You may have seen fish oil supplements in your local grocery outlet or health food store. While the benefits of fish oil have been proven for people, what about animals? Is fish oil good for dogs?
You'll be pleased to learn that fish oil is very good for our canine companions. In fact, the benefits are numerous, and adding a bit of fish oil to your dog's diet can help your pet in all sorts of ways. The secret lies in the fatty components like omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your pooch's health.
But what do you need to know about fish oil, and how does it help your dog? Can you simply give your dog the same fish oil supplement that's made for human consumption?
To get the answers to these questions and more, we’ll share details about fish oil and why it's good for your canine friend. Then, you can get in touch with your veterinarian to discuss whether your dog should be given a fish oil supplement to boost their health.
What Exactly Is Fish Oil?
As the name suggests, fish oil is oil that’s derived from fish. Much in the same way that olives are processed to make olive oil, fish tissues are processed to extract the oils from them. Human fish oil supplements usually come in the form of a tablet or capsule, while your dog's fish oil supplements might be made into a chewable tablet or a liquid food topper like PetHonesty's Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil.
Fish oil's secret weapon is omega-3 fatty acid. It's found in polyunsaturated fat (think of this as "good" fat) and offers various benefits to humans and animals alike. But it's important to understand that your dog's body — and your own — doesn't manufacture omega-3 fatty acids naturally. It must be gleaned from the diet.
There are a few components of omega-3 fatty acids that are most noteworthy:
- DHA: Docosahexaenoic acid, found in coldwater fish like mackerel, anchovies, sardines, salmon, and their oils.
- EPA: Eicosapentaenoic acid, also found in coldwater fish and their oils.
- ALA: Alpha-linolenic acid, found in leafy greens, flaxseed oil, various beans, and walnut and canola oils.
DHA and EPA are the most significant components of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs. They also help balance out omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-6 is an important dietary component, it’s often added in excessive amounts in modern dog foods.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in grains. Since many dog food manufacturers include grains or meat from corn-fed animals, dogs tend to have more than enough omega-6 fatty acids (and not enough omega-3 fatty acids). As such, adding a fish oil supplement that’s naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids — including DHA and EPA — might be a good idea for Fido.
What Are the Health Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs?
We've learned what makes fish oil good for your dog — its high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Let’s review how this important nutrient helps your dog's health and wellness.
The essential fatty acids found in fish oil can be incredibly beneficial for your dog's heart health. Omega-3 has anticoagulant properties, meaning that it helps regulate blood clotting.
Fatty acids also help make irregular heart rhythms less likely, and they maintain good blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Ultimately, fatty acids from fish oil reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart problems in general.
Omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation in the body, while omega-3 fatty acids lower it. This balancing act is important for your dog's overall health, especially when it comes to inflammation caused by an injury, infection, disease, or other health problems.
Inflammation, after all, is a natural immune system response, but it must be regulated so that it doesn't get out of control. Fish oil can help your dog's system regulate this balance.
Skin and Coat Health
Fatty acids help to maintain healthy skin, which in turn makes for a smooth, shiny, healthy coat of fur. And because of the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids, skin problems like allergies, hot spots, and yeast infections are less likely to occur.
Dogs who suffer from chronically dry or coarse coats, as well as those who deal with conditions that affect the skin and coat, are often given fish oil supplements to help manage the problem.
Joint pain and inflammation can also be addressed, at least in part, with fish oil and the fatty acids it provides. This is, as you may have guessed, thanks to the natural anti-inflammatory effects of fatty acids.
Veterinary experts often recommend supplements for dogs with arthritis, osteoporosis, or extra body weight that puts additional pressure on the joints. PetHonesty’s PureMobility Chews are made with high-quality fish oil, offering an excellent way to support your dog’s joint strength.
DHA, found in omega-3 fatty acids, is thought to help with proper brain and eye development in puppies. And it may also help our older canine companions. There's evidence that fatty acids help improve cognition in older dogs, especially those suffering with cognitive dysfunction.
Adding Fish Oil to Your Dog's Diet
Pet owners give their canine companions fish oil supplements to help promote heart, skin, coat, joint, and immune system health. The benefits are obvious, but you may be wondering how to choose the right supplement.
First of all, it's always best to consult with a licensed veterinarian (DVM) to make sure your dog should be given a dietary supplement in the first place. Your vet can guide you toward a fish oil that's best suited for your particular pooch.
There are various types of fish oils to choose from, including natural triglyceride oils, synthetic triglyceride oils, and ethyl ester oils. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so always check with your veterinarian to find out what type will work for your pet. Ultimately, it depends on your dog's current diet, body weight, and overall health.
Be sure to ask about the recommended dosage as well. Fish oil is well-tolerated by dogs even in large doses, but too much fish oil could cause upset stomach, clotting problems, or even obesity over an extended period of time.
There are soft gel supplements available, like PetHonesty's Omega Salmon Chews, or liquid food toppers that allow you to add a bit of fish oil to your dog's normal meals. PetHonesty’s Omega-3 Fish Oil 3-pack makes it easy to stay stocked up at home.
Fish Oil for Dogs: There's Nothing Fishy About It
Is fish oil good for dogs? The answer is yes. It's good for your dog's immune system, cognitive function, heart and joint strength, and skin and coat health. It can help your dog look and feel their best and it’s an effective way to maintain your furry friend’s well-being over their lifetime.
It's easy to add fish oil to your dog's diet. All you have to do is give them a chewable gel or tablet, or add a bit of liquid fish oil drizzled over the top of their regular meals. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian to choose the right type of fish oil, and don't forget to ask about the proper dosage.
To learn more about your dog's nutrition, health, and care needs, visit PetHonesty's blog today.