Fish Oil for Your Fur Friend: The Benefits of Omega-3 for Pets 

A cat licking its nose

Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to encourage heart health among other things in humans. Omega-3 supplements come in many forms and are one of the top selling dietary products on the market. But did you know that they are advantageous for pets as well? 

The team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here to tell you why.

What Are Fish Oil Supplements?

Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to develop the cell structure and promote energy. These oils cannot be obtained from your pet’s regular diet. These essential fatty acids are the building blocks of maintaining a healthy heart and brain. Fish oils are found either in pill or liquid form and contain one or more of the following: salmon, pollack, trout, and tuna. 

The Benefits of Omega-3 for Pets

There are many reasons to give your pet a high quality omega-3 supplement. 

  1. They reduce inflammation – Essential fatty acids like omega-3 and -6 work together to reduce inflammation in the body. They do this by regulating or balancing the inflammation that occurs naturally. But when it becomes unbalanced, the result can impact the immune system, which can result in allergies and atopy, often causing severe itching.

  2. They alleviate arthritic and joint pain – Joint inflammation is caused by the production of prostaglandins, which cause inflammation, lameness, and other problems with mobility.

  3. Supports brain function – Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids work to increase better memory and cognition, as well as agility. It also dissuades stereotypic behaviors, that are seen in zoo animals due to anxiety, such as excessive licking and pacing. These supplements can help slow down the impact of Alzhemer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.

  4. Reduces dry, itchy skin – Those pets with atopic symptoms will have improved skin and coat through the use of fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids help improve the development of healthy skin cells and hair follicles. Pets with allergies that manifest on the skin report improvements and fewer symptoms.

  5. Promotes a healthy heart – Omega-3 has been linked to the reduction of atrial fibrillation and other heart arrhythmias. It can decrease high cholesterol, encourage healthy blood pressure, and cut the risk of stroke. 

Possible Side-Effects and Things to Consider

Many enthusiastic pet owners will want to jump on the supplement bandwagon without getting recommendations from their veterinarian. Before adding a supplement to your pet’s diet, run it by your vet as to avoid any possible problems in nutrition or other complications. Stick to the right dosage as well to discourage digestive upset and diarrhea. 

Some pets will have oily deposits on the skin, called seborrhea oleosa. You may discontinue the supplements and allow this condition to resolve in a few weeks. Other pet owners report a “fishy” smell from their pet because of the fish oils. As with any supplement or medication, there is a problem of toxicity if your pet ingests too much. 

Again, the safest approach is to get suggestions from your veterinarian and follow the right dosage.

Overall, the benefits of fish oils exceed the risks in most pets. We encourage you to contact us with any questions about omega-3 or any other concerns. We are here for you and your furry loved one.