Omega-3 for Pets – Does It Work? 

Omega-3 for Pets

There is a growing trend to encourage supplements like omega-3 for pets.  Many doctors are now recommending a daily omega-3 supplement for humans, so why not treat your dog or cat with the same level of care? 



Some veterinarians are now prescribing this supplement just as many doctors add it to the treatment plan for many humans. Before you jump on this trend, it’s important to consider some of the reasons that your pets may need omega-3 supplementation:

  • Most animals are unable to naturally produce all of the fatty acids that they need to function efficiently, so they depend on their diet to supply the “essential” nutrients that they lack. While dogs and cats may need different omega-3s than humans, they do have some essential fats that they cannot produce on their own.
  • If your pet doesn’t get the omega-3s that they need through their daily meals, they might suffer a deficiency if a supplement isn’t provided.
  • Some medical conditions can lead to poor absorption of fatty acids or limited ability to produce those that are normally created naturally. In these cases, supplementation is essential.
  • Low-quality foods or those that are overcooked and no longer contain valuable nutrients will leave many pets deficient in some essential fatty acids. Supplementation or a higher quality food rich in omega-3 will help.
  • Pets with arthritis, autoimmune disorders, allergies, and many other medical conditions may benefit from increased consumption of omega-3 for pets due to the fatty acids they contain. Talk to your veterinarian if you think this may apply to one of your four-legged friends.

While all of those reasons for giving a pet fish oil are valid, most owners give this supplement because it’s believed to keep pet coats shiny and healthy. This is actually an outward sign of the improved health occurring internally, so consider beautiful hair a side effect of improved nutrition.

But Does OMega-3 for PEts Really Work?

The effectiveness of omega-3 supplements for pets is as controversial as the effectiveness for humans. While some studies have shown clear physical and mental benefits, there are some concerns that keep some people from embracing these supplements. Some worry about the presence of heavy metals and other toxins in fish oil supplements. Fish oil is also highly reactive to oxygen and light, so opponents often argue that the supplements expire before they are consumed.

There are still many veterinarians recommending fish oil supplements for dogs and cats, just as many doctors recommend these supplements to humans despite those concerns. The concerns are more about the quality and freshness of fish oil rather than the effectiveness, and there are some things that you can do to counteract the biggest arguments against omega-3 supplements for animals or humans:

  • Don’t focus on labels like “pharmaceutical grade.” There is no official certification or governing body handing out that label to select products, though those words are commonly used on products that are purified more than most others. Look beyond the label and do some research on the product. If you can determine what the company does to purify their product of heavy metals and other potential toxins, you’ll have more information about the health of the product than that label will ever tell you.
  • Determine what preservatives are used to counteract the rancid smell and taste that occurs when fish oil is exposed to light and oxygen. Many people try to consume natural products without preservatives, but this is one case in which the preservatives are helpful.
  • Only buy supplements from trustworthy brand names dedicated to providing healthy products rather than cheap products.

In general, healthy dogs can take up to 150 mg of omega-3 fatty acids for every 10 pounds of body weight. You may also want to ask your veterinarian for a recommended dose of omega-3 for pets, since there is no official dosage guideline. Pets in poor health are often given larger doses. If you use a supplement designed for dogs or cats, you can follow the package for dosing suggestions.

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