Dosage Guidelines and Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs

Fish oil is one of the supplements that has become increasingly popular over recent years for its long list of health benefits. People are buying and trying these supplements for the first time all over the world, but did you know they can benefit your dog as well?

Ahead, we’ll take a look at the benefits, dosage information, side effects, and buying instructions of fish oil for dogs and tell you everything you need to know about the popular supplement.

Why Should You Consider Fish Oil?

Fish oil comes with several benefits for both humans and canines - which we’ll discuss more below. Chances are, though, you’re not buying the healthiest food you possibly could for your dog.


The best food is often the most expensive, and not everyone has the means to shell-out on a five-star meal for their pet. More commonly, people feed their dogs food that has a high grain content and includes meat from questionable sources.

There’s nothing wrong with that - almost every dog owner has to make this sacrifice - but it isn’t the healthiest diet for your dog. Fish oil can come with a host of benefits and help bring their health back to where it should be.

There’s a lot of truth to the phrase “you are what you eat,” and dogs are no different. Food is their fuel, and fish oil supplements help bring their energy levels up and restore their health where some of the cheaper dog food options leave them behind.

Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs

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The benefits of fish oil for dogs are numerous, just as they are for us humans. Many of the same properties of fish oil similarly benefit us and our pets, though fish oil for dogs works a bit differently.


In this section, we’ll cover some of the most common and proven benefits that fish oil presents for our canine companions.

1

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil are some of the primary reasons people take the supplement and a leading benefit for dogs as well. Dogs with allergies or autoimmune conditions that leave them susceptible to inflammation can see particular benefits of using fish oil supplements since they can reduce the issues associated with them.

This benefit will also keep an older dog more youthful and decrease some of the inflammation and pain they have in their joints. Dogs with arthritis will be much more comfortable moving around, walking, and running than they have been in the past.

Even more importantly, anti-inflammatory supplements can help slow and even halt the growth of cancers in dogs and in humans. Cancer is often a death sentence for dogs - especially if you don’t have the means to pay for care for them. Some fish oil supplements can help prevent cancer from taking your dog’s life too soon.

Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory, which is what promotes all of these benefits.

2

​Skin and Coat Benefits

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Another - and more visible - benefit of fish oil for dogs is its ability to enhance the skin and coat of your animal. The health of the skin and coat are some of the best signifiers of the overall health of your dog, and fish oil starts working to improve these elements almost immediately.

Shortly after starting to give your dog fish oil, you’ll start to notice a sharp reduction in shedding and dandruff from your canine friend. Their coat will start to become shinier, their skin won’t be as dry, and any skin condition he or she might have will start to clear up.

The property that aids in promoting healthy coats in animals is the fat. You won’t be picking as much dog hair out of your sweaters after giving your dog some fish oil supplements.

3

​Heart Health Improvements

The same omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation will aid heart health as well, along with some of the other major organs.

Fish oil helps to reduce the number of lipids in the blood, which lessens the burden on the heart and makes everything flow more smoothly.

Other heart problems like irregular heartbeats, heart palpitations, and heart murmurs can also be improved by starting to give your dog fish oil supplements.

Dosage Information

You can figure out how much fish oil to give your dog with a little simple math. You will want to give your dog 20 mg for every pound they weigh, so just multiply their weight by 20.


If your dog weighs 20 lbs, then you’ll want to give him or her 400 mg of fish oil. All you have to do is use this scale to tailor the correct dose to your dog’s weight.

Side Effects of Fish Oil

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Getting the right dosage is important and giving your dog too much fish oil can create some side effects for them. A bit more fish oil than the dosage recommendation probably won’t do anything that bad, but going way over will probably cause some discomfort.


This is particularly noteworthy if your dog has a history of digestion problems. Too much fish oil can cause diarrhea, which neither you nor your dog will want. Likewise, we suggest slowly introducing them to fish oil if any digestion or gastrointestinal issues are present.


Omega-3s help to promote the flow of blood, but this can be a negative element if the dosage is too high or if your dog has a few different conditions. In some very rare cases, it might prevent the blood from clotting and creating scabs, which means your dog would continue to bleed from a small cut for some time.


Since this is the case, vets recommend that you don’t mix fish oil supplements with any blood thinning medication your dog might be taking. The same goes for anti-inflammatory medicine since this is another natural component of fish oil.


The final side effect isn’t a harmful one, but it’s still worth noting. Your dog’s breath might start to smell a bit more like fish - especially if you're breaking up the pill and putting it into their food. All you have to do is lower the dosage a bit, here, although keeping it at the same level won’t cause any harm to them. A dog’s breath isn’t always the picture of perfection in general.

Choosing the Right Fish Oil for
Your Dog

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There are several fish oil products on the market, though most of them are marketed towards humans. You can sometimes find high levels of omega-3 in some of the dog food you buy at the store, but this often isn’t enough for you to see a real difference in how your dog looks and behaves.


Sometimes, it’s best to give your dog fish oil supplements with their food to make sure they get the right amounts. This can be either a short-term or long-term dietary change, but it’s one that will show benefits after only a week or so of giving it to them.


Natural triglyceride oil is probably the most common supplement you’ll find on the shelf and is the easiest for your dog to absorb with their food. They only downside to natural triglyceride oil is that it’s possible that it contains PCBs and other contaminants.


Another option is ethyl oil, which is the distilled version. This won’t have as many contaminants as the option we mentioned above, but it isn’t as easy for your dog’s body to absorb. They might not be getting the same benefits over such a short period. Still, ethyl oil
contains two of the more critical components of fish oil: EPA and DHA.


Your final option is synthetic triglyceride oil, which is exactly what the name suggests. It won’t have the impurities, but it’s also the most difficult for the body to absorb than the other two we mentioned.

Getting Your Dog to Take Fish Oil

Not every dog is the most cooperative when it comes to taking pills. Luckily, fish oil pills are often relatively small and won’t be too much of a burden on your dog if they don’t mind sitting still and swallowing a pill. You can always stuff it into a treat as well, and they’ll scarf it down while hardly noticing.


You can always empty a pill into their food dish when it’s time to eat as well. We recommend using a pin or sharp knife to cut the pill, so it doesn’t spill or explode. Fish oil pills are liquid, so breaking it with something like a pill cutter won’t work.

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Talk to Your Vet

As you can see, there are several benefits to giving your dog fish oil pills. They can help improve young, healthy dogs and old dogs alike.


Still, we recommend talking to your vet before giving your dog any new supplements. They’ll be able to give your dog an individual assessment and tell you the best course of action for your particular situation.

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Dr Stephen Atwater

Stephen W. Atwater, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology) is a board-certified veterinary oncology specialist. His professional interests include utilizing emerging therapies for difficult to treat cancers.

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