No pet can resist the taste of fish! They love its pungent smell and look forward to finding that meaty goodness in their food bowl. Aside from its strong flavor, fish oil is great for pets due to high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential acids fortify your pet against common ailments ranging from itchy skin to kidney disease.
Read on for more ways fish oil can protect your pet’s health. There are plant-based alternatives for allergic pets, too!
Fish oil and its many health benefits
Fish oil is the number-one source of omega-3 fatty acids. Every pet needs adequate omega-3 levels in their diet because the body can’t produce this essential acid on its own. The only way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids is by getting them in food or taking supplements like fish oil.
Below are the main benefits of fish oil for your pet.
- Healthy skin and coat: Omega-3 fatty acids rehydrate dry skin and dull, brittle coats. As a result, the omega-3s in fish oil makes your pet’s fur shiny and smooth. Fish oil is great for pets with seasonal allergies because it reduces itching, flakiness and rashes. The supplement reduces allergy symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Fish oil can also benefit pets who develop dry, flaky skin in the winter.
- Lower risk of heart disease: Fish oil serves many purposes in the cardiovascular system. The supplement is an anti-coagulant, meaning it prevents blood clots from forming in the veins. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have also been known to regulate a pet’s heart rhythm. Fish oil reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering blood triglyceride levels. Triglyceride is a type of fat that collects inside blood vessels. Low triglyceride levels improve blood flow and prevent hardening of the arteries.
- Strong joints in senior pets: The hips and leg joints naturally degenerate with age. As supportive tissue wears down, pets experience painful swelling around the joints. This can limit a pet’s mobility and make them avoid play time. Giving fish oil to your senior pet can slow the progression of degenerative joint diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties and reduce levels of prostaglandins, which are responsible for swelling around the joints. Pets who take fish oil supplements experience less pain and greater mobility.
- Healthy cognitive function: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health at all stages of your pet’s life. A regular fish oil supplement can improve a puppy’s ability to learn new commands. They’re better at remembering information, which promotes discipline and good behavior. Senior pets benefit from fish oil because it can delay the onset of cognitive disorders. It keeps the mind sharp, improves memory and reduces the frequency of restless pacing.
- Protection against kidney disease: Fish oil can prevent and treat kidney disease in pets. Those currently living with kidney disease can take fish oil to reduce their chances of developing kidney failure. Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure to support kidney function. The fatty acids can also reduce how much protein is lost through urine. Omega-3s stave off chronic disease by lowering inflammation around the kidneys.
Other sources of omega 3 for allergic pets
Unfortunately, not all pets can have fish oil. Some cats and dogs are allergic to fish oil, fresh fish and other marine products. Despite their fish allergies, these pets don’t have to miss out on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids! There are several pet-friendly alternatives to fish oil that provide adequate levels of this beneficial nutrient.
Try these fish oil alternatives for your allergic pet:
- Flaxseed oil: Flaxseeds are the number-one plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re safe for both cats and dogs in small amounts. You can give a pet whole seeds, but it’s easier to mix flaxseed oil into their regular food. In addition to the omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds supplement your pet’s diet with healthy fat. Plus, flaxseed oil won’t give your pet fishy breath!
- Soy products: Soy is safe for pets in controlled doses. Unlike cow’s milk, pets tolerate soy milk fairly well. Allergic pets can eat soy because it’s derived from plants. Soy is chock-full of essential fatty acids along with potassium, vitamins and fiber. Its high fiber content makes soy more digestible than marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are part of a well-balanced diet for all cats and dogs. Even if your fur baby is allergic to fish oil, they can still reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids by eating plant-based sources like soy and flaxseed oil. Remember, pets can only get omega-3s from their food. It’s up to their loving humans to provide meals that contain this essential nutrient!