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Is Fish Oil Good for Dogs?

May 05, 2021 3 min read
fish oil pills on table

Fish oils have become a common supplement in human diets as a resource for healthy fatty acids. But is fish oil good for dogs, and can they benefit from them the same way we do?

What are fish oils?

Fish oils are exactly what they sound like––dietary supplements derived from coldwater fish such as menhaden, trout, and salmon. In them, the oils are heavy with Omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Is fish oil good for dogs?

Although you should talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any pills, the answer from the vet community is an overwhelming yes, fish oil can be good for dogs. In fact, many professionals consider giving fish oil to dogs a mainstream treatment rather than an alternative approach because of how popular the practice has become.

While fish oils aren’t a must for our pets, they can help round out a dog’s diet and make it more balanced. Unfortunately, many dog food manufacturers use corn-fed animals and/or refined oil, which are both full of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful to our pets. By supplementing a dog’s diet with fish oils and Omega-3 fatty acids, the EPA and DHA can balance out the Omega-6 fatty acids and help dogs live a healthier life.

Benefits of fish oil for dogs

If you’ve ever talked to a doctor or a dietician about adding fish oils to your diet, you might be familiar with what potential health benefits they offer humans. In that case, the benefits of fish oil for dogs should sound familiar to you, as there isn’t much of a difference in the benefits between us and them.

Once in a dog’s system, the EPA and DHA found in fish oils are converted into what are called series 3 prostaglandins, which reduce the tendency to inflammation. Consequently, the fish oils lower the potential for inflammatory diseases or can be effective in limiting the effects of already-existent inflammatory diseases. Common inflammatory diseases in dogs include allergies, arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, and many types of cancers.

Less serious health benefits from fish oils for dogs include improvements for their joints, coats, and skin. The Omega-3 fatty acids help aid natural chemicals already present in dogs’ bodies, working together to regulate blood flow and inflammation.

Potential side effects?

Just like us, each dog is likely to react differently to fish oils, and a discussion should be had with your vet before adding these into your dog’s diet in order to track potential side effects more carefully. There have been some common side effects in dogs from fish oils, although many of them are a minimal cause of concern.

Soon after beginning treatment with fish oils, some dogs begin to develop a fishy odor to their breath, which is a natural side effect and shouldn’t raise panic. Similarly, some dogs can have oily coats and large dander flakes on their skin as a consequence, but these issues are usually not long-lasting and will be resolved within a week or two after they stop taking fish oils.

More serious side effects from fish oils do exist for dogs, but they often arise when paired with some medications. For example, EPA and DHA decrease chemicals that are necessary to help blood clots. Adding fish oils on top of any medication that already decreases blood clots might make wound-healing very difficult.

Other medications may also counteract the fish oils if combined, which is why you should check with a vet before introducing fish oils into your dog’s system.

Adding fish oils to your dog’s diet can have a very positive effect on their health, regardless of being a short-term solution for a quick boost or a bigger part of a long-term plan.


Thinking of adding fish oils to your dog’s diet to help with potential arthritis? Here’s 4 Major Signs of Arthritis in Dogs to look for if you’re suspicious.

If you’re curious about the best treats to give your dog, check Best Bully Sticks for our selection of all-natural treats and chews!

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