Fish Oil for Dogs: What It Is, Benefits and Dosage


What are Omega 3s?

Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to provide a wide range of beneficial effects in humans and animals. They are a powerful, natural method of decreasing the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. However, studies in dogs and cats have found that when used for arthritis management, our pets may need higher doses than what most over-the-counter products recommend.

To further complicate matters, there are three types of Omega 3s. They include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). Dogs specifically need EPA and DHA to decrease inflammation due to arthritis.

The most potent source of EPA and DHA is fish oil. You can provide EPA and DHA by giving fish oil supplements, whole fish (anchovies, sardines), or feeding a prescription food contains high levels of fish oil.

Did you know: Dogs cannot metabolize ALA (flaxseed, linseed or canola oil) sufficiently to help treat arthritis.

How much Omega 3s does my dog need daily?

The recommended dose of fish oil is 75-100 mg/ kg total EPA/DHA. CARE typically recommends about 100 mg/kg.

Your dog’s maximum daily dose is 310(kg)¾

Please note that there is an upper limit on how much Omega 3 is good. Overdosing with Omega 3s can lead to: vomiting and diarrhea, altered platelet function (and therefore the potential for reduced blood clotting), delayed wound healing, weight gain, altered immune function, and more. It is important that your veterinarian knows that your pet is taking Omega 3 supplements and that you do not give more than the recommended amount.

To figure out your dog’s body weight in kilograms (kg), divide their weight in pounds by 2.2. For example, 50 lbs = 22.7 kg. A 50-lb dog would need about 2,000 mg (2 grams) of fish oil per day. The maximum dose for a 50-lb dog would be 3,200 mg/ day.

Don’t like having to make calculations? Here are charts to determine your dog’s recommended daily dose.

What Is Fish Oil for Dogs?

Fish oil is just what it sounds like: oil that comes from fish. Some fish, particularly fish that reside primarily in cold waters, like salmon and cod, contain more oil than others, and therefore most fish oil supplements are derived from these varieties of fish.

Fish oil supplements are used because they contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which are often in short supply in our dog’s diets. Both DHA and EPA are essential omegas for dogs that are found in fish oil.

Is Fish Oil Good for Dogs?

Fish oil can be very good for dogs, especially:

  • Dogs with heart problems
  • Dogs who need a little extra help maintaining healthy skin and coats
  • Puppies who need the extra healthy fat to help their brains develop optimally
  • Dogs with joint or cognitive issues
  • Your veterinarian can let you know if your dog needs a fish oil supplement based upon their current health and their diet. Some dog foods don’t contain the optimum amount of omega-3s, mostly because they are difficult to incorporate since they go bad when exposed to the air.

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