As part of the family, dogs deserve the best possible care we can provide for them. One easy way that helps in taking care of your dog’s health is by giving them fish oils. This is probably the most essential supplement you can add to your dog’s diet, in spite of what type of diet you give it. But what’s the best fish oil for dogs?
Fish oil can help to prevent a number of medical conditions in canines and can also be used in the treatment of others. DHA and EPA, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, provide widespread benefits for these animals, making them an ideal supplement for the well-being and optimal health of dogs of all breeds and ages.
The Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs
Potential benefits from EPA and DHA in fish oils includes:
- Healthier skin and fur – the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can greatly improve skin and coat quality so the dog gains a naturally shinier coat.
- Adds moisture to the dog’s skin, therefore reducing the severity and frequency of dry, irritated, or itching skin.
- Reduces inflammation caused by conditions such as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis.
- Helps in the mental development of fetuses and puppies, and also improves the cognitive function in older dogs.
- Reduced joint discomfort – as a benefit of decreased inflammation, the amount of discomfort that older dogs tend to experience around their joints is also reduced, allowing the dog to stay active and happy.
- Regulates the immune system, boosts those that are suppressed and calms overactive immune systems for canines with autoimmune diseases or allergies.
- Provides support for canines with kidney disease.
- Keeps blood triglycerides within proper levels.
- The antioxidant properties lowers the risk of cancer.
- Reduces the risk of stroke or heart problems.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Reduces shedding.
- Promotes weight loss in overweight dogs.
- Increased stamina and renewed energy
- Can also be used to boost your pet’s appetite by adding that appealing fish flavor.
Possible Side Effects
While fish oil is generally beneficial to your dog’s overall health, we can’t ignore the fact that too much of a good thing can sometimes have adverse effects. Some of the possible side effects of fish oils include:
- Reduction in blood clotting: The anti-inflammatory effect of DHA and EPA tends to increase the production of certain chemicals which alter platelet function. Platelets are cells that are produced in the bone marrow, which help in forming blood clots thus preventing blood loss from trauma or other conditions or events causing hemorrhage. Animals given excessive amounts of fish oil tend to suffer from higher blood loss when wounded or when they have conditions that cause bleeding.
- Gastrointestinal distress: Introducing too much fish oil in your dog’s diet at once, may cause the pet to suffer from different signs of gastrointestinal distress such as changes in levels of flatulence or bowel movements, along with general discomfort.
- Possible negative interaction with other anti-inflammatory medication: In case your pet is currently on prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, you should consult with the vet before giving it fish oil to avoid any possible negative interaction.
- Vitamin E Deficiency: Too much fish oil and omega-3 can also lead to a decrease in vitamin E, which is essential for dogs. Therefore, when buying fish oil supplements, consider brands that include vitamin E options. Alternatively, get vitamin E supplements for the dog separately.
Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency
If your dog is not getting enough omega-3 in his diet, there are a number of symptoms that you can look out for. These include:
- Dry coat
- Fatigues easily
- Dry, itchy, or flaky skin
- Joint pain
- Brittle nails
Varieties of Fish Oil Supplements for Dogs
There is a broad variety of fish oil supplements for dogs in the market. Below, is a list some of these products – all of which have been derived from natural sources, such as salmon and anchovies. They are also thoroughly screened and inspected for quality of product, correct measuring of dosage, and safety.
As the name suggests, this product only uses 100 percent pure oil from wild Alaskan salmon. It comes in convenient pump-bottle dispensers that are available in different ounce containers. The Grizzly Salmon Oil supplement contains over 15 varieties of different fatty acids, including Omega-3, Omega- 6, and Arachondic fatty acid groups which you would ideally want to get from a fish oil supplement.
The AllergG-3 supplement by Vetoquinol is derived from cold water fish caught in the wild. It’s one of the best available supplement in capsule form and also one of the best sellers online. Each capsule includes Vitamins A, E, and D3, and provides 2000 mg of fish oil in the Large Dog formula. Dosage levels vary by size and each supplement contains the right amount of EPA and DHA.
This particular product is sourced from wild caught sardines and anchovies, which are high in Omega-3 content. Compared to other supplements, it’s quite expensive per ounce although the dosage levels are actually lower. You’ll find that as little as half a teaspoon of this supplement is recommended for dogs between 20 – 40 pounds and dosages move up in half teaspoon increments for every 20-30 pound differences. So, a little goes a long way.
This Omega 3 fish oil supplement by TerraMax Pro is derived from sardines, anchovies, herring, and mackerel with no fillers and is available in an easy to use pump bottle.
This product has many of the benefits that you’ll find in the Grizzly product, but with a few differences. For instance, it is stabilized with Rosemary extract. Rosemary is an antioxidant that can help to get rid of some of the odor that’s common with natural salmon oil, which is found in this product. Additionally, this supplement only contains Omega 3 fatty acids.
Fish Oil Dosage for Dogs
A safe upper limit of DHA and EPA for dogs has been established by the National Research Council. The data suggests that a dose of between 20mg and 55mg combined DHA and EPA per pound of body weight is safe for your dogs. This dose is, however, far less than what is used in the treatment of serious conditions, where the benefits of treatment outweigh the risk of side effects. Hence, if the dog has serious health concerns, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian who will recommend the required higher dosages for treating those conditions.
DHA and EPA, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, are fragile and very unlikely to survive storage in bags of kibble. Also, they may be rancid even before you add them to your pet’s food. It is, therefore, recommended that fish oil is protected from heat, light, and air. Liquid fish oil should be stored in the refrigerator using dark bottles and to avoid rancidity, only buy amounts that can be used within a month or two. Additionally, if you detect an “off” odor, you should discard the oil.
Many human and pet supplements have been tested by independent agencies and none have found mercury. However, several products had unsafe levels of PCBs, provided less DHA or EPA than was indicated on their labels, or were spoiled. If concerned about contaminants, you should look for molecularly distilled products. More concentrated forms, that have higher amounts of DHA and EPA per gram, usually result in lower levels of contaminants.
It’s also worth noting that liquid fish oil products made specifically for humans normally contain flavorings that our canine friends simply do not like so it would be better to get a supplements that are made for your dog.