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Fish oil for dogs – how does it help?

How it helps your pup

If you’re looking into supplementing your dog’s diet with fish oil, or you’ve been recommended it by your veterinarian, you’ve come to the right place. YuMOVE has the answers to all your most common questions on the topic of fish oil for dogs, whether you’re wondering if cod liver oil is a good option, or you want to know if it’s really worth the cost. So, let’s take a look!

What is fish oil for dogs?

Fish oil is a dietary supplement that’s often recommended for dogs and other pets, as it can help to support everything from their heart to their joints. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation in the body, boost the immune system and even help your pooch to fight canine cancer.

Just like us humans, dogs can’t produce these essential fatty acids by themselves, so they need them to be provided in their diets. That’s where you come in!

Your veterinarian may prescribe a short course of fish oil for your dog, or they may recommend your precious pooch takes them on a long-term basis. Either way, there are lots of benefits and it’s a really common recommendation – so don’t be concerned if your pup is about to start taking a fish oil supplement.

Is there a more natural way to get these fatty acids, rather than supplements?

Lots of foods contain high levels of essential fatty acids, but not all those foods are suitable for dogs, and not all dogs like them. Cold-water fish, shellfish, plant and nut oils, and flaxseed are all great sources of Omega-3, for example. If your dog’s diet doesn’t contain a huge amount of those, supplementation is a handy way to strike a balance.

Lots of pre-made dog foods actually contain meat from corn-fed animals, or refined oil, which can lead to a build-up of another type of fatty acid – Omega-6 – in your dog’s diet. Too much Omega-6 can lead to all sorts of problems. Thankfully, Omega-3 helps balance out the Omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods and lots of grains, so the benefits really are huge.

Is cod liver oil the best fish oil for dogs?

Cod liver oil – like other fish oils – is indeed high in Omega-3. Gold star for paying attention! As pet parents we often take cod liver oil as it offers lots of benefits including increased heart health and lowered blood pressure. But while cod liver oil is a popular option for humans, a fish oil specifically designed for dogs is better for your four-legged friend.

The reason is, cod liver oil – which is extracted from the livers of Atlantic cod – also contains quite high levels of vitamins A and D. So, while it’s a great source of Omega-3, it contains additional vitamins that your dog is likely not deficient in. Too much of these vitamins can cause an excess to build up in your pup’s liver. Plus, you should never give a dog a cod liver oil tablet designed for a human as the canine dosage would be very different.

So, what is the best fish oil for dogs then?

Now you’ve put the cod liver oil down you’ll be glad to know there are other more suitable sources that don’t contain the unwanted extras! There are several Omega-3s, but the two main ones found in fish oil are EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Some of the highest levels of these are found in high quality salmon oil, so this is a great way to get the benefit from those Omega-3s, minus the side effects.

YuDerm Itching Dog is a great example of salmon oil in action. This premium quality supplement for dogs prone to feeling itchy contains pure salmon oil with no additives. Not only that, but the salmon come straight from the clear fjords of Norway and are processed into oil in less than an hour, so your dog gets the best-quality oil possible.

This supplement also contains Omega-3 oils from golden flax seed, which helps to support and strengthen your dog's hair follicles. This improves your dog’s coat condition and reduces moulting, while just the right amount of Omega-6 helps protect their skin, and added natural vitamin E from plant sources supports their skin's natural defenses.

Whichever supplement you’re looking at, pay close attention to the active ingredients. The higher the levels of Omega-3 in a fish oil supplement, the greater the benefit to your pet. Oftentimes oils like cod liver oil tend to be quite low in the active Omega-3s and higher in vitamin A.

The quality of the fish oil is also crucial. High quality salmon oil will have fewer impurities than a lower quality oil and will taste better, so your dog won’t baulk at that ‘fishy’ taste. It also supplies a higher level of active Omega-3 for your dog, so you know your canine companion is only getting the best.

What benefits will I see once my dog starts taking fish oil?

Now we’ve got the science out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of fish oil for dogs, specifically salmon oil.

Skin benefits
Fish oil can be particularly helpful for dogs with itchy or dry skin. 

Joint care
Dogs with reduced mobility in their joints may also benefit from increased levels of the Omega-3 found in fish oil. One of the most useful Omega-3s to help with mobility is ETA (Eicosatetraenoic Acid), found in green-lipped mussels. This is one of the ingredients we use in supplements like YuMOVE Plus for Dogs, which we produce to aid dog joint stiffness in older dogs, or dogs with severe stiffness. Selected from the crystal-clear waters of New Zealand, this ingredient provides a super concentrated source of Omega-3 fatty acids to help soothe stiff joints.

Immune response
Increased consumption of Omega-3 has been shown to have beneficial effects on the immune systems of ageing dogs in particular. We all know that our immune system protects us from picking up constant bugs and viruses and acts as a barrier to keep us well, so your senior pooch could well do with a dose of this immune-boosting oil.

Puppy growth
Got a younger dog? In puppies, large quantities of the Omega-3 DHA are deposited in the brain and eye during late-stage gestation and in the period right after birth. This can help with brain and eye development in young animals, which is why we include Omega-3 DHA in our puppy supplement, YuMOVE Young & Active. This one also includes Glucosamine and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, which supports natural replenishment of joint tissue in active and growing joints – perfect for those precious pups.

Healthy circulation and more
Omega-3 can also support healthy circulation in dogs, which is important for their heart health. Not only that, but it can help with things like cognitive function in senior dogs, as well as canine arthritis and even chronic kidney disease. It’s fair to say the list of benefits is a long one!

How do dogs take fish oil?

You can get fish oil for dogs in tablet form, but it can be tricky convincing your dog to take them! You could try hiding tablets in their food but we all know our pooches are clever, and can often find a way to spit tablets back out again. That’s why we’ve created our fish oils in a liquid form that can be mixed straight into your dog’s food without causing it to taste bad. It’s really easy to use – just pump the oil over your dog’s food. We’ve included instructions of how many pumps are needed based on the size of your dog.

Is fish oil safe for dogs?

Fish oil is safe for dogs, so long as you’re using a specially formulated supplement at the correct dosage based on the size and weight of your pooch. If in any doubt at all, always speak to your veterinarian and never give your dog a fish oil tablet for humans.

Are there any side effects to fish oil for dogs?

One of the more common side effects of fish oil for dogs, particularly in higher doses, is diarrhea – although it’s still a fairly rare symptom. Occasionally, dogs can also suffer from vomiting, delayed wound healing, sleepiness, or itchiness. If you’re worried at all, speak to your veterinarian right away and hold off giving your pup any more fish oil.

How much fish oil should I give my dog?

The amount of fish oil you’ll need to give your dog all comes down to their size and weight. If you’re using YuDERM Itching Dog for example, each pump contains approximately 2ml and we’d recommend one pump for a very small dog up to 5kg, all the way up to six pumps for a large dog that weighs over 40kg. It’s important to give your dog time to get used to new things you introduce into their diet, so try using half the daily recommendation for the first week. And always make sure you’re giving the correct dosage, as too much can cause your pooch to get sick.

A final word on fish oil for dogs

As pet parents we all want the best for our four-legged friends, and by supplementing their diet with fish oil you’re providing another boost to their health. Always seek advice from a veterinarian if your dog shows any symptoms that suggest taking a fish oil supplement could help, just to first rule out any underlying causes. Then, rest assured that so long as you’re giving your pup the correct dosage and a high-quality fish oil with no unwanted ingredients, you’re setting your pooch up for a healthy and happy life – with lots of fun ahead for the both of you!

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