Krill Oil for Dogs: 6 Benefits of This Omega-3 

Krill oil is taking the human and pet health worlds by storm. But how does this particular omega-3 oil compare to other fish oils? Let’s dive in.

May 22, 2024·9 min read
Krill Oil for Dogs: 6 Benefits of This Omega-3 

As a pet parent and veterinarian, I understand that we all want what’s best for our dogs – which includes giving them a diet that will benefit their health in more ways than just filling their bellies.  

Supplements with omega-3 fatty acids are becoming popular among pet parents. And one omega-3 that has both the human and pet health worlds buzzing is krill oil. This nutrient-rich oil is gaining attention for its potential to positively impact the wellbeing of our furry family members.  

Let’s explore the benefits of krill oil for dogs and discuss why this omega-3 fatty acid might be a good choice for your pup.  

What Does Omega-3 Do for Dogs?  

The health benefits of krill oil for dogs are mostly attributed to its rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) [1]. These essential fats cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet.  

Research has linked omega-3s to a wide range of health benefits in both humans and animals, including supporting a normal inflammatory response, maintaining heart health, promoting brain function, skin and coat health, and joint and mobility support [2].  

It’s also important to note that omega-3s work together with omega-6s. While both are essential for many bodily functions, it’s the delicate balance and ratio between them that’s crucial. Excessive amounts of omega-6 can promote inflammation in the body, while omega-3s support a normal inflammatory response. 

A canine diet that is complete and balanced should contain an appropriate amount of these essential nutrients, but there is still more to be learned about the ideal serving and ratio. This is why vets often recommend additional omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish or krill oil. Omega-3 oils like krill oil may support dogs with occasional allergies, dry, itchy skin, stiffening joints, kidney issues, and heart issues.  

What Is Krill Oil and Where Does It Come From? 

Krill oil is extracted from tiny crustaceans called krill, which inhabit the waters of the Antarctic. These minuscule powerhouses of nutrition are a primary food source for many marine animals, including whales. 

Unlike traditional fish oils (often derived from salmon, tuna, or cod), krill oil stands out due to its unique composition: 

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA): These essential fats are known for supporting a normal inflammatory response and numerous other health benefits. What sets krill oil apart is that its omega-3s are primarily bound to phospholipids, making them easier for the body to absorb and utilize [3]. 
  • Phospholipids: These act as building blocks for cell membranes and play a role in nutrient transport and overall cellular health. 
  • Astaxanthin: This antioxidant helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, supports a normal inflammatory response, and gives krill oil its distinctive red color [4].  
  • Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin has several key roles, including supporting vision, immune function, and skin health in dogs. However, an overdose can lead to severe issues like bone and joint discomfort, lethargy, loss of appetite, and liver issues [5].  
  • Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant protecting cells from damage and supports skin and coat health [6]. 

Is Krill Oil Good for Dogs? 

The emerging research on krill oil for dogs is promising, suggesting many potential benefits, including:  

1. Skin and Coat Health 

The omega-3s in krill oil are essential for maintaining healthy skin and a shiny fur coat. They help nourish the skin cells, regulate oil production, and support a normal inflammatory response, leading to a decrease in dryness, itching, flakiness, and shedding. This is especially important for dogs with environmental allergies [7].  

2. Joint Health 

Thanks to its high EPA and DHA content, krill oil’s potent properties that support a normal inflammatory response can significantly benefit dogs facing undesired joint health conditions [8]. Omega-3s also block enzymes responsible for cartilage breakdown, which can help reduce joint discomfort, stiffness, swelling, and ultimately improve flexibility, mobility, and quality of life. 

3. Heart Health  

Omega-3s can help support cardiovascular health by regulating blood pressure, reducing triglyceride levels, and decreasing the risk of blood clots and abnormal heart rhythms [9]. Additionally, astaxanthin in krill oil may further benefit your dog’s heart thanks to its antioxidant effects [10].  

4. Cognitive Function 

DHA is essential for brain health and development. Studies on fish oil supplementation have shown improved cognitive function in older dogs [11] and increased trainability in puppies [12].  

5. Immune System Boost 

The properties to support a normal inflammatory response and antioxidants in krill oil help create a healthier environment for the immune system to function, helping it be more effective at maintaining optimal health [13].  

6. Vision and Eye Development 

Omega-3s are important for eye development in puppies and eye health in adult dogs [14]. 

Krill Oil Vs. Other Fish Oils for Dogs 

Most studies on the benefits of EPA and DHA have been performed on other species, or on dogs taking fish oil supplements.  

While additional research is needed specifically on the benefits of krill oil, one 2023 study found that krill meal was more effective than fish oil and flaxseed at increasing omega-3 levels in dogs [13].  

Below are some other factors that pet parents may want to consider when comparing krill oil to other fish oils. Ultimately though, your choice of omega-3 supplement for your dog will depend on their individual needs, your preferences, and your vet’s advice.  

Krill OilOther Fish Oils
Sourced from Arctic krill Sourced from fatty fish (salmon, cod, tuna, etc.) 
Lower concentration of EPA and DHA per serving Higher concentration of EPA and DHA per serving 
Omega-3s bound to phospholipids (easier for the body to absorb and use) Omega-3s in triglyceride form 
Contains astaxanthin (antioxidant) Does not naturally contain astaxanthin 
Generally more expensive Generally less expensive 
Environmental concerns about overfishing and impact on Arctic food chain Environmental concerns about overfishing and impact on food chain 

Potential Side Effects of Krill Oil for Dogs 

Krill oil and fish oil are generally considered very safe when used appropriately. However, as with any supplement, side effects are possible.  

The most common side effect of krill oil for dogs is mild gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting. Krill oil can also lead to fishy breath, oily skin, and weight gain in some dogs. 

Krill and fish oil should not be used in dogs with bleeding disorders, large non-healing wounds, or those taking anticoagulant medications, due to its mild blood-thinning effects. Additionally, if your dog has a history of pancreatitis or obesity, the high-fat content in krill oil may worsen their condition. Although rare, dogs with seafood allergies may also react to krill oil. 

If your dog’s food is already high in omega-3s (for example, a skin or mobility diet), giving them additional krill oil could lead to an overdose, resulting in symptoms like increased GI upset, delayed wound healing, abnormal bleeding and bruising, and altered immune function.  

In rare cases, very high doses of krill oil could lead to vitamin A toxicity and potential liver damage.  

How to Introduce Krill Oil Into Your Dog’s Diet 

The best krill oil serving for your dog will depend on their weight, age, and any underlying health conditions. Consult with your veterinarian to identify the best starting dose for your dog. To avoid GI upset it’s best to start with a lower serving and gradually increase. Monitor your dog for any changes in appetite, stool consistency, or overall behavior. 

When choosing the best krill oil supplement for your dog, look for the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal of approval. This should ensure that the manufacturer is dedicated to producing a safe and high-quality product. Next, choose a formulation that will be easiest for you and your pup, such as liquid, capsules, or soft chews.  

Some supplements combine krill oil with other beneficial ingredients, like probiotics to support gut health.  


Krill oil is an omega-3 supplement for dogs that provides a wide range of health benefits. While further research is needed to fully understand its effects, it is worth considering as part of a holistic approach to your dog’s health and well-being.  

As with any supplement, it’s important to consult your veterinarian to determine if krill oil is right for your pet. With their guidance and a carefully chosen krill oil supplement, you could be on your way to a happier, healthier dog.  


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Liza Cahn, DVML

Liza Cahn, DVM

Dr. Liza Cahn is a veterinarian who graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. She has five years of experience working as a veterinarian in small animal practice in Washington and California. She loved working with dogs and cats and educating owners on all aspects of veterinary medicine, especially animal behavior and dermatology.

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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