Fish Oil For Dogs: The Benefits & Proper Dosage

fish oil for dogs

Fish oil is not just good for dogs – it’s great for them! In fact, most canine nutritionists would agree that fish oil with the proper amounts of EPA/DHA is probably the single most beneficial natural supplement you can provide man’s best friend. So why aren’t your giving your dog the same health boost you provide yourself?

Please keep reading as we discuss the role of fish oil in a dog’s diet, and how much to administer to reap its enormous benefits.

What Does Fish Oil Do For Dogs?

The benefits of fish oil for dogs are virtually identical to those we previously described for cats, although its efficacy for treating dogs is even more firmly-established.  As we discuss below, the potent anti-inflammatory agents in fish oil (Omega three long chain fatty acids) can prevent and treat a wide variety of canine maladies.

On the more cosmetic side, fish oil can promote a supply, shiny coat of fur and reduce or treat skin irritation and dandruff.  It can also lessen shedding, a huge bonus for most housedogs and particularly their owners.

It’s beneath the surface however where fish oil really works wonders. Supplementation for dogs is widely accepted to treat many conditions, including allergies, arthritis, GI disorders, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, kidney problems, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and even cancer.  Moreover, fish oil supplementation has also been reported useful towards maintaining a proper bodyweight, increasing activity, and heightening cognitive function in both older dogs and puppies. Importantly, this “mental enhancement” effect observed from dosing with fish oil is believed to also accrue to fetuses (and carry over to puppies) when this supplement is ingested by their mothers – a finding that’s been corroborated in at least one human study!

How Much Fish Oil ?

As far as dosing, this is very easy and does *not* require mathematical precision. While you should always consult with a licensed vet before proceeding with any supplementation regime, most reputable sources agree that for both cats and dogs, you should aim for providing a minimum of about 20 milligrams of EPA and 12 milligrams of DHA per pound of body weight each day.  In other words, if your dog is 5 pounds, you’d need roughly 100 mg. of EPA and 60 mg of DHA. If fluffy is closer to 50 pounds, then you’d be shooting for 1000 mg/600 mg of EPA and DHA, respectively.

Administering Fish Oil to Your Dog

Some dogs take to fish oil taste/smell more easily than others, but most will accept the pill stuffed into a food or a treat. For dogs averse to pills, just puncture the gel cap and squeeze out the amount of oil needed over food. Or better yet, buy fish oil liquid to add to the food so you aren’t popping caps each day. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

Fish Oil Side Effects?

Don’t freak out if you’ve slightly overdone the dose! The two most likely side effects of going overboard are mild diarrhea and halitosis – i.e., a common case of bad breath. Nevertheless, keep things within the ballpark and watch out for particular conditions that may require closer attention. For example, since fish oil tends to thin the blood and can suppress immune function (albeit at much higher doses), make sure your vet approves any supplementation for dogs that are weak, immune-suppressed naturally or due to steroid treatment, or are at risk for bleeding.

Which Fish Oil is Best?

Although you can certainly purchase fish oil made specifically for dogs and cats, such as Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet 180 Soft Gels, the pills made for humans are just as good but may be more tedious to dose for smaller dogs that need very little oil. In any event, just remember to avoid fish oil with vitamin D added, as this is reported to exceed the amount of vitamin D they can handle and subsequently cause unwanted soft tissue and bone mineral deposits.

Featured (top) image credit: “the rainbow dog” by Enrico under CC BY 2.0

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