An adult cat eating dry food with fish oil out of a food bowl.

Is fish oil good for dogs and cats?

Team Walmart Pets

June 18, 2021

3

min read

Should you be adding fish oil to your dog or cat’s food? To begin, let’s take a step back and examine why it is good for cats and dogs (and us). 

Fish oil benefits

Fish oil contains essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. They are called “essential” because we need them, but for the most part, our bodies don’t produce them naturally — they must be obtained through diet or other supplementation.

What is fish oil good for?

Omega-3 fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories, so they work best to alleviate pain from osteoarthritis in pets and their parents. Fatty acids can help clear up chronic skin conditions and play a role in immune function, battling cancer and kidney disease. 

On the other end of the scale, omega-6 fatty acids are actually pro-inflammatory, and too much can actually lead to arthritis and other inflammation. 

How much fish oil for dogs and cats?

When finding the right dose for your cat or dog, be aware that the ideal mark to hit is 50 to 100 milligrams of DHA and EPA combined per kilogram of body weight. So for a 45-lb. dog (which equals 20.5 kg), that means anywhere from 820 mg to 2,050 mg of omega-3s per day.

However, keep in mind that some commercial pet foods are already formulated to include omega-3 fatty acids. If this is the case for your dog or cat, they may not need anymore.

It’s important to remember the ratio in which omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are consumed. The correct ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is somewhere around 5:1. This may sound extreme, but the typical diet of many Americans (and their pets) is around 10:1, which is too much. 

To balance things out, omega-3 fatty acids usually need to be added, and a diet low in omega-6s may need to be considered. Talk to your vet to find the best balance for your pet. And consider adding omega-3 to your diet, as well.

How to choose the best fish oil

There are hundreds of products on the market that have fish oil for cats and dogs, so it’s important to know which to choose. 

Two fatty acids specific to omega-3s that you should look out for are DHA and EPA. These are important in terms of nutrition and are widely available in cold-water oily fish like herring, sardines, salmon and halibut. 

Is fish oil for both dogs and cats?

If itchy skin or aching joints are plaguing your puppy or cat, ask your veterinarian about adding fish oil to their diet. He or she likely has a preferred brand or formulation for you and can recommend the best dose for your pet. Even if your pet has no current complaints, they may still benefit from finding these “good fats” in their bowl each day.

Pet Health

Photo by Christopher Ayme on Unsplash