Okay, well, not really. Your dog still needs regular visits to her veterinarian! But the benefits of adding fish oil —especially salmon oil— to your dog’s daily diet are too numerous to ignore.
I first heard about the benefits of fish oil from Dr. Andrew Weil. If you don’t already know him, he’s pretty much the father of Integrative Medicine in the United States. As a young, Harvard-trained MD, his travels lead him to realize that a holistic approach to medicine yielded better results. Hence, the birth of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented medicine that not only looks at the whole person (mind, body, spirit) but also looks at all therapies (Western, Eastern, modern, traditional) to find the appropriate course of action. Dr. Weil’s famous books include “Spontaneous Healing,” “8 Weeks to Optimum Health,” and one of my favorite cookbooks, “The Healthy Kitchen.”
To sum up, fish oil has been found to help (dogs, cats, and people) with conditions such as kidney disease, arthritis, and high cholesterol, as well as skin and allergy conditions (due to its anti-inflammatory properties). Here’s a detailed blog post from Dr. Weil about all the benefits of fish oil for dogs.
At a visit to an orthopedic veterinarian a few years ago, the doctor told me how new studies were showing great results for its use in dogs with arthritis (again, due to anti-inflammatory properties). To get really detailed, I found this recent explanation (also from Dr. Weil’s website) on exactly how it works.
(Our bodies convert the DHA in fish oil to something called “resolvin D2,” which is a proven factor in blocking inflammation).
So for all these reasons, fish oil can be a great supplement to add to your dog’s diet every day. Are my dogs’ beautiful coats the result of fish oil? I would bet that they are, to a great extent. And everything we can do to stave off the wearing down of bone and cartilage is well worth it.
There are plenty of great sources for fish oil supplements for dogs, and you can certainly use human fish oil supplements for them, too (just make sure you are giving them the appropriate amount—check with your veterinarian). We (and our dogs) love Alaskan Bear Treats Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. It comes in a pump bottle which makes it easy to dispense the right amount. The only downer is when you get towards the bottom of the bottle and the pump no longer reaches the oil. Then, it’s time to open the bottle and pour out the correct measured amount (I use a teaspoon). If they would only make that tube a little longer!
Thankfully, dogs don’t seem to have the same issue we do with many fish oil products– ie. the taste repeating on you throughout the day (yuck!). And it doesn’t give them fishy breath. But it sure seems to pass the taste test with them!