Fish Oil For Dogs
Fish oil is a controversial and often confusing topic. Veterinarians recommend it and many dog owners swear by it. But then you read headlines like “I almost killed my dog with fish oil” … so you don’t know what to believe.
Is Fish Oil Good For Dogs?
The answer is … fish oil is both good and bad. It’s one of the most popular ways to give your dog omega-3 fatty acids … and omega-3s for dogs have tons of health benefits. But fish oil comes with some negatives as well.
Here’s a detailed look at the benefits and disadvantages of fish oil.
Benefits Of Fish Oil For Dogs
Fish oil can be an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. And your dog needs omega-3s to balance out the omega-6 fatty acids in his diet.
Balance Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 is usually too high in dogs’ diets. Most dogs eat meat or processed foods that supply too much omega-6. Too much omega-6 can cause chronic inflammation in your dog. And that can lead to diseases like …
- Autoimmune diseases
So it’s important to give your dog omega-3 fatty acids to lower the risk of these chronic illnesses. And fish oil can provide some important ones.
EPA And DHA: Essential Fatty Acids In Fish Oil
Fish oil provides your dog with the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They’re considered essential because they need to come from your dog’s diet.
Your dog’s body can actually make EPA and DHA. But it’s quite an inefficient process. It doesn’t provide your dog with much EPA and DHA. So you need to make sure he gets them in his diet.
Benefits of EPA and DHA
EPA and DHA are powerful additions to your dog’s diet. EPA has anti-inflammatory effects and supports your dog’s immune response. DHA is vital for eye, brain and nervous system health.
Here are some of the known benefits of EPA and DHA …
- Support brain health
- Promote nervous system development
- Fight inflammation
- Lower heart disease risks
- Maintain eye health
- Promote brain and eye development in puppies
- Support healthy skin and coat, relieve allergies
- Improve joint health
- May decrease the risk of some cancers
- Reduce metabolic endotoxemia in the gut
- Work with probiotics to boost beneficial bifidobacteria in the gut
What Happens If Your Dog Is Deficient In EPA or DHA?
Lack of EPA can cause depression in animals. Lack of DHA is linked to cognitive issues. Other signs of omega-3 deficiencies can be …
- Dull or poor coat
- Dry or flaky skin
- Slow wound healing
- Ear infections
- Hot spots
It’s clear your dog definitely needs omega-3 fatty acids in his diet. So then the next question on your mind is probably …
What’s The Best Fish Oil For Dogs?
Unfortunately, that’s another question without a simple answer. Before you try to find the best fish oil for your dog, you need to read about its drawbacks … and some alternatives.
Why Is Fish Oil Bad For Dogs?
There are some very good reasons not to use fish oil. The first one is …
1. Fish Oil Is Missing Important Anti-Inflammatory Fats
There are some other important anti-inflammatory fats … but they aren’t in fish oil.
ETA (eicosatetraenoic acid) is another omega-3 anti-inflammatory fatty acid. It can also help regenerate cartilage in a dog with arthritis. Your dog can convert ETA to EPA … but not the other way around. So if there’s no ETA in his diet, he’s missing out.
GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory benefits. It helps with hormone balance and supports your dog’s coat and skin. But GLA only comes from plants. Fish oil doesn’t have it.
2. Fish Oil Can Be Toxic
Sadly our oceans are full of contaminants. And the fish that live there are too. And guess where toxins are stored in fish bodies. Yes, in the fat … that becomes your dog’s fish oil. So fish oil could be harming your dog with these poisons.
Fish skin accumulates toxins. Your dog may love these crunchy fish skin treats, but it’s best to avoid them.
Fish these days are polluted with dangerous heavy metals … like arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium. These toxins may be in your fish oil, and they can cause …
- Cancers (liver, kidneys)
- Endocrine issues
- Neurological problems
- Leaky gut and yeast
- Immune problems
Other toxins in fish include …
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
These industrial chemicals can increase cancer risk. They can harm unborn infants and may cause learning disabilities. Fatty fish are especially prone to carry these toxins. Farmed salmon that are fed ground-up fish are higher in PCBs. And farmed salmon are a big source of fish oil.
Dioxins And Furans
Dioxins and furans are common environmental pollutants. They’re on the “dirty dozen” list of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Most dioxin and furan exposure is from contaminated food. They accumulate in fatty tissues. They cause reproductive and developmental problems. Dioxins and furans harm the immune system, disrupt hormones and cause cancer. They last a long time in the body … and they’re high in Great Lakes fish.
If you buy a really good quality fish oil, they should be free of these pollutants. But just to make sure, ask the manufacturer for a Certificate of Analysis (COA).
3. Fish Oil Is Radioactive
If you give your dog fish oil from Pacific fish, beware. The Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster released radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
In a 2013 Stanford University study, Pacific fish tested positive for radioactive particles. Tuna was especially toxic, but salmon used to make fish oil has also tested positive. Radioactive substances like Cesium and Strontium can get into your dog’s bone marrow. That can lead to bone cancer and leukemia.
4. Fish Oil Goes Rancid
Fish oil is extremely unstable. That means it oxidizes (turns rancid) very easily … as soon as it’s exposed to air. If you ever take the cap off a bottle of fish oil and it smells fishy … don’t use it. Good fish oil shouldn’t smell bad.
This isn’t just an odor problem. Oxidation produces unstable molecules called free radicals. When free radicals build up, they can harm your dog’s cells, proteins and DNA. This is known as oxidative stress. It can lead to premature aging and chronic disease, including …
- Joint disease
- Heart, liver or kidney disease
- Cognitive decline
And it’s really hard to stop fish oil from oxidizing. Sometimes it’s rancid before you open the bottle. Air can even get into the fish oil through plastic containers. So always buy your fish oil in dark glass bottles or jars … and refrigerate it. If you buy gel caps, you can store them in the freezer and they’ll last longer.
5. Fish Oil Harms Ocean Environments
Your dog’s fish oil is depleting the oceans. Industrial fishing practices have collateral damage. Suction fishing techniques vacuum up other fish. And mammals like whales, porpoises and dolphins get caught in fishing nets.
Fish used for fish oil include vast amounts of menhaden fish. Menhaden fish eat algae blooms and keep the oceans clean and support other aquatic life.
Other fish being destroyed by the fish oil industry are Peruvian anchovies. Fish oil manufacturers are using as much as 10 million metric tons a year! That’s about an eighth of all the fish caught in the world.
Krill oil is an environmental problem too. Whales and other mammals rely on krill to survive. And krill are endangered due to over-fishing as well as climate change. This is happening despite many sellers who claim their products are sustainably caught. Read more about why krill oil is an irresponsible choice …
Calamari (squid) oil is in growing demand. Squids’ short life cycle may mean they contain less toxins than other fish oils. That shorter life cycle also means that squid are not currently endangered. But that can change fast because squid and their eggs have so many predators …
As other sources of food disappear, squid and their eggs are easy prey for whales, sharks, many other fish and even birds. Because so many fish eat squid, fishermen use squid as bait too! And we humans eat millions of pounds of squid each year when we enjoy calamari dishes. Research shows that squid are an important part of the ocean food chain …. and “large removals of squids will likely have large-scale effects on marine ecosystems.” So the claim that squid oil is sustainable isn’t accurate.
6. Fish Oil Has Unexpected Side Effects
While fish oil can offer great health benefits for your dog, there can be some risks too. These are often due to too much EPA in the diet. And that can happen with high fish oil doses, so don’t overdo the amount you give your dog.
High Blood Sugar
Be careful with fish oil if your dog’s diabetic. Omega-3 fatty acids are often said to support healthy blood sugar levels. But there’s now research showing high doses can increase blood glucose.
Fish oil can thin the blood and can cause bleeding. Some people experience bleeding gums or nosebleeds. It may interact with medications like blood thinners. This bleeding risk also means increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke. And if you give fish oil, stop dosing a few days before any surgery.
Low Blood Pressure
Fish oil’s well known to lower blood pressure. And that can be a good thing if your dog has high blood pressure. But not if your dog’s pressure is normal! And it can increase the effects of blood pressure medication too.
Some dogs don’t tolerate fish oil well, especially at high doses. It could cause diarrhea or other digestive upset in your dog. If this happens, you’ll want to find an alternative source of omega-3s.
Omega-3 supplements are usually touted as heart-healthy. But researchers recently looked at 5 other clinical studies … with surprising results. Heart patients receiving fish oil supplements experienced higher incidence of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm).
These contradictions are puzzling because other studies claim omega-3 fatty acids help with most heart issues. The difference seems to be whether the patients get their omega-3s from food or supplements. So if your dog has heart problems, it’s safest to feed fish instead of giving fish oil supplements. Or use a non-fish oil source of omega-3s.
If you’ve taken fish oil yourself, you may be familiar with those “fishy burps.” That’s your digestive system telling you it doesn’t like fish oil. And your dog can experience that problem too. If you notice your dog burping, licking his lips or looking uncomfortable after fish oil, it could be causing acid reflux or indigestion.
Vitamin A Toxicity
It’s safest not to give your dog cod liver oil. It’s high in vitamin A which can be toxic in larger amounts. Keep the bottle out of your dog’s reach so he doesn’t get into it by mistake, and always use specific dosing for dogs.
So, it’s pretty easy to see that the negatives of fish oil outweigh the positives. Luckily there are a lot of better alternatives.
The Best Omega-3 For Dogs
There are many ways to give your dog the benefits of fish oil without the risks. So what’s the best omega-3 for dogs?
Green Lipped Mussel Oil
Green lipped mussels are native to clean New Zealand waters. This oil has several advantages over fish oil.
Green lipped mussel oil contains 30 fatty acids … compared to other marine oils which have only two. It’s rich in EPA and DHA, like fish oil. But it beats fish oil because of its ETA content, something fish oil lacks.
ETA is an omega-3 fat that controls inflammation in your dog. But it also works indirectly to manage inflammation and pain. That’s because ETA lowers the body’s release of the omega-6 fatty acid ARA – arachidonic acid. ARA creates prostaglandins that drive your dog’s pain and inflammation response. So limiting ARA to manage prostaglandins helps control pain and inflammation.
ETA in green lipped mussels will also help your dog avoid the side effects of too much EPA from fish oil. ETA is a precursor to EPA, … so your dog’s body will only make as much EPA as it needs.
Green lipped mussels also contain phophospholipids, which makes it more bioavailable than fish oil. A 1997 study by researchers at the University of Queensland found that its bioavailability makes green lipped mussel extract 247 times more potent than salmon oil.
Green lipped mussels are also sustainably farmed, making them an environmentally responsible choice. Instead of feeding on corn and soy like other farmed fish … green lipped mussels eat phytoplankton, which can also be sustainably grown.
Ahiflower is new to the omega scene … and it offers a wealth of benefits. It’s a plant whose seeds deliver high amounts of SDA (stearidonic acid). SDA’s important as a precursor to ETA and EPA, so it helps the body produce these fatty acids. Ahiflower oil also contains the essential omega-6 fat, GLA (60% more than hempseed oil). And as a plant oil, ahiflower is a fully sustainable source of oil.
We recommend Safe-Sea, a combination of green lipped mussel oil and ahiflower oil with the powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin. It’s a sustainable, ocean-friendly, more bioavailable choice, with a wider range of fats than fish oil.
Algal oil is a good source of DHA, but it only has a small amount of EPA, and, like fish oil, no GLA or ETA. As a plant-derived oil, it’s popular with vegetarians who want some omega-3s in their diet. It’s a sustainable oil. So much so, that studies suggest it’s a good source of biodiesel, as a petroleum alternative!
Hempseed oil is another good plant oil. But don’t confuse hempseed oil with CBD oil that’s made from hemp plants. Hempseed is a great nutritional oil that provides a perfect balance of omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Unlike fish oil, it contains the important anti-inflammatory omega-6 fat, GLA. And it also has SDA, the precursor to EPA (but only 1/10 the amount of SDA in ahiflower oil).
So … you can see there are other ways to give your dog the health benefits of fish oil … and even improve on them by adding some plant oils. You don’t need to raid the oceans or expose your dog to toxins.
Pye C, Crews C. Furan in canned sardines and other fish. Food Addit Contam Part B Surveill. 2014;7(1):43-5.
Marta Col et al. Assessing the trophic position and ecological role of squids in marine ecosystems by means of food-web models. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, Volume 95, 2013, Pages 21-36,
Whitehouse MW, Macrides TA, Kalafatis N, Betts WH, Haynes DR, Broadbent J. Anti-inflammatory activity of a lipid fraction (lyprinol) from the NZ green-lipped mussel. Inflammophrmacology. 1997;5(3):237-46.
Fish Oil for Dogs: Safe or Not?
Fish oil offers a number of health benefits for humans. But, can you give your dog fish oil too? As a pet owner, your focus is on ensuring your dog’s optimal health. Providing adequate nutrition and supplementing your dog’s diet with certain substances can help you achieve the right balance. Well, as it turns out, fish oil isn’t as beneficial for your dog as you might assume. In fact, giving your dog the oil can lead to a number of side effects. Despite this, a large number of dog owners continue to administer the oil to their dogs.
The main reason why people buy fish oil for dogs is the omega-3 fats it contains. These fats are necessary for achieving ideal health. So, is there a way for you to provide your dog the goodness of fish oil but without worrying about the side effects of fish oil in dogs? First, you need to be aware of the reasons why fish oil has become a craze among dog parents.
The Truth about Fish Oil
Over the past couple of decades, a number of studies and research dedicated to fish oil showed positive results. The results demonstrate that your body needs essential fatty acids. Moreover, fish oil has low-fat content. If you want to cut fat from your diet, fish oil can prove a worthwhile addition. However, it didn’t take long for scientists to dissuade the idea of relying on fish oil to cut out fat from your diet. Rather, studies show that following a diet low in fat can prove harmful to your overall health. Not all fat is bad for your body.
There are certain types of fat your body needs to function optimally. In fact, these fats are referred to as functional fats. They help your body operate. However, the issue is that your dog’s body does not produce these fats naturally. Hence, you, as a dog owner, are responsible for providing the supplements necessary so that your dog can get sufficient functional fats. The other type of fat is facilitative, which is commonly referred to as facilitative fats. These fats offer a number of benefits, including better digestion and energy conversion.
You also need to be aware of the two different types of essential fatty acids, i.e. Omega 3 and Omega 6. Your pet pooch needs ample amounts of both types of fatty acids to stay healthy. Let’s look at each in more detail:
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids
There are three types of omega 3 fatty acids, namely eicosapentaenoic (EPA), alpha-linolenic (ALA), and docosahexaenoic (DHA). Omega 6 fatty acids include linolenic (LA), arachidonic (AA), gamma-linolenic (GLA), and dihomo-GLA (DGLA). The fish oils for dogs are the primary source of omega 3 fatty acids. While both omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fats play important roles in your dog’s diet, we are going to take a deeper look at omega-3s, since that’s where fish oil comes into the picture. Your dog will enjoy the maximum benefits of omega 3 fatty acids via fish oil.
The Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Your dog will enjoy a number of health benefits once you start administering fish oil to him/her. Thanks to the high Omega 3 content, you can enhance your dog’s overall health.
The benefits include:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Your dog’s vital organs remain safe when he or she receives sufficient quantities of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are great for preventing cardiovascular issues. Moreover, they also combat inflammation as well as muscle damage.
Enhanced Cognitive Function
Your dog’s cognitive functions will improve when he/she consume fish oil. You will find it easier to teach your dog new tricks, which makes the experience enjoyable for both you and your dog. If you have a dog who resists training, administering fish oil to him/her can prove the perfect solution.
Did you know the benefits of fish oil for dogs’ coats? Your dog is less likely to develop skin allergies or diseases if he/she receives plenty of omega 3 fatty acids. Hence, there is a lower risk of hair loss or itchiness.
Improved Joint Health
Omega 3 fatty acids play a significant role in enhancing your dog’s joint health. You can prevent arthritis and hip dysplasia by giving your dog plenty of fish oil. If your dog already is suffering from a joint-related condition, you can keep it from worsening by giving him/her fish oil.
Better Kidney Health
You can enhance your dog’s kidney health and function by ensuring there is plenty of omega 3s in his/her system.
Do note that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other health benefits your dog can enjoy by consuming more fish oil.
The Side Effects of Fish Oil
As you can see, fish oil offers a number of health benefits for your dog. However, you also have to be aware of the potential side effects. This way, you can make an informed decision regarding administering the fish oil to your dog.
The risk of premature aging increase when you give your dog fish oil. The main reason for this is that the omega 3 fatty acids the fish oil contains are vulnerable to oxidative damage. Hence, more free radicals enter your dog’s system each time he/she consumes fish oil. Your dog is at risk of developing certain diseases, not all of which are treatable.
Fats, by their nature, contain toxins. When it comes to fish oil, the heavy pollution of the oceans around the world means that the toxins travel throughout the line. Therefore, fish oil might end up delivering the toxins to your dog’s body. These toxins can lead to a number of major health problems, which can harm your dog’s health considerably.
As mentioned, the oceans are overrun by a number of pollutants. There is considerable radiation in the waters as well, which affects marine life. While it is devastating for the fish and other creatures, the radiation might carry forth to your dog when he/she consume fish oil. The risk of radiation poisoning is pretty much a reality when you give your dog fish oil.
What is the Best Fish Oil for Dogs?
You have several options when it comes to selecting a means of administering fish oil to your dog. However, not all fish oil supplements are made equal. Therefore, you have to consider a few factors so you can make an informed decision. Understanding the different types of oils available for you to select from can prove a worthwhile first step.
We can further break this type of oil down into natural and synthetic.
Your dog’s body will absorb this oil in natural form in almost no time. That said, the lack of refinement means that there is a risk of contamination. The oil might contain elements that prove harmful, for instance, PCBs.
As opposed to the natural triglyceride oil, the synthetic version doesn’t absorb easily into the skin. Experts suggest that you veer clear of using this type of triglyceride oil.
Ethyl Ester Oil
This oil is free of contaminants and therefore has a stronger effect. This oil contains omega 3 fatty acids.
Other Factors to Consider
Certificate of Analysis (COA)
Don’t purchase fish oil till you see a certificate of analysis (COA) from the producer. Any company worth its salt will prevent the certificate without any delay. You should avoid any fish oil product whose manufacturer does not display the COA. The certification ensures that the oil you are purchasing is safe for use and underwent significant testing. Checking for the certificate is an effective way to ensure you select the right product.
Fish raised on farms are more susceptible to toxins and harmful elements. Moreover, they are exposed to insecticides as well as a range of other potentially toxic products. Hence, the fish oil extracted from them is not pure and will not deliver the results you expect. Therefore, you should stick to fish oil products coming from wild-caught fish. Vet-grade products, such as Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil, are an easy option.
Make sure the fish oil you buy for your dog does not come from a process involving ethanol. The use of ethanol pretty much means that the oil is not clean and safe. Therefore, you would be risking your pup’s health by not being vigilant about the ethanol factor. You can check the ethanol content by using a cup made from Styrofoam. Pour the oil into the cup and if it doesn’t damage or destroy the cup, it is free of ethanol.
Considering all these factors will ensure that you are able to select a fish oil product that not only proves effective but is also free of any contaminants. You need to guarantee your dog’s safety when selecting any new supplement or product for your pet pooch. Going online and researching does help but the most significant step is talking to your vet about it.
What’s the Ideal Dosage?
You have to be careful about sticking to the dose your vet recommends when administering fish oil to your dog. The great thing about using oil is that you can simply add it to your dog’s diet. You don’t have to force him/her to swallow a pill. Sticking to the liquid form of this supplement is the most convenient option. The factors your vet takes into account when determining the dosage is your dog’s size and weight. Not to mention, the fish oil product you select will also affect the calculation. Keep in mind that your vet will try his/her best to provide a suitable dosage based on your dog’s condition.
How to Store Fish Oil
You have to store fish oil in a place that is not exposed to air, heat, or light. The best place is a dark corner or perhaps your medicine cabinet. You can conveniently stash it at the back of the fridge as well. Keep in mind that the fish oil will spoil if you don’t store it properly. Again, consulting your vet about effective storage can prove crucial for maintaining its quality.
Should You Consider Giving Your Dog CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a hot trend in the natural, organic wellness niche. CBD offers a number of health benefits for humans and dogs alike. The interesting thing to note is that despite being closely associated with marijuana, CBD is non-addictive and does not cause any side effects. Hence, as a pet parent, you will feel more comfortable giving your dog CBD supplements as compared to any other substance. That said, you should consult your vet before you administer CBD oil for dogs or even CBD Soft Chews. Your vet will give you a clear idea of the ideal CBD dosage for your dog. Your pet’s health improves significantly when you give him/her CBD.
CBD is being investigated all over the world for many uses. However at this time, as the manufacturer of CBD products, we are not allowed to discuss that subject publicly nor we are not allowed to imply that CBD can be used for any specific treatment.
CBD for Pain Relief
You can take a significant step towards helping your dog deal with pain caused by arthritis or any other condition by giving him/her CBD supplements. CBD has shown promising results for helping manage chronic pain, which makes it a great aid in helping dogs dealing with joint pain.
CBD for Skin Health
Like fish oil, CBD oil is also beneficial for your dog’s skin health. CBD can prove a viable means of helping in the prevention of allergies and itchiness. Not to mention, your dog’s coat improves in terms of appearance as well, looking shinier than before. Also, check out our new hemp dog vitamin chews.
CBD for Joint Health
As mentioned above, fish oil can prove an effective aid for joint pain. Moreover, it also enhances joint health. CBD has the same effect. In fact, if you are not sure about giving your dog fish oil, you can instead administer CBD oil or chews. You can find Relief CBD dog treats that not only counter the pain caused by joint health problems but also reduce inflammation. Administrating CBD to your dog can reduce soreness and stiffness, enhance joint health, and ensure optimal mobility. Recovering from intense exercise or exertion is also easier when you give your dog CBD.
While fish oil offers a number of health benefits for your dog, CBD is equally, if not more, beneficial. The risk of side effects is lower as well, offering your dog a natural and safe pain management. As a pet parent, you want nothing but the best for your pet pooch. You not only have an effective natural aid for joint pain and other symptoms and health problems in the form of fish oil. You have an equally authentic alternative, i.e. CBD oil.
Does CBD Cause Any Side Effects?
You might assume that like any other natural herb or substance, CBD might also cause a few side effects. After all, even the highly beneficial fish oil can lead to some adverse reactions as far as your dog’s health is concerned. However, the same is not the case with CBD. CBD is completely safe. The supplement will cause no side effects, and at the same time, will deliver immediate results. This reason is why an increasing number of people are opting for CBD products to help manage the health problems their dogs are suffering from.
You have to be aware of the fact that you cannot rely exclusively on the information available online about fish oil. A number of experts state that fish oil is beneficial for your dog’s health. There is no doubt that fish oil offers a number of health benefits for your dog. However, does this mean that you should absolutely continue using the supplement? The answer, unfortunately, is no. Many scientists have stated that there are superior alternatives to fish oil, which not only deliver the same results but also cause no side effects.
Rather than fish oil, you can instead administer CBD oil to your dog. Thus, you don’t have to give your dog fish oil just because there are no other options. CBD products are as effective and quick-acting as fish oil. Moreover, they don’t cause any side effects. But, don’t assume that we mean you should throw out the fish oil bottle. Fish oil by its nature is not harmful. The case is simply that CBD oil is safer and more effective than fish oil, which doesn’t necessarily mean that fish oil is dangerous.
That said, regardless of whether you give your dog CBD oil or fish oil, talking to your vet before you select a supplement is important. You need to have a clear idea of the dosage you should follow. In addition, you should stick to the liquid form of the supplements, as you can simply add a few drops to your dog’s meal. Giving chews, pills, or capsules might prove difficult!