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DHA for Dogs: What are the Benefits, Dosage, and Where to Buy

Jason Jones - October 12th  2021

dha-for-dogs-benefits-dosage-where-to-buy

Did you know puppies fed diets containing DHA perform better in learning experiments and training sessions than other dogs? 

You can find DHA in almost every commercial pet food, but what is it, are there any benefits, and is your dog getting enough of it?

Table Of Contents

  • What is DHA?
  • Is DHA Good for Dogs?
  • Is DHA Bad for Dogs?
  • DHA Dosage for Dogs
  • Where to Buy DHA for Dogs
  • Should I Give DHA to my Dogs? 

What is DHA?

Also known as the “Good Fat,” DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fish and is known as an “Ancient Nutrient”.

Modern Humans have a wellspring of DHA in their diet from coastal seafood and inland freshwater sources. Fortunately, humankind is offering a chance for dogs to experience the benefits of DHA.

DHA plays a major role in our dog’s health in conjunction with a healthy diet by offering support in numerous parts of the body. DHA paired with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is considered essential to all stages of a dog’s life.

Is DHA Good for Dogs?

If you are asking yourself about giving your dog DHA, the answer is yes. Like humans, dogs may be falling short of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and need them to remain healthy. DHA can have a number of potential benefits for your dog, including:

  • Allergies- Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce symptoms caused by allergies. Omegas-3 fatty acids reduce airway inflammation, offering potential relief from the symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs. Dogs have irritations just like humans and their extremely keen senses get throttled by seasonal allergies.
  • Brain Health- Healthy dog brains are about 60% structural fat. 30% of the fat in gray matter is DHA, the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. The remaining 10% is made of love for their owner. Giving your dog DHA may improve brain function in puppies as well as older dogs. 
  • Central Nervous System- The accumulation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the central nervous system membranes is vital for optimum retina and brain functions.
  • Immune System- The immune system protects organisms from invading pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. Several studies show the benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the immune system. DHA enhances B cell activation and select antibody production, possibly leading to immune responses associated with inflammation.
  • Inflammation- Inflammation is the body's natural response to protect itself against harm. There are two different types of inflammation, acute and chronic. An example of acute inflammation would be when your dog bangs its head into a sliding glass door, and his head swells. Chronic inflammation keeps your dog’s body in a state of alert. Chronic inflammation may have unwanted impacts on a dog’s tissues and organs. 
  • Joint Health- Daily exercise is important to a dog’s health. However, occasionally daily activities can lead to stiffness in joints. Fatty acids promote cartilage development and may assist in the dog’s overall demeanor in everyday activities. DHA in Omega-3 Fatty Acids are shown to be overall helpful in joint health regardless of dog age. If your dog is having joint issues you can try our Mobility Hip & Joint Soft Chews which contain flax oil, as well as a number of other ingredients which support healthy joint function. 
  • Kidney Disease- In a U.S. National Library of Medicine study, Omega-3s supplementation has shown the ability slow the progression of kidney damage significantly. 

Is DHA Bad for Dogs?

DHA is generally safe for dogs in proper doses. Natural sources of DHA may allow toxins in your dog through the consumption of polluted fish products. Ocean pollution is made up of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. These toxins can cause a plethora of diseases in dogs. 

The main source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA) is fish such as Anchovies, Caviar, Cod, Cod Liver Oil, Herring, Mackerel, Oysters, and Salmon. These fish could all potentially be fished from toxic waters. 

Negative Side Effects of DHA for Dogs:

  • Acid Reflux- You may be familiar with fishy burps we can get from supplementing fish oil. Dogs can experience the same thing while taking Omegas. Watch for signs of discomfort in your dog to see how they are responding. 
  • Bleeding- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA) in excess may cause bleeding. If your dog is on blood thinners, be aware that DHA may not be the best nutritional supplement.  
  • Diarrhea- Not all dogs will tolerate DHA as well as others. Non-tolerance in dogs may lead to, what all dogs owners fear, diarrhea.  
  • Heart Problems- Heart problems may increase with the use of DHA supplements. In human studies, heart patients receiving Omega-3 supplements experienced a higher incidence of atrial fibrillation. These conditions happen more to patients taking supplements than those taking fish. So, if your dog has a heart condition, feed them fish instead of supplements.
  • Stinky Breath- Your dog may already have smelly breath, which we address in this blog, but the addition of Omega-3 supplements such as fish oil may increase that smell coming not only from his breath but now his body. 
  • Increase Blood Sugar- This is important to dogs with diabetes. Research is underway trying to understand the relationship between Omega-3 Fatty Acids and a possible increase in blood glucose, especially in dogs with diabetes. 

Negative side effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids mostly usually only occur with overdose. Use caution when adding supplements to your dog’s diet, and its always a good idea to consult your vet. 

DHA Dosage for Dogs

The following table shows the recommended amount of DHA and EPA for dogs by weight per day. 

Dog weight (lbs.) Average recommended kcal per day NRC recommended combination of DHA and EPA for adult dogs per day (g)
10237.50.03
20362.50.04
508000.09
709750.11
9012250.13

Where to Buy DHA for Dogs

When buying DHA for dogs you have two choices. The natural source which is cold-water fish, and the manufactured source, supplements (generally derived from fish). Some great natural sources of DHA are mackerel, salmon, sardines, Seabass, and phytoplankton.  

Vegetarian and vegan sources of Omega-3s include seaweed, algae, Chia seeds, Hemp seeds, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Edamame, Kidney Beans, and Soybean Oil. 

New and ongoing studies suggest that Omega-3's like DHA may actually improve the effects of CBD for dogs and people. As easy as it is to find a reliable source of Omega-3s, finding a reliable source of CBD oil is much more difficult. Fortunately, we offer some of the finest CBD Oil available for dogs.

Mobility Hip and Joint Chews For Dogs

Should I Give DHA to My Dogs? 

There are a number of reasons you might want to give DHA to your dog, including its potential benefits to Brain Function, Central Nervous System, Skin and Coat, Immune System, Inflammation, Joint Health, and Kidney function. Before making dietary changes or using supplements for dogs its always best to consult your veterinarian. 

References:

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-864/docosahexaenoic-acid-dha

https://www.thedogdaily.com/food-for-puppies/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834330/

https://www.dsm.com/human-nutrition/en/talking-nutrition/how-can-omega-3s-support-immunity-throughout-life.html

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401111545.htm

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/the-importance-of-your-pets-skin-and-coat-and-the-role-of-diet

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease/ask-the-doctor-what-is-inflammation

https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9605110/

https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diet-nutrition/five-dog-diseases-fish-oil-can-help-treat

https://caninearthritis.org/article/how-much-omega-3-fatty-acids-should-i-give-my-dog/

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