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Fish Oil For Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

You’ve likely heard about the many benefits of fish oil. We don’t always get the right amount of vitamins and nutrients from the foods we eat, so experts often recommend adding supplements to our daily diet. For example, the World Health Organization recommends consuming one to two portions of fish every week in order to use the omega-3 fatty acids that fish provides. Since many people don’t eat the right amount each week, fish oil supplements are often the next step.

However, humans aren’t the only ones who will benefit from this type of supplement. Dogs need omega-3 fatty acids to be healthy as well. Plus, fish oil can help with a number of illnesses and ailments in dogs. If you are thinking about adding fish oil supplements to your dog’s diet, read on to learn everything you need to know from the canine nutrient experts of The Pampered Pup.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is a supplement that comes from fish tissue. Fish oil typically is extracted from the oily fish tissue of coldwater fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and anchovies. It may also be produced from the fish liver as well, known as cod liver oil. About 30% of all fish oil offers omega-3 fatty acids as well as some Vitamin A and D. There are two main omega-3s found in fish oil that are important to digest- eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, otherwise known as EPA and DHA. Both offer numerous health benefits for humans and dogs.

Since most dogs do not get enough fish in their diets, a fish oil supplement will be the next best thing. You can find fish oil supplements online and at your local health food or grocery store-basically anywhere that vitamins and supplements are sold. Just remember, most supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, so you’ll want to make sure you choose the right brand for your dog. Your veterinarian will be a trusted source of information when you want to begin adding fish oil to your dog’s diet.

Fish Oil Benefits

There are many benefits of fish oil supplements. Read on to learn about the biggest benefits for your dog.

  • If your dog suffers from dry, flaky skin, especially when it’s due to an allergy, fish oil can help by reducing their constant itching and scratching. It does so by decreasing the production and release of cytokines, the most potent stimulator of inflammation. Fish oil has also been shown to improve the appearance of a dog’s coat.
  • Fish oil can protect your dog’s heart by reducing the chances of their heart developing atrial fibrillation or an irregular heartbeat. It is also an anti-coagulant and can help prevent blood clots from forming.
  • If your dog has pancreatitis, heart disease, or inflammatory bowel disease, fish oil can help decrease the harmful triglyceride levels their body is dealing with.
  • Many dogs, especially older ones, suffer from arthritis in their joints. Fish oil has been shown to decrease the prostaglandins that can cause inflammation to occur, thereby offering relief from the pain of stiff joints. Many dogs, as well as cats and horses, are able to move around easier and start to become more agile after taking fish oil supplements.
  • Fish oil will lower elevated blood pressure in dogs with failing kidneys as well as decrease the amount of protein that is lost when they urinate. It has also been shown to fight against various other serious diseases by boosting the immune system of the dog.
  • Veterinarians often encourage dog owners to add fish oil to their dog’s diet on a daily basis.
  • The supplement can be added directly to their meals every day.

What to Watch For

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Fish oil is a safe supplement for dogs to take on a regular basis. However, there are some side effects you will want to watch out for after you start them on the supplements. The most common are diarrhea, oily coat, flaky skin, sleepiness, vomiting, upset stomach, and delayed wound healing. Many dog owners also notice that their dog has a fishy smell to their breath and skin.

Serious side effects from fish oil are rare but have been reported. These include persistent stomach upset and vomiting, loss of appetite, incoordination, abnormal bruising and bleeding, and inflammation of the pancreas. If your dog is pregnant, nursing, or has a history of pancreatitis or diabetes, fish oil should be given sparingly.

In most cases, side effects occur because the dose is too high for the dog. Always talk with your vet concerning the dose before starting your dog on fish oil supplements. Since vitamins, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications may interact with one another, always be upfront with your vet about what your dog is taking. This includes any herbal supplements as well. You may be asked to schedule an appointment a few weeks after starting fish oil supplements so that your vet can check on your dog’s progress.

How to Give Your Dog Fish Oil

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Natural triglyceride oil, synthetic triglyceride oil, and ethyl ester oil are the three main kinds of fish oil available for dogs. Natural triglyceride oil is one of the best fish oils for your dog as it is easier for them to absorb. Synthetic triglyceride oil is a synthetic type and doesn’t absorb as well. Ethyl ester oil is concentrated and distilled, meaning all impurities have been removed. It also contains high levels of EPA and DHA.

Fish oil supplements come in liquid and capsule form and can be given by mouth. If your dog easily swallows pills, you can add their supplement to a small piece of human food every day, such as deli meat or cheese. You may also mix liquid fish oil with their wet food. If you use a liquid fish oil supplement, make sure you are giving your dog the right dose to avoid any complications. Give your dog the supplement when they eat or right after their meal as some dogs suffer from upset stomachs when they take it on an empty stomach.

You may notice some gradual improvements within the first couple of days. However, in most cases, it will be a couple of weeks before you notice the full effects of the supplement.
Always talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog fish oil supplements. How much they need to take will depend on three factors: their age, weight, and size. Fish oil can be an amazing addition to their diet when you use it correctly.

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