As much as we, humans, take supplements, our dogs can also have their dose. There are so many pills and supplements being sold in the market for every purpose you can think of. Fish oil, for one, promises to provide an added kick of Omega fatty acids to support heart health and more. But what are the benefits of fish oil for dogs? Will it be the same with humans?
Well, there have been heated discussions about this matter for some time now. Some pet owners attest to its efficacy, others despite it. We have to recognize here that every dog is different from the other.
Fish oil is said to improve a dog’s coat, skin, and joints. There are many benefits associated with this supplement and whether this is best for your dog or not, we’re about to find out here:
What is fish oil for dogs?
Like most fish oil products, the one formulated for dogs contain two major substances: DHA and EPA. But unlike the one produced for humans, the fish oil for dogs are made in a limited capacity to suit your pet’s system.
Aside from that, fish oil has three dietary fats: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats. The most important of the three is the polyunsaturated fat or PUFA. PUFA produces different hormones necessary for a dog’s overall health. Your dog needs this for a variety of benefits (which will be discussed later) that they simply can’t get from plain meals alone.
The problem about dog food is it’s packed with too much Omega-6 more than Omega-3. Many dog food manufacturers use refined oils instead of natural ones as sources of fatty acids. With that, your dog gets more Omega-6 fatty acids that what he actually needs. Omega-3, meanwhile, is a bit scarce.
Omega-6 is common among processed dog food. So to provide added nutrition, the best fish oil for dogs with Omega-3 will serve your dog well.
Usually, quality Omega-3 fatty acids are extracted from sources like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, and more.
Should I give it to my dog?
Take note that the diet of your dog will dictate whether you should or shouldn’t give him fish oil supplements. If the dog food you’re serving is high in grains, vegetable oil, and packed with meat from grass-fed animals, a fish oil supplement will be a great addition. It will cover the low Omega-3 content of the doggo meals.
Your veterinarian can advise about this addition. Sometimes, fish oil can be a long-term integration, but it can also be a short-term supplement to improve your pet’s diet.
Fish oil is relatively safe, but to be sure, it pays to talk to the vet. But as mentioned earlier, here are the potential benefits of fish oil to your furry buddy:
>The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils will balance the effects of Omega-6. This prevents Omega-6 from causing increased inflammation especially in dogs with arthritis, allergies, and immunity issues.
>Like how DHA and EPA work for humans, fish oil will promote cognitive development to puppies. It’s also beneficial to older dogs in terms of maintaining their cognitive functions.
>The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil will enhance coat and skin health as well as the energy levels of the dog.
So the answer as to whether you should give this to your dog or not is both. I still suggest that you consult a veterinarian.
When not to give fish oil?
Fish oils are healthy supplements only if its suits the condition of your pooch. The descent to the fish oil fad can be a slippery slope for some. It’s important to remember that fish oils are also packed with Omega-6, and if the dosage goes beyond the ceiling with the meals added, it can put your dog at risk.
So the key here is not just simply supplying them with the pills or drops. Any addition to a dog’s nutrition should always be done in line with their entire diet. I know that not all pet owners have the nutritionist prowess. A talk to the vet will maximize the benefits of fish oil for dogs and prevent any untoward incident of overdose, poisoning, or allergies.
Also, polyunsaturated fats, if taken in large amounts, can be dangerous. This is the reason why taking a look at what the dog meals contain is a must.
When it comes to your dog’s condition, you shouldn’t give him fish oil supplements if he’s under an immunosuppressive therapy. You should seek the advice of the vet before administering the oil.
Moreover, it’s not advisable to feed your dog with fish oil if he’s under a certain medication. Although you can get the best fish oil for dogs, it may not react well with other substances.
How fish oil works
Dogs, like humans, require DHA and EPA to sustain the health of various cell membranes. These two substances are best found in fishes, thus the rise of fish oils. DHA and EPA help reduce the risk of inflammation (a risk of too much Omega-6). Therefore, the dog will experience less swelling, redness, and pain brought by different health conditions like arthritis.
Studies say that EPA has more anti-inflammatory effects than DHA. Still, this pair goes hand in hand to balance the function of each other.
DHA, moreover, plays a vital role in the development of dog neurons. The supply becomes crucial during the pup years where the brain and cognition of the puppy are at the peak of development.
The positive effects should take place after the first three weeks of ingestion. Still, this would vary depending on the size, age, and dosage given to the doggo. Just take note that giving your dog too much fish oil can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or worse.
There are instances that fish oils made for humans will work for some dogs. But even if the dosage is right, we still don’ recommend this.
What is the recommended dose?
Getting the right dosage is way difficult than what you imagine. It’s not as simple as popping a pill or drops on your dog’s mouth or meals. You should consider the size of your doggo to avoid overdosing him. Basically, here’s the recommended daily dosage.
NOTE: This is just a rough estimate. You should seek the clearance of the vet to reap the benefits of fish oil for dogs.
|DOG WEIGHT||RECOMMENDED DOSE|
|2-4 pounds||143 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids|
|5-9 pounds||285 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids|
|10-19 pounds||570 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids|
|20 pounds and above||310 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids for every 20 pounds|
Take note that the goal here is to get as many Omega-3 acids possible for your dog’s size. Always check the label of the fish oil. If it contains hefty amounts of Omega-6, you should look for another option. As I said earlier, your dog is getting enough Omega-6 from his meals.
Remember that EPA and EFA are two different substances and not just a case of misspelling. EFA stands for essential fatty acids. EFA can both be Omega-3 and Omega-6 combined in one supplement. Always target to get a fish oil with the least Omega-6 component.
Potential side effects
The best fish oil for dogs isn’t without its share of side effects. As each doggo differs from the other, the effects of fatty acids will also vary.
But usually, these side effects only take place if the fish oils are given in excessive dosages or if the dog has an underlying illness:
>Omega-3 fatty acids can slow down blood clotting. While this effect is observed more in cats than in dogs, it’s important to clarify that Omega-3 isn’t a total evil. This is the reason why it should be paired with a humble amount of Omega-6. They balance each other’s functions, remember?
Omega-6 promotes healthy blood clotting but also increases the risk of inflammation. Meanwhile, Omega-3 decreases blood clotting but it also tames the possibility of inflammations. Sounds fair, right?
>It can worsen gastrointestinal issues of a dog. If your pet has issues with this tummy, it’s best to introduce fish oil with as little dosage as possible. You can make increments if the doggo seem to respond well to the new addition.
>If the breath of your doggo starts to stink with the fishy smell, it’s pressing to lower the dosage of the fish oil. If the odor persists, you should consult the vet right away.
>Over time, fish oil consumption will deplete the Vitamin E supply of the dog’s body. You’ll need to supplement this too in the future to maintain the balance.
How do I pick the right fish oil?
Fish oils aren’t made the same. True enough, there are three types available in the market: ethyl ester oil, natural triglycerides oil, and synthetic triglyceride oil. Here are the differences between the three:
Ethyl ester fish oil. This one is distilled and concentrated as well as free of impurities. It’s the one with the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA. This is considered to be the closest to organic, being a semi-natural oil.
Natural triglycerides fish oil. Since this oil is natural, it’s the fastest of the three to absorb. BUT, it’s not purified and will likely contain various contaminants that will be harmful to your pet.
Synthetic triglyceride fish oil. This is synthetic, as the name suggests, and definitely the hardest to absorb of the three types.
What suits your dog depends on what your vet says. But you don’t have to be an animal doctor to know that the ethyl ester fish oil is probably the safest.
If you still can’t decide, here’s a simple guide from BrightDog Academy:
How to keep fish oils
Take note that it’s not enough to get the best fish oil for dogs. You should also practice proper storage to keep its quality.
Always purchase fish oils stored in dark bottles. Fish oils can start to go rancid if it’s exposed to too much light, air, and heat, so it’s a rule of thumb to refrigerate it all the time. If the fishy odor is already foul, throw the oil away.
Even if top-shelf fish oils for dogs can be pricey, it bears the most benefits of fish oil for dogs.
The best fish oil for dogs
Zesty Paws Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
This fish oil is extracted from salmon and you can use it as an additive to your dog’s meals. Instead of brown bottles, it comes in a pump plastic container for easier application. The Zesty Paws oil is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids as well as DHA and EPA. Take note, however, that it also comes with Omega-6. Make sure that you can balance this properly to avoid any potential side effects.
It has a dosage suggestion on the label, but based on my experience, it’s best to ask the vet about it. There’s nothing special about this fish oil, though, but it works and my dog loves the taste.
Grizzly Salmon Oil
Now, if you’re looking for an ‘all-natural’ product, the Grizzly Salmon oil might fit your dog. It’s also extracted from pure salmon and contains the blend of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids together with arachidonic fatty acids. The latter is responsible for boosting immunity and enhancing the inflammation reaction of the dog’s body.
The good thing about this fish oil is the minimal Omega-6 component. Only 3% compared to 29% of Omega-3.
The oil comes in the same pump bottle. It’s an excellent fish oil and it really made my dog’s fur shine better than before. However, the price has doubled – or even tripled. The manufacturers probably knew that they are selling good stuff.
It’s undeniable that there are benefits of fish oil for dogs. However, you should always consider the opinion of a vet before giving the supplement to your dog. By doing so, you can maximize the positive effects of the oil and dodge the negative ones.