Omega-3 Supplements for Dogs

Omega-3 supplements can provide an important source of healthy fatty acids to improve a dog's skin and coat, reduce the affects of allergies, improve joint function and can help to control inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids have few side effects and are generally considered a safe and natural supplement for dogs.

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and other fatty acids are important components of a healthy diet and are essential for your dog's bodily functions, especially the immune system. Omega-3's are polyunsaturated fats and can be found in fish, plant and flax oil, though flaxseed oil must be properly stored or it may lose its effectiveness. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered 'essential' fatty acids because they cannot be produced by your dog's body and must be taken in through diet or supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids to look for include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both DHA and EPA can be found from fish sources, such as salmon oil, while ALA can be found in flaxseed, pumpkin seed and soybean oil. Many commercial dog foods are filled with carbohydrates, preservatives and fillers and lack these necessary nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy and active, so discuss your dog's nutrition with your veterinarian to set up a diet plan. 

Benefits of Omega-3 Supplements

There are many benefits of adding omega-3 supplements to your dog's diet if he is lacking the necessary amount of fatty acids. These benefits can include, but are not limited to, the improvement and maintenance of various bodily functions and as a treatment for health problems:

  • Improves a dry and dull skin and coat 
  • Improve healing time and reduce skin infections
  • Reduces symptoms of inflammatory diseases, including ulcerative colitis
  • Prevents growth deformities and developmental problems in puppies
  • Improves joint health
  • Slows the effects of some cancers
  • May prevent and treat allergies and atopy by easing the effects of histamines
  • Maintains healthy eye sight development
  • Prevents recurring ear infections
  • Reduces the effects of arthritis
  • Possible positive effects on the heart by reducing blood pressure

Side Effects of Omega-3 in Dogs

While fatty acids are considered a natural and generally safe addition to your dog's diet and nutritional plan, the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is an important factor for owners to consider. Your pet's dog food may already contain fatty acids, and adding omega-3 supplements could be a mistake. In rare cases, pancreatitis can develop due to a large amount of fat in a dog's diet, causing pain, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration due to an inflamed pancreas.

The addition of omega-3 supplements to your dog's diet can cause weight gain, so treats and food servings may need to be reduced in order to prevent obesity, which is a common but serious problem in American pets. Always consult with your veterinarian when changing your dog's diet or health regimen, and discuss dosage and treatment options that will work best for your dog's breed, age, health conditions, stage of development and lifestyle.