How much omega-3 fish oil is safe for dogs?

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Fish oil is an excellent source of active omega-3 fatty acids, making it an ideal supplement as part of the overall health of your dog. Fatty acids like omega-3 have an excellent reputation for treating a variety of ailments and diseases in both humans and dogs.

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Dosage

The proper dosage can vary in accordance with the product that you are using, the size of your dog and the reasons for adding fish oil to the dog's diet. When using fish oil as a preventive supplement, a general guideline for a medium-sized dog (generally between 18.1 to 27.2 Kilogram) would be 1,000 mg of fish oil per day. A smaller dog should receive 500 to 750 mg per day. A large dog should receive 1,500 to 2,000 mg of fish oil per day. When using fish oil as part of a treatment plan for a specific ailment, a larger dose may be necessary. Consult your veterinarian before increasing your dog's dosage: excessive doses can interfere with proper blood clotting.

Benefits of Using Fish Oil

The American Journal of Veterinary Research conducted a study in 2008 involving 15 young, healthy dogs. At the conclusion of the study, results were clearly in support of the benefits of EPA and DHA supplementation and the positive, anti-inflammatory effect on dogs. Emerging research suggests that these same properties may be useful in treating a variety of conditions that your dog may experience, such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, allergies and possibly even diabetes. While research remains ongoing, omega-3 fatty acids hold promise in prevention of certain cancers, autoimmune disorders and diabetic neuropathy as well as relieving constipation, treating intestinal parasites and reducing cardiac arrhythmia. Supplementing your dog's diet with fish oil can also help to reduce shedding and encourage the growth of the undercoat.

How Fish Oil Works

Fish oil is produced from the oils of coldwater fish like menhaden, trout and salmon. Fish oil contains two active omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaneoic acid). The Journal of Veterinary Research suggests that as part of a supplemental regimen you should strive for around 1.75g of EPA per kg of diet and 2.2g of DHA per kg of diet for optimal results. The two fatty acids work within the body to reduce inflammation and can often replace the need for corticosteroids to treat various inflammatory conditions. EPA helps arthritis by reducing cartilage damage. It does so by reducing certain enzymes. DHA has emerged as a key supplement for brain development--great for puppies and older dogs alike.

Safety/Side Effects

A prescription is not necessary to buy omega-3 supplements, but you would be wise to consult your veterinarian for a recommendation of any specific products or dosage for your dog. Omega-3 supplements are common for use in both humans and in veterinary medicine. Fish oil is very safe for consumption---side effects are mostly restricted to a fishy odour to the breath or skin. If your dog is on any blood-thinning drugs, be sure to consult your veterinarian before beginning any supplements. Fish oil does have a mild blood-thinning effect and should not be combined with drugs like Coumadin or Heparin. In rare cases, extremely high doses over time could interfere with your the clotting ability of your dog's blood.

Considerations

Using both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is becoming widely accepted and used to treat and prevent various disorders in dogs. The supplements are very safe and can be given to dogs on a daily basis. It's important to read the label of the supplement to determine what ration of omegas it contains and to give you more product-specific dosing instructions.

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