Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The use of fish oil for dogs and cats is surprisingly popular, perhaps because of the immense benefits that omega-3 fatty acids can have for human health. However, before you start giving fish oil supplements to your dog or cat, it is best to understand the safety concerns, the potential health benefits, and the proper dosage to give your beloved pet.

Is Fish Oil Good for Dogs and Cats?

Giving fish oil to your dog or cat is perfectly safe, provided you do it in the correct dosage, and after speaking with your veterinarian regarding any specific health conditions of your pet. Fish oil supplements contain two different types of omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA). Both of these “good” fats can only be naturally produced in a limited supply by dogs and is even less available to felines. [1]

Giving your pet the occasional supplement of this important vitamin can be a good idea to improve their quality of life and potentially boost their intake of these healthy fats. In most canine and feline diets, all essential nutrients should be taken care of by their designated food, but some supplementation is safe – and potentially beneficial. [2]

Close up of yellow capsules on a wooden counter

Fish oil capsules help provide omega-3 fatty acids. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats

The benefits of fish oil for dogs and cats include reducing inflammation, minimizing the allergic response of your pets, preventing certain forms of cancer, and improving the appearance of their coat, among others.

Reduces Inflammation

For the aging dogs and cats, inflammation and joint pain can be a problem, but regular supplementation with fish oil can help relieve that discomfort and allow your pet to age and play pain-free! [3]

Treats Allergies

If your dog seems to be allergic to a wide range of things, the anti-allergenic nature of fish oil can help reduce the response of the immune system. This can affect the health of your dog’s skin and further reduce inflammation. [4]

Anticancer Potential

Studies have found that omega-3s do have cancer-fighting properties for both humans and dogs, so high-risk animals would benefit from occasional supplementation. [5]

Improves Coat Appearance

Many pet owners use omega-3 supplementation to improve the appearance of the coat of their cat or dog, as it can increase shine and luster to their fur.

Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats Dosage

If you have decided to supplement your dog or cat’s diet with fish oil, it is important to understand how much of it you should administer.

However, due to the lack of research on how fish oil affects cats, the same rules are typically applied for both species. 20-50mg of fish oil per pound of body weight per day is the generally accepted dosage for both dogs and cats. Many human capsules have 1000-1200 mg of fish oil, so you need to buy specific dosage levels for cats and dogs, or pop the capsules with a pin and only partially sprinkle the liquid over your pet’s food. Speak to a veterinarian before starting this supplementation. [6]

Side Effects

Despite the potential benefits of fish oil for dogs and cats, there are some side effects of which you should be aware, including possible gastrointestinal distress, slower healing, and a weakened immune system.

Stomach Issues: When an excessive amount of omega-3 oil is consumed by cats and dogs, it can affect the stomach lining and lead to inflammation or stomach upset, so following dosage guidelines are critical. [7]

Bleeding: Excess fish oil can affect blood platelets and slow down blood coagulation, so animals undergoing surgery or suffering from an injury would have difficulty with blood clotting.

Healing: The blood-thinning properties of fish oil supplements can make it more difficult for wounds to heal, which can increase the risk of infection.

Immune System: The slight suppression of inflammation caused by fish oil supplementation can reduce the efficacy of the immune system if this supplement is taken in larger doses. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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