Fish oil is a popular dietary supplement for dogs and cats. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have many health benefits for pets. However, like any supplement, there are potential risks that pet owners need to understand.
Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats:
1. Joint health: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help improve joint health and reduce inflammation in dogs and cats.
2. Skin and coat health: Fish oil can improve the shine and softness of a pet’s coat, as well as contribute to improved allergy control.
3. Heart health: Omega-3 fatty acids may help support heart health by reducing inflammation and maintaining healthy blood flow.
Risks of Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats:
1. Although rare, sensitive pets may be allergic to fish oil. Allergic reactions can cause skin or digestive symptoms.
2. Interactions with other supplements or medications: Fish oil may interact with other supplements or medications, so it’s important to discuss with your veterinarian before giving it to your pet.
3. Overdosing: Overdosing can lead to problems such as diarrhea, upset stomach, and blood clotting issues. Pets on a diet that is already supplemented in high amounts of essential fatty acids may be at an increased risk of overdosage.
4. As nutritional supplements, fish oil products are not regulated by the FDA for safety or efficacy. For your pet’s safety, consider using a brand recommended by your veterinarian.
Dosing Recommendations for Dogs and Cats:
If you prefer using a human supplement, you can calculate an expected dose for you pet. The general guideline is to give dogs up to 40-70mg per kg of body weight of EPA + DHA component combined. Cats can be supplemented with up to 30mg per kg of body weight of EPA + DHA per day.
Tuft’s Veterinary Nutrition Department maintains a list of specific products with dosing recommendations.
It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines, and the specific dosing for your pet may vary based on their individual needs and health status. Ask your veterinarian for a personalized recommendation.
In conclusion, fish oil can be a great supplement for dogs and cats, but it’s important to understand both the potential benefits and needed dose. Always talk to your vet before giving any supplement to your pet, and follow their recommended dosing guidelines.
Alison Barulich, DVM
Animal Care Clinic
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