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Ask A Veterinarian: Should I Give My Dog An Omega Fatty Acid Supplement?

| Published on June 2, 2024

We hear a lot of press about supplements. Some people think that they are a useless waste of money and some people think that they are a miracle panacea. Certainly wise and discretionary use of supplements has been shown to assist in many disease processes. Fatty acids are thought to improve inflammation and even slow the progression of joint disease in dogs. There is likely even a benefit to using them as a preventive agent or to slow the onset of certain diseases.

Benefits Are Likely

Studies have indicated that deep-sea fish oil can reduce the markers of oxidative stress in canine patients suffering from osteoarthritis and improvement of kidney function.1,2 They might even help with mood, as one study indicated a beneficial effect in humans with depression.3 Fatty acids might even offset some of the changes associated with aging.

Easy to Give

Because of the many formulations, you can find one that is easy to give to your dog. Look for products that are satisfaction and palatability guaranteed. They can come in chews, tablets, and oils, so you can consider the preferences of both you and your dog.

Use the Right Supplements

Beware: Joint supplements designed for human patients may or may not be beneficial for pets. Just because they seem benign and safe does not mean that they are without risks. Always choose a supplement labeled for use in dogs. Read the labels and ask questions. Don’t forget that your veterinarian is an excellent resource.

All Things in Moderation

Nothing is perfect. Studies have also been done on the risks as well. Important potential adverse effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation include altered platelet (blood clotting) function, gastrointestinal adverse effects (like vomiting and diarrhea), delayed wound healing, altered immune function, and nutrient-drug interactions.4 These products are frequently accidentally ingested by dogs, causing a trip to the animal ER.

Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to provide a beneficial effect. They might slow the onset of some age-associated diseases, provide a protective effect for the kidneys, and even help with overall mood. When appropriate products are used at the correct doses, the chances of beneficial results are greater.

Be aware that supplements are only to enhance other medical management of disease and are not meant to be a standalone therapy. Anything that you give to your dog should be mentioned and approved by your own veterinarian.

Note from the iHeartDogs Team: If supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids makes sense for your dog, we’d encourage you to try our Happy, Healthy Omega-3-6-9 Select Soft Chews for dogs. We developed what we believe is the most complete Omega product available, containing a unique formula of powerful ingredients. And unlike any other product, each purchase provides meals for shelter dogs

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. 


  1. Evaluating oxidative stress, serological- and hematological status of dogs suffering from osteoarthritis after supplementing their diet with fish or corn oil. Lipids Health Dis. 2016 Aug 26;15(1):139. doi: 10.1186/s12944-016-0304-6.Barrouin-Melo SM, Anturaniemi J, Sankari S, Griinari M, Atroshi F, Ounjaijean S, Hielm-Björkman AK.
  2. Positive Impact of Nutritional Interventions on Serum Symmetric Dimethylarginine and Creatinine Concentrations in Client-Owned Geriatric Dogs. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 18;11(4):e0153653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153653. eCollection 2016.Hall JA, MacLeay J, Yerramilli M, Obare E, Yerramilli M, Schiefelbein H, Paetau-Robinson I, Jewell DE.
  3. Fish oil as a management component for mood disorders – an evolving signal.Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;26(1):33-40. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e32835ab4a7.Hegarty B, Parker G.
  1. Potential adverse effects of omega-3 Fatty acids in dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2013 Mar-Apr;27(2):217-26. doi: 10.1111/jvim.12033. Epub 2013 Jan 16. Lenox CE, Bauer JE.

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