Best Fish Oil for Dogs - Comparison and Reviews
If you’ve ever been anywhere near a health or wellness site, you know the benefits of fish oil for humans. Have you ever considered that the same benefits might apply to your dog?
Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids, especially Omega-3 fatty acids, are important in development and health in many mammals, including dogs, cats, and even humans.
While you can feed your dog fish directly, many people enjoy the ease of use that a dedicated supplement provides. Supplements are less messy and smelly than fish, and you can regulate the dose more precisely than if you feed your dog raw fish.
Fish oil supplements come in two primary forms, liquids and tablets. Liquid fish oil usually comes with a pump dispenser, so you can easily add some to your dog’s daily kibble. Tablets can either be chewable tablets or in gel capsules.
Some dogs take very well to chewable tablets, while others won’t touch it at all, even if it’s hidden in their kibble. Both supplements are fine to use, and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Which one you choose will depend on your dog’s preference and what is most comfortable for you.
When you start looking around for the ideal fish oil supplement for your dog, you may be surprised by the amount of choice available to you. What makes it even worse is that many of the products look identical to each other, so it can be difficult to know which one to choose. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best fish oil supplements on the market today.
All these products are 100% pure, responsibly sourced, and contain high-quality Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids without many extra worthless ingredients. These may be at the top end of the price range, but when it comes to fish oils, it’s worthwhile to pay the bit extra for higher quality products.
Best Fish Oil for Dogs 2019 - Reviews
1. Grizzly Salmon Oil
One of the most popular fish oils on the market, Grizzly Salmon Oil is derived from wild-caught Alaskan salmon. The oil is extracted from the skin of the fish while the meat is prepared for human consumption, so you know you’re getting fish oil from high-quality fish.
The best thing about salmon oil is that in addition to Omega-3s, the fat is also rich in several vitamins and minerals and even antioxidants. It also contains Omega-6 fatty acids, in the correct ratio to allow for reduced blood pressure and strengthened immune system.
Grizzly Salmon Oil comes in an easy to use pump bottle that helps reduce mess and allows you to dispense just the right amount for your dog. The oil itself doesn’t smell too fishy but is still attractive and palatable to most dogs while being easy on your nose.
There has been a lot of controversy about the contamination of fish oils with heavy metals such as mercury. Grizzly test all their products for heavy metals regularly, and their products are under the detection limit. So you can rest assured that supplementing with Grizzly Salmon oil will not increase your dog’s mercury levels.
The biggest concern with all Grizzly products is that they use rosemary as a preservative. While the FDA classifies rosemary extract as ‘generally regarded as safe,’ there is still some controversy among experts. Rosemary has tentatively been linked to seizures in dogs in the past. These seizures happened as the result of incredibly high doses, though, so unless you’re administering an entire bottle of salmon oil in one day, there should be no ill-effects to your dog.
If you’re worried, be sure to consult with your vet before starting any type of supplementation.
- Light odor that’s not very fishy, but still palatable to most dogs
- Extracted from wild-caught Alaskan salmon using a short heating period extraction method to produce high-quality oil
- Contains a good ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, in addition to multiple vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to thrive
- Regularly tested for mercury and other heavy metals
- Can be expensive
- Contains rosemary as a preservative, and it is also linked to seizures in dogs
2. Iceland Pure Unscented Fish Oil
If you’re looking for the purest fish oil available, Iceland Pure Unscented Fish Oil offers just that. The oil is extracted from sardines and anchovies found in Icelandic waters. The extraction process uses a rapid, high-heat distillation process to produce pharmaceutical-grade fish oil that is free from contaminants and trans fats. This process produces some of the most concentrated, high-grade fish oil possible while leaving in other valuable compounds, such as vitamin E and other minerals.
To further ensure that the oil remains pure, Iceland oil is packaged in epoxy-coated bottles that maximize freshness and purity. As these bottles are so effective at keeping the oil fresh, Iceland Pure don’t need to use rosemary as a preservative.
The epoxy coating provides an extra layer of protection, and since it doesn’t degrade, it won’t contaminate the fish oil, unlike plastic bottles. The oil is tested by independent third-party labs for purity and contaminants, ensuring that the oil is completely toxin-free.
Thanks to the distillation process used, this fish oil has absolutely no smell, at all. This advantage makes it perfect for dogs with sensitive palates or ones that just don’t want to try new things. It also makes food preparation much easier on the owner as you won’t have to deal with clingy, fishy oil in your kitchen.
The high level of Omega-3s in this product means that you will see results in as little as four weeks. Iceland Pure fish oil is recommended for dogs with dry and flaky skin, as well as dogs that have sensitive skin and are prone to allergies. Many owners notice a difference in their dog’s skin and coat condition, and some owners note other benefits with prolonged use of this oil.
- Completely pure fish oil that is low in contaminants
- Despite its purity, it’s still a relatively affordable supplement when compared to similar products
- It works very quickly and is great for relieving skin and coat issues in a wide variety of dogs
- Has no smell
- Doesn’t contain rosemary
- Users report having issues with the pump leaking
3. Carlson Cod Liver Oil
Carlson has been in business for decades, and they’ve perfected their extraction process, leaving you to reap the benefits. As the name suggests, Carlson cod liver oil is extracted from cod living in Norwegian waters. The extraction method is completely chemical-free and produces a high-quality product rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Carlson cod liver oil is manufactured and packaged in Norway and comes in nitrogen-flushed bottles to ensure freshness while in transit. It also comes with a 100-day freshness guarantee, so you won’t have to worry about throwing out a bottle of barely-used rancid fish oil. As vitamin E is used a preservative, you don’t have to worry about rosemary extract when using this product.
Unfortunately, the bottle comes with a screw cap instead of a pump, which means you need to measure it out using a teaspoon. Some people have problems with the pump-action mechanism on other fish oil products, so the presence of a cap can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your taste.
Cod liver oil is usually known as being very fishy and smelly, but thanks to the high-tech extraction process, the oil has virtually no scent. Carlson adds a natural lemon extract for added palatability and has been rated the tastiest fish oil by the Brussels International Taste and Quality Institute.
As this fish oil is directly obtained from cod liver, it contains a whole range of healthy vitamins and minerals in addition to Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. You’ll quickly see the difference in your dog’s coat and skin.
- Contains a huge range of vitamins and minerals in addition to Omega-3 fatty acids
- Carlson is a reputable brand with decades of experience
- Thanks to natural preservatives and high-technology bottling techniques, the oil stays fresh for longer and comes with a 100-day freshness guarantee
- Doesn’t contain rosemary as a preservative
- Considered the tastiest fish oil on the market and is relatively neutral in smell
- No pump action
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of fish oil?
When people refer to fish oil, they’re primarily referring to a group of fatty acids known as Omega-3 fatty acids. Two types of Omega-3, namely DHA and EPA, are found predominantly in marine animals and have been studied extensively in terms of human health.
There is also a third Omega-3 fatty acid, called ALA, which is extracted from plant matter, such as flax seeds. The Omega-3 content is relatively low, so its health benefits aren’t so pronounced.
Fish oil also contains several vitamins and minerals that are extracted along with the fatty acids. These include fat-soluble vitamins A and E, both of which are essential for dogs. Vitamin A is important for the development and maintenance of teeth, bones, the immune system, and soft tissue. It also has antioxidant properties which can help prevent cancer.
Vitamin E is also a strong antioxidant and prevents inflammation, lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease, and supports the immune system.
Studies on the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids have been done in humans, mice, monkeys, and many other animals besides. Their benefits seem to affect all mammals, suggesting that your dog will get as much benefit from Omega-3 fatty acids as you will.
Some of the benefits of fish oil include:
- Promoting a glossy coat and healthy skin (and if you add in a dog flea collar and your dog will have the perfect clean fur)
- Lowering blood pressure and reducing the chance of heart disease
- Anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce the symptoms of allergies and arthritis in dogs
- Supporting the immune system
What dogs benefit the most from fish oil?
All dogs can derive some benefit from fish oils, but certain dog groups will get more benefits from regular supplementation. These include:
- Older dogs. As dogs get older, they start to develop a number of painful and debilitating conditions, such as arthritis and heart disease. Fish oils help reduce inflammation around the joints, easing any arthritic pain.
They also help maintain healthy blood pressure and can even lower cholesterol levels, which is a great benefit if your senior dog is starting to put on weight.
- Pregnant dams. Fish oils, especially Omega-3s, are incredibly necessary for fetal development, and pregnant dams may actually become deficient if they’re not properly fed. Fish oils can help with fetal development and cognitive function, but they will also ensure that the dam is in peak condition during this period.
Omega-3s will strengthen the immune system and keep her blood pressure low, allowing for a safe pregnancy.
- Omega-3s have been implicated in cognitive development, and this doesn’t only apply in humans. Puppies need a large amount of Omega-3s to develop their cognitive function, and supplementation may lead to smarter dogs.
Fish oil will also keep their skin and coat in good condition, and a strengthened immune system is essential if your puppy still hasn’t completed their vaccine regimen.
- Breeds that are prone to joint problems. There are several large breeds that can develop joint problems from an early age, including golden retrievers, German Shepherds, and labs. As fish oil helps reduce inflammation, it can help protect joints for longer, allowing these dogs to have a higher quality of life.
Are fish oils really effective?
While fish oils have been in the news regularly, many skeptics are starting to wonder how effective they really are. As with much nutrition-related news, the marketing and media hype surrounding fish oil has gotten out of control, and if a product is promising something too good to be true, it usually is.
So while fish oils aren’t a miracle cure, they still have their place in a healthy diet. If you’re feeding your dog kibble, you’ll have seen that many brands add Omega-3s to their products. However, these fatty acids are delicate and can go rancid and degrade very easily. So, by the time the kibble reaches your dog, most of the added Omega-3s are useless.
That’s where supplementation comes in. All you’re doing is supplementing your dog’s existing healthy diet. Fish oil supplements will not replace proper veterinary care, nor are they a cure-all for your dog.
Instead, they’re an addition to ensure that your dog is getting all the vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids it needs in order to live a happy and healthy life. So, if your dog is healthy, has no joint problems, and has a glossy coat, you probably don’t need to supplement. But, if you know your dog has problems with dry skin or shows signs of Omega-3 deficiency, then a supplement will do them a world of good.
How do I know which fish oil supplement to buy?
We’ve given our recommendation for high-quality fish oils that are excellent options. But they may not be available in your region, or you may have better alternatives available to you. When you shop around for fish oils, there are several factors that you can use to help make your decision.
Your main consideration should be the amount of Omega-3s in the supplement, specifically the concentration of EPA. Since this is the most beneficial fatty acid, you want a product that has a high concentration of EPA to get the most bang for your buck.
The second consideration is how the fish is sourced. Many salmon oils are made from farmed salmon, which tend to be unhealthier than their wild counterparts. Farmed fish have higher concentrations of mercury and other contaminants, and this can be passed on into the fish oil.
So, stick to fish oils that are derived from wild-caught fish, hopefully, fish that are sustainably and responsibly sourced.
Finally, you have to decide how you want to administer the fish oil. Some dogs cannot stand the texture of liquid fish oil and preparing it can be quite messy. You can also find other types of fish oil supplements, including chewable and soft gel capsules in addition to liquid formulations.
Choose the one that best suits your needs and is the easiest for you to administer reliably. Some dogs won’t go for chewable tablets but may enjoy fish oil mixed in with their kibble, making a liquid pump dispenser a great option. Other dogs love their chewables, which provide a quick and easy mess-free solution.
How much fish oil should my dog get?
It’s important that your dog gets enough Omega-3s from their fish oil daily. Many fish oil products will give an estimated amount based on your dog’s weight and size, but these may be on the low side, depending on your dog’s condition.
When working out how much fish oil you should feed your dog, the main thing you need to keep in mind is that the amount of fish oil doesn’t equal the amount of Omega-3s. Ideally, you want your dog to get 20mg EPA per pound bodyweight. Don’t worry about DHA, the other Omega-3, as calculating one means you get enough of both EPA and DHA.
Just to make things a bit more confusing, one of the most commonly used terms on fish oil products is EFA, which stands for essential fatty acids. This is the total amount of fatty acids in the product, not the amount of the Omega-3 EPA. Don’t get confused; you want to be determining the amount of EPA your dog gets. All high-quality fish oils will state both the EPA and DHA content as well as the total amount of essential fatty acids.
First, work out how much EPA your dog needs by multiplying your dog’s weight in pounds by 20. So if your dog weighs 20 pounds, you want 400mg of EPA daily. Once you have this amount, you can use it to calculate how much fish oil you need to give daily. There’s no danger in overdosing, though your dog may get some diarrhea if they’re used to a low-fat diet.