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Fish oil is probably the most important dietary supplement you can give your dog, regardless of the diet he receives. The main advantage of fish oil is its richness in essential fatty acids of the type Omega-3, a chemical compound that offers so many health benefits to your dog.
Essential fatty acids, the best known of which are Omega-3 and Omega-6, are polyunsaturated fats without which the animal could not function.
These fatty acids are called essential because the dog’s body cannot produce them, and it is vital to take them from food, because of the beneficial effects they have on vital organs such as the heart, nervous system, eyes, joints, kidneys, and lungs.
The dog gets enough omega-6 acids from the food because they are found in large amounts in vegetable oils and others. Instead, the main source of omega-3 is seafood like fish, algae, or shellfish. In dry dog food, Omega-3 does not store so well and loses its effect. That is why in some situations even the veterinarian recommends supplementing the dog’s diet with essential fatty acids, namely fish oil. Beyond medical needs, fish oil can be an excellent supplement for dogs of all ages, if given in the correct dosage.
Here are some well-known benefits of fish oil in dogs.
- Maintains vision health
Because they are normally found in phospholipids in the retina, omega-3 fatty acids have a constitutive and protective role in this structure. Fatty acids prevent the degeneration of retinal vessels, cataracts, and diseases due to aging.
Fatty acids improve the functioning of the eye canals and glands, good drainage of the intraocular fluid, prevent dry eye syndrome, but also increase the intraocular pressure responsible for the appearance of glaucoma.
Due to these important effects on vision, it is essential that the pregnant female feed is rich in fatty acids because they exert their action from the intrauterine period when the cells of the visual analyzer are formed.
- Reduces the incidence of cardiovascular diseases
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil reduce cholesterol and triglycerides and prevent blood vessels from clogging by their vicious deposition at this level. They also improve blood circulation and provide a better supply of oxygen to tissues.
At the same time, omega-3 fatty acids prevent cardiac arrhythmias, normalize the value of blood pressure and due to the mild anticoagulant effect, prevent the incidence of blood clots and strokes.
- Decreases inflammation and joint pain
Scientific research has shown that omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids have healing power in dogs’ joints. Being involved in the synthesis of collagen and synovial fluid, as well as in reducing inflammation and joint pain, fatty acids restore joint mobility and slow down degenerative processes due to aging. They play an essential role in feeding senior dogs and large dogs, but also in those whose joints are constantly overworked, like utility dogs and hunting dogs.
When offering these supplements to your dog, a reduction in joint pain and improved mobility can be seen after 3-4 weeks of treatment.
- Cares for and regenerates the skin, restores the shine and beauty of the fur
The fatty acids in fish oil restore normal skin fats and keep the skin hydrated and elastic. This eliminates dry skin, dandruff, and itchy skin sensation.
Fatty acids nourish the hair follicles and potentiate the assimilation of other nutrients in the hair, resulting in strong, healthy, and shiny hair.
Taking fatty acids reduces skin inflammation and speeds up the natural healing process of the skin.
- Supports the process of neural development being a constituent part of the fat in the brain
Another important organ that benefits from the miraculous effects of essential fatty acids is the nervous system itself.
During the intra-uterine period, these acids influence the growth of nerve cells, so after the females give birth they still have an important role in maintaining the integrity and normal functioning of these cells. Eating these beneficial fats slows down the rate of nerve cell degradation, a somewhat normal process that is seen with age.
The beneficial implications are not only on the well-functioning of the nervous system but also on the psyche, and the well-being of dogs. The presence of these beneficial fats in the diet of dogs significantly reduces the incidence of psychosis and anxiety.
- Reduces inflammation in chronic intestinal, renal, and pulmonary diseases
Fish oil is also beneficial in dogs by increasing the body’s ability to synthesize those substances that reduce the factors that generate and maintain inflammation, and also by improving the immune response.
- Improves the body’s response to insulin having a beneficial effect on the treatment of type 2 diabetes
Fatty acids are involved in the production of prostaglandins, substances that potentiate the effective use of insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels.
Another effect of these acids is to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, normalize blood flow and prevent cardiovascular diseases commonly found in dogs with diabetes.
Where do we find essential fatty acids?
The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and shrimp.
There are also plant sources rich in these fats, such as flax seeds, soybeans, and nuts, but the ability to assimilate these acids from vegetable sources is significantly lower than animal fats.
Salmon oil supplements, the most valuable source of omega 3 fatty acids, are usually given in stages over 6-8 weeks, depending on the problem we want to improve and especially according to the recommendation of the current veterinarian.
In the case of joint disorders or immunity problems, it is preferable to offer it especially in spring and autumn, when their incidence increases.
In dermatitis or other skin conditions, treatment will be given until the problem in question is solved.
If too much is administered, diarrhea and vomiting may occur, in which case it is recommended to reevaluate the administered dose.
Fish oil should be given daily in the dosage recommended by the manufacturer and the veterinarian. Too little dosage will not provide the benefits you are predicting. In too large amounts, fatty acids are excreted in the feces, but they will have other side effects, as we will see below.
The first effects can be seen in the fur after 3 weeks of treatment.
Side effects of fish oil in dogs
The anti-inflammatory role of omega-3 fatty acids negatively interferes with the optimal activity of thrombocytes, which is the first line of defense against bleeding. Dogs fed long-term or large amounts of fish oil are at an increased risk of bleeding. This should be taken into account if your dog has a planned surgery. In this case, the veterinarian should be informed about what kind of dietary supplements the dog receives.
Omega-3, through its anti-inflammatory function, also affects the activity of white blood cells and delays wound healing. It slows down the body’s ability to repair the skin and produce a new one.
Some people accuse fish oil of containing certain amounts of mercury. It is known that periodically, mercury-containing waste is discharged into the ocean, metal which is then stored in fish fat. Choose products that are certified and approved, and that do not contain this heavy metal.
Excess fish oil in the diet can lead to diarrhea and stomach discomfort. Therefore, it is important to follow the recommended dosage.
How much fish oil should I offer my dog?
This is a question that troubles dog owners when they decide on the balance between what is healthy and dangerous for them. A healthy dose of fish oil for a dog depends on the dog’s health and the specific health problems it faces.
In order for a healthy dog to maintain healthy body processes, you can use the “x20” rule. First, multiply your dog’s weight by 20. So, for a 30-pound dog, the number would be 600. Therefore, 600 mg of EPA is the daily dose for a 30-pound dog.
You should make sure that the supplement contains Omega-3, as it contains both EPA and DHA. But look for the EPA dose to make sure it matches the amount needed for your dog. DHA is usually quite close to, but less than the EPA amount.
For dogs with specific dietary needs or health problems, consult your veterinarian for the correct dosage.
Can dogs take fish oil capsules for human consumption?
Fish oil capsules for humans are usually safe for dogs, but the right dosage is essential.
There is not much difference between the two supplements apart from their dosages. Always consult your veterinarian before giving him capsules of fish oil manufactured for human consumption.
Take a bottle or the original packaging so they can determine if it’s ok for your dog.
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids have a preventive role in maintaining the health of the entire body in dogs, but are also curative as adjunctive therapy in the above-mentioned situations.
As with any supplement for your dog, fish oil is one that should be carefully considered. It can provide a wide range of health benefits, from immune system functions to brain functions. However, if your dog gets a lot of DHA and EPA from his diet, a fish oil supplement can affect him.
Talk to your veterinarian to determine if you need to give him fish oil for dogs and find a good fish oil. They will tell you how much to give and whether or not it is safe for your dog.