You’ve done a search for fish oil for dogs, that’s why you’re on this page. Chances are it’s listed on your dog’s dog food label. Or it’s that capsule that you give your dog as supplement. Or you overheard someone endorsing it. Whatever brought you here, you’re on the right track.
How exactly does your dog benefit from fish oil? What diseases does it treat? We’ll get to those questions in a bit. First, let’s find out what’s in fish oil that makes it so special.
Fish oil is the chief source of two omega 3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA. So what’s with the acronyms?
EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid. It produces compounds that counter inflammation. Vets use it to manage infections, allergies, pain, and swelling in dogs.
DHA, on the other hand, stands for docosahexaenoic acid. It is a major component in the structure of the brain. It increases fluidity of membranes. This property eases the transmission of signals between neurons.
No doubt, this duo is critical in your dog’s physical and cognitive health. In fact, it’s used for treating canine diseases, 5 of which we’ve listed below.
Vets use fish oil for dogs suffering from arthritis.
Anecdotal records suggest that EPA in fish oil reduces discomfort and pain in arthritic dogs. And that’s not merely word of mouth from dog owners.
A study was conducted to find out the effect of fish oil to 127 dogs with osteoarthritis. The result was amazing! High concentrations of EPA improved the dogs’ condition. The dogs were able to rise from resting position more easily. After a while, they were able to walk and play, too.
Arthritis is basically an inflammation in the joint or joints. Some of its symptoms are:
- stiffness in gait
- swelling in joints, and
- decreased range of motions
The anti-inflammatory action of EPA in fish oil reduces the intensity of these symptoms.
Dogs with heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms benefit from fish oil.
This was found out in another study that assessed the effects of EPA on dogs with heart disease.
In this study, it was shown that dogs with heart failure also suffered from severe cachexia. This is a syndrome associated with chronic diseases. It presents as muscle atrophy, loss of appetite, low caloric intake, and weight loss. The study concluded that fish oil significantly improves cachexia. It also reduces inflammatory markers.
Overall, it increases survival prediction in dogs with heart failure.
It may not be enough to simply incorporate fish oil to your dog’s food. Supplementation might be needed for most cases. For therapeutic purposes, fish oil for dogs dosage must be referred to a veterinarian.
Fish oil improves the prognosis of dogs with kidney disease.
Prescription kidney diets that include fish oil are good for dogs with glomerular disease. This disease involves impairment of the basic filtration units of the kidneys called glomeruli. Fish oil reduces inflammation of these filters. In effect, it slows down the progress of kidney damage.
In a peer-reviewed article, it says that dietary fish oil provides renal protection and reduces proteinuria. While this still needs further study, the initial findings have already been very promising.
It eases itching and redness due to skin allergies.
So far, we’ve only mentioned about the effect of EPA to inflamed internal organs. You’d love what we’re going to say next. The effect to external organs, such as the skin, is the same.
Your dog’s immune system reacts whenever there’s an infection or injury in the body. The same is true when it detects the presence of a foreign substance. It sends soldiers (plasma and white blood cells) to the affected area. This increased blood flow causes the area to turn red and warm.
Fish oil calms down this immune reaction. It reduces skin itchiness and inflammation. As a result, dogs scratch less. This prevents complications like hot spots and pruritus from setting in.
That’s not the end of it. Pet owners swear by fish oil for dogs with shedding issues. It also promotes beautiful and shiny coat. What could be a more complete skincare package than that?
DHA in fish oil helps solve cognitive problems.
We could guess what you’re thinking at this point. You think that DHA plays second fiddle to EPA when it comes to fighting inflammations. You’re right about that. But make no bones about it – DHA takes lead role in eye and brain development.
DHA is a primary building block in the brain’s structure. It also plays a critical role in the transfer of messages in the retina and the central nervous system. Thus, DHA is highly recommended during fast growth and development.
This couldn’t be any truer during puppyhood than in the other life stages. Yet we also cannot downplay the importance of DHA in adulthood and old age. It’s very helpful in handling aggression, depression, and disorientation in mature dogs.
In sum, fish oil for dogs not only aids in proper growth and development. It also has major roles to play in the treatment of several canine diseases.