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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. 

In this article, we’ll explore how omega 3 fatty acids can benefit dogs.

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), and 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. 

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 at around 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.