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I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil – Risks & Tips (Vet Answers)

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I’m a responsible dog owner. I love my furry baby and would do anything to keep him safe and healthy. That’s why I was so surprised to learn that fish oil could cause harm to dogs.

After all, I’ve given dogs fish oil my entire life without any issues. So how could fish oil that provides all these benefits harm dogs and potentially kill them?

I’m writing this article to help other dog owners understand how to properly use fish oil for their pups. I will also cover the risks of giving your dog fish oil, how it could kill dogs, and give tips on how to prevent any issues when giving it to your dog.

Let’s dive in.

I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil

I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil

If you haven’t heard the story “I almost killed my dog with fish oil,” well, it’s based on the dangers of feeding dogs fish oil.

The story is about a 3-year-old Mastiff named Neo that was having issues with their back legs. After going to the vet and getting some tests done, the vet recommended fish oil supplements due to the joint-related benefits it can give dogs.

After more testing using X-rays and ultrasounds, it was concluded that Neo had arthritis and should be taking glucosamine as well.

A couple months of this routine, the illness progressed, and Neo could no longer use his back legs. The owner was told there was nothing they could do besides giving Neo some painkillers to help ease his pain.

However, the owner rejected this conclusion and searched elsewhere for an answer. So after days of sleepless nights researching, the owner came across several articles about vitamin E deficiency and fish oil.

So the owner decided to throw out the fish oil pills and started giving Neo vitamin E capsules. Within 24 hours, Neo could get up and move around again.

After 3 days, the limping and pain were mostly gone. One week later, he was running, jumping, playing, and back to his old self and free from all medication!

Now, it’s safe to say this is just one of many stories. But, that is why this article is so important for dog owners to read and understand. While fish oil has many benefits and can help dogs with various things, it can be very dangerous and even kill dogs if not used properly.

Why Do We Give Our Dogs Fish Oil Supplements?

Fish Oil supplements

Fish oil supplements are given to dogs for several reasons. The most common being:

  • To improve their coat and skin condition
  • To help with allergies
  • To reduce inflammation
  • To ease joint pain
  • To increase immunity

The most common reason dogs will be recommended fish oil is for joint pain or to ease inflammation. This is because of the high omega-three fatty acids in fish oil.

These fatty acids have been shown to effectively reduce inflammation and joint pain in dogs. For example, dogs with inflammatory skin diseases or a dull coat may experience changes after a few weeks of consuming fish oils.

Fish oil supplements are also relatively cheap and easy to find, which makes them a popular choice for dog owners looking to improve their dog’s health.

What Are Fish Oils Made With?

Fish oil supplements typically contain omega-3 fatty acids: Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). 

These omega-three fatty acids can be found in fish, such as tuna, salmon, trout, herring, and sardines. They’re also found in shellfish such as mussels, oysters, and crabs.

Omega-three is considered an essential nutrient for dogs. This means dogs cannot produce them independently and must get them through their diet.

Can Dogs Overdose On Fish Oil?

I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil

Yes, dogs can overdose on fish oil. This is because when too much fish oil is consumed, it can lead to various issues.

An overdose of fish oil can lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bloody stools
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Seizures 

In addition, giving your dog too much fish oil can also lead to Vitamin E Deficiency. This is the same condition Neo had in the story titled “I almost killed my dog with fish oil.”

Vitamin E is an important vitamin that helps protect cells from damage. It also helps the body to use fat and keep the blood healthy. When a dog doesn’t have enough vitamin E, it can lead to many health problems such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Blindness
  • Coma

It’s quite rare for dogs to develop vitamin E deficiency from consuming fish oil. However, it’s still important to know the risks and understand how to properly give your dog fish oil.

If you’re unsure, it’s always best to speak with your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements.

Can Fish Oil Kill A Dog?

It’s incredibly unlikely that fish oil will kill your dog. However, there have been reported cases where dogs have died from vitamin E deficiency caused by fish oil.

So how can fish oil, which is seen as a miracle supplement, kill a dog?

Well, it all comes down to how a dog’s body absorbs fish oil and how much they are getting. To properly absorb fish oil, a dog’s body will use vitamin E. However, when given in excess over an extended period, the vitamin E used to absorb the oil runs out. This reduces the supply of Vitamin E needed for other vital functions.

This results in a vitamin E deficiency which can kill a dog if untreated.

Now, feeding a dog a few fish oil pills now and again is not going to harm your dog. The trouble comes when it’s overdone.

While it’s incredibly rare, it’s important to understand the risks and how to properly give your dog fish oil supplements to avoid this.

11 Tips To Prevent Fish Oil From Harming Your Dog

dog eating fish foods

Now that we know how fish oil can harm dogs let’s look at some tips on preventing any issues.

If you give your dog fish oil supplements, it’s important to do so safely.

Here are 11 tips on how to do that:

  • Do not buy fish oil supplements that have been tampered with.
  • Do not give your dog more than the recommended dosage of fish oil.
  • If your dog is pregnant, has a medical condition, or has a history of health issues, do not give them fish oil supplements without speaking to your veterinarian first.
  • Do not give fish oil to puppies under 12 weeks old.
  • If you’re giving your dog a fish oil supplement for the first time, start with a lower dose and increase it gradually over time.
  • Monitor your dog closely for side effects after giving them fish oil supplements.
  • Store the fish oil in a closed container away from sunlight.
  • Buy pure essential fatty acids specific for dogs.
  • Follow the dosage instructions and always read the labels.
  • Keep the fish oil out of reach from your dog.
  • Supplement with Vitamin E when a dog takes fish oil.

As a final tip, consult your veterinarian to help when supplementing with fish oils. You can even mention the concerns about vitamin E deficiency, and they will help you devise a plan based on your dog’s individual needs.

How Much Fish Oil Can A Dog Have?

The amount of fish oil a dog can have will depend on a number of factors such as weight, age, and health condition. Therefore, it’s always best to speak with your veterinarian before giving your dog fish oil supplements.

They can help you determine your dog’s proper dosage based on their needs. Generally, the recommended doses of EPA and DHA supplements range from 50 to 220 mg/kg body weight.

How Do I Tell If My Dog Needs Fish Oil?

how can I tell if my dog needs Fish Oil

There are a few signs you can look for that may indicate your dog can benefit from fish oil supplements.

Here are some common situations where dogs would benefit from having fish oil supplements:

  • If your dog has dry, itchy skin.
  • If your dog has allergies.
  • If your dog is overweight or obese.
  • If your dog suffers from joint pain or stiffness.
  • If your dog is elderly and starting to slow down.
  • If your dog is not eating any omega-3 fatty acids in their current diet.
  • If your dog’s hair is dull and lackluster.
  • If you notice your dog scratching more than normal.

These are just a few examples of when fish oil supplements may benefit your dog. If you’re unsure if your dog needs fish oil, the best thing to do is speak with your veterinarian.

How Long Before Fish Oil Takes Effect In Dogs?

The effects of fish oil will vary from dog to dog.

In general, it takes around 30 days of daily doses of omega-3 fatty acids to build up in your dog’s body enough to make any substantial changes. So, for certain conditions a dog suffers from, they might see improvement in as little as 30 days.

However, all dogs are different; some may see a difference sooner, while it may take longer for others. In addition, it can take some dogs 3-4 months to reach their new omega-3 fatty acid levels, so ideally, you should test this supplement for at least 1-4 months to see how your dog responds.

What Is The Best Type Of Fish Oil For Dogs? 

best type of fish oil

You’ll want to look for a few things when choosing a fish oil supplement for your dog.

It’s important to note that just because fish oil is expensive does not mean it’s the best quality. There are plenty of budget-friendly options that are of excellent quality.

Sketchy fish oil supplements from unknown sources can have toxins and heavy metals that can harm your dog. So, you’ll want to make sure the fish oil supplement you choose has these things:

  • A certificate of analysis from an independent laboratory verifies the product is free of toxins and heavy metals.
  • The source of the fish oil should be listed on the bottle.
  • The fish oil should be in a dark-colored bottle to protect it from light.

Some good quality fish oils for dogs include Nordic NaturalsZesty Paws, and Grizzly Salmon Oil

Some good sources of fish oil for dogs include:

  • Salmon oil
  • Krill oil
  • Cod liver oil
  • Herring oil

When it comes to finding the best type of fish oil for your dog, doing your research is key. Make sure you read the labels and only choose products that are high quality, specific for dogs, and from a reputable source.

If you’re unsure about a fish oil supplement, your veterinarian can point you in the right direction.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Can Fish Oil Become Rancid And Poisonous?

Fish oil is composed of omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered unstable because of how easily they can become oxidized and rancid.

For fish oil to become rancid, it must be exposed to oxygen. In addition, when fish oil becomes rancid, it produces several harmful compounds that can poison dogs.

These toxins can lead to a variety of health problems such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bloody stools
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Seizures 

For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re giving your dog is not consuming fish oil that has gone bad.

What Happens If You Give Your Dog Too Much Salmon Oil?

salmon oil

If you give your dog too much salmon oil, they may experience some side effects such as diarrhea, bad breath, skin flakes, oily coat, vomiting, or an upset stomach.

In most cases, these side effects are not serious and will go away on their own. However, suppose you notice any of these symptoms persisting for more than a day or two. In that case, it’s important to contact your veterinarian.

In rare cases, an overdose of salmon oil can lead to more serious health problems such as liver damage or pancreatitis.

How Does Fish Oil Affect Dogs?

Fish oil supplements are a source of omega-three fatty acids. These fatty acids have many health benefits for dogs, such as reducing inflammation, improving joint health, and aiding in weight loss.

Omega 3 fatty acids work in the body to decrease inflammation. This is beneficial for dogs suffering from conditions such as arthritis, allergies, and hot spots. In addition, omega-three fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory properties can also help reduce the risk of developing cancer.

However, it’s important to note that not all dogs will respond to fish oil similarly. Some dogs may experience side effects such as diarrhea, bad breath, or an upset stomach.

Final Thoughts

Fish oil can be a great supplement for dogs, but it’s important to be aware of the risks.

The story “I almost killed my dog with fish oil” is a cautionary tale that reminds us, dog owners, that even though something like fish oils is said to be healthy for dogs, there are still risks.

If you’re thinking of giving your dog fish oil or have already given your dog some, make sure to follow the tips I’ve outlined in this article to help prevent health issues.

Please contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health. They will be able to give you the best advice for your individual dog.

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