Salmon Oil For Dogs

Salmon oil for dogs is by far the easiest and best way I've found to keep my dogs' skin and coat in optimal condition.  I have two German Shepherds, one has skin allergies and the other suffers from dry skin.  Ava (who has allergies) itches most in summer and Hudson is more affected during wintertime when he's skin can get really dry.  

The good thing I like about salmon oil, is that it doesn't matter what the cause of itchy skin is, it's going to give them relief.  

It's also really easy to give to dogs as they love the taste.

Like I said, its great for the skin and coat, but, that's not all it does!

Benefits of Salmon Oil For Dogs

Dalmatian dog holding a fish.

I originally choose salmon oil for dogs as a powerful way to promote skin and coat health but that's just scratching the surface (no pun intended).

It also improves their immune system, which is key in controlling allergies, and will help your dog fight and prevent a wide range of conditions.

What Salmon oil for dogs does:

  • boosts the immune system
  • soothes temporary skin irritations 
  • protects dogs from the effects of skin allergies
  • eliminates dandruff and dry skin due to cold or arid weather
  • produces soft and shiny coat
  • promotes proper joint function
  • helps prevent and treat arthritis
  • acts as a natural cancer fighting agent 
  • aids in the reduction of inflammation 
  • helps dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • helps fight heart disease
  • prevents and helps support dogs with renal disease

I don't know about you, but I think that's quite a lot for one simple supplement!


Salmon Oil and Essential Fatty Acids

The key power behind salmon oil, is it's natural source of essential fatty acids(EFAs).  EFAs are needed by dogs for optimal health but have to be obtained from the diet as dogs cannot produce them internally.  That's why they're 'essential', dogs need them in their diet.

Rather than go into the whole science behind EFAs, I want to give you the layman's version in simple, easy to understand terms.  Besides I'm not a scientist or nutritionist but there's plenty out there that cover the subject of the science behind essential fatty acids in more depth.  Here's a good source.  

Why EFAs- In Simple Terms

The two most essential fatty acids dogs need are omega-3 and omega-6.  Omega-6 can be found in most plant and animal fats and oils and omega 3 is primarily found in fish.  

Omega 6 increases inflammation and omega 3 reduces it.  A balance between the two is crucial to prevent health problems.  Typically dogs require a higher percentage of omega-6 to omega-3, however, there is an abundance of omega-6 in commercial dog food and it's usually the omega-3 that is lacking.  Unless you feed a lot of fish!

When looking for a fish oil supplement, you therefore need one that has a higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6.  

Added to that, omega 3 is extremely sensitive to heat and light.  So even if dog food manufacturers list omega 3 as an ingredient, the high heat processing renders the health benefits of omega 3's pretty much useless.


How To Choose Salmon Oil For Dogs

As mentioned above, you want to ensure the salmon oil you choose has a higher percentage of omega 3 to omega 6. 

There are several important tips I can recommend for choosing the right salmon oil for dogs.

The most important thing to consider is preventing oxidation. Salmon oil that actually does its job has been carefully processed and stored to prevent oxidation.

Oxidation occurs when the essential fatty acids are exposed to oxygen, light, or heat which destabilizes and renders the health effects of EFAs useless.

Salmon oil that has been manufactured in an approved facility, will have undertaken steps to ensure they are protecting the oil from heat, light, and oxygen.  A facility that has earned the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) stamp will do just that.

Pawsome Naturals Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

Select salmon oil for dogs that meets the following criteria:

  • has a higher omega 3 ratio to omega 6
  • is safe to store at room temperature before opening
  • has to be refrigerated after opening
  • is air-tight
  • has been stored in an opaque bottle to block light
  • was manufactured in the same country you live in or nearby to lessen transport time
  • is manufactured in a GMP facility
  • has a pump top
  • is made from wild-caught and not farm-raised salmon because farm-raised salmon are contaminated with high amounts of PCBs
  • the ingredient list includes a natural antioxidants to act as a preservative (preferably Vitamin E)
  • comes from waters that are free from pollution (Alaska or Norway are best)

Natural Preservative (Tocopherol)

As mentioned above, salmon oil can become rancid when exposed to oxygen, light, or heat so is susceptible each time we use it. In order to safeguard against this once you get it home, most salmon oils include a preservative that will slow or prevent the Oxidative process.

The most popular and natural preservative is Vitamin E. However, there are other natural preservatives such as rosemary extract,  ascorbyl palmitate, green tea catechins, or astaxanthin.  It may sound better if the only ingredient is pure salmon oil but it will almost certainly become rancid much quicker.


Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

GMP Stamp

I also recommend that you check a potential salmon oil selection to see if it meets the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices(GMP) requirements.

The GMP makes sure that the company's every day policies and activities match the promises on their labels. You may check for a stamp on the container or do research into the manufacturer to verify the food is GMP compliant.

You can find more information on GMP here http://www.ispe.org/gmp-resources.


Why Alaska?

When buying salmon oil in the United States, I recommend buying it from Alaska. Their salmon are Polychlorinated Biphenyl's (PCB) free and Alaska ranks pretty high on the sustainable practices scale as they are the only state to have included sustainable fishing practices in their constitution. 

Geography also helps!  Alaska is thousands of miles away from other polluted waters. In fact, Alaskan waters are among the cleanest in the world so it stands to reason that fish caught fresh out of these waters will be among the purest in the world. 


Wild Salmon Not Farm Raised

In short, you want to ensure that your salmon oil is derived from salmon that is caught in the wild (preferably Alaska) and NOT farm raised.  

Unfortunately farm raised salmon are fed on a diet of fish-meal which is ground up small fish that are full of cancer-causing contaminates such as Polychlorinated Biphenyl's (PCB's). PCB's were banned in the USA in the late 70s and were cited as one of the "dirty dozen" toxic chemicals to be phased-out under the United Nations Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), see here for details, farm-raised salmon carried such high levels of PCBs that they determined farmed salmon are likely the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the current U.S. food supply.  You can find more information here.


Liquid Versus Soft Gels

There is much debate about whether to use liquid or soft gel salmon oil.  I prefer the liquid salmon oil for dogs.

Liquid salmon oil for dogs

Apart from the fact that it's more difficult to get dogs to eat soft gels, the liquid version is easier to adjust the dose.  Also, there is usually a higher concentration of fatty acids in the liquid form over the soft gels.

Some people believe soft gels are less expensive than liquid, but given that you get a higher concentration of fatty acids in the liquid salmon oil, you will probably be buying the liquid less frequently than the soft gels so the price probably evens out. 


To Summarize....

Supplementing your dog's food with a good quality liquid salmon oil will help to relieve many issues with your dog's skin and coat. It also supports the immune system which helps with allergies, joint problems, inflammation, arthritis, as well as helping to fight other common diseases. 

Salmon oil, like all fish oils, is fragile by nature so its important to take care to purchase only the purest quality from manufacturers that take care to ensure their products meet the highest standards. 

Choosing one that meets or exceeds the good Manufacturing practices (GMP) will help with this, so too will only buying Wild Alaskan salmon oil for dogs.


My personal favorite is Pawsome Naturals Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for dogs.  

  • It carries the GMP stamp,
  • is made from fresh-caught wild salmon from Alaska
  • and is manufactured right here in the USA.