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Should you give your dog a fish oil supplement?
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Should you give your dog a fish oil supplement?

Dogs
Health & Safety

While we often think of giving supplements of any kind as something that is only beneficial to older dogs or dogs with specific health problems, there are various potential benefits to giving good supplements to dogs even in the peak of health. Complete dog foods that are well matched to your dog’s age, life stage and activity levels often contain well chosen supplements to provide extra value, and all complete dog foods should ultimately provide for all of your dog’s nutritional requirements.

However, if you want to give your dog a little extra boost or are thinking ahead about ways in which you can support your dog into old age and set them up for life, fish oil supplements of various types can potentially prove helpful. However, it is also all too easy to pick a supplement that is not beneficial to your dog and won’t make any real difference to them, or to potentially supplement your dog’s diet with something that will inadvertently cause problems of its own.

If you are thinking about feeding your dog a fish oil supplement and are wondering if this is a good idea or not, read on for some more information.

Why is fish oil potentially beneficial to dogs?

Fish and the fish oils that can be extracted from them in concentrated form may potentially offer a wide range of benefits to your dog, both in the here and now, and as your dog ages. The main beneficial ingredients of fish oils are omega 3 fatty acids, “good” fats that offer a wide range of different benefits for dogs that regularly consume them.

These fatty acids will often improve the condition of your dog’s coat and skin, and can even help to prevent or reduce various skin and coat issues such as dandruff or allergies. Fish oils are also excellent at boosting bone and joint health, and ensuring that the joints are well lubricated and able to move freely, something that can be hugely beneficial to dogs that suffer from joint stiffness or conditions such as arthritis.

It has even been discovered recently that fish oils can help to support healthy brain aging and cognitive function, which can help to ensure that your dog retains their mental faculties well into old age.

Fish oils’ anti-inflammatory properties

Fish oil is such a popular supplement and one that so many people (and dogs) take that a lot of research is undertaken into the benefits and uses of fish oils, and our understanding of what it does is improving all the time. Fish oil is notably an anti-inflammatory, which is why it is so popular among people (and dogs) that suffer from arthritis, a condition that can cause the joints to become stiff, inflamed and painful. As well as this, the multiple nutrients present in fish oil are actually thought to be able to slow down the growth of cancers and tumours, and to enhance a healthy, regular heart rhythm. Even if your dog is in excellent health and you have no reason to believe that they may be predisposed to such conditions when they get older, fish oil can prove beneficial to your dog.

However, whether your dog is in the peak of health or has some issues, it is vital to take advice from your vet before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet, as fish oil is not a miracle cure-all that is beneficial to all dogs! Your vet can advise you of the best types of supplements to give to your dog, how much to give them, and how to find a reputable brand that will prove a good fit for your own dog.

Dogs that will not benefit from supplemental fish oil

Your vet will be able to tell you if your dog is not likely to get any benefit out of a fish oil supplement, but also, if there are any contraindications to feeding fish oil to your dog.

Dogs that have very sensitive stomachs or that are prone to digestive upsets may not be able to take fish oil successfully, and in some cases, feeding fish oil can lead to loose stools and potentially diarrhoea. Dogs that are prone to slow wound healing, bleeding disorders or auto immune conditions may be well advised to steer clear of fish oil supplements as well.

Measure doses carefully

While fish oil is fairly easy to add to your dog’s food once you have the go-ahead from your vet, do not just throw a capful onto your dog’s dinner without measuring it! It is important to dose your dog with the right amount of fish oil for their size and needs, as too much omega 3 and fatty acids can be just as detrimental to your dog as too little.

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