: Fights against inflammatory responses due to seasonal allergies. Also helps alleviate discomfort associated with allergies, such as itchy skin, runny nose, and red eyes.
  • Skin Health: Helps maintain the moisture content in your pup’s skin. This is even more beneficial if your pup has naturally sensitive skin.
  • Joint Health: Promotes cartilage development and maintains healthy bone and joint function. Can also help alleviate joint stiffness and inflammation from arthritis.
  • Immune Health: Aids in overall immune responses and lessens the totality of the inflammatory response. It’s also been known to help treat kidney disease and some canine cancers.
  • Cognitive Health: Aids in the proper brain and eye development of puppies, along with helping to improve overall cognitive function in older dogs.

Which fish oil is best?

Fish oil can be extracted from a variety of fish, most commonly salmon, anchovies, and sardines. You can also find oils from mackerel or herring. When deciding on a fish oil supplement to feed your dog, you should aim for one with a higher concentration of EPA and DHA. This will minimize the amount of extra calories they will take in their diet, reducing their risk of obesity.

Check out the list below for levels of EPA and DHA in each type of fish oil - 

  • Anchovy, Sardine, Herring, Mackerel Blends: 18% EPA, 12% DHA 
  • Salmon Oil: 10% EPA, 11% DHA
  • Cod Liver Oil: 9% EPA, 11% DHA
  • Krill Oil: 11% EPA, 5% DHA
  • Pollock Oil: 6% EPA, 12% DHA

 

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