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How Much Omega-3 Should I Give My Dog? Fish Oil For Dogs

Written by: Aditi YS
| Published on December 22, 2023

From the shine of their fur coat to the way their joints help them move around, you want your pup to look and feel their best, because you know it’s a reflection of their health. Fish Oil for dogs or krill oil for dogs – both can contribute key omega-3 fatty acids that they need.

Chronic health issues including joint pain and itchy skin negatively impact your dog’s quality of life, but a dietary supplement of omega-3 fatty acids with EPA and DHA could help. Usually derived from fish or krill oil, omega-3 fatty acids are something your dog can’t produce on their own. They get what they need from their diets, and supplements fill in the gaps.

senior old boxer

How Much

Before you start dropping pills into your dog’s food, get a close estimate of their weight. A general guideline is to give dogs 300 mg of EPA/DHA combined per 30 pounds of body weight. Remember, however, the EPA/DHA are the important parts, and 300 mg of fish oil doesn’t equal 300 mg of EPA/DHA. In addition, some oils have better absorption rates, such as krill oil.

Dosing will ultimately depend on your chosen supplement. Typically, 1,000 mg of fish oil will meet that 300 mg requirement, but always read the product label before feeding anything to your dog.

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How You Give it to Them

Even more important than the dose is the way in which you give your dog omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrients are found in everything from vegetables to flaxseed, but research has shown a noticeable difference in effectiveness in regards to what kinds of supplements are available and how they’re used. The omega-3 found in most plants, for example, has a property that prevents canine bodies from converting it to all-important DHA.

Nuts and flaxseed are a better option, but fish body oils, particularly krill oil, are known to offer the best absorption and health effects. Ideally, you want to supplement your dog’s diet without adding too many calories. Capsules of or supplements containing fish or krill oil added to your dog’s regular food is an efficient way to give them what they need.

Related: 10 Best Dog Multivitamin Products

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How to Get the Most From It

While fish oil supplements are generally considered safe, they’re highly susceptible to oxidation. This means exposure to oxygen can damage the omega-3 fats and drastically inhibit its ability to do good. If oxidation happens, taking the supplements is basically pointless, and it could even cause problems.

The good news is a new study shows adding an antioxidant called astaxanthin to the supplement helps the important parts stand up against oxidation. The fatty acids maintain their potency, and your problem is solved. Many people choose krill oil as their dog’s source of omega-3 over fish oil because krill already has astaxanthin built in. Krill oil holds up even better when it is contained in krill meal, which is minimally processed.

Omega 3-6-9
The Happy, Healthy Omega-3-6-9 Select soft chews are a great option that can be given to dogs as treats (dogs LOVE them) or crumbled over their food.

If you’ve decided to help your pup keep their fur soft and shiny or want to maintain their joint health and flexibility, a supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a good place to start. As always, your veterinarian is your best resource for information. Talk to them about dosing instructions and which products your pup will best benefit from.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fish Oil for Dogs

1. Does Fish Oil Really Help Dogs?

Fish oil can be extremely helpful for dogs, especially those that suffer from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or that have dry skin. Fish oil has many other benefits, too, thanks to the high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids.  Fish oil has the ability to promote heart health, relieve allergies, lower elevated blood pressure, make a dog’s coat shinier, regulate hormones, and more! 

Fish oil is an excellent source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)  and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are two out of three types of Omega 3 fatty acids. The third type, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), cannot be metabolized in canines. This makes fish oil an Omega-3-packed source of nutrients for your dog to enhance their diet. 

2. Is Coconut Oil Or Fish Oil Better For Dogs?

Coconut oil and fish oil both have productive benefits for dogs. Coconut oil and fish oil can offer some overlap of benefits. Here are some of the potential benefits they share:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Promote healthy skin and a shiny coat 
  • Potential to help protect against certain forms of cancer
  • Supports healthy cardiovascular function
  • Increased energy levels
  • Protects and restores brain function 

There are some differences between the two, though. For example, while fish oil is an unsaturated fat, coconut oil is not. As a saturated fat, coconut oil can be stored in an opened container longer than fish oil. Coconut oil also possesses the ability to promote healthy immune responses against bacteria, parasites, and fungi. On the flip side, fish oil (as an unsaturated fat) has a greater influence on heart health. Along with impressive cardiovascular benefits, fish oil also contains those superpower Omega 3s that we mentioned earlier. 

3. Can I Give My Dog Fish Oil For Itchy Skin?

Chronically itchy skin can really affect the quality of life of your dog. Even if your dog has dry skin in the winter months only, fish oil can help with that pesky, itchy skin. The anti-inflammatory agents in fish oil can combat skin disorders such as dermatitis or allergies that are present in the skin. 

Constant itching and scratching can result in open wounds that may invite bacteria and even infection into your dog’s bloodstream. Excessive itching should be easy to identify, so hopefully, you can get a handle on it as soon as possible to prevent further complications. 

A diet that is deficient in Omega 3s can leave your dog more sensitive to the allergens that cause itching. Adding fish oil to your dog’s diet is a great way to nip itching at its source. If you’ve ever typed “what can i put on my dog’s dry nose” into your search bar, you may have already discovered that fish oil can be used externally for dry dog skin as well! 

4. How Long Does It Take For Fish Oil To Help Dogs?

While the benefits of fish oil in your pup’s diet likely won’t come overnight, you should start to see some paw-sitive changes within 4-6 weeks if your dog is consuming it daily. It’s always best to speak with your vet about dosage and frequency before introducing fish oil, as some dogs acclimate to dietary changes best when they are achieved gradually over time. Some dog owners opt to start with less than the recommended amount and work their way up as a way to mitigate any side effects. 

5. What Are The Side Effects Of Fish Oil For Dogs?

While dangerous side effects of fish oil are extremely uncommon, there are some symptoms that your dog might experience if the amount they have consumed exceeds recommended doses or if they have a sensitivity. These include vomiting, diarrhea, and smelling like fish. 

As unpleasant as that sounds, rest assured the symptoms typically resolve quickly once the dosage has been scaled back or corrected. The most dangerous side effect of fish oil for dogs is blood clotting defects and delayed wound healing. Dogs with pre-existing coagulating issues should be cleared by their vet before supplementing their diet with fish oil. 

6. How Much Fish Oil To Give Dogs With Allergies?

Fish oil can come in different doses per pump or per pill, so the amount of fish oil to give a dog with allergies may vary. Reading the label helps determine the correct dosage. When it comes to how much fish oil for dogs is appropriate, it is essential to remember that the recommended amount of EPA/DHA is what matters most. 

A general guideline is to give dogs 300 mg of EPA/DHA combined per 30 pounds of body weight, whether a fish oil supplement is intended to target allergies or not. This means that you should have a pretty accurate idea of how much your dog currently weighs. If your dog is a growing pup or on a weight loss journey, remember to adjust accordingly. 

7. What Kind Of Fish Oil Capsules Can I Give My Dog?

There are many fish oil capsules on the market that you can give your dog. It is important to read the ingredients, particularly if your dog has allergies or sensitivities, as some fish oil capsules contain added flavoring. If you choose to administer capsules vs. liquid fish oil, it might help to stuff the capsule in a bit of Hide-A-Pill Flavored Paste

8. How Much Vitamin E Should I Give My Dog With Fish Oil?

Fish oil and vitamin E have several complementary physiological actions, and taking them together can broaden the benefits. When taken together, anti-inflammatory benefits can be maximized, while neurological function and skin texture benefits can also increase. When it comes to how much vitamin E you should give your dog with fish oil, some veterinarians give a very general recommendation of combining 400 IU of vitamin E per every 1,000 mg of fish oil. If math isn’t your strong suit, don’t fret. They do make fish oil supplements with proportionate volumes of vitamin E in them.

9. Can I Give My Dog Fish Oil Everyday?

Fish oil can be safe for dogs to consume daily. To start, slowly introduce fish oil to your dog’s diet and work your way up to a recommended dose. If you notice any side effects, seek medical attention for your pet as soon as possible. 

10. Will Fish Oil Make My Dog Gain Weight?

Since fish oil is a long-chain unsaturated fat, it should not make your dog gain weight if administered in the recommended amounts. 

11. How Long Does It Take For Fish Oil To Work For Inflammation?

Your dog may begin to feel the relieving effects of fish oil within a few weeks, but maximum effectiveness for inflammation may take up to three months. Within 4 to 6 months, you should be able to notice a paw-sitive difference in your dog’s mood and attitude if the pain from inflammation has been a struggle for them. 

Like any supplement, it’s always best to discuss introducing fish oil into your dog’s daily diet with their veterinarian. High-quality fish oil supplements from reputable companies can be a total game changer for your pup. Make long walks enjoyable again and give your dog the Omega 3s that they need to live comfortably.

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how much fish oil for dogs

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