What Are the Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs?

What Are the Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs?
What Are the Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs? (Image: Author photo)

Salmon oil, with its valuable omega-3 fatty acids has many benefits for dogs, and virtually no side effects. It is good for almost every part of the dog, from coat and skin, to joints, organ health and even brain development. Salmon oil is always given orally. Dogs metabolize fats and oils very differently from humans, and adding salmon oil to your dog's diet won't make him fat, but fit and maybe smarter, too.


Omega-3 fatty acids are found in most meat, and in particularly high levels in salmon and other cold-water fish. However, the grain-fed meat that forms the bulk of the meat portion of a dogs' diets is much lower in fatty acids than naturally raised, grass-fed animals. In essence, these nutrients are an important, natural part of a good diet, but lacking because of the type of food most pet dogs eat. That is why it's beneficial to add them and salmon oil supplements are an excellent source.

Benefits for Maintenance

Salmon oil lubricates the skin and helps maintain a glossy, healthy coat and strong teeth and nails. It also is beneficial for joint health and studies have shown it to ward off arthritis. Just as in people, it is also recommended for keeping the heart healthy in dogs. Finally, salmon oil may boost the immune system by providing important micronutrients lacking in commercial diets.

Salmon Oil for Health Problems

Just as salmon oil can help build better brains and bones in younger dogs, it can be helpful as an anti-inflammatory supplement for arthritic dogs. It may also help keep brain functioning sharp in aging dogs. It is recommended for dogs with skin allergies and to help various skin conditions heal faster (see References).

Salmon oil as a cancer fighter has also been studied by Dr. Oglivie, DVM, at the Colorado State School of Veterinary Medicine. Some home-prepared veterinary diets include large doses of the oil, about 1000mg per 10lbs of the dog's weight. According to Dr. Oglivie, it also appears to slow cancer cell growth and helps cachexic (the muscle wasting associated with some cancers) dogs maintain their weight.

Salmon Oil for Puppies

Research by the IAMS pet food company indicates that the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fish oils promotes better brain development in puppies, and several dog food companies are now adding it to their puppy formulas. There is no downside to giving salmon oil to a dog of any age.

Salmon Oil Sources

Even though many dry dog foods contain salmon meat or added salmon oil, the omega-3 fatty acids in the food are at low levels and nowhere close to what most experts would recommend for maintenance supplementation. Many retailers carry it, and it is perfectly fine to use products sold for people. There is no difference.

For those who feed their dog a raw diet, fresh salmon can be fed to dogs on a regular basis. Canned salmon contains about 7000mg of omega-3 per can and can be spooned onto a dog's regular food. Check pet stores and online retailers for smoked and cooked salmon treats.

Salmon Oil Doses

You may find that everywhere you check, the recommended dose is different. A good rule of thumb for maintenance is to give 1000mg per 30lbs of the dog's weight. If using it to help treat a specific condition, work with your veterinarian or an animal nutritionist. As with all supplements, tell your vet what you are giving your dog if you are prescribed medication.

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