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Is Fish Oil Good for Dogs?

Hold on to your hats, ‘cause we’re about to drop a truth bomb:

The only real difference between a beloved pet pooch and a stray dog is how they’re treated.

The former is well-fed, and given all the necessary nutrients and supplements. The latter lives off luck and whatever pizza crusts they can sniff out on a daily basis.

And if you’ve ever seen a skinny, sad-looking stray, you know that diet makes a BIG difference.

Just like with humans, diet has a huge influence on dogs’ overall health. But sometimes, dogs don’t get all the nutrients they need from their daily dry or wet food.

Luckily, highly nutritious supplements like fish oil can take over where food falls short.

Fish oil supplements have proven to be among the most essential supplements for dogs (and cats — and even humans). There are multiple benefits associated with adding fish oils to your dog’s diet. Let's explore some of those benefits for your own four-legged friend.

Click on any fish oil for dog benefits below to jump right to it!

Fish Oil Benefit #1: Improves Your Dog's Skin

Fish oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are crucial substances that play a number of different roles in both human and animal health.

BUT neither humans nor dogs can create these fatty acids by ourselves. We need to get them through our diet! (And often through supplementing with other sources, like fish oil.)

However, due to the high cost associated with producing omega-3-rich pet foods, most pet food manufacturers create foods with high quantities of omega-6 fatty acids, and lower quantities of omega-3s.

That’s why it’s important to supplement your pet’s diet with omega-3-rich fish oil supplements.

Omega-3 deficiency in a dog’s diet can lead to skin disorders such as dry, flaky skin, or seborrhea, which causes the skin to become greasy and develop scales.

In addition, it may cause an increased intensity of allergies to different foods, flea bites, or inhalant/contact allergies.

A regular ration of fish oil in your dog’s diet increases their body’s supply of omega-3, helping lessen the intensity of allergies and skin scaling disorders (and providing even more benefits, as you’ll see).

Golden Retriever outside in the grass

Fish Oil Benefit #2: Reduces Inflammation and Joint Pain

Inflammation due to a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is common among dogs. Unfortunately, this deficiency can also play a role in other health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, brain disease, and arthritis.

An effective way of reducing potential inflammation and autoimmune response (AKA when the body attacks its own cells) in your dog is by supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

Why is fish oil so high in these acids? Well, shellfish and cold-water fish contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats. These fats are a rich source of omega fatty acids, which help the body create important hormones involved in regulating blood flow and reducing inflammation.

Supplementing your dog’s food with fish oil will increase the omega-3 fatty acids in their body – thus reducing inflammation.

As your pet ages, they may experience joint pain or stiffness. Conditions like osteoarthritis are common among dogs with omega-3 deficiency.

In advanced stages, osteoarthritis can result in:

  • Hesitance to jump or play
  • Weight gain
  • Stiffness
  • Stress while urinating and/or defecating

Improving the supply of omega-3 fatty acids through fish oil supplements helps support your dog’s joint lubrication and overall joint health, meaning they’re less likely to experience the discomfort and dysfunction that can come with age.

Fish Oil Benefit #3: Helps Treat Cognitive Dysfunction

Imagine coming home to the utter shock of your favorite pet failing to recognize you. Cognitive dysfunction, like memory loss, is the doggie version of human complications like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Some of the complications associated with cognitive dysfunction include:

  • Loss of house training
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Disorientation

Omega-3 fatty acids contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which supports cognitive function in both humans and dogs.

In a study conducted on 142 senior dogs, those fed DHA rich fish oil supplements showed improvements in cognitive dysfunction-related complications. And the sooner you start supplementing, the better — since DHA has also been shown to improve cognitive development in growing puppies!

Fish Oil Benefit #4: Aids Brain and Eye Development in Puppies

The greatest joy for any pet owner is to see their puppies actively taking up training; whether house training, basic manners, or obedience.

Training is one of the most daunting tasks that a dog owner has to implement to ensure that their dog is fit and in optimal health.

Most people suggest that consistency is the most important part of the training. They fail to recognize that nutrition has an equivalent part to play in improving a puppy’s learning ability.

The eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA present in fish oil play an important role in retinal development and brain development in puppies.

If you are looking to grow a stronger bond with your puppy and have an easier time during training, start supplementing its diet with fish oil for dogs. 

Fish Oil Benefit #5: Supports a Healthy Immune System

Recent studies have revealed that the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil can provide a strong immune-enhancing effect.

One study at Michigan State University showed that fish oil enhances the activity of a critical type of white blood cell called B cells.

Using two sets of mice to test the effects of enhancing animals’ diets with fish oil supplements, the study revealed that the EPA and DHA present in fish oil enhanced antibody and B cell activation. This helps in pathogen clearance and in dampening inflammatory responses. Simply put, fish oil’s fatty acids can help the body fight off intruders and decrease harmful inflammation.

Although the study was conducted on mice, the findings suggest that the EPA and DHA in fish oil are useful in boosting a dog’s immune system and warding off the harmful effects of stress.

Fish Oil Benefit #6: Improves Stamina

Many dogs undergo high levels of muscle strain during training to enhance their muscle strength and endurance. A well-trained dog isn’t just a wonderful companion — he can be a useful resource at home, or in a pupfessional setting!

Two dogs playing around with one dog having a empty milk carton in it's mouth

Conditioning and training your dog often requires a complex routine, with practice exercises, daily walks, and naturally, proper nutrition.

Since omega-3 fatty acids can help improve muscle strength and endurance, supplementing your dog’s diet with fish oil can enhance the effects of their training.

Fish Oil Benefit #7: Reduces Anxiety and Depression

In a world full of depressants and anxiety triggers (yep, even for dogs), getting your pooch on the right diet can be tricky. While omega-3 fatty acids aren’t a cure-all, especially for dogs suffering from severe anxiety, there is evidence that omega-3 supplementation can reduce signs of mild anxiety in dogs (including high levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, and elevated heart rate).

Dog looking out the window to the outdoors with it's paws on the windowsill

Fish Oil Benefit #8: Improves Your Dog’s Appetite

High-quality, pure fish oil products (like, well, ours) can stimulate even the pickiest dog’s appetite.

If your pooch enjoys fishy smells and tastes, head for our Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. If they prefer a less-sniff-centric experience, you’ll get the same benefits with lower fishy smell from our Omega-3 Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats.

Still have questions which fish oil is best for your dog? This article, Salmon Oil vs. Fish Oil for Dogs — A Detailed Comparison, breaks down the differences and will help you decide which is best for you and your dog!

Fish Oil Benefit #9: Supports Weight Management

In our opinion, an overweight dog is one of the saddest possible sights. They can’t run with the rest of the pack, they’re slower in training, and as they age, their overall health will suffer.

Overweight dog looking sad while laying down

The omega-3s found in fish oil may be helpful at reducing obesity, though the exact mechanisms by which this happens are unclear to researchers. That being said, take a look at this study in mice wherein the use of DHA supplementation with a high-fat diet led to a 57% reduction in white adipose tissue (AKA fat)!

Get Your Dog Some Fish Oil Supplements Today

With their broad range of benefits, it’s impossible to understate the importance of including omega-3s in your dog’s diet. A consistent dose of fish oils per day will support your pup’s overall health from head to toe.

We’re proud to offer a broad range of high-potency, all-natural fish oils that deliver effective doses of both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Check out our fish oil products today to see the difference they make in your dog’s overall health. 

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