Is Fish Oil Good For Dogs?

Is Fish Oil Good For Dogs?


Your dog is a loyal and lovable creature. Every dog owner wants to see his/her beloved canine friend enjoying good health. Just like humans, dogs need a well balanced diet along with essential supplements to stay healthy and active. Here we will discuss fish oil supplementation in dogs and its health benefits.


There are many questions which are usually asked by dog keepers like:
Is fish oil good for dogs?
What are health benefits of fish oil for dogs?
Which essential fatty acids present in fish oil?
Let’s discuss them one by one in detail.


Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are good fatty acids which give a number of health benefits to your dog.

Note: This is important to know that fish oil only contains DHA and EPA whereas ALA is found in plant oils such as canola oil, flaxseed seed oil etc.

According to pet experts, fish oil supplementation is very much beneficial for dogs. Fish oil must be an integral part of dog’s routine diet. Remember, dogs are unable to synthesize omega-3 fatty acids just like humans. So, they totally depend upon external supplementation. No wonder, fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids for your canine buddy.


  1. Fish oil supplementation prevents the dog from a number of cardiac diseases-heart attack etc
  2. Fish oil has immune boosting properties. It enhances the activity of your dog’s immune system and prevents your buddy from so many diseases including canine cancer.
  3. Fish oil supports the bone and joint health. This is why, it is crucial for those breeds which have strenuous physical activities or susceptible to bone and joint deformities.
  4. Fish oil promotes the skin and coat health of your canine friend and reduces itchy and flaky skin.
  5. Fish oil has significant effect on several kinds of allergies.


(DHA) Dicosahexaenoic Acid
This is one of an important fatty acid that is found in fish oil. This essential fatty acid helps in better development of eyes and brain in puppies. According to scientific literature, DHA has significant impact on brain functioning. In older dogs who are suffering with canine cognitive dysfunction, this fatty acid aids in improving cognitive function.

Note: DHA is a structural part of brain. Collectively, this fatty acid has involvement in the neural and retinal development in dogs. 

(EPA) Eicosapenatenoic Acid
This is another important fatty acid that is found in fish oil. It has anti-inflammatory properties and effective in combating the joint and heart diseases. In addition to that, EPA also aids in treating dermatological diseases.


Some owners supplement flaxseed and other plant-based oils to dogs. As mentionedarlier, plant oils contain higher amount of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Since the conversion rate of ALA to EPA is very low almost equal to zero in a dog, that’s why; fish oil is virtually a nice source of EPA and DHA for dogs.


Although, fish oil is widely supplemented to dogs and added in various commercially manufactured pet foods but you should seek veterinary consultancy before adding this to your canine diet. A pet nutritionist/vet can help in calculating the best dose with respect to your dog’s weight, health status, requirement etc.

Don’t take any step without seeking recommendations from a registered veterinary consultant.

Remember, excessive supplementation of fish oil can cause become hazardous for your dog. However, fish oil supplementation gives a lot of health benefits to dogs but its side effects can’t be ignored as well.

To deal with these conditions, you must start supplementing fish oil gradually to your dog. Don’t give excessive amount of fish oil. Always take veterinary advice in calculating the exact dose of fish oil for your canine friend.



  1. These fatty acids could cause harm in those dogs who are suffering from lipid intolerance issues or having hyperlipidemia. In such dogs, fish oil supplementation can be dangerous. Furthermore, you can take guidance from your vet.
  2. Fish oil supplements should be used with caution in those dogs having obesity problems, canine pancreatitis and Lymphangiectasia.
  3. Caution should be taken while recommending fish oil in that dog which already has wound healing issues, getting medications which alter the platelets functioning (aspirin) or any complicated gastrointestinal problems.


Let’s do basic mathematics and calculate the amount of EPA and DHA that your dog actually needs.

Calculation of EPA: Simply, multiply your dogs weight (pounds) with 20

Dog’s weight= 15 Ib / 15 × 20= 300mg
Interpretation: For a dog of 15 Ib weight, 300 mg of EPA is sufficient.
Note: Here Ib has been taken as unit of weight. You can convert pound into kg (for your convenience). Just divide weight in pounds with 2,2 to get weight in Kgs. Moreover, don’t worry about the dose calculation of DHA, you can apply the same math there as well.


General dose of fish oil ranges between 75-100mg/kg total EPA+DHA.
EPA+DHA means combined dose of both omega-3 fatty acids.EPA/DHA ratios is very much important. You should try choosing a fish oil which contains greater amount of EPA than DHA because EPA has a great anti-inflammatory effect.

It is good to reduce the amount of fish oil, if your dog is already taking DHA and EPA through any other food sources. Furthermore, you can check out the NRC (National research council) feeding guidelines to check the exact lower and upper safe limit of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.


There can be variations among the doses of fish oil (DHA, EPA) with respect to the need, health condition, type of source and other important factors in your dog. A vet can give you the better idea.


Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Before supplementing fish oil, a complete diet history should be assessed. All along with that, a thorough clinical and nutritional analysis should be conducted by an expert to design a long term fish oil supplementation plan.

These all things can help you achieve good health outcomes in your dog. Last but not least, stay in touch with your veterinarian. If you observe any abnormal sign/symptom in your beloved dog, report it to your vet on emergency note.


Can I give fish oil to my dogs?
Yes, for sure. You can give fish oil to your canine buddy. Fish oil supplementation has a lot of health benefits for dogs. However, it is better to discuss with a pet nutritionist.

What benefits of fish oil for dogs?
Fish oil has a number of benefits for dogs such as it helps in improving immune system, combating inflammation, soothing allergic reactions (skin rashes, dermatological issues), improving skin and coat health of dogs, reducing risks of heart diseases in dogs and much more.

What are side effects of fish oil?
You should supplement fish oil to your dog after monitoring its overall health. Dose must be appropriate. Excessive dose can cause diarrhea, vomiting, pancreatitis, delayed wound healing and other health complications. 

Is fish oil good for arthritis in dogs?
As fish oil is the most potent source DHA and EPA so it can treat the inflammation of joints (arthritis). Furthermore, you can take guidelines from your vet.

What precautions, I take care of while supplementing fish oil to my dog?

Fish oil is available in different forms and also an integral part of a number of pet food items. You can take to your vet. Always read the label of the product and check out the amount of EPA and DHA. Never give the fish oil to those dogs that have already some allergy issues, obesity, gastric problems etc. It is never recommended to give the excessive dose of fish oil to those dogs which are already having DHA and EPA from other food sources.


Bauer JE, Dunbar BL, Bigley KE. Dietary flaxseed in dogs results in differential transport and metabolism of (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids. J Nutr 1998; 128 (12 Suppl):2641S-2644S.

National Research Council. Nutrient requirements and dietary nutrient concentrations. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006, pp 354-370

Mueller RS, Fieseler KV, Fettman MJ, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on canine atopic dermatitis. J Small Anim Pract 2004; 45(6):293-297

Filburn CR, Griffin D. Canine plasma and erythrocyte response to a docosahexaenoic acid-enriched supplement: Characterization and potential benefits. Vet Ther 2005; 6(1):29-42

Villaverde C. Nutritional management of exocrine pancreatic diseases. Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, LTD, 2012, pp 221-234.