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The Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs

by VitaPaws

Salmon and other fatty fish are some of the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat. Not only are they packed with omega fatty acids, they also contain ample protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Because of these natural properties, they are also fantastic for our dogs too. 

Due to customer demand, we are pleased to now offer responsibly-sourced liquid Scottish salmon oil that can easily be drizzled on top of a dog’s food. To accompany this launch, we thought now would be the perfect opportunity to outline how salmon oil benefits your dog’s health and why it would be the perfect addition to their diet no matter their age or breed.

Salmon Oil – Packed with Beneficial Nutrients 

Oily fish like salmon are synonymous with omega 3, given that they are the best source of this valuable nutrient. Furthermore, oily fish contain long chain omega 3 fatty acids which are even more beneficial than the short chain ones found in certain plants. The body has to convert the small chain omega 3 into the useable long chain fats and this process is quite inefficient, meaning it’s much better to get them from oily fish. 

Salmon oil is rich in other omega fats too. It provides a source of linoleic acid – the essential omega 6 fat. Although needed for health, many diets have in imbalance as they provide too much omega 6 relative to omega 3. As salmon oil provides much more omega 3 than 6, this will help to rectify the imbalance. 

Typically, salmon oil is 16-17% oleic acid, the omega 9 fat that is found in high quantities in olive oil, nuts and avocado and is thought to be one of the reasons that these foods are so good for human health. You will be pleased to know that they hold benefits for dogs too. 

Health Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs 

As we have just seen, salmon oil provides essential fatty acids in an ideal amount. But what benefits does this lead to? 

Brain Function

Whether you are looking to support your puppy’s brain development or keep your pet sharp in their senior years, salmon oil is ideal to augment their diet. Oily fish is fondly referred to as ‘brain food’ given that the omega 3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is stored in high amounts in the brain where it helps neurotransmission. Omega 3 supplements have also been shown to improve mood and psychological function, so you may find it helps keep your pet happy as well as healthy. 


Dogs have fantastic eyesight and with the right nutrition this can be maintained throughout their lives. Just like in the brain, DHA accumulates in high quantities in the retina of the eye, where is supports structural integrity. It also prevents the build-up of harmful compounds which lead to macular degeneration – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness. As salmon oil typically provides 10-12% DHA, making it one of the best known sources, there is no better way to support your dog’s eye health. 

Joint Health

Arguably, salmon oil is most popularly given to dogs because of its benefits to joint health. There are a number of published studies that have shown it can help dogs suffering with arthritis. One study of note recruited 38 dogs and randomly assigned half to receive a diet rich in omega 3, whereas the other half received a low omega 3 diet. After 6 and 12 weeks of being on these diets, the researchers assessed how much force the dogs were putting through their legs using a force plate. They also asked the dog owners to provide feedback on any noticeable changes to their dog’s symptoms. 

After the 12 weeks, 82% of the dogs being fed the high omega 3 diet significantly increased the force they could comfortably exert through their legs, indicating a reduction in discomfort. This was accompanied by the owners noticing improvements at home too. In comparison, only 38% of the dogs on the low omega 3 diet saw improvements in leg force and much fewer of the owners reported any noticeable improvements. 

This is just one of many studies showing a clear and meaningful benefit. So if your dog is not moving as well as they should be, or you want to prevent any deterioration in their joint health then salmon oil would be a perfect addition to their diet. 

Heart Health

It has long been known how beneficial salmon oil is for cardiovascular health. Not only does it help to support the function of the heart muscle itself, salmon oil also helps dogs to maintain healthy blood pressure as well as cholesterol and triglycerides. Salmon oil also reduces CRP (C-reactive protein) which is a key marker of inflammation. These benefits are down to the omega 3 and 9 content of the oil. As you can see, salmon oil is an ideal supplement not just for heart health, but for metabolic health in general. 

Immune System

Salmon oil is also beneficial for a dog’s immune system. As we have just outlined, it reduces chronic inflammation, something which can hinder the immune response. Although chronic inflammation is a hallmark of disease, acute inflammation is perfectly healthy and is an important part of the immune system’s response to a pathogen. 

Another way that salmon oil indirectly benefits the immune system is because it is a fabulous source of fat. Many of the immune-boosting vitamins and plant compounds found in dog food are fat-soluble, meaning they need fat to be properly absorbed. So for pet’s who are prone to picking up illnesses, a daily serving of salmon oil should certainly help. 

Coat & Skin 

An obvious way to gauge how a dog is doing from a health perspective is to look at the condition of their coat and skin. As we have seen, omega 3 fats in balance with omega 6 help to decrease excess inflammation in the body and ensure a balance of hormones. These fats, including omega 9, also support the structure of cell membranes and these factors all contribute to a healthy skin and coat. Many pet owners report that not only do they see a visual improvement in the shine of the coat, their dog’s skin is much more hydrated and there is less itching and scratching. 

How Much Salmon Oil Should I Give My Dog? 

A one size fits all approach to nutrition is never optimal, so it’s important to understand what the right amount is for your dog specifically. Thankfully, the requirements for omega fatty acids for dogs have been quantified by animal nutrition experts. Based upon this, we have a very good idea how much salmon oil is best for your pet relative to their bodyweight:

If you are giving your dog multiple teaspoons per day, it is recommended that you spread these evenly across their daily meals. This is because the fat from the salmon oil will help them to better absorb the nutrients from their food.  

Are There Any Side Effects of Giving My Dog Salmon Oil? 

Before giving your dog any supplements, it’s a good idea to research whether the supplement could cause them any side effects. Part of this research should, of course, be a conversation with your vet or animal nutritionist. 

If you do decide that salmon oil is a suitable supplement for your dog, there are some things you need to look out for. First and foremost, salmon oil is extremely energy-dense due to its being exclusively made up of fatty acids. Due to this, some dogs can put on excess weight which is counter-productive as this can lead to health complications and make conditions such as arthritis worse. 

Dog owners can avoid this by ensuring they provide the recommended dose of salmon oil and ensure their pet gets enough exercise. It must be said that most owners don’t notice a change to their pet’s weight, likely because the salmon oil helps them stay supple and active. 

Another potential side effect of a high omega 3 intake is a decreased wound-healing ability. Diets rich in omega 3 can have an anti-coagulant effect and although this is generally harmless, it can be a concern if your pet requires a medical procedure. Because of this, a vet will likely recommend that you discontinue supplementation in the weeks leading up to surgery.  

Some dogs can also have digestive sensitivities when it comes to salmon oil. In every effort to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort in your dog, it may be wise to introduce the salmon oil to them slowly, taking a couple of weeks to build up to the recommended dose. 

Another potential issue you may encounter if you buy low-quality salmon oil is a supplement that contains impurities. In such products, heavy metals such as mercury can often be present and these can build up to toxic levels in dogs. So, make sure you purchase a supplement from a reputable supplier which has full-traceability and can provide a certificate of analysis upon request. 


As you can see, there aren’t many easier ways to support your dog’s all-round health than drizzling salmon oil on their food. Whether you are looking to ensure their heart, brain and eyes function as they should, or you want them to maintain their glossy coat and supple joints, salmon oil is definitely worth consideration. If you need any help with choosing the right supplement for your dog, then please reach out to one of our Animal Nutrition Specialists who are more than happy to assist in any way they can.