Is Fish Oil Safe or Toxic to Dogs?

Fish oil is a superfood with plenty of nutrients and benefits. The good news is that your furry companion can also benefit from this oily goodness.

Does your dog’s coat look dull, or is their skin itchy, dry, and flaky? You probably need to supplement their regular kibble with fish oil. It gives your pup a luxurious coat, promotes heart health, relieves joint pain and allergies, and boosts their immune system. Fish oil also alleviates flaky and itchy skin and is suitable for your dog’s body and brain.

What In Fish Oil Makes It Unique To Dogs?

Dietary fats can be categorized into four main classes as follows:

  • Trans fats
  • Saturated fats
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are the “good fat” and contain Omega 3 fatty acids, which support the creation of crucial hormones for proper body functions. Omega 3 sources include cold-water fish including shellfish. Other sources include flaxseed and plant and nut oils. Wild-caught fish has higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids compared to farm-raised fish.

Omega 3 keeps Omega 6 fatty acids in balance. Omega 6 fatty acids are in overabundance in dogs’ diets which mainly comprises grains and processed food. Fish Oil is made from fatty fish oil such as mackerel, herring, anchovies, sardines, and salmon. The oil is extracted from the fleshy part of the fish and purified.

Fish Oil contains two main Omega 3 fatty acids: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA and EPA are essential for maintaining healthy kidneys, joints, skin, coat, and heart. They also lower inflammation and improve cognitive function.

Is Fish Oil Good For Dogs?

Here’s why you should introduce fish oil to your pup’s diet if you haven’t already:

Healthy Coat And Skin

The skin is one of the largest body organs and requires plenty of nutrients, including fatty acids, for maintenance. The imbalance of fatty acids in the skin leads to several skin conditions such as skin allergies and atopic dermatitis ( itchy, red skin). Fish oil can reduce inflammation and improve skin condition and coat quality.

With regular consumption of fish oil, your furry friend will have a super shiny coat and less shedding.

Joint Health

Dogs are prone to osteoarthritis, which affects their mobility. Age, trauma, disease, and injury can also damage the joints leading to inflammation, pain, and structural changes.

Studies have found that the Omega 3 in fish oil helps to reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and reduce pain, especially in dogs suffering from arthritis.

Heart Health

About 3 out of 10 dogs will experience heart-related diseases as they get older. Symptoms include fainting, irregular pulse, heart murmurs, and fluid in the chest or belly.

Fish oil supplementation in dogs with chronic heart failure can help reduce inflammation, irregular heartbeat, and the severity of heart attack

Healthy Brain And Eyes

DHA is mainly in the brain and eyes, and so it is crucial for the neurological and visual development of pooches. Therefore, the mother pup’s milk must be rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Puppies receiving DHA have improved retinal recognition and memory function. Fish oil supplementation can especially benefit older pups by supporting enhanced cognitive function, improved memory and reduced brain aging.

Kidney Health

Research shows fish oil provides “renoprotective” benefits to dogs. The kidneys help filter toxins out of blood and body while regulating fluid balance in your canine companion.

Fish oil helps decrease blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and lipid levels. Moreover, it helps improve renal function in dogs with renal failure. A diet containing DHA and EPA also reduces the risk of urine stones.

Boosting Immune System

Our four-legged family members are notorious for their scavenging behavior. They munch on anything, including some pretty gross stuff like trash, so their body is rife with bacteria.

Omega 3 fatty acids boost your pup’s immune system, so they have an easy time fighting off illnesses and infections.

Suppose the fish oil you’re feeding your pup has salmon, even better! Salmon and salmon skin contains an antioxidant known as astaxanthin that provides exceptional benefits to your Fido’s immune system (and can also prevent cancer).

Related: Can Dogs Eat Fish?

Can Fish Oil Hurt Dogs?

Fish Oil, like most supplements, can cause adverse effects on dogs. Some of the common side effects to keep an eye out for include:

Stomach Upset

Tummy upset is inevitable, especially when introducing new foods to your pup’s diet or if they have a sensitive stomach. Fatty foods like fish oil can also cause mild diarrhea in canines.

Blood Thinner

Fish oil may cause the blood of your furry baby to be thinner since Omega 3 prevents blood from clotting. Usually, this is not a severe issue, and it can even improve heart health.

But if your pup is injured and is bleeding, it could be dangerous. Also, fish oil is a no-no for dogs on blood-thinning medication, to avoid blood clotting defects and slow wound healing.


Though rare, some pups can be allergic to certain fish species and therefore also allergic to the oils from these fish. In this case, your dog’s coat would start appearing dull and unhealthy, and they could develop itchy skin.

Medical Contradiction

Like humans, the fish oil in dogs can counteract the efficiency of specific medication.

On some occasions, your dog might be taking medication (especially anti-inflammatory- drugs) that don’t blend well with the fatty acids in fish oil. Remember to seek your vet’s advice before starting your furry friend on any new food or supplement.

Is Human Fish Oil Safe For Dogs?

Yes, human-grade fish oil is safe for dogs. But we recommend you choose a fish oil specifically formulated for dogs.

Fish oil supplements for humans have different dosages and Omega 3 concentrations restricting your pup’s intake.

Also, some fish oil supplements have sweeteners, flavors, and other additives that may be harmful to dogs. Even if your fish oil supplement is made from pure fish oil, you should consult your vet before feeding it to Chewy.

What Quantity Of Fish Oil Is Okay For Dogs?

The correct dosage is crucial when it comes to feeding your pup fish oil. Too much, and you risk your pup having an oily coat, fishy breath, and fishy-smelling fur.

Furthermore, overdosing on Omega 3 can cause diarrhea, vomiting, altered platelet function, and weight gain. Check out this fish oil for dogs’ guide on the recommended dosage per pound body weight.

Ideally, it would be best to give puppies and small breed dogs one teaspoon a day and one tablespoon a day of fish oil for large dogs.

You should always consult your vet on the correct dosage of fish oil for your dog, even if the manufacturer’s instructions are given. Your vet will best determine the ideal dose based on your dog’s size, breed, weight, and health.

Can I Give My Dog Fish Oil Daily?

Yes, you can. However, it’s best to start your dog on a lower quantity and gradually increase it with time, depending on your pup’s reaction. Chewy needs time to adjust to the supplement without the risk of falling sick.

Let’s say you start your pup on 1000mg per day. If they tolerate it well and have no adverse reaction, you can gradually increase the dosage to 2000mg per day.

How To Care For And Store Fish Oil?

It is essential you protect fish oil from heat, air, and light. Buy fish oil packaged in dark bottles and store it in the refrigerator.

Fish oil is susceptible to oxidation and thus becomes rancid quickly. So, ensure you throw it away once it has an off odor.

Final Word

Fish oil is an essential addition to your dog’s healthy diet. The oil provides a rich dose of benefits, including joint, heart, and kidney health. Furthermore, your dog can also benefit from a luxurious coat and healthier skin.

Choose a fish oil containing Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to provide the ultimate nutrition to your doggo.

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