The fatty acids found in fish oil have incredible benefits for species of all kinds. Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t know just how beneficial fish oil supplementation can be. To put it simply, dogs and fish oil make a great combination!
You can buy fish oil in a liquid or capsule form. The liquid is easy to administer by pouring over food or adding to homemade dog food. If your dog is like mine and will eat anything that smells good, he may just take the capsules like a treat – it doesn't get much easier than that!
Dogs and fish oil go well together in virtually every way. Fish oil can aid in almost every aspect of your dog's overall health and well-being. From brain function to a shiny coat, the benefits of giving your pet a fish oil supplement are numerous.
Let's take a look at 20 of the best benefits of fish oil for dogs…
Dogs and Fish Oil
20 reasons why you should give fish oil to your dog
1. Fish Oil is Anti-Inflammatory
One of the two omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil – EPA – is a powerful anti-inflammatory. This means that fish oil can benefit dogs with a wide variety of conditions including auto-immune diseases, arthritis, dysplasia, heart disease, and muscle strain or injury. Inflammation is also associated with post-surgical recovery, so fish oil can speed up recovery following surgical procedures.
2. The Fat in Fish Oil is Great for Your Dog’s Coat
High in healthy fats, fish oil not only creates a shiny, healthy coat, but it also reduces shedding. Combine regular fish oil supplementation with daily or weekly brushing (depending on the breed of your dog) and your dog’s coat will look better than ever.
3. Dogs Supplemented with Fish Oil Tend to Shed Less
The healthy fats in fish oil create stronger, healthier hairs which means less shedding. Although dogs tend to “blow their coat” once or twice a year, an unhealthy diet can cause increased shedding. Supplementing with fish oil results in fewer dead and dull hairs, which means less hair falling out.
4. The DHA in Fish Oil is Beneficial For Brain Development
Adult dogs and senior dogs can benefit from fish oil too because it helps to stave off depression, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction. Fish oil has also been shown to improve memory, improve learning, and promote better behavior.
5. DHA Is Also Beneficial for Your Dog’s Eyesight
DHA is not only beneficial to the brain, it has eyesight benefits as well. In puppies, DHA can promote healthy eye development. In adults, studies have shown that DHA can help prevent or slow deterioration from glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, and macular degeneration, as confirmed in studies.
6. Experimental Studies Have Shown that Fish Oil May Slow the Growth of Certain Types of Cancers
Research has shown that an excess of omega-6 (frequently found in abundance in dog foods) can stimulate the growth of certain types of cancers. This over-consumption of omega-6 can be offset by supplementing with the omega 3’s found in fish oil. Omega-3’s decrease the negative effects of the omega-6’s so that they are less likely to set the stage for cancer development.
It’s important to supplement with healthy sources of omega-3 when fighting cancer. Healthy sources include krill oil, sardines, mackerel, salmon, and menhaden. Cod liver oil is NOT a good supplement source for omega-3’s.
7. Fish Oil Can Boost Your Dog’s Immune System
Recent research has found that the DHA in fish oil can increase B cell activity. B cells are a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the body’s immune response.
B cells are specialized immune cells that make antibodies. Antibodies affix themselves to the antigens on germs. This stops germs and makes them recognizable as invaders that must be destroyed.
8. Fish Oil Can Remedy All Types of Skin Conditions
Whether your dog has itchy skin, allergies, dry skin or dandruff, fish oil can help. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, fish oil is hydrating, which means that dry skin receives the injection of moisture it needs to repair and recover. Secondly, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are anti-inflammatory.
Many skin conditions result in inflammation and redness that can be bothersome and cause more scratching. Reducing inflammation stops the cycle of scratching and damaging skin.
9. Fish Oil Can Tempt Even the Pickiest Dog to Eat
Fish oil has a very fishy scent and a fishy taste which is particularly appealing to some dogs. Adding a little of this stinky, tasty treat to your dog’s kibble can tempt them to eat when they are being extra picky.
Fish oil on food can also help to get your dog to eat when they are sick or experiencing anorexia from medication side effects. This is particularly common with chronic illnesses, and dogs and fish oil can also be beneficial to canines suffering with cancer.
10. Fish Oil is Beneficial For the Heart
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Now, high triglycerides aren’t usually a concern for dogs, but blood pressure can be. For example, in some dogs with heart disease where the heart struggles to pump blood, a reduction in blood pressure can make this easier.
Most of the time this decrease in blood pressure is achieved with prescription medications, but fish oil can be beneficial too. In fact, regular supplementation with fish oil can help to avoid the need for such medications that come with a whole host of nasty side effects.
11. Some Studies Indicate that Fish Oil Can Aid in Anxiety Relief
Dogs and fish oil benefits aren't just physical. A recent study has shown that the omega-3’s found in fish oil can decrease anxiety.
This is due to the fact that omega-3’s promote healthy brain activity. The specifics of why omega-3’s help with anxiety is still a mystery, but studies confirm lower levels of omega-3’s in individuals displaying anxiety and higher levels in those without anxiety.
12. Fish Oil Can Benefit Dogs with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Canine cognitive dysfunction is a natural result of aging in the brain. Most dogs will experience some degree of CCD in their senior years. Fortunately, studies have shown that supplementation with fish oil can reduce the severity of dementia and even keep it at bay.
The reason behind fish oil’s benefit in CCD is thought to be the result of the anti-inflammatory, anti-tau, and anti-amyloid action of omega-3’s. Interestingly, supplementation with omega-3’s alone does not seem to have the same effect as supplementation with fish oil.
13. Fish Oil Can Help Control Diabetes
Recent research studies have shown that fish oil supplements can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This happens as a result of an increase in adiponectin hormone levels which play a role in insulin sensitivity.
For dogs with type 2 diabetes already, fish oil supplementation can help in the same way. Some dog parents have even found that with proper diet and fish oil supplements, their dogs eventually no longer need medications. I told you dogs and fish oil could have HUGE benefits!
14. Fish Oil Can Improve Circulation
There are many health conditions that can result in poor circulation, but supplementing with fish oil can help. Fish oil firstly reduces inflammation in the body which can lead to poor circulation. Secondly, fish oil helps to clear plaques that may have built up in arteries (although this is uncommon in dogs) and allows for better blood flow.
15. Omega 3’s Can Be Beneficial For the Thyroid
Research has shown that fish oil may play a role in thyroid health by promoting the uptake of thyroid hormone. Studies compared the thyroid hormone receptor and enzyme levels in individuals supplementing with fish oil and those without.
Those taking fish oil had better thyroid hormone uptake. This is particularly good news for dogs with hypothyroidism. Additionally, since inflammation is a contributing factor to hyperthyroidism, fish oil has been beneficial in hyperthyroidism patients too.
16. Omega 3’s Can Be Beneficial For the Kidneys
Researchers studying fish oil and its use in kidney failure patients have found that high doses of fish oil can slow kidney failure. In these studies, 85% of patients taking high doses of fish oil still had kidney function eight years later.
This compares to 56% of patients who were not taking fish oil. Although this research is still in its infancy, it holds promise for dogs with kidney disease.
17. Fish Oil Can Improve Recovery by Reducing Muscle Fatigue
Fish oil is also beneficial for working dogs and sporting dogs. Studies have found that dietary supplementation of fish oil delays muscle fatigue. This happens because the DHA in fish oil cuts down the amount of oxygen used when muscles contract.
18. The DHA in Fish Oil Can Benefit Epileptic Dogs
In 2014, researchers released study results that showed a correlation between omega-3 fish oil intake and seizure activity. Individuals with epilepsy – particularly those who no longer respond to medications – experienced less seizure activity when they took fish oil supplements daily.
The theory here is that fish oil promotes brain health but it also helps to stabilize heart rhythm and reduces the excitability of brain cells. The culmination of these factors results in fewer seizures.
19. Fish Oil Can Help Fight Depression
Researchers believe that there is a link between low levels of EPA and DHA and depression. Although more research is needed, preliminary research has shown that supplementation with fish oils can reduce levels of depression.
Few of us consider that our dogs can become depressed, but they can. Depression in dogs is particularly common in dogs grieving the loss of a companion or human guardian.
20. Fish Oil Can Lower Blood Pressure
The role of omega-3 fatty acids in high blood pressure reduction is not known, but studies have proven that fish oil supplementation does cause a reduction in high blood pressure. Although dogs and cats can both experience hypertension, it was only recently that vets began measuring blood pressure routinely because primary hypertension is quite uncommon.
Only between 0.5% and 10% of dog’s experience primary high blood pressure. Unfortunately, high blood pressure can also be the result of another illness, disease or the side effect of a medication. Secondary hypertension is more prevalent than primary hypertension and makes up 80% of hypertension cases in dogs!
The Bottom Line
Dogs and fish oil are a great combination, and this supplement provides a plethora of health benefits for canines of all ages. Like any supplement, however, it’s important to consult your vet before combining dogs and fish oil.
You should only give your dog the purest forms of fish oil and dosing should always be established by your vet. However, the chart below gives basic dosage limits for dogs and fish oil.
|Weight in Lbs||MG of Omega-3 Daily|
*Note: Pay attention to the quantity of Omega-3’s in your fish oil supplement. Just because a supplement is 1200mg fish oil, it may be that only 360mg of that is omega-3’s.
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