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Fish Oil for Dogs Handbook [Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage & Top 5]

Table of Contents

When you think fish, you might think sushi, a nice salmon dish, a fishing trip, pets, a bad smell, and now … Should I be giving fish oil to my dog?

Well, what you do for your dog’s health is between you, your dog, and your vet. But, there are a lot of potential benefits to giving your dog a certain amount of the fishy product. Or the non-fishy product? The fish product there’s nothing fishy about.

You get it.

In this article, we’ll be leading you through it by going over

  • Forms of Fish Oil for Dogs
  • Fish Oil for Dogs Benefits
  • Fish Oil for Dogs Side Effects
  • Fish Oil Dosage for Dogs
  • Best Fish Oil for Dogs
  • Q&A

So, leave your boat and your fishing pole at home, because you won’t need to fish for this information. We’re serving it up to you on a platter.

Forms of Fish Oil for Dogs

Form of Fish Oil for Dogs Description
Fish oil pills for dogs Pills can be a great way to give your dog their dose of fish oil if you’re able to get your dog to take pills. All your dog has to do is swallow, and they’ll have ingested their dose.

However, this can be a classically difficult task. If your dog has trouble taking pills, there are things you can try, like burying it in their food, feeding it to them manually, or getting specialty products for pill taking. You may be best, though, to simply use one of the other forms of fish oil for dogs.

Pills also come in a variety of forms, including capsules, soft gels, etc.

Liquid fish oil for dogs If your dog enjoys the flavor, it may be easier to get your dog to ingest liquid fish oil than a pill. You just need to make sure you’re measuring out the right dose for your dog and that your dog is drinking the whole dose.
Chewable fish oil supplements for dogs Chewable supplements are fish oil supplements in the form of treats or some other chewable method of administering the proper fish oil dose for your dog.

Fish Oil for Dogs Benefits

best fish oil for dogs


Obviously, there’s a reason people (including you) are interested in feeding their dogs fish oil. And that’s because it has a lot of benefits for your dogs. This is largely due to what a wonderful source of omega-3 fish is (just like it is for humans – and cats – too). We’ve listed and elaborated on some of those benefits below, including

  1. Healthy Joints
  2. Shiny Coat & Healthy Skin
  3. Heart Health
  4. Boosts Immune System
  5. Brain Development (in Puppies)

Healthy Joints

Having healthy joints is an important part of being a healthy dog. Every time a dog moves, it’s using its joints, and it needs to be active to be healthy.

However, as dog’s age, they can begin to have issues with their joints. They may develop dog arthritis, for instance. Arthritis is what happens when the cartilage between the bones of a joint wears away, so the bones are grinding on each other each time the joint is used. Obviously, this can be very painful for a dog.

The omega-3s in fish oil can help with this issue – or at least help manage the pain that comes with it. As reported by Canine Arthritis Resources and Education (CARE), omega-3s provide your dog with the EPA and DHA that it needs to lower inflammation caused by arthritis.

(Fish oil isn’t the only way you can keep your dog’s joints mobile and healthy, though. We also have joint supplements such as, our TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets, which can be used as a preventative measure or to manage symptoms associated with joint pain.)

TRI-ACTA for Pets

A proactive approach for developing and younger adult pets to maintain optimal joint health mobility, minimize inflammation and fend off age-related ailments.

Shiny Coat & Healthy Skin

how much fish oil for dogs


You can tell when a dog’s skin and fur aren’t doing too well. The fur begins to look dull, the skin becomes red and irritated, and it could be too oily or too dry. This can cause issues because you don’t want your dog to develop any sort of skin infection due to an issue with its skin or because it was scratching at irritation and caused a wound that got infected.

Luckily, fish oil for dogs can help with that and keep your pooch looking and feeling great.

Although it is obviously not a cure-all and can’t be used in place of a proper grooming routine, fish oil can help bolster the health and appearance of your dog’s fur and skin.

Heart Health

The desire to keep your dog heart-healthy and strong is a clear one. Heart issues can be very serious and even fatal. Heart diseases and abnormalities, even if they aren’t fatal, can change the way your dog is able to function. It’s important to try and keep your dog’s heart as healthy as possible, and if your dog does develop any sort of health issue, then find ways to manage and treat it so your dog can still live as long, happily, and healthily as possible.

However, it seems the omega-3s in fish oil can be an aid to the heart health of your pooch, even if it’s already suffering from heart disease. paper submitted on Tufts HeartSmart states that they had potential benefits in inflammation reduction and arrhythmia. This paper even specifically states that fish oil supplements for dogs will need to be administered since, typically, not enough fish oil will be naturally in the diet.

This just supports the idea that fish oil for dogs is a great way to bolster your dog’s heart health. And who doesn’t want their dog to have great heart health?

However, it’s important to note that if you suspect your dog has a heart issue, you’ll need to take it to the vet. Listen to the treatment plan your vet provides for you if an issue is found. You can always inquire about fish oil, but if your vet says not to use it for any reason, listen to your vet.

Boosts Immune System

A dog’s immune system is an important part of their bodily functions, as, just like with humans, it’s what helps prevent and fight illness. A strong immune system will better be able to fight off infections and diseases.

According to the American Kennel Club, fish oil for dogs can help bolster their immune system, even helping them fight cancers.

Again, just like with heart issues, if you do suspect your pup is ill, or has a disease or infection, take it to the vet to be examined. And once your vet identifies the issue and develops a treatment plan for your dog, listen to that plan. If you wish to inquire about whether fish oil would be a benefit to your dog, feel free. However, if your vet advises you against using it, we’d advise you to listen to them.

Brain Development in Puppies

fish oil for dogs benefits


Obviously, if you’re raising a new puppy, you want to give its little brain the best odds of developing properly. And part of that is making sure your pup gets the right nutrients.

Omega-3 is one of those nutrients a dog needs for brain development, particularly due to the DHA we’ve previously mentioned. So it seems like fish oil may be an important part of that equation.

According to the American Kennel Club, it plays an important role in not just brain development but retinal, as well – and not just in dogs, but young animals generally.

However, you don’t want to give your little puppy too much fish oil because, as you will see in the section below, that can have negative effects. So, if you’re unsure what dosage of fish oil you should be feeding your baby pooch, don’t be afraid to ask your vet.

Fish Oil for Dogs Side Effects

With the good, we must also take the bad, and there are some side effects of fish oil for dogs, although these are typically associated with high doses. Some of those side effects include

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Wounds take longer to heal
  3. Fish smell
  4. Oily skin
  5. Prevents proper blood clotting


Although fish oil for dogs is generally considered safe, feeding your dog too high an amount may lead to certain side effects, like diarrhea.

Make sure you are keeping your dog as hydrated and comfortable as possible, as diarrhea can be dehydrating and uncomfortable. Your dog may be exhibiting signs of not feeling well due to this diarrhea, like lethargy.

If your dog begins to experience diarrhea, speak to your vet about the best course of action. They may simply recommend a lower dose of fish oil for your dog, or they may recommend you stop administering fish oil to your dog at all.

Wounds Take Longer to Heal

According to PetMd, the EPA and DHA in fish oil may prevent a dog’s wounds from healing as quickly as they should, which it points out could be an issue if your dog had surgery, for instance.

Therefore, if your pet begins to show signs that it’s not healing properly, speak to your vet about what the best course of action is. This can be particularly important if your dog has surgery coming up. Even if you haven’t noticed signs of your pup healing more slowly, you may want to discuss your dog’s fish oil usage and which dosage before your dog’s surgery.

Fish Smell

liquid fish oil for dogs


Whether your dog develops fishy breath or fishy skin, neither is desirable. Both are a risk, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. If you notice your dog has started to take on a fishy odor, it may be time to pump the brakes on your dog’s fish oil intake.

Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop giving your dog fish oil entirely. This is something you can speak with your vet about.

Not that dogs typically smell amazing, but fish can be a particularly brutal smell. Plus, you don’t want to wait until the side effects turn into something worse.

Oily Skin

Another side effect you’ll see commonly listed around the internet (including on the last cited VCA Animal Hospitals article) is oily skin or fur on your dog. On its own, this may not seem like a large issue; however, you don’t want to compromise the health of your dog’s skin and fur, which can promote infection. This is especially true if your dog’s skin becomes irritated, and so your dog scratches it, which can penetrate the skin and introduce bacteria into it.

And again, you don’t want to wait until a bigger side effect appears.

Prevents Proper Blood Clotting

Speaking of bigger side effects, too much fish oil for dogs may cause issues with blood clotting. Now, it’s important to note that the previously cited VCA Animal Hospitals article lists this as a cat-specific issue. However, the previously cited PetMD article has it listed as an issue for pets, without cats being specified, anPetFinder also lists it amongst its side effects for fish oil for dogs.

The concern is that essentially (according to the PetMD article), your dog’s blood won’t clot properly if there’s an injury, leading to a higher degree of bleeding than there would otherwise be. This is another situation that could cause issues with a surgical procedure.

However, if this is something you’re concerned about, you can always speak to your vet.

Fish Oil Dosage for Dogsis fish oil good for dogs


How much fish oil you should be feeding your dog relies on a number of factors, including the size of your dog, how much fish oil or omega-3s are already in your dog’s diet, the food you feed your dog, medication your dog may be taking, how much fish oil is in the supplement you’re feeding your dog, etc.

So, what we’re saying is we can’t give you a definitive answer for how much fish oil you should be giving your dog. What we can say, though, is that typically most supplements will come with a general guide on what dosage to give your dog (perhaps divvied up by size).

However, if you’re unsure, just like the previously cited Petfinder article suggests, we recommend you speak to your vet. They’ll be able to advise you on the proper amount given the supplement you have. And, if you don’t have a supplement, they may be able to lead you to a good one. (Maybe even one of the ones we recommend below.)

Best Fish Oil for Dogs

These fish oils for dogs were chosen based on popular brands and top ratings on Google.

The fish oils for dogs are listed in no particular order.

1. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet Fish Oil for Dogs

nordic fish oil


Feature Elaboration
Description This fish oil product is safe for both dogs and cats. It’s won the Whole Foods Magazine’s Natural Choice Award, Vitamin Retailer’s Best Pet Health Supplement, and Taste for Life’s Essentials Award.
Type of Supplement Soft Gels, Liquid
  • Anchovy oil
  • Sardin oil
  • Gelatin
  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • D-alpha tocopherol
Cost $42.49 – $71.68 CAD
Rating On the website: 4.8 with over 100 reviews

Prices as of July 2022.

2. Welactin Canine Omega-3 Supplement Fish Oil for Dogs

welactin fish oil for dogs


Feature Elaboration
Description Specifically for dogs, these supplements are created as a rich source of EPA and DHA.
Type of Supplement Softgels, liquid
Ingredients Softgels:

  • Fish oil
  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Natural peppermint oil
  • Mixed tocopherols


  • Fish oil
  • Mixed tocopherols
Cost $21.89 – $32.90 CAD (Converted from USD)
Rating Softgels on Amazon: 4.6 with over 3,200 reviews

Liquid on Amazon: 4.7 with almost 5,000 reviews

Prices as of July 2022.

3. Zesty Paws Skin & Coat Omega Bites™ Alaskan Fish Oil for Dogs

Zesty Paws Omega BitesTM for Dogs


Feature Elaboration
Description As the title of this section suggests, they are sourced using Alaskan fish, specifically sustainable Wild Alaskan Pollock.

Available in two flavors:

  1. Chicken
  2. Bacon
Type of Supplement Soft chews
Ingredients Chicken Flavor:

  • Pea flour
  • GArbanzo flour
  • Tapioca flour
  • Palm oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish oil
  • Natural flavors
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • Cod liver oil
  • Coconut glycerin
  • D-alpha tocopherol
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Zinc
  • Mixed tocopherols
  • Rosemary extract
  • Biotin

Bacon Flavor:

  • Same ingredients, but with bacon flavor and ingredients in a slightly different order
Cost $34.74 CAD (converted from USD)
Rating On the website: 4.8 with over 600 reviews

Prices as of July 2022.

4. Bayer Free Form Snip Tips Gel Capsules, Omega-3 Fish Oil Oil for Dogs

Bayer Free Form Snip Tips Gel Capsules, Omega-3 Fish Oil


Feature Elaboration
Description These supplements are created using safety-tested ingredients, and quality ingredients.

The tips are called snip tips because the tip of the capsule can be removed to make them easier to give to your pooch.

Type of Supplement Capsule
Ingredients Active:

  • EPA
  • DHA


  • D-alpha tocopherol
  • Fish oil
  • Gelatin
  • Glycerin
  • Water
Cost $167.20 CAD
Rating 4.7 with over 600 ratings

Prices as of July 2022.

5. EicosaDerm Omega 3 Liquid Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats

EicosaDerm Liquid for Dogs and Cats


Feature Elaboration
Description This supplement is preservative-free, with no sugars or starch, but a great source for omega-3 for dogs and cats.
Type of Supplement Liquid
  • Fish oil
  • EPA
  • DHA
  • Vitamin E
Cost $20.61 – $60.56 CAD (converted from USD)
Rating 4.7 with over 200 ratings

Prices as of July 2022.


You’ll note that most supplements found on this list boasted small ingredient lists, suggesting there are fewer filler ingredients. This is something you want to look for when choosing a supplement, fish oil or otherwise, for your dog.

If you’re unsure about the quality of a supplement or if it’s right for your dog, you can ask your vet for their opinion.

Frequently Asked Questions

fish oil dosage calculator for dogs

Human fish oil for dogs dosage

As we mentioned in our Fish Oil for Dogs Dosage section, the dosage you should be feeding your dog depends on a variety of factors, so we recommend speaking to your vet about the right amount for your pooch.

However, if you’re giving your dog human fish oil, it is important to check the ingredients list to make sure there’s nothing in it that could be potentially harmful to your pet. If you’re unsure, again we recommend that you speak to your vet. And if there is anything harmful in it, they may be able to direct you to a safer fish oil option. There are many great options that are specifically formulated for pets.

Is fish oil good for dogs?

Yes, fish oil is good for dogs. The omega-3 in it is good for dogs, just like it’s good for humans. In dogs, it specifically helps with

  1. Healthy Joints
  2. Shiny Coat & Healthy Skin
  3. Heart Health
  4. Boosts Immune System
  5. Brain Development (in Puppies)

(See “Fish Oil for Dogs Benefits” section for more detail)

Are fish oil pills good for dogs?

Fish oil is good for dogs, so fish oil pills for dogs are good as well, as long as your dog is fine with taking pills. If your dog struggles with pills, you may find that another form, like fish oil as a liquid, may be a better fish oil option for your dog.

Is fish oil bad for dogs?

Fish oil is not bad for dogs. However, like all things, though, it can be bad for your dog under the right circumstances. For instance, if you’re giving your dog a higher dose than you should be for its size. Side effects of fish oil that we’ve previously mentioned include

  • Diarrhea
  • Wounds take longer to heal
  • Fish smell
  • Oily skin
  • Prevents proper blood clotting

Key Takeaway on Fish Oil for Dogs

Do you smell that? It smells like keeping your dog healthy.

Fish oil for dogs is a great addition to your dog’s diet, so you can help keep it happy and healthy. So, if you’re looking to give it a try, we’ll go through the brands we recommend one more time

  1. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet
  2. Welactin Canine Omega-3 Supplement
  3. Zesty Paws Omega BitesTM for Dogs
  4. Bayer Free Form Snip Tips Gel Capsules, Omega-3 Fish Oil
  5. EicosaDerm Liquid for Dogs and Cats

Just make sure you’re feeding your pooch the proper dosage!

When it comes to joint health, fish oils can be beneficial. In particular, they can have anti-inflammatory benefits. However, while they can help address symptoms of immobility, they cannot address the root causes of the issue. Joint supplements like TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets work to repair the cartilage, prevent further deterioration and reduce inflammation, thereby treating the cause AND the symptoms when there is a mobility concern. Including this type of supplementation along with fish oil can have complimentary benefits that go a long way in supporting their health.

If you’re interested in maintaining the health of your pet with other types of supplements, you can shop our joint supplements here.

TRI-ACTA for Pets

A proactive approach for developing and younger adult pets to maintain optimal joint health mobility, minimize inflammation and fend off age-related ailments.

And, if you’re looking for more information on your dog’s health, check out more of our pet health blogs or our resources page.

Still have questions? Don’t be afraid to contact us.