Chances are you’ve heard about the many benefits of adding healthy fish to your own diet. Protein-rich salmon, herring, and tuna are all great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can support brain and heart health, immune function, and help reduce inflammation. But did you know that fish oil is also good for your four-legged friends? That’s right; a pet-specific fish oil supplement can offer your fur babies some of the very same health benefits.
Before you consider a fish oil supplement for Sparky, let’s investigate its origins, benefits, various forms, and recommended dosing.
What is Fish Oil?
Simply put, this oil is found in the tissues of fish, which is often extracted for human and animal use. It comes from fish naturally high in oils such as herring, tuna, mackerel, and salmon. Sometimes these oils can be produced in the liver of certain fish, such as cod liver oil. The most common fish oils are used not for their oil specifically but for the fatty acid component.
The Skinny on Fat
Both you and your pet need fats to survive. There are four main types of fats, including trans fats, saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
Omega fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated fatty acids and help regulate hormones, blood flow, and general inflammatory pathways. These are not naturally made in the body, so we have to rely on our diet for these. This concept is true for both you and your pets.
The two types of omega fatty acids that we hear about most are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids are typically found in cold-water fish and help balance out the Omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in processed foods and grains.
The main Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil (particularly Salomon Oil) are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and DPA (docosapentaenoic acid). Collectively, these acids are called “long-chain,” meaning that they contain 20 or more carbon atoms.
Is Salmon Oil Good for Dogs and Cats?
The short answer is YES! And it’s no wonder that the most common fish oil utilized in the veterinary industry (my office included!) is Salmon Oil.
Google Salmon Oil for dogs and cats, and you'll likely find pages and pages of potential health benefits. However, the top benefits include support for heart function, joint health, coat and skin health, and immune function.
Salmon oil’s awesome attributes are due to those hardworking Omega-3 acids. Long-chain fatty acids may provide anti-inflammatory benefits and help support your dog’s or cat’s coat and skin. Omega-3s can potentially decrease the development of skin allergies and help aid in the healing of wounds.
And the cherry on top? Salmon Oil offers brainy benefits, too. That’s because the DHA component in Omega-3 helps with cognitive function and brain health. In puppies, just like human babies, DHA helps with healthy brain and eye development.
Which Fish Oil is Best for Pets?
When searching for a fish oil to give your furry friend, it's essential to know that not all fish oils are created equal. There are three common types of fish oils on the market, including natural triglyceride oil, ethyl ester oil, and synthetic triglyceride oil.
Natural Triglyceride Oil
As the name says, natural triglyceride oil is the most natural and most readily absorbed. However, because it is natural, it has not been purified and may contain impurities.
Synthetic triglycerides are simply that - synthetic. They are the least absorbed of the three.
Ethyl Ester Oils
Ethyl ester oils are a semi-natural product. They are a concentrated form of the oil that has been distilled so impurities have been minimized.
Vet’s Professional Opinion
Based on my professional veterinary experience, I would recommend ethyl ester oils because they have excellent absorption. Plus, they are safer since they do not contain as many impurities. Above all, I opt for a high-quality fish oil that is sustainably sourced and regularly tested by third-party labs.
Fish Oil Dosing Advice
Let’s face it: gel caps can be mighty hard to give to a reluctant pet. That’s why I recommend a liquid salmon oil that can be added to your mutt’s favorite meal.
Importantly, this method provides a delicious direct source of the salmon oil nutrients. Plus, that tasty fish oil entices picky pets to gobble down their kibble!
My vote goes to the liquid method as it’s extremely easy to use and a wonderful way to give fish oil to pets. Fortunately, many supplements come in a bottle with a convenient pump. You just squirt the allotted dosage on the food, and voila!
So how much fish oil should you give dogs, puppies, and cats? Dosing is based on body weight and will vary for the individual. You should consult with your veterinarian for a specific dosage.
Salmon Oil for the Win!
As I mentioned before, the most common fish oil utilized in the veterinary industry is Salmon Oil.
One of my favorite products is the Salmon Oil from Zesty Paws because it is wild-caught and sustainably sourced. It’s especially handy because it's Salmon Oil for dogs and cats alike! This minimizes the need to buy separate products in your pet-populated household.
Now, the smell can be a little potent if you are not a fan of seafood, but it's worth the effort for your devoted four-legged friends. After all, Salmon Oil can benefit their overall health, from their furry heads to muddy paws.
Why I Recommend Zesty Paws Salmon Oil
I have also used and am familiar with two veterinary strength varieties of omega fatty acids. I find that Zesty Paws is very comparable in price and quality.
Fish oils have many benefits and are safe for dogs and cats. However, it's wise to consult with your veterinarian about specific issues, health concerns, uses, and dosages before giving to your beloved fur-ball.