The recommended dosage of fish oil for dogs is between 20-55 mg per pound of body weight per day. So for a 50 pound dog, 1000-2750 mg fish oil per day would be appropriate. This equates to 1-3 standard 1000 mg fish oil capsules for a 50 pound dog. Always consult your veterinarian before starting fish oil, as the dosage may vary based on your dog’s specific health conditions. Start with a low dose and monitor your dog’s response.
How Much Fish Oil Can I Give My Dog?
The therapeutic dosage of fish oil for dogs is 20-55 mg per pound of body weight per day, according to most veterinarians and pet nutritionists. Here are some general fish oil dosage guidelines based on a dog’s weight:
|Fish Oil Dosage
|100-275 mg per day
|200-550 mg per day
|300-825 mg per day
|400-1100 mg per day
|600-1650 mg per day
|800-2200 mg per day
|1000-2750 mg per day
|1200-3300 mg per day
|1400-3850 mg per day
|1600-4400 mg per day
|1800-4950 mg per day
|2000-5500 mg per day
As you can see from the table, a 50 lb dog can be given between 1000-2750 mg of fish oil per day. Most fish oil supplements for dogs come in 1000 mg capsules. So for a 50 lb dog, the dosage would be 1-3 standard 1000 mg fish oil capsules per day.
Always start with a lower dosage when first starting fish oil and monitor your dog’s response. You can gradually increase the dosage over time to reach the recommended therapeutic amounts. Exceeding the upper limit of the dosage range is not necessary and will not provide any added benefits.
Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs
Fish oil is highly beneficial supplement for dogs when given in appropriate doses. Here are some of the evidence-based benefits:
Supports Brain Function
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish oil support brain function and development in dogs. They are critical components of cell membranes in the brain and facilitate nerve transmission. Fish oil has been shown to improve memory, learning, and training in dogs.
The omega-3s in fish oil have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. They can help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, allergies, bowel disease, kidney disease, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders in dogs.
Supports Joint Health
Research shows that the EPA in fish oil can significantly improve mobility and reduce stiffness and pain in dogs with osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory effects also help slow the progression of the joint degeneration.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
The omega-3s in fish oil help regulate blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, prevent erratic heart rhythms, and slow plaque buildup in dogs. This promotes better cardiovascular function. Fish oil may also reduce the chance of blood clots and strokes.
Supports Immune Function
The omega-3 fatty acids positively influence the immune system and may enhance immune response in dogs. This helps fight disease and infection.
Improves Skin & Coat Condition
Fish oil can make a dog’s skin and coat healthier. The omega-3s help relieve skin allergies and itching. Fish oil may also prevent dry, flaky skin and dull coats.
Some studies have found correlations between fish oil supplementation and elevated mood, less anxiety, and reduced aggression in dogs. However, more research is needed.
Choosing a Fish Oil Supplement
When selecting a fish oil supplement for your dog, here are some important factors to consider:
EPA & DHA Content
Make sure the supplement provides adequate levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA. These are the active ingredients that deliver the benefits. Aim for a supplement with at least 180 mg combined EPA and DHA per 1000 mg capsule.
High Purification Standards
It’s important that the fish oil has been purified and tested to remove mercury, lead, PCBs and other contaminants. Look for supplements that follow quality control standards.
Reputable Brand & Manufacturer
Purchase fish oil from a reputable brand and manufacturer. They should have their products analyzed by a third party lab for potency and purity. Avoid generic or store brands that may be lower quality.
Some supplement formulas are not palatable and can cause stomach upset in dogs. Look for products that use enteric coating and/or fish oil esters for better digestion and absorption.
Fish oil can go rancid if not stored properly. Only purchase supplements in dark bottles. Refrigerate after opening to help preserve the freshness and prevent spoilage.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has standards for testing and approving fish oil products for dogs. AAHA approved supplements must pass stringent criteria.
How to Give a Dog Fish Oil
Here are some tips for effectively giving your dog fish oil supplements:
Give with Meals
It’s best to give fish oil capsules or liquid with your dog’s meals. This helps avoid stomach upset and enhances absorption of the fatty acids.
Hide in Food
Dogs can detect unpleasant tastes very easily. Try hiding capsules in a small amount of peanut butter, cream cheese, or canned food to mask the flavor.
Use Fish Oil Liquid
The liquid form usually has a milder flavor. Mix the dose into your dog’s wet or dry food. Start with low doses to avoid rejection.
Use Treats as Distraction
Give your dog a tasty treat like chicken or cheese right before giving the fish oil. This focuses them on the treat rather than the supplement taste.
After giving capsules, gently massage your dog’s throat to encourage swallowing rather than spitting up. Blowing on their nose may also help.
Divide the total daily dosage into two or three smaller doses given with separate meals. This is easier for dogs to tolerate than one large dose.
Potential Side Effects of Fish Oil
When given at appropriate therapeutic dosages, fish oil supplements are very safe for most dogs. However, there are some potential side effects to monitor:
Stomach upset or diarrhea may occur when first starting fish oil. This usually subsides after a few days once the dog’s system adjusts. Reduce dosage if symptoms persist.
Increased Bleeding Risk
High doses of fish oil could prolong bleeding time in dogs taking anti-coagulant medications. Discuss with your veterinarian.
Dogs with known fish or seafood allergies may react to fish oil supplements. Discontinue use if you observe any signs of an allergic reaction.
Interaction with Drugs
The omega-3s may interact with some medications like cyclosporine, warfarin, anti-inflammatories. Check with your vet before giving fish oil.
Long-term use of exceptionally high doses may deplete vitamin E and vitamin A levels. Periodic bloodwork can check for deficiencies.
Most dogs can take fish oil supplements long term without any issues. However, it’s wise to have dogs on therapeutic dosages evaluated by a vet twice a year to ensure their continued health while on fish oil supplementation.
Fish Oil Dosage FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about proper fish oil dosages for dogs:
How much fish oil should I give my 70 pound dog?
For a 70 pound dog, a therapeutic fish oil dosage would be 1400 – 3850 mg per day according to weight-based guidelines. This equates to about 1.5 to 4 standard 1000 mg fish oil capsules a day.
Is 1000 mg fish oil safe for dogs?
Yes, 1000 mg fish oil capsules are commonly and safely used for dogs. This dosage is appropriate for medium-sized dogs weighing 20-50 pounds. Large breed dogs may often take more, while small dogs need less.
Can I give my dog human fish oil?
You can safely give your dog a human fish oil supplement as long as it provides adequate levels of EPA and DHA. However, liver flavored and specially formulated dog products may be more palatable and easier to administer.
How much EPA/DHA should dog fish oil contain?
Look for at least 180 mg combined EPA and DHA per 1000 mg fish oil capsule or liquid. Higher amounts are fine as well. Try to find supplements standardized to deliver effective omega-3 levels.
Can I give too much fish oil to my dog?
Yes, excessive doses of fish oil can potentially cause adverse effects. Stick within the recommended dosage range of 20-55 mg per pound of body weight. More is not necessarily better when it comes to fish oil.
How long does it take for fish oil to work in dogs?
The beneficial effects of fish oil supplements can take 2-8 weeks to become apparent. It takes some time for the omega-3 fatty acids to incorporate into the cells and exert their therapeutic actions. Be patient.
Fish oil is a safe and effective supplement for dogs when dosed properly. Therapeutic amounts for a 50 pound dog are 1000-2750 mg fish oil per day, which equates to about 1-3 standard 1000 mg capsules. Always start on the low end of the dosage range and gradually increase under veterinary guidance based on your dog’s response and health needs. Use a high quality supplement from a reputable manufacturer for maximum benefits. Fish oil provides many proven health advantages for dogs when administered safely and correctly. Just be sure to consult your veterinarian for optimal dosage recommendations tailored to your dog.