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Omega 3 for Dogs: Benefits and Supplements to Try

Dog with very healthy coat takes omega 3 for dogs
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If you’re a pup parent, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of omega 3 for dogs. Omega 3 fatty acids are “good fats” essential to your dog’s health inside and out. They’re beneficial for a shiny coat, brain health, and healthy joints. They even lower inflammation. 

We’ll explore how omega 3 fatty acids can benefit dogs and cover some supplements that can give your pup a dose of this helpful nutrient.

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What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Two dogs smiling up to owner

Omega 3 fatty acids are part of the structure of healthy cells. They benefit every aspect of your dog’s health, including boosting your dog’s immune system and lowering inflammation.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are a polyunsaturated fatty acid, also known as PUFA. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are considered essential,” says Dr. Melissa Thompson, vice president of medical operations at the Arizona Humane Society. “For the most part, the body does not make these fatty acids and must get them from food or supplementation.”

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish, flaxseeds, and canola oil. Their full names are Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There are many varieties of omega 3 supplements for dogs that can help your dog get the healthy omega 3s they need. 

Omega 3 Benefits for Dogs

Dog smiling with healthy coat

Omega 3 is good for dogs on many levels. “The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids have been scientifically shown to improve comfort and mobility in dogs with osteoarthritis,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tursi, an emergency veterinarian at NorthStar VET

Benefits for dogs also include

  • Skin and coat benefits
  • Vision support
  • Brain support
  • Heart benefits 

“Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids play an important role in maintaining the structure and integrity of the skin barrier,” adds Dr. Tursi. “Supplementation can improve the skin and coat’s health while enhancing the appearance.” 

Several studies support supplementing with omega 3, specifically for skin issues like allergies or chronic itching. Some studies also show low doses of omega 3 may help with dog seizures. 

6 Best Omega 3 Supplements for Dogs

While most pet foods have plenty of omega 6 fatty acids, few have enough omega 3s. That’s why many dogs benefit from omega 3 supplements. Yet, choosing the best omega-3 supplements can feel overwhelming because there are so many choices. 

Here are some of the best omega 3 supplements for dogs to aid your dog’s health and wellbeing. 

Best Overall Omega 3 Supplement for Dogs 

Our Pick: Natural Dog Company Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs

Natural Dog Company Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs

This omega 3 liquid for dogs makes it easy to pump a dose of fish oil on your dog’s food. We like the fact that this salmon oil is made in the USA in USDA and FDA-registered facilities and is certified as sustainable. There are no artificial flavors, preservatives, or extra ingredients in the bottle, so pet owners know exactly what they are getting. In addition to omega 3 and omega 6, this Alaskan Salmon oil offers dogs vitamins D3 and B12 plus biotin and potassium. Plus, we think this is a great value when it comes to cost per ounce. 

Pros 

  • Made in the USA 
  • Natural EPA and DHA fatty acids 
  • No artificial flavors 
  • No artificial preservatives 
  • No synthetic colors 
  • Good value for the money

Cons

  • May not work for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • The packaging can be a bit leaky

Best Soft Gels

Our Pick: Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Chewables for Dogs 

Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Pet - Special Dog Formula Fish Oil

Nordic Naturals have made a name for themselves in the world of sustainable ingredients. Non-GMO, gluten and dairy-free ingredients with no artificial fillers or colors. Specially formulated for dogs, these soft chews are easy to digest with 90 percent triglyceride molecular form for better absorption. Plus, these omega 3 chews are Friend of the Sea certified and made in an environmentally-friendly zero waste facility powered by biofuel. 

Pros 

  • Guaranteed purity 
  • 90 percent triglyceride molecular form (naturally occurring in fish) for better absorption
  • Fresh, wild-caught fish 
  • Non-GMO, gluten & dairy-free
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Friend of the Sea certified (a sustainable fishing initiative) 
  • Environmentally friendly (made in a zero-waste facility) 

Cons

  • Since smaller dogs may have a tough time eating these capsules, pet parents may need to puncture the soft gel and add oil to food
  • Larger dogs may need multiple soft gels per day to get benefits
  • Soft gels can stick together in packaging

Best Anchovy Oil for Dogs

Our Pick: Benson’s Best Omega 3 Fish Oil for Small Dogs & Cats

Benson's Best Omega-3 Fish Oil for Dogs

Made with Icelandic anchovy oil, each capsule contains 150 mg of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Anchovies naturally have more omega-3s than salmon which means these capsules are packed with essential fatty acids. Small enough for small dog mouths, your pet will gobble these up. Tested by a third party, they’re mercury-free. 

Pros 

  • Sustainably sourced and wild caught
  • Anchovies are 43 percent higher than salmon in omega 3s 
  • Third-party tests ensure they’re free of contaminants such as mercury or PCBs
  • 365 day money back guarantee

Cons 

  • Larger dogs (over 25 pounds) need to take 4 capsules daily
  • Toy breeds may still have difficulty swallowing these

Best Omega 3 Powder for Dogs

Our Pick: Vetclassics Omega 3-6-9 Powder Supplement for Dogs

Vet Classics Omega 3-6-9 Pet Skin & Coat Dog Supplement

This omega fatty acids powder supplement is easier to use than a lot of soft gels and capsules because it can be sprinkled onto food. It’s veterinarian formulated and includes a blend of vitamins, biotin, and omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. Storing it is simpler than liquid or soft gels too and it’s not as messy! 

Pros 

  • Veterinarian formulated
  • Easy to sprinkle on food
  • No smell or scent
  • Added benefits of omega 6 and 9
  • Includes biotin (a B vitamin) to support your pet inside and out 

Cons

  • Doesn’t include the type or source of the fatty acids 

Best for Hip and Joint Health

Our Pick: Wuffles Chewable Dog Hip and Joint Supplement

Wuffes Chewable Dog Hip and Joint Supplement - Glucosamine & Chondroitin Chews

This easy-to-give, chewable supplement blends omega 3 fatty acids with glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin to support dogs with joint stiffness or pain. These chews are made in the USA and developed with veterinarians and pet nutritionists. 

Pros

  • 90% absorption efficiency
  • In addition to omega 3 and 6, these chews have glucosamine, MSM, and chondrotin
  • Made in the USA
  • Formulated with support of veterinarians and pet nutritionists
  • 90-day satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • Larger dogs need multiple chews per day
  • They are on the pricey side

Best for Shopping Small

Our Pick: Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil 

Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

Only Natural Pet is a Boulder, Colorado-based company focused specifically on pet health. If you want to support a small and growing business, this Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil Blend is made with a mix of fresh, wild-caught salmon and whitefish. Sustainably harvested from the cold waters of Alaska, there’s nothing artificial in it so you can feel good about drizzling it over your pet’s food.

Pros 

  • Wild caught fish with sustainability in mind
  • Independent, small and growing brand
  • Different bottle sizes available
  • No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed

Cons 

  • No pump on the bottle, so this can be a little messy

Omega 3 Side Effects for Dogs

As with any supplements, there are potential side effects. 

“If a dog ate a large amount of omega 3, they would likely have a bit of a tummy ache,” Dr. Thompson says. “You may see vomiting and/or diarrhea, but that should resolve once out of their system.” 

It’s always a good idea to discuss potential supplements with your veterinarian. This is especially true if you’re giving more than one type of supplement as you want to ensure there are no negative interactions or over supplementation. 

Omega 3 Suggested Amounts for Dogs

The suggested supplement amount will vary depending on your dog’s size and some veterinarians suggest starting around a ¼ of the recommended maximum amount to see how your dog handles it. 

Once your dog starts on the supplement, you can look to see if your dog’s stools remain normal. If so, you can gradually increase to the amount recommended by your veterinarian and the package guidelines. If not, you’ll want to dial it back or pause for a couple of days, and then restart with a lower amount. If your dog continues to have issues, talk to your veterinarian.

Omega 3 Dog Supplements Buyer’s Guide

Two dogs beautiful healthy coats

There’s a vast array of omega 3 supplements for dogs on the market, so it’s important to keep in mind a few things when you are shopping. Below are a few of our recommended tips:

Look for certifications. Some pet supplements meet specific qualifications to be certified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). These supplements take the extra step to ensure quality and purity standards.  

Consider sustainability. Since many omega-3 supplements are made with fish oil, looking for companies that practice sustainable practices is important. Brands should list where and how their fish oil is harvested. 

Think about the delivery method. Most omega 3 supplements for dogs come in soft gel, liquid, or powder form. Depending on your dog’s size and preferences, one of these options may work better for you than others. Small dogs and toy breeds may have difficulty eating soft gels or capsules, so take that into consideration when buying. 

Take your pet’s health needs into consideration. Before starting on a supplement, make sure to review your dog’s health history and diet with your veterinarian. Some dogs who have sensitive stomachs or other health conditions may not do well on an omega 3 supplement like fish oil. 

Omega 3 for Dogs FAQs

Dog smiling on a walk

Can I give my dog omega 3 for humans? 

It is not recommended to give a dog omega 3 supplements manufactured for humans. All supplements are not the same and some have higher concentrations of fish oil. There are so many high-quality omega 3 supplements for dogs, you can choose one of these special formulations. 

What foods have omega 3 for dogs? 

Fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, krill, and sardines are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids for dogs. Flaxseeds also have omega 3s. However, flaxseeds contain ALA, and dogs do not convert ALA to EPA or DHA very well. In general, fish sources are better sources of omega 3s for dogs. 

Are omega 3 supplements safe for dogs? 

In general, yes. Most dogs thrive on omega 3 supplements. However, there are always exceptions and it’s best to discuss supplementation with your veterinarian. 

How long does it take for omega-3 to work for dogs?

Like any supplement, it normally takes a few weeks for your dog to absorb the benefits and for you to see a difference. In some cases, it works quicker. 

Can dogs overdose on omega 3? 

Yes. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If you give your dog fish oil and then see soft dog poop, loose stools, or diarrhea, you’ll probably want to pause your supplementation. 

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