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Fish oil for dogs – how does it help?

If you’re looking into supplementing your dog’s diet with fish oil, or you’ve been recommended it by your veterinarian, you’ve come to the right place. YuMOVE has the answers to all your most common questions on the topic of fish oil for dogs, whether you’re wondering if cod liver oil is a good option, or you want to know if it’s really worth the cost. So, let’s take a look!

What is fish oil for dogs?

Fish oil is a dietary supplement that’s often recommended for dogs and other pets by veterinarians, as it can help to support everything from their heart to their joints. Fish oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation in the body, boost the immune system.

Just like us humans, dogs can't produce these essential fatty acids by themselves, so they need them added to their diets. That’s where YuMOVE comes in!

Your veterinarian may recommend your dog take fish oil for a short-time or they may recommend your precious pooch takes fish oil for a longer length of time. Either way, there are lots of benefits and it’s these are common recommendations – so don't be concerned if your pup is about to start taking a fish oil supplement.

Is there a more natural way to get these fatty acids, rather than supplements?

Lots of foods contain high levels of essential fatty acids, but not all those foods are suitable for dogs, and not all dogs like them. Cold-water fish, shellfish, plant and nut oils, and flaxseed are all great sources of Omega-3, for example. If your dog’s diet doesn’t contain a huge amount of those, supplementation is a handy way to strike a healthy balance.

Lots of pre-made dog foods actually contain meat from corn-fed animals, or refined oil, which can lead to a build-up of another type of fatty acid – Omega-6 – in your dog’s diet. Too much Omega-6 can lead to all sorts of problems. Thankfully, Omega-3 helps balance out the Omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods and lots of grains, so the benefits really are huge.

Is cod liver oil the best fish oil for dogs?

Cod liver oil – like other fish oils – is indeed high in Omega-3. As pet parents we often take cod liver oil as it offers lots of benefits including increased heart health and lowered blood pressure. But while cod liver oil is a popular option for us humans, a fish oil specifically designed for dogs is better for your four-legged friend than cod liver oil alone.

The reason is, cod liver oil – which is extracted from the livers of Atlantic Cod – also contains quite high levels of Vitamins A and D. So, while it’s a great source of Omega-3, it contains additional vitamins that your dog is likely not deficient in. Too much of these vitamins can cause an excess to build up in your pup’s liver. Plus, you should never give a dog a cod liver oil tablet designed for a human as the canine dosage would be very different.

Therefore, ensure you look into specifically designed, dog-friendly fish oil supplements, as they will have the correct dosage and ingredients to make sure your pup stays happy and healthy for years to come!

So, what is the best fish oil for dogs?

Now that you've put the cod liver oil down, you'll be glad to know there are other more suitable fish oil sources that don't contain any of the the unwanted extras! There are several Omega-3s, but the two main ones found in fish oil are EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Some of the highest levels of these are found in high quality salmon oil, so this is a great way to get the benefit from those Omega-3s, minus the side effects.

Whichever dog supplement containing fish oil you're looking at, pay close attention to the active ingredients. The higher the levels of Omega-3 in a fish oil supplement, the greater the benefit to your pet. Oftentimes oils like cod liver oil tend to be quite low in the active Omega-3s and higher in Vitamin A.

The quality of the fish oil is also crucial. High quality salmon oil for dogs will have fewer impurities than a lower quality oil and will taste better, so your dog won't baulk at that ‘fishy’ taste. It also supplies a higher level of active Omega-3 for your dog, so you know your canine companion is only getting the best.

What are the benefits of my dog taking fish oil?

Now we’ve got the science out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of fish oil for dogs, specifically salmon oil.

Skin benefits
Fish oil can be particularly helpful for dogs with itchy or dry skin. 

Joint care
Dogs with stiff joints may also benefit from increased levels of the Omega-3 found in fish oil. One of the most useful Omega-3s found in our ActivEase® Green Lipped Mussel to support mobility is ETA (Eicosatetraenoic Acid). This is one of the ingredients we use in supplements like YuMOVE Joint Care PLUS for Dogs, which we produce to soothe joint stiffness in older dogs, active dogs, or dogs with severe stiffness. Grown in the crystal-clear waters of New Zealand, this ingredient provides a unique blend of Omega-3 fatty acids to help soothe stiff joints in dogs.

Immune response
Increased consumption of Omega-3 has been shown to have beneficial effects on the immune systems of ageing dogs in particular. We all know that our immune system protects us from picking up constant bugs and viruses and acts as a barrier to keep us well, so your senior pooch could well do with a dose of this immune-boosting oil.

Puppy growth
Got a younger dog? In puppies, large quantities of the Omega-3 DHA are deposited in the brain and eye during late-stage gestation and in the period right after birth. Continued consumption of Omega-3 DHA can help with brain and eye development in young animals.

Healthy circulation and more
Omega-3 can also support healthy circulation in dogs, which is important for your dog's heart health. Not only that, but it can help with cognitive function in senior dogs, as well as canine arthritis and even chronic kidney disease. It’s fair to say the list of benefits is a long one!

How do dogs take fish oil?

You can get fish oil for dogs in tablet form, but it can be tricky convincing your dog to take them! You could try hiding tablets in their food but we all know our pooches are clever, and can often find a way to spit tablets back out again. You can also try crushing the tablet into a powder and sprinkling it over thier food. But, a good trick is to put the tablet in a piece of something yummy and pretend like you've dropped it by mistake - we know what our pups can be like, if they think they aren't allowed something, they will go straight for it.

Is fish oil safe for dogs?

Fish oil is safe for dogs, so long as you’re using a specially formulated supplement at the correct dosage based on the size and weight of your pooch. If in any doubt at all, always speak to your veterinarian and never give your dog a fish oil tablet for humans.

Are there any side effects to fish oil for dogs?

One of the more common side effects of fish oil for dogs, particularly in higher doses, is diarrhea – although it’s still a fairly rare symptom. Occasionally, dogs can also suffer from vomiting, delayed wound healing, sleepiness, or itchiness. If you’re worried at all, speak to your veterinarian right away and hold off giving your pup any more fish oil.

How much fish oil should I give my dog?

The amount of fish oil you'll need to give your dog all comes down to their size and weight. It’s important to give your dog time to get used to new things you introduce into their diet, so try using half the daily recommendation for the first week. And always make sure you're giving the correct dosage, as too much can cause your pooch to get sick.

A final word on fish oil for dogs

As pet parents we all want the best for our four-legged friends, and by supplementing their diet with fish oil you're providing another boost to their health. Always seek advice from a veterinarian if your dog shows any symptoms that suggest taking a fish oil supplement could help, just first rule out any underlying causes. Then, rest assured that so long as you're giving your pup the correct dosage and a high-quality fish oil with no unwanted ingredients, you’re setting your pooch up for a healthy and happy life – with lots of fun ahead for the both of you!