Food, Health

I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil – Everything To Know

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Author: Jacob Kay

Did I scare you there for a minute? If so, don’t worry. The title may seem worrisome but, it’s an experience which highlights the issues, that our furry friend may face because of fish oil. My colleague at Wewantdogs, Jeanette Hampton, faced such a situation. So, when she mentioned to me “I almost killed my dog with fish oil”, I was worried but, she also clarified that the issue was dealt with and her dog was safe.

So, using my years of experience, I decided to share some insights into how fish oil can be dangerous for our furry friends through this article.

Keep reading and you will find some useful information regarding supplement feeding, especially the reasons why dog owners still prefer using fish oil for their dogs. In addition, I have also included some safety tips you need to consider if you wish to avoid a disastrous situation as Jeanette did.

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I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil

While discussing the incident with Jeanette, I realised she had the same intent and reason for using the fish oil on her dog as many other dog owners do. If you thought – she used it for resolving health issues, you are right. She did!

Fish oil retains omega-3 fatty acids, its anti-inflammatory properties help in solving many health issues in dogs. Along with this, there are ample benefits of using fish oil for dogs. But, before we understand the benefits, let’s analyse the prospects which lead to the situation where Jeanette felt she almost killed her dog.

I almost killed my dog with fish oil – the instance

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Jeanette’s dog is old and suffering from arthritis. As a dog owner, you get concerned about the inflammation and degeneration of cartilage and bones in the joints. The pain is severe and it often reduces the dog’s mobility and causes stiffness.

To resolve this issue, she reverted to the common solution of using fish oil. It’s one of the natural ways to deal with such conditions. Also, providing fish oil supplements to dogs suffering from arthritis helps in reducing the production of inflammatory substances within a dog’s body. It manages to reduce the production because of two types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  1. EPA – Eicosapentaenoic acid
  2. DHA – Docosahexaenoic acid

Both of these fatty acids help in relieving the symptoms of arthritis and improve a dog’s health. You are probably thinking – what went wrong then?

While Jeanette is an experienced dog owner, she made a rookie mistake. Because of her experience of petting a dog and knowing the benefits of using fish oil, she used it for her dog but, in excessive amounts. You are like – how could she have made such a mistake?

Well, I had the same thought. But, after knowing the reason I wasn’t surprised. She mentioned that the symptoms were getting a bit worse and even with the prior knowledge of not using in excessive amounts, she thought of using a bit more.

The more amount of the supplement caused severe issues for her dog. After observing some unusual symptoms, she got her dog examined by the vet. Her dog was suffering from Hypervitaminosis D. Let’s understand the severity of this condition.

Hypervitaminosis D

When the intake of fish oil is more, the accumulation of Vitamin D is more. While it’s good for the bones and helps in calcium absorption, an excessive amount can cause hypercalcemia. In hypercalcemia, the dog’s blood will have more amount of calcium in its blood.

In addition, a dog may also suffer from joint issues, vomiting, kidney failure, heart problems, nervous system issues, cardiac arrhythmias, and in extreme cases, death. For treating this condition, immediate vet care is necessary.

A vet will decide on the treatment to be used. The treatment will seek to normalise the elevated calcium levels in the dog’s blood. The basic treatments and medicines that are used are as follows:

  • Inducing vomiting
  • Fluid therapy
  • Diuretics
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Biphosphonates
  • Calcitonin

Lucky for Jeanette, the diagnosis was on time and the symptoms were dealt with using different treatments and medicines. So, now you know how fish oil can have a devastating effect on your furry friend’s health.

Additional health hazards of using fish oil for dogs

Hypervitaminosis D is not the only risk associated while using fish oil. A dog may suffer from some serious health hazards and can have worse symptoms than in Hypervitaminosis D condition. Here are some additional health hazards of using fish oil for dogs:

  • Vitamin E deficiency

Offering too much fish oil to your dog may cause Vitamin E deficiency. The deficiency can cause issues because Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and safeguards cells from oxidative damage. Also, the unsaturated fatty acids in fish oil can cause oxidative damage in a dog’s body.

Further, Vitamin E deficiency can also cause muscle weakness, the immune system is compromised and at times vision problems.

  • Bleeding disorder

Your furry friend is likely to suffer from a bleeding disorder because fish oil interferes with blood clotting. Fish oil reduces the production of thromboxane A2. This substance helps in keeping the platelets sticking together and forming a clot.

Your furry friend will suffer from nosebleeds, hematomas, and internal bleeding if they are given more fish oil. An over ingestion may trigger internal bleeding and a dog can die as well without being treated.

  • Gastrointestinal disorders

If you are serving your furry friend more fish oil, the inflammatory conditions may cause gastrointestinal disorders. Your dog is unable to digest the omega-3 fatty acids because of the high amount of fish oil.

In addition, the presence of extra fat in the fish oil can also cause diarrhoea. Some dogs have also shown vomiting symptoms. Further, gastrointestinal issues because of fish oil have also caused electrolyte imbalance, malnutrition, and dehydration in many dogs.

Now, it’s normal for you to wonder that – if fish oil can cause such issues why use it in the first place? Well, there are ample benefits to using fish oil for dogs.

Benefits Of Using Fish Oil For Dogs

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In general, we know that fish oil retains omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for dogs’ health. Likewise, there are many other benefits of fish oil for dogs. These benefits will highlight both physical and mental prospects. The following are the benefits of using fish oil for dogs:

#1 Good for heart health

Fish oil is good for your furry friend’s heart health. So, if you provide your furry friend with some fish oil, the presence of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients will lower the risk of cardiac arrest. This happens because it lowers blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. In addition, fish oil is also useful in dealing with arrhythmia and improving blood circulation in dogs.

#2 Improves joint health

Joint problems like osteoarthritis in dogs are treatable with the help of fish oil. The fish oil helps is reducing inflammation, and pain in dogs suffering from such conditions. This helps improve the mobility of the dog.

Further, fish oil can also help in delaying the initiation of osteoarthritis in dogs. This happens because it manages to protect the cartilage from degradation and reduces oxidative tension. So, if you follow the dosage guidelines, you can certainly help resolve your dog’s joint issues.

#3 Anti-inflammatory

Fish oil has omega-3 fatty acids and EPA. They have anti-inflammatory properties and help with inflammatory issues in dogs. You can use it for addressing issues such as allergies, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases, and also assist with post-surgical recovery.

In addition, fish oil also helps in lowering the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the dog’s body. Your furry friend will also prevent tissue damage because fish oil helps in modulating the immune system.

#4 Helps improve dog’s cognitive capacity

The DHA omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil boosts cognitive capacity in dogs significantly. So, if you use it while your pup is young, it can help with proper neurological growth. In fact, along with the brain, it also facilitates the development of eyes in pups. Furthermore, older dogs who are having cognitive dysfunction also benefit from DHA.

#5 Vision health gets better

Fish oil is not only beneficial for puppies’ eye development but, also helpful in preventing age-related degeneration and issues such as cataracts, and glaucoma in dogs. The DHA fatty acid is naturally found in the retina and helps in reducing inflammation and dryness in the eyes.

Also, fish oil improves blood circulation to the eyes in dogs. This ensures there is no oxidative damage. The DHA in them is useful in slowing down the progression of retinal degenerative conditions in dogs. This happens to many of our furry friends as they inherit some traits from their ancestors.

#6 Reduce allergic reactions

Dogs who are having allergies get a significant boost in tackling them with the help of fish oil. Fish oil is responsible for increasing the activity of B cells. These are the white blood cells which fight against infections.

Additionally, fish oil, makes the outer skin layer gets thicker. So, the more the thickness, the lesser the chances of allergic reactions for our furry friends. But, you must not think of overfeeding to increase the thickness of their skin layer, because excessive amounts of fish oil will cause health issues instead of making the layer thicker.

#7 Dogs’ coat condition gets better

Your dog’s coat condition will improve after using fish oil. It gets shiner and healthier. Fish oil nourishes skin and hair follicles which reduces dandruff, prevents shedding, and controls the odour of dogs. In addition, if a dog has dry or sensitive skin, fish oil can help in controlling irritation and inflammation.

Furthermore, fish oil can also safeguard the skin from sun damage and environmental toxins. Also, fish oil is very effective for dogs who are having atopic dermatitis.

#8 Boosts Immune system and fight cancer

The activity of white blood cells increases in dogs elevates after they have fish oil. So, while this helps in dealing with allergens and pathogens, to preventing allergic reactions in dogs, it is also strengthening their immune system.

Dogs suffering from cancer are often given fish oil. It may seem strange but, fish oil has the capacity to induce apoptosis. This eliminates abnormal and damaged cells from the dog’s body. In addition, it can also control the formation of new blood vessels which are feeding the cancer tumour.

#9 Helps dogs with Kidney problems

If a dog is having kidney issues, fish oil can help in improving its condition. Remember, it will not cure the disease but, only help reduce the symptoms which deteriorate the condition of the kidneys. In simple words, support kidney functioning by reducing some symptoms. It helps in preventing protein loss in urine.

#10 Relieves dog’s anxiety

Fish oil is useful in dealing with anxious dogs. It reduces molecules which cause anxiety in dogs. While it does that, they also increase the level of neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters regulate the behaviour and mood of the dog.

After going through these benefits, can you blame Jeanette for using fish oil for treating her dog suffering from arthritis? I guess not.

Fish Oil Dosage For Dogs

If you wish to avoid a catastrophe while using fish oil for the dog, you must follow a specific dosage suggested by an expert or vet. Because offering fish oil randomly without proper gauging will cause issues for your furry friend. Here are some crucial points which you need to consider before using fish oil for your furry friend:

  • Check the instructions on the product label

The fish oil product for dogs will have a set of instructions on them. These instructions will provide you with precise measurements and limits for using the oil. You must not exceed the limit of the recommended dosage or frequency of usage.

  • Use a syringe or measurement spoon

To ensure that your dosage of fish oil doesn’t surpass the standard limit, you must use a spoon or syringe. In addition, you must also avoid using product caps and your own estimate while feeding fish oil to your furry friend. This is mainly because the concentration of DHA and EPA differs as per the product.

  • Match DHA and EPA quantity with a recommended dosage

The recommended dosage for dogs is roughly 75-100 mg/kg or 30-40 mg/lb of EPA and DHA combined. Although this range varies as per the age, weight, and health condition of the dog. So, some dogs may need more amount of dosage in comparison to others for treating a health condition. Such dosages are recommended by the vet.

  • No additional supplements or medication

You must not add any other supplements or provide other medication with fish oil. Because it may change the composition and increase the risk of gastrointestinal upset or bleeding issues. So, avoid using supplements such as garlic, turmeric, and medication like aspirin, warfarin, and heparin with fish oil.

  • Expiration date and quality

Check the product thoroughly before buying. Look for the ones having certifications for purity marked on them. The quality of the ingredients is also a crucial aspect when you plan on using fish oil. Make sure the pack doesn’t contain any additives which are toxic for dogs.

  • Use Vitamin E as a supplement

Excessive fish oil can cause inflammation and oxidative damage in dogs. Some dogs may even have these issues with a small dose. For preventing inflammation and oxidative damage, you can use Vitamin E along with fish oil.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant which helps in preventing such issues and also helps balance the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Things to do after Fish oil overdose

At times, it’s possible you may give your dog more fish oil than required. In such cases, it’s best to consult a vet for avoiding any fatal health issues. But, sometimes you may need to respond immediately to make sure your dog doesn’t die. Here are some tips you need to consider while dealing with fish oil overdose.

  • Provide Freshwater

If you feel like your dog is showing symptoms suggesting fish oil overdose, provide fresh water to your dog. Keep the supply in large quantities and make sure your dog is having enough water intake to flush out the excessive oil from their body.

  • Stop offering fish oil

The freshwater tip will provide you with the results but, you need to also cut the supply of fish oil. This means, stop offering it to your dog. Because providing your dog fish oil after they have released it from their system can cause more harm than dealing with other health issues.

  • Use natural omega-3

Instead of using fish oil, try using natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids. You can use items like salmon, cod, sardines, chia seeds or ground flaxseed. All these items provide omega-3 fatty acids without any risks to the dog.

  • Consult a Vet

If your furry friend is not responding well to any natural remedy, you need to take them to a vet. The vet will conduct a thorough examination and start with the treatment accordingly. The vet will also provide them with some medications for their recovery post-treatment.


Is fish oil poisonous for dogs?

No, fish oil is not poisonous for dogs. But, if your furry friend has more intake of fish oil, there are some noticeable side effects which can lead to severe health issues. Providing excessive fish oil will cause gastrointestinal upset, delayed wound healing, impaired blood clotting, and internal bleeding in dogs. So, avoid overfeeding and pick the best quality fish oil product for your furry friend.

How much fish oil is ok for dogs?

The dosage of fish oil is directly linked with their body weight. For instance, a 5lbs dog is normally recommended 230-250 mg of daily dosage, and a 50lbs dog’s dosage can include a dose of 2270-2300 mg fish oil per day. The maximum dosage is recommended by a vet as per their health condition and requirements. So, if there is a necessity, the 250mg dosage is extended up to 574mg and a 2270mg dosage can go up to 3227mg.

Can I give my dog fish oil daily?

Yes, you can! But, you need to make sure that the dosage of fish oil doesn’t exceed the recommended limit. Otherwise, your furry friend will have some serious health issues. So, consult with your vet, and get the precise dosage details to avoid health issues such as obesity, diarrhoea, or impaired blood clotting.

Is flaxseed oil a good alternative to fish oil for dogs?

Flaxseed oil is a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acid Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed oil is acquired from the seeds of the flax plant and is also considered one of the best alternatives to fish oil and its supplements. The oil can help provide proper skin care, reduce inflammation, and help with joint health. Dogs have shown positive signs while being treated for chronic disease with flaxseed oil so, it’s a good choice/alternative to fish oil.

I Almost Killed My Dog With Fish Oil – Author’s Remark

In my professional opinion, you must use fish oil but, as per recommended dosage from your vet. Otherwise, your furry friend may suffer from health issues just like Jeanette’s dog did. While having a conversation regarding this aspect, Jeanette also highlighted that she realised that as a dog owner, one must not make an instinctive decision or an emotional one.

I agreed with this prospect. Dog owners tend to make decisions emotionally and often they get carried away when they see their dog suffering from a health issue. Responding to symptoms and taking a precautionary measure is good but, at times you may not realise that your dog’s condition is worse than you anticipated and needs immediate vet attention.

So, when you see your dog having symptoms because of regular fish oil ingestion, I suggest you take your dog to a vet instead of altering its dosage or using another remedy. This will ensure the safety of your furry friend.

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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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