As a practicing dietitian/nutritionist, I recommend fish oil to my patients all the time. While my credentials and experience let me call myself an “expert” in human nutrition, I would never make the same claim for animal nutrition. Animals are not humans, and while some aspects of human nutrition can and do cross-over to recommendations for our pets, I do not pretend to have the expertise in animal nutrition to know which principles of human nutrition would apply equally to our beloved furry friends. With that stated, a recent visit to the vet brought up the topic of fish oil for dogs.
Human benefits of fish oil include:
- Lowering blood triglycerides, decreasing cardiovascular disease risk
- Fighting inflammation, a cause of pain and disease
- Controlling certain skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, and just plain old dry skin
My Furry Friend
I have a very dear Golden Retriever that was rescued from a shelter at the age of one. She is now a senior canine. A recent trip to the vet along with a xray of her back showed osteoarthritis and disc degeneration. The standard Rimadyl was started (an analgesic and anti-inflammatory) along with Dasuquin for joint support. As my options for therapy seemed limited, a vet tech at the office made a comment to me about fish oil. He said human fish oil supplements were good for dogs, and the dosage would be the same as for humans.
Sounding like a benign and economical option, I did some research. Digging a bit into the literature, it seems fish oil supplementation for dogs is a very common practice. As a practicing dietitian, I frequently run into incorrect supplement dosage recommendations made for people, and often those dosage recommendations are made by physicians. For supplements to be therapeutic for humans, dosing does matter. Too much of a supplement may foster a toxic situation or promote interference of other important nutrients essential to health. Too little, and there may be no clinical impact. So a bit of research gave me insight into the dosing for dogs. To figure out how much fish oil to give your dog, take your dog’s weight in pounds and multiply by 20. So, if your dog weighs 75 pounds, the dosage of fish oil would be 1500 mg.
No special doggie fish oil is necessary
Human fish oil supplements are fine. But, many pills are on the larger side, so you may pierce the pill and put on food. Or, if your dog is like my dog, she will eat anything in a piece of bread. Nature Made brand Fish Oil “pearls” are on the smaller side and 500 mg per pill. This smaller size and dosage pill makes dosing and administration of fish oil easy!
My hope is that fish oil will cut Mollie’s dander and ease her joint pain while also decreasing her prescription medication. Check with your vet before self-prescribing fish oil as other health issues may impact the decision as to if it’s appropriate.