Is fish oil safe for dogs?

Just like us human beings, our dog’s health depends on a rich diet which must include a variety of things. In addition to ensuring good quality dog food for your canine buddy, it is important to keep a track of the nutrition levels of your dog’s diet.

 Their diet should of course include proteins, vitamins and minerals, but what more can you do to boost your dog’s immune system?

As a dog parent, you must be interested in the popularity of fish oil supplementation in the market. Why is fish oil supplementation important? What are its health benefits and are there any side effects? Let us find out the answers to these questions.

Why Fish Oil Supplements?

Quite evident from the name, fish oil supplements are the supplements made of fish oil which is derived from marine animals. These supplements are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Fishes feed on algae which are rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

These “essential fatty acids” need to be consumed in the diet since animals are incapable of producing them on their own. Some common sources of fish oil supplements are salmon, tuna, mackerel, sturgeon, bluefish, sardines trout, herring, anchovies and menhaden. The EPA and DHA are metabolized to series 3 prostaglandins, thus influencing the inflammation rate.

What is Omega-3 and why is it important for your dog’s diet?

Fats, commonly popular amongst us for their bad reputation, are not necessarily bad. There are four types of dietary fats namely saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and trans fats.

What we are looking for here is the Omega fatty acid which is found in polyunsaturated fats. These fatty acids help in regulating blood flow and inflammation by releasing important hormones.

Omega-3 is one such fatty acid which is very important for the growth and development of your pet. The two important fatty acids EPA and D are found in Omega-3 only. While your dog can make some types of fatty acids on its own, but essential fatty acids must be supplemented through the diet. Cold water fish, shellfish, flax seeds, plant and nut oils, are some of the food products rich in Omega fatty acids.

One more benefit of Omega-3 is that it counter balances the Omega-6 fatty acids levels which is found in abundance in a dog’s diet. The dog food which you usually feed your pet is majorly made from the meat from corn-fed animals, which are rich in Omega-6.

It is also found in refined oil which is also used to process dog food. Not to discard completely the importance of Omega-6 in the diet, however a balance the fatty acids of both is required.

Health benefits of fish oil supplementation

Fish oil supplements being a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, are proved to be highly beneficial medically for dogs. The following are some of the health benefits:

  • Fish oil supplementation reduces shedding and improve the coat condition of your canine friend.
  • It improves the immune system, sustains strong bone development and helps in treatment of ailments like arthritis. 
  • It is very supportive in curing allergic skin conditions.
  • Highly recommended for pregnant females and puppies as it is proved to ensure proper brain and eye development in puppies.
  • One of the most important roles of fish oil supplementation is to reduce inflammation (in the heart, kidneys, joints or any other place).
  • It also serves in relief from inflammation pain.
  • It is said to slow down cancerous cells growth due to its antioxidant properties. 
  • It boosts up the energy levels and aids in healthy kidney functioning.
  • It is said to be helpful in treatment of diseases related to heart and kidney, and is also used in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction.

How much supplementation is safe?

A general daily dosage required for dogs (as per Nordic Naturals) can be summed up as follows:

  • For a 2-4 pounds weighing dog, 6 9mg of EPA, 41 mg of DHA and 143 mg of total long chain Omega-3.
  • For a 5-9 pounds weighing dog, 138 mg of EPA, 83 mg of DHA and 285 mg of total long chain Omega-3.
  • For a 10-19 pounds weighing dog, 276 mg of EPA, 166 mg of DHA and 570 mg of total long chain Omega-3.
  • For dogs weighing 20pounds or more, 150 mg of EPA (per 20 pounds), 90 mg of DHA (per 20 pounds) and 310 mg of total long chain Omega-3 (per 20 pounds).

Side effects of fish oil supplementation

While there are a lot of health benefits of fish oil supplementation, an excess dosage can be harmful.

Also, you must be aware of some of its potential side effects, some of them being the following:

  • EPA, DHA and some other Omega-3 fatty acids can cause delayed clotting in dog’s body which is a potential problem especially for dogs who are scheduled to be operated. 
  • The healing process of a dog’s body may get affected due to the inflammation-reducing effects of fish oil supplementation (since it slows down the production of white blood cells, which is responsible for shielding against infections).
  • Indigestion of these fatty acids may lead to intestinal upset and diarrhea.
  • Bad fishy breath is a common side effect.
  • Excess of supplementation may lead to an oily coat.
  • It may abrupt the functioning of some other medications if any being prescribed.
  • Excess dosage may lead to Vitamin E deficiency and weight gain.

However, if consumed in right dosage, fish oil supplementation is quite recommended and is appropriately safe for your dog. You can and you should consult your veterinarian for the right amount of dosage for your dog. Fish oil supplementation has not only proved to be beneficial for dogs but also for cats.

Dog parents and cat parents all over the globe have switched to fish oil supplementation due to the great medical benefits. With the introduction of a simple supplement, your pet can enjoy all the various benefits of fish oil and live a healthier life.

After all, nothing is more satisfactory than living with a healthier loving pet.

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