Fish Oil vs. Flaxseed Oil for Dogs

Fish Oil vs. Flaxseed Oil for Dogs

Flaxseed and fish oil are excellent sources of vital Omega-3 fatty acids. However, while these supplements offer remarkable benefits and can elevate your dog's health, it's crucial to understand their unique considerations and potential side effects if not used properly.

Can flaxseed oil effectively replace fish oil, or is it the other way around? Delve into our guide to uncover the answer and make an informed choice for your furry companion's well-being. 

Comparing Fish and Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), a flowering plant that produces fiber. It is rich in Omega-3 fatty acid or a-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential dietary component for canines. Dogs can take flaxseed oil directly through their mouth or with their food.

On the other hand, fish oil is a supplement from salmon and other cold-water fish. Like flaxseed, it contains Omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You can try giving it as a pill or smearing it with peanut butter as a healthy snack alternative for your pet.

Difference in Omega-3 Content

The main difference between flaxseed oil and fish oil is their nutritional value. Flaxseed has higher fatty acids than fish oil. However, studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of flaxseed oil are more effective for humans than dogs. 

Canine bodies cannot convert ALA into EPA and DHA, so you must give them higher doses for it to be effective. Beware that flaxseed oil has Omega-6, which can be too much for your dog if you feed it commercial dog food.

Benefits of Flaxseed vs. Fish Oil

Fish oil and flaxseed oil are widely used for dogs. From strengthening their immune system to keeping their bones healthy, here are the advantages of flaxseed and fish oil for dogs:


  • Keeps your dog’s coat shiny and healthy: Flaxseed can improve the skin conditions of dogs, giving them a better and shinier coat.
  • Prevents cancer: It reduces the risk of getting cancer for dogs when mixed with cottage cheese and flax hulls. This provides healing oxygen to the cells and boosts the immune system.
  • Improves digestion: It contains antioxidants and fiber to help dogs with diarrhea and constipation.
  • Develops strong bones and flexible joints: Flaxseed supplements can slow down joint degeneration or osteoarthritis (OA) among older dogs.
  • Relieves stress and enhances mood: It regulates cortisol, or the primary stress hormone, which can keep your pup's exciting nature.

Fish Oil

  • Reduces flaky and itchy skin: Fish oil also promotes a silky coat and prevents dry skin as it relieves allergies.
  • Protects the heart: It serves as an anticoagulant that prevents blood clots, which can further lead to heart disease.
  • Relieves joint pain: It has anti-inflammatory properties to help manage osteoarthritis among dogs.
  • Improves cognitive function: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements can help puppies with their brain development. Senior dogs can also benefit from long-term memory.
  • Promotes healthy eyesight: DHA can prevent eye deterioration in old age. It can also protect dogs from acquiring eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Which Oil is Better for Dogs?

Some people consider flaxseed oil as a more appealing choice than fish oil supplements, which can result in bad breath or foul odor. However, its anti-inflammatory effects lack effectiveness since they vary in Omega-3 content. It can also be potentially harmful and may inevitably lead to skeletal issues when taken regularly.

Most experts opt for fish oil rather than flaxseed oil for dogs. It is certainly more effective and considered a safer option than flaxseed oil. Moreover, the side effects of taking flaxseed oil may include vomiting, delayed wound healing, diarrhea, and pancreas inflammation.

Meanwhile, giving your pet high doses of fish oil can also result in severe side effects, such as sleepiness, itchiness, and their bodies emitting a fishy smell. If these symptoms persist, we suggest not giving either supplement to your dog. 

Risk Factors of Flaxseed vs. Fish Oil

You shouldn't give dogs flaxseed or fish oil if they are allergic to them. Heavy metal toxicity can happen if you get these oils from harmful sources or ingredients. Some great sources of fish oil include mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna. You can add these types of cold-water fish to their regular diet.

If your dog is on anticoagulant medications, it's crucial to administer these oils in small doses to mitigate the risk of severe bleeding and bruising. For pregnant or nursing pets, be mindful of vitamin A overdoses and ensure the oil dosage is accurately measured to prevent any adverse effects.

Flaxseed Oil as an Alternative to Fish Oil

Although flaxseed oil is generally safe for use, higher doses may lead to potential side effects in your dog. In some cases, increased dosage can cause the skin to become more flaky and the coat oilier than usual. This condition is identified as Seborrhea oleosa, a result of elevated levels of fatty acids.

When administered properly, flaxseed oil can improve digestion and reduce the risk of getting parasites in the intestine. It can be a good alternative to fish oil but it does not guarantee treatment for digestive issues, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and even canine dementia in old age.

You may opt for flaxseed oil to prevent your dog from developing bad breath as a result of taking fish oil. However, we recommend not removing the fish oil from your dog’s diet entirely unless your vet says so. At the end of the day, many experts would argue that fish oil is still safer and more effective than flaxseed oil.

Make Informed Decisions For Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

While flaxseed can be a suitable alternative to fish oil, it is not recommended for all dogs, especially those with allergies. For a brand you can trust, try Stryde fish oil, which contains Omega-3 fatty acids certified by veterinarians.

Make sure to consult your vet first before choosing which oil is better for your pet. Any changes to your canine's diet can improve or worsen its condition. Giving proper doses of these oils can provide many health benefits for your pet. To learn more about keeping your dogs strong and healthy, visit the Stryde blog.