What You Must Know About Fish Oil For Dogs
Latest Update: May 3, 2018
A lot of people know about the benefits of fish oil for us and the extensive research put into it, but can be surprised when thinking about how it can help dogs. It’s not as well known, but dogs can get a lot out of fish oil. Having a diet that has the right fats (such as fish oil) can help their appearance and their health.
The reasoning is simple: Dogs and cats would get some amount of fish oil in their natural diets while in the wild. Just as they enjoy the benefits from natural animal fat from prey on land, food caught in the water can also provide some great nutritional elements.
That’s why you may want to consider adding fish oil supplements to your dog’s diet if you haven’t already. They could be missing out on some of the very best nutrients necessary to maintain a happier, fuller, and longer life.
Our Top Picks for the Best Fish Oil for Your Dog
Why Use Fish Oil for Dogs?
There has been a lot of buzz lately about using fish oil supplements in humans for heart and brain function. It turns out that dogs also benefit from daily doses of fish oil.
This power-packed supplement is great for a dog' skin, coat, kidneys, joints, heart, immune system problems and even problems with cancer. Fish oil for dogs is a daily supplement that dog owners can simply add to their pet's meals. Several top picks for fish oil supplements will be reviewed and discussed at length in this article.
We all want to know where our supplements come from. The beneficial fatty acids found in fish oil come from fish such as tuna, anchovies, salmon, sardines, herring, and black cod. Each of the reviews found below will examine the key ingredients found in each supplement.
Main Differences Between Salmon Oil, Krill Oil, and Fish Oil
While it is true that salmon and krill oil can provide dogs with the highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, there are some differences you should be aware of.
Krill oil is derived from small crustaceans as opposed to fatty fish, and usually contains a greater amount of EPA. And unlike regular fish oil, the omega-3 fatty acids in krill contain the antioxidant known as astaxanthin.
Fish oil does, however, have a significantly longer life than krill oil, lasting around 48-72 hours before the oxidation and decomposition process begins.
Salmon oil is derived entirely from salmon, whereas fish oil is derived from trout, salmon, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and other types of fish.
Important Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs
Anti-inflammatory Properties - EPA, one of the fatty acids found in fish oil, can help with conditions that cause inflammation of the heart, kidneys, skin, and joints. Arthritis is just one condition that owners see improvement in after using fish oil regularly.
Allergies - The anti-inflammatory properties in fish oil for dogs can also ease the inflammation caused by allergies. Just like humans, some dogs suffer from skin, seasonal, and environmental allergies and can find relief with a good fish oil supplement. Skin allergies especially may benefit from fish oil consumption in dogs, even hot spot flare ups!
Healthy Coats and Shedding Reduction- Your dog's coat needs nutrition as much as the rest of his body. Many fat supplements benefit skin and coats for dogs, but fish oil reacts with the oils already in your dog's coat that leads to a shinier, healthier coat with reductions in shedding.
Brain and Eye Development - Research from Heinemann, Waldron, and Bigley (1966) suggests that DHA, the other fatty acid found in fish oil, is a key component in brain and eye development in puppies. Giving fish oil for dogs to a pregnant or nursing dog can benefit her puppies from birth as their bodies develop.
Slowing Cancer Growth - In preliminary studies, fish oil has slowed the growth of cancer cells in animals. While the results are NOT yet widely conclusive, many vets recommend fish oil for dogs with cancer not only due to the potential for slowing cancer growth, but to help ease other symptoms associated with cancer progression.
Possible Side Effects of Fish Oil Supplements on Dogs
While fish oil is a safe supplement for dogs there are a few side effects that can be possible. One of the main ways to avoid these is to be aware of how much fish oil you are giving your dog.
The National Research Council suggests a safe upper limit of 20-55mg of combined EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids per pound of body weight is safe for dogs.
Gastrointestinal distress - This can be caused by introducing too much fish oil into your dog’s diet at one time. This can be noticeable by changes in bowel movements or flatulence levels along with general discomfort.
It’s always best to speak with a veterinarian, and figure out the right rate of introduction of fish oil supplements to your pet. Work your way up to the recommended dosage.
Clot Reduction - Fish oil, by its very nature, is a slippery substance. While it owes much of its benefit to that fact, it can also slow down clotting by making it more difficult for platelets to stick together.
If your dog has a history of getting scrapes and cuts while playing in the outdoors, or when roughhousing with other dogs, then you may want to ask your vet about the right levels of fish oil to provide your pet. It’s VERY important to not give your dog fish oil if they are on any blood thinning medications.
Interaction with other anti-inflammatory medication - If your pet is on an anti-inflammatory medication then be sure to talk to your vet before giving it fish oil. That's a good rule of thumb to follow when thinking about any supplements, not just fish oil.
Here is an article in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine if you are interested and want more information about adverse effects of fish oil on pets.
Other Concerns about Fish Oil
Some controversy has surfaced about the safety of fish oil for dogs due to the mercury content found in many ocean fish. (This article from Dog's Naturally Magazine goes into more detail about this issue: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/fish-oil-for-dogs-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/)
Most dog owners simply remain conscious of the daily dosage fed to their dog. Some owners to look for fish oil supplements from smaller fish like anchovies and sardines as their size and life span limits the amount of toxin buildup in their systems.
As always, if you have any concerns or questions before starting your dog on a new supplement regimen, consult your veterinarian.
Other Popular Supplement Guides
How Much Fish Oil Should I Give To My Dog?
Usually when buying a fish oil you will see dosage instructions on the bottle. This can vary wildly depending on the product. It's a good idea to follow what the manufacturer states but here's a good rule of thumb to keep in mind.
Fish Oil Dosage Chart for Dogs
|Your Dog's Weight (lbs.)||Recommended Dosage|
|Under 30 lbs.||Consult a vet. (Likely under 1,000mg)|
By now, you’ve likely noticed a pattern: For every 30 pounds of body weight, it’s recommended that you give a dog 1000 mg of a fish oil supplement, which contains 300 mg of EPA/DHA.
As always, it’s best to consult a vet if your dog has serious health concerns, as the vet may recommend an increased amount of fish oil to combat potential issues. Even if your dog doesn’t have serious health issues, remember that this isn’t set in stone and talking to your vet about dosage specific to your dog is ideal.
What Does Vitamin E and Fish Oil Have In Common?
Increased intake of fish oil can also mean a decrease in vitamin E, which dogs also need. When choosing the right supplement, you may want to search for brands that include vitamin E options, or purchase vitamin E supplements for dogs separately. Vitamin E is important in:
- Maintaining eye health.
- Supporting a healthy immune system.
- Reducing muscle wastage and degeneration.
- Promoting greater fertility in dogs.
A good rule of thumb to follow is the more fish oil your dog takes, the more vitamin E they will need.
The exact calculations for vitamin E necessary are a bit more precise than our general fish oil dosage guide, but understand that higher quality fish oils actually reduce the amount of vitamin E required, while lower quality fish oils increase that amount. That’s why it’s always best to go with the healthiest, most effective fish oil specifically formulated for dog health.
Is Fish Oil Good for Your Dogs Dry Skin?
When you find that your dog has dry skin, this condition can extend to their coats as well. This combination can lead to sores and other infections on your dog's skin if it is left untreated.
By supplementing fish oil into your dog's food, they'll get valuable nutrients. The nutrients can soothe their dry skin, and help with other body systems at the same time.
Fish oil is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, and Vitamins A and D. These nutrients help to promote healthy skin cell growth in your dog.
- Did you know that the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids found in fish oil help by building up the new skin cell walls? Fish oil adds moisture into the new cells, and this makes them more immune to damage like dry skin.
- The Vitamin A in the fish oil will help your dog's skin by holding moisture in, and this can help the skin cells be more resistant to injuries. Also, if there is a skin injury, Vitamin A will help it heal faster.
- Fish oil also contains Vitamin D, and this vitamin is responsible for promoting new, healthy skin growth and your dog's metabolism. A boost of Vitamin D from fish oil can increase the rate in which your dog's body is able to regenerate healthy skin to replace any dry or damaged skin they may have.
- One cause of your dog's skin problems could be an overactive immune system, and fish oil can help to calm it. This has the potential to help with dry skin, allergies, or other skin conditions your dog may have.
Soothe Skin Related Allergies and Coat Problems
Fish oil also helps to reduce scratching from skin conditions and allergy problems. The nutrients in the oil help to promote healthy skin and reduce any issues that may come along with a skin allergy.
- Since fish oil contains fatty acids, it'll help decrease any inflammation either inside your dog, or on their skin. Once the inflammation has been decreased, the fish oil will add moisture as well, and this will all work to promote healing.
- Did you know that your dog's coat may become dull as a result of the allergic reaction and inflammation that is present on your dog's skin? A fish oil supplement will work to add nutrients back into the coat, and it will provide a barrier to lock the nutrients in.
- You may also notice your dog shedding and losing a lot of their fur. Fish oil can help decrease the amount your dog is shedding by giving your dog a boost of fatty acids.
Fish oil has several benefits for your dog's skin, coat, and their immune system. It will work to promote healthy skin while reducing any inflammation or dry skin your dog may be experiencing.
Types of Fish Oil
Fish oil comes in liquid form or capsules. Liquid isn't superior to capsules and capsules are not superior to liquid. It's just an option you can choose to make it easier to give to your dog. In the review section coming up, we cover both liquid and capsules.
Most owners add the oil directly to their pet's food. Some dogs will consume a capsule on its own or wrapped in a pill pocket.
Reviews of the Best Fish Oil for Dogs
Choosing the right fish oil supplement for your dog can be a challenge. With so many options available, you may feel overwhelmed. We will analyze 5 of the top selling fish oil supplements available on the market. These reviews will examine three key elements:
- Product features (where and how the oil was sourced)
- Price, packaging and size (the overall value of the product)
- Health benefits (how using each product may help your dog)
1. Zesty Paws Pure Salmon Oil
This all natural oil is also made from 100% salmon oil. This oil boasts a taste that cats and dogs both enjoy when put directly in pet food. This fish oil is manufactured in an FDA approved facility.
This salmon oil comes in a 32 ounce bottle. This liquid fish oil also comes with a pump dispenser and should be refrigerated after opening.
The purity of this oil ensures that your pet will reap the benefits of the fatty acids. This product can be added to your dog's food like other liquid products but the improved taste makes it a tempting option for pets.
Many customers appreciate the hefty product size and claim it will last for quite a while when refrigerated properly.
Some customers reported issued with shipping, but also stated that the company was prompt to fix these problems and replace damaged products quickly and easily.
Things We Liked
Things We Didn't Like
2. Grizzly Salmon Oil
This fish oil is sourced from fresh wild caught Alaskan salmon. There are no added ingredients. This oil comes in liquid form and is easily added to dog food.
This product comes in pure oil liquid form with a pump dispenser. Directions for dosage are included on the bottle.
The size of this product varies from 8 ounce bottles to 64 ounce bottles. This allows you to choose a size right for your dog and your budget.
For large dogs or multiple dog households the larger sizes may be the best value especially if you will be giving this supplement to your dog every day.
Grizzly Salmon Oil supports a healthy heart, coat, and immune system. This fish oil is 100% pure salmon oil with no worries of added ingredients.
Customers asked directly about the mercury content of this fish oil, to which the company responded that mercury levels in this product were below detection levels.
Customers also discussed a sudden increase in price at length. They revealed that the company has paused production of their largest size products due to a short supply of salmon in 2016. This means that the large size containers are being sold by third parties until the company resumes their line of large sizes.
The quality of this product is supported by many customer reviews. Buyers reported unmatched transparency from Grizzly Pet Products about how their products are sourced and manufactured.
Things We Liked
Things We Didn't Like
3. TerraMax Pro Omega 3 Fish Oil
This fish oil is sourced from wild caught cold water Sardines, anchovies, herring, and mackerel in Iceland. This oil is molecularly distilled to remove as many harsh chemicals as possible to undetectable levels, including mercury and metals. The company also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their products.
This oil is also liquid form with a pump dispenser. Dispensing and dosage guidelines are provided on the packaging. Terramax's simple sizing options and lower prices are worth consideration from pet owners.
Terramax Pro Omega 3 helps support a healthy heart, joints, brain, skin, and immune system for your dog. It also helps maintain vision, reduce allergies, and promote weight loss.
Customers like the simplicity of buying Terramax Pro Omega 3 for their dogs. One customer stated that this product helped their dog with seasonal itching that usually resulted in scabs and sore spots. After regular use of the product, the dog is comfortable and scratch free all year.
Another customer stated that this product helped her dog recover from an allergic reaction to a flea collar. Still more customers share that this product has helped their dogs reduce shedding and allergic reactions during changing seasons.
Customers with cats have reported a difficult time getting felines to consume food with this oil on it, but that another Terramax Product, Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil yielded much better results.
Customers caution that this product does need to be refrigerated after opening to maintain quality and freshness.
Things We Liked
Things We Didn't Like
4. Amazing Nutritionals Omega 3 Chews
These chewable "treats'' are an option for finicky dogs or owners who don't like the idea of liquid oil in their kitchens. These chews are liver and bacon flavored to help attract picky eaters. Each serving of 3 tablets provides your dog with 150 mg of fish oil. The packaging does not state where the omega 3 is sourced from.
One bottle of these omega 3 chews includes 120 tables. The average dosage is 2-3 tablets (dosage is included with the bottle).
These tablets boast the usual support for heart health, skin, allergies, and joints. The real benefit of this product is its chewable form. The tablets do not need to be refrigerated and there is no mess to clean up should the product spill.
Customers found that this supplement does not have a fishy smell as strong as liquid fish oils. However, most of the review report improvements in skin issues and allergies in dogs.
The most popular feature of this product is that it comes in table form and can be given to your dog like a treat. Customers enjoy the ease with which their can give this supplement to their dog.
Things We Liked
Things We Didn't Like
5. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet Soft Gels
Sourced from wild sardines and anchovies, these soft gels can be easier to feed than liquid oils that may spill. These soft gels make dosing easy with no measuring or pumping needed.
These soft gels come in two bottle sizes: 90 count or 180 count. Average dosing is 1 soft gel for 20 pounds of weight. With the average 20 pound dog only needing one soft gel, these bottles could be the best value for small dog owners. The company also offers a liquid form of their fish oil if desired.
In addition to the benefits listed with other products from the fatty acids, Nordic Naturals fish oil is processed for optimal absorption into your dog's system for fast and efficient results. Nordic Naturals also has all of their products third party tested for purity from mercury, harsh metals and other toxins.
The first thing customers appreciate about Nordic Naturals is their purity standard and commitment to third party testing and mercury removal. While the packaging does not discuss this, information about this product's quality can be found on the company website.
Customers also appreciate the simple soft gel application for small dogs. Customers with large dogs were disappointed with the dosage requirements and argued that large dog owners should stick with liquid fish oil to get the best value.
Things We Liked
Things We Didn't Like
Our Top Fish Oil Pick
Zesty Paws Pure Salmon Oil is the best fish oil for dogs and owners looking for good quality fish oil at a great price. While other products offer convenience, Zesty Paws offers a straightforward, quality, affordable product with no added ingredients. The company is sensitive to concerns about mercury and toxin content and addressed those concerns transparently.
While Grizzly Salmon Oil is high quality, many customers are concerned with price increases and reduced availability of their products. Nordic Naturals has a comprehensive purity standard explained on their website, but large dog owners struggle with cost effectiveness.
Zesty Paws is safe for small and large dogs. Dosing is simple (1-2 pumps on average) and quality is backed up by countless customer reviews.