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Giving Fish Oil & Omega 3 To Puppies: (VET GUIDANCE)

You may have heard of the benefits of fish oil and omega fatty acids for our canine friends. Much of this talk is about adult dogs, but can it help growing puppies as well?

I’ll explain below the importance of consulting your veterinarian, considering your puppy’s current omega-3 levels, and following the guidelines.


What Is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is a supplement that is usually derived from the fat and tissue of coldwater fish. Fish oil is packed with omega fatty acids, which contain beneficial ingredients like EPA and DHA. 

Both EPA and DHA are fatty acids that are used to manage multiple types of inflammatory conditions. These fatty acids are also known to boost immune support, aid in neurological function, and even retinal health. 

Fish oil is often used in dogs, cats, and even horses. Fish oil can be found in gel capsules that are created for use in humans, as well as canine-friendly dog chews. 

While there are many ways to consume fish oil, it’s always advised to discuss any new supplements with your veterinarian.

This product is not regulated by the FDA to the extent of other medications, meaning not all products have to be tested for quality. 

Is Fish Oil The Same As Omega-3’s?

When hearing about fish oil supplements and omega-3 supplements, the two terms can be confusing. Many wonder if there is a difference between the two, and if certain options are better than others. 

Fish oil is the supplement itself, while omega-3’s are what is found within most fish oil supplements. The two terms should not be used interchangeably however, as there are many different types of fish oils that can contain different types of omega fatty acids. 

Fish do not create EPA and DHA themselves but rather receive these fatty acids from eating other fish and the algae they consume. Due to this, dogs can receive omega-3’s from supplements other than fish oil. 

So when someone refers to omega-3’s or fatty acids, it’s not always safe to assume that the two are identical. Fish oil certainly contains fatty acids, but it is not the only way to benefit from these nutrients. 

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag.

Benefits of Fish Oil In Dogs

Fish oil is one of the most popular supplements for canine friends for good reason. Owners around the world have heard about the health benefits that fish oil has to offer, making it a staple in their pet’s daily diet. 

Some of the many benefits of fish oil for dogs include:

  • Combating allergies:
    Fish oil has been known to provide relief for dogs that experience dry and itchy skin due to allergies. Fish oil is believed to decrease the release of inflammatory stimulators, causing a dog to itch less.
  • Heart protection:
    Fish oil can help to prevent blood clots from forming, as well as aid in preventing irregular heart rhythms. 
  • Relieves joint pain:
    Fish oil can help to decrease the production of inflammatory agents that are present in dogs with arthritis and other joint conditions. This results in more joint flexibility, as well as decreased pain over time. 
  • Improves neurological development and function:
    A recent study proved that fish oil in dogs can help them retain new skills, develop adequate immune support, as well as improve cognitive function in aging dogs. 
  • Lowers triglycerides:
    Fish oil is believed to decrease harmful triglycerides in patients with high levels. This is extremely beneficial for dogs that struggle with heart disease. 

Fish Oil Study In Puppies

A study performed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) tackled the question of fish oil use in puppies in 2012. With studies being performed in adult dogs, many were questioning the potential benefits for our growing canine friends as well. 

This study evaluated 48 Beagle puppies from the point of weaning to 1 year of age. Some puppies received food that was rich in fish oil, well others received a diet that had a low amount of fish oil. Their aim was to track the differences in health as they aged, ranging from cognitive function to immune health. 

The first part of the study involved testing the changes in immune health as they aged. By measuring the antibody titers when the puppies were vaccinated for rabies, they found that the group that received higher amounts of DHA had higher antibody titers than the others. 

They also determined that the puppies that received higher amounts of DHA had better results with learning different tasks, detecting visual contrast differences, as well as various types of psychomotor performance. 

Based on this study, fish oil supplementation in puppies is extremely beneficial for their cognitive development, immune system development, as well as retinal functions as they age. This seems to answer the questions of whether or not puppies should revive fish oil, and how much it can benefit them as they grow. 

So Can Puppies Have Fish Oil?

Yes, your puppy can safely enjoy the benefits of fish oil. The AVMA study proves that not only is fish oil safe for growing puppies, but it has a world of health perks to offer.

As long as you are offering a high-quality supplement, your puppy will thank you.

As we mentioned above, fish oil supplements are not as vigorously regulated by the FDA as other medications are. Due to this, it’s important to make sure that your vet approves any supplement that you want to give your puppy. 

Each dog also has a recommended fish oil dose based on their age and size. Whenever you are dealing with puppies, you really want to make sure that you are offering them a safe amount. 

Just like many other supplements, potential complications from fish oil will begin to occur if your puppy does not receive the right dose for their weight range.

Fish oil or omega-3 supplements are both safe for puppies as long as they are approved by your veterinarian, and you are following the recommended dose. 

How To Give A Puppy Fish Oil

The best way to give your puppy fish oil is through liquid or capsule supplements. There are an array of dog-approved fish oil supplements in pet stores, online, and even in some vet offices. 

The main thing you need to look for is a formula that contains natural triglyceride oil, as this will be the easiest for their body to absorb. As long as your fish oil supplement of choice has this factor, your pup can determine which option they like best. 

It is important to note that many puppy kibbles include DHA and EPA in their diets. Because of this, we always suggest speaking with your vet on if your puppy needs additional supplementation.  

Does Fish Oil Have Any Side Effects?

One of the reasons that so many pet owners love fish oil for their pets is how few side effects there are. When fiving your pup their recommended daily dose, serious side effects are rare. 

However, an overdose of fish oil can lead to side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, altered immune system function, and even altered platelet function. This is why it is so important to always receive a proper dose from your veterinarian, as well as being aware of any DHA and EPA that is already present in their food. 

Because fish oil can cause GI upset in excess amounts, it should be avoided in dogs with sensitive stomachs. If your puppy gets an upset stomach at any diet change, it may not be the right supplement for them. 

Final Thoughts

Fish oil is a wonderful supplement that has many benefits to offer. Be sure to discuss the use of fish oil with your veterinarian, and your puppy can enjoy this dietary supplement going forward!

Thank you for reading!


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.