Ask Our Dog Experts . . . Will fish oil or egg yolks give my dog a shiny coat?

By Karen “Doc” Halligan, DMV

QUESTION:

Fact or Myth: I’ve heard fish oil and/or egg yolks give your dog a shiny coat. Can you tell us your thoughts on fatty acid supplements?

“DOC” HALLIGAN’S ANSWER: 

Supplemental fatty acids are widely used in pets to relieve itching associated with allergies, and also to add luster to and improve the health of hair coat and skin. Supplementation often must continue for two to three months before a positive effect can be seen. Side effects are rare. Many vets prescribe fatty acids for shedding, itching, scales, and allergies, usually with favorable results.

Animals can produce some of the fatty acids they need, but not all of them. Those they can’t produce, called essential fatty acids, must be supplied in the diet.

Essential fatty acids are found in different quantities in many plants and coldwater fish. Two main classes of fatty acids are omega-6 and omega-3. Omega-6 fatty acids predominate in vegetable and flaxseed oils, while omega-3 fatty acids predominate in fish oil. Linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linoleic acid (omega-3) are essential fatty acids in dogs and cats. The ratios of omega-6s to omega-3s and the total amount of fat intake all affect response. Most pet foods contain more omega-6s than omega-3s, and since omega-3s are more limited in the diet, it’s easier to see beneficial effects from their supplementation.

The bottom line is… For your dogs health and a shiny coat, be sure to feed your pet a high quality diet that has enough essential fatty acids and discuss with your vet if a supplement is the right choice for your dog.  I would not recommend giving your dog egg yolks unless instructed by your vet because it adds on too many extra calories or fat to their diet.


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