Close-up of a dog’s paws and a bowl with wet dog food

How Omega-3s in Fish Oil Support a Dog’s Overall Health

As our beloved canine companions grow, providing them with the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active is essential.

Fish oil for dogs can be a great way to maintain your pet’s health. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), that aid your canine’s health in multiple ways.

This article will discuss how these nutrients help keep your pet healthy. We’ve also included a quick guide to the ideal omega-3 sources for dogs and how much of these fatty acids your canine should consume.

What Nutrients Can Canines Get From Fish Oil?

Fish oil in dietary supplements and food contains omega-3 fatty acids, a group of polyunsaturated fats. These nutrients produce the hormones responsible for controlling blood flow and inflammation while storing energy and helping canine bodies absorb essential vitamins.

Additionally, omega-3s balance the presence of omega-6 fatty acids commonly found in processed foods and many grains. Some dog foods are derived from animals raised on a diet heavy in corn or contain refined oil abundant in omega-6s, potentially leading to an excessive intake of these nutrients for dogs. 

While omega-6s are necessary for both human and canine diets, maintaining a proper balance between omega-6s and omega-3s is vital for overall health. 

The Main Forms of Omega-3 at a Glance

Omega-3s primarily comprise alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), EPA, and DHA. ALA can be found in nuts, seeds, and other plant sources, and when it’s ingested, a canine’s body must convert it into EPA and DHA. This process takes much longer than usual, so giving ALA to a puppy is better than giving it to a senior or sick dog.

Meanwhile, DHA and EPA in fish oil are found in cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies. They’re the fatty acids produced from converted ALA.

What are the Benefits of Omega-3s in Fish Oil for Dogs?

Consuming fish oil offers the following health benefits to your canine:

Reduce Inflammation & Joint Pain

Joint conditions in dogs are often linked to inflammation and limited mobility, two symptoms that omega-3s can help manage. DHA and EPA in fish oil aid in lowering inflammation and wound healing, especially if your pet gets injured and needs enough recovery time.

Fish oil can also ease itching in canines with skin allergies. It keeps a dog’s body from producing potent pro-inflammatory substances called cytokines, alleviating itchy skin as a result.

Improve & Maintain Your Pet’s Heart Health

Fish oil can be beneficial to your canine’s heart as well. It’s been found to reduce the heart’s risk of working with an abnormal rhythm or atrial fibrillation and can ensure that dogs diagnosed with heart disease have no blood clots forming in their bodies.

Furthermore, giving omega-3s to your canine may aid in managing inflammation and muscle loss associated with heart failure.

Slow the Progression of Kidney Disease

Another health benefit of fish oil and the omega-3s it contains is helping dogs with kidney disease. The supplement may reduce elevated blood pressure, protein loss in your canine’s urine, and the production of inflammatory substances affecting kidney function.

Aid in Your Canine’s Cognitive Development

If you have a puppy, omega-3s may also support their cognitive development. Young dogs that consume an omega-3-rich diet are able to improve their cognitive functions, memory, and ability to learn.

Additionally, older dogs with cognitive dysfunction recognize family members and other dogs better after consuming fish oil.

Decrease Blood Triglyceride Levels

Finally, fish oil may help reduce unhealthy levels of triglycerides in your canine’s blood. This benefit is most evident in dogs with heart disease, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Where Should Dogs Get Their Omega-3 Intake?

Omega-3 sources for dogs include:

Fish Oil Supplements

These dietary supplements can come in capsule, liquid, or chewable form. Fish oil supplements are available as:

  • Natural triglyceride oil
  • Ethyl ester oil
  • Synthetic triglyceride oil

Natural Food Sources

Natural sources of fish oil include cold-water fish. Omega-3s can be found in cooked salmon, cod, sardines, and anchovies, among others.

Alternatively, you can feed your dog ground flaxseed or chia seeds. Ground flaxseed has omega-3s, omega-6s, and other essential nutrients–such as dietary fiber–to maintain a balanced canine diet and control your pet’s digestive system.

Chia seeds are also filled with omega-3s and other important nutrients, and their small form makes them safe to eat. Try adding chia seeds to your canine’s food or homemade dog treats, but do so gradually to see if your pet likes them. More importantly, check on your dog for indigestion or allergic reactions from consuming chia seeds.

Commercial Dog Food

While most manufacturers produce dog food from omega-6-rich ingredients, some offer options with omega-3s for the perfect balance. For example, Purina, a well-known dog food manufacturer, incorporates salmon as a primary ingredient in their products, ensuring a rich supply of omega-3 fatty acids. Always check dog food ingredients to make sure your pet gets enough omega-3s from them.

How Much Omega-3s Should a Dog Consume?

Dogs should consume 50 to 70 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per kilogram. If your canine weighs 10 kilograms (22 pounds), their daily dosage should be 500 to 750 milligrams of EPA/DHA.

However, the recommended amount of omega-3s for a dog’s consumption depends on several factors.

  • Size & breed - Canines of particular breeds and sizes follow a specific daily dosage of omega-3s. This number helps maintain a dog’s optimal health.
  • Stage of life - Young dogs need more omega-3s than normal to support their eye and brain development.
  • Overall health - If your pet is diagnosed with a heart, joint, or inflammatory condition, they would need to consume more omega-3s.
  • Polyunsaturated fats - These fats vary in quantity depending on the food sources and the specific amount of omega-3 added to your dog's diet.

  • These factors should be considered when determining your pet’s daily omega-3 dosage.

    Help Your Pet Stay Healthy with Fish Oil for Dogs

    Including fish oil in your pet’s diet has several benefits, from decreasing inflammation to supporting their cognitive development and heart health. Sufficient doses of this supplement positively affect your canine’s health. We also recommend discussing fish oil supplementation with a veterinarian to ensure your pet gets adequate omega-3s.

    If you’re looking for a powerful fish oil supplement, Stryde is an excellent option to consider. Visit the Why Stryde page for more details about our supplement, and get expert advice on canine health and nutrition from our blog.