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Front Of The Pack

The Benefits of Krill Oil for Dogs

Dr. Scott Miller

BVSc, Head Vet and Broadcaster

Antarctic krill is a rich form of Omega 3 fatty acids

For the last few decades, one of the best all-round dietary supplements for dogs has been known to be fish oil, with its high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids. Recently however, scientists have discovered an even better alternative for dogs: krill oil

In this article, we take a detailed look at krill oil, the scientifically-proven benefits of krill oil for dogs, and the specific ailments that have been shown to improve with krill oil supplements. 

This will hopefully help you decide whether krill oil has the right benefits for your dog, and if so, what the best sources of it are and any issues to be aware of.

What is krill oil?

Krill oil is a natural extract that comes from tiny, shrimp-like creatures called krill.

Krill swim in dense swarms throughout the world’s oceans, feeding on microscopic marine algae. They are the most abundant food source for other species in the sea, and their huge shoals provide millions of tons of food for everything from fish to penguins, seals to whales.

Antarctic krill

One species of krill, known as Antarctic krill, lives in the cold nutrient-rich waters of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. Because these waters are so cold, and so nutrient-rich, Antarctic krill are not only abundant but packed with fatty oils containing a ton of valuable minerals and nutrients.

In addition to being unbelievably rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Antarctic krill oil also contains a whole lot more, providing a unique combination of nutrients with powerful proven benefits. As such, it is now one of the strongest and best dog supplements available.

Let’s take a look.

Omega-3s

Krill oil is one of the richest sources for Omega 3s available in the world.

Omega 3s or Omega 3 fatty acids are a family of polyunsaturated fats (the good kind) which bond together well, helping the body store energy, absorb other nutrients and regulate hormones, as well as improving many other different organs and their functions.

Omega-3s in krill oil

There are two types of Omega-3 fatty acids that have been proven to have the best health benefits for dogs: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). 

Up until recently, the most common source of these key fatty acids was fish oil. However, scientists have recently discovered that the EPA and DHA molecules contained in krill oil are in a slightly different form to those contained in fish oil. 

Testing the effect of these different forms in dogs, the scientists found that the EPA and DHA in krill oil was absorbed by dogs’ blood faster than the EPA and DHA in standard fish oil, making krill oil an even better source of Omega 3s.

Benefits of Omega-3s for dogs

The following benefits of Omega-3s have all been scientifically proven in studies on dogs of different breeds, ages and sexes.

Healthier skin and coat

The fatty acids in Omega 3s are known to promote plumper, healthier cells in the skin and reduce inflammation. This decreases redness and itchiness from bites and alleviates the symptoms of  allergies, as well as helping to give your dog a richer, glossier coat.

Improved brain development

Many studies in humans have shown that Omega-3s are essential to brain development and functioning, and this is known to be true in our favorite pets too. 

That means better cognition, memory and learning ability, as well as better mood and lower levels of depression and anxiety

Heart

There is strong evidence that Omega-3s reduce the risk of heart disease in dogs because of their anti-inflammatory properties. However, other benefits are being found regularly. For example, protecting your pooch against abnormal heart rates and to reduce blood pressure and hypertension.

Joints and bones

Omega-3 fatty acids have a range of positive effects on canine osteoarthritis, from improved bone health to pain relief. This has been tested in various different types of dogs at different ages.

Liver

Your pooch’s liver assists in metabolism, filtering nutrients from the blood and keeping their body’s waste systems working. Omega-3s support these functions and have been shown to help filter fats out of the liver, which keeps it functioning well.

Immune system

The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3s offer significant boosters to your dog’s immune system. This also includes their ability to fight off cancer.

Further benefits of krill oil vs. fish oil

Additional nutrients

Another major advantage of krill oil over fish oil is that, in addition to its high concentrations of Omega-3s,  krill oil contains a host of other micronutrients not found in such high quantities in fish oil, and these too, have been proven to have excellent health benefits for dogs. 

Astaxanthin in krill oil

Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants, the molecules that fight free radicals in our bodies that can damage cells and cause cancer. In dogs, astaxanthin has been shown to support immune functioning, improve eye health and act as an anti-inflammatory agent, helping their muscles recover after periods of strenuous exercise.

Choline in krill oil

Krill oil is also rich in another essential nutrient called choline, which plays an important role in many different types of cells in the bodies of both humans and dogs. Choline helps with everything from nerve transmitters to liver function and cognition and memory and has been shown to reduce the risks of canine cognitive disorder

Lower toxin and mercury risk

Fish oil is derived from large cold water fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel. In today’s polluted waters, many of the smaller fish species that these species eat contain traces of different chemical toxins, as well as mercury, and unfortunately, when these smaller fish get eaten, so too do their toxins. 

These toxins get magnified the further up the food chain they go, which means by the time they have reached these large species, like tuna or salmon, they can be found in worryingly high concentrations.

Unlike these cold water fish, however, krill are right at the bottom of the food chain. This means that they contain the lowest concentrations of such toxins. Mercury is also a much lower risk with krill oil. 

Sustainably sourced

Because krill are so vital to the world’s marine ecosystems, krill fishing is regulated by annual catch limits to ensure that the population remains sustainably sourced

How to supplement your dog’s diet with krill oil

If you notice that your dog suffers from a dull coat, dandruff or itchiness, muscle weakness, or poor joints or arthritis, these could be obvious signs that they could benefit from a krill oil supplement. 

The correct dosage for your dog will depend on a range of factors, including their weight, so it is best to discuss the introduction of a krill oil supplement into your dog’s diet with your vet to ensure that you are giving them the optimal dose. 

Once you have agreed on the right dose to start your dog on, it’s worth considering the best way to give your dog their krill oil supplement. 

Most supplements available today are sold as chews or sticks, but these often contain fillers and additives which can have unforeseen side effects for your dog, and many have been shown to not contain the nutrient levels they claim.

Front of the Pack’s top supplement, The One, which includes krill oil as one of its 12 clinically-proven ingredients, is given as a tasty, powder supplement that you can add in an easy spoon to your dog’s food without any hassle. 

We’ve specifically chosen this powder form so that we don’t need to include any binding agents, additives or nasty extras. And The One has also been rigorously tested to ensure that each spoonful provides exactly the benefits that we promise. 

Furthermore, the krill oil we use in The One has been purpose-made for pets, and designed to deliver more Omega 3 than other types of supplements. It is complemented by the other ingredients, so your dog finally gets the very best that science can offer, in one easy scoop.

If you’re interested in the health benefits of krill oil for your dog, or any of the other clinically proven ingredients we use in The One, you can find out more about our approach and the evidence for our ingredients on the FOTP website.