Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > What Is DHA in Dog Food? Benefits, Drawbacks & FAQ

What Is DHA in Dog Food? Benefits, Drawbacks & FAQ

dog eating dog food

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in fish oil. It is a popular ingredient in dog food because it is thought to have many health benefits. Some of the purported benefits of DHA include reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and aiding in cognitive function.

While there is some evidence to support these claims, there is also some contradictory research. Therefore, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of feeding your dog food that contains DHA before making a decision. Let’s take a closer look in this article.


What Is DHA?

DHA is an essential fatty acid that is important for the health of your dog. It is found in fish oil, and it is a major component of the cell membranes and is necessary for the proper development and function of the nervous system. DHA also promotes healthy skin and can make your dog’s coat shiny and soft. It’s commonly found in larger amounts in puppy foods more so than in adult dog food formulas, but any dog food that contains fish or fish oil likely has some amount of DHA.

a dog eating on a bowl
Image Credit: Mart Production, Pexels

divider-paw The 3 Benefits of DHA for Dogs

Let’s look at all the ways that DHA can be beneficial for dogs.

1. Reduces Inflammation

One of the most well-known benefits of DHA is its role in reducing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body that can occur when it is injured or infected. DHA has been shown to reduce inflammation in both humans and dogs. This can be beneficial in cases of injury, arthritis, and other conditions that cause inflammation.

2. Heart Disease

DHA has also been shown to improve heart health in dogs. It can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

3. Cognitive Function

DHA is essential for cognitive function. It has been shown to improve memory and learning in both humans and dogs.

Dog eating happy
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

divider-dog The 2 Drawbacks of DHA for Dogs

While there are many benefits of DHA for dogs, there are also some drawbacks.

1. Upset Stomach

One of the most common side effects of DHA is an upset stomach. This is usually mild and goes away on its own, but it can be uncomfortable for your dog. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you may want to avoid feeding them food that contains DHA.

sick german shepherd dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Taisya Korchak, Shutterstock

2. Allergies

Another potential drawback of DHA is that it can be a cause of allergies in some dogs. Therefore, if your dog is allergic to fish, they may also be allergic to DHA. Symptoms of an allergy include itchiness, redness, and swelling. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should stop feeding your dog food that contains DHA and consult a veterinarian.


Where Does the DHA in Dog Food Come From?

The DHA in dog food usually comes from fish oil. Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for dogs. However, it is important to note that not all fish oils are created equal. Some fish oils are of better quality than others, and they may contain more or less DHA. It is important to choose high-quality fish oil, or high-quality food, for your dog.

Woman giving treats to a dog
Image Credit: Samson Katt, Pexels

Is DHA Good for My Dog?

The answer to this question depends on your individual dog. If your dog does not have any allergies or sensitivities, and you are looking for a food that will provide them with the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, then a food that contains DHA may be a good option. DHA is also better for puppies than adult dogs. DHA promotes proper brain development, so adult dogs that have fully developed may not need DHA, especially if it creates side effects in your dog.


Dog Food DHA FAQ

Is DHA regulated?

DHA is not currently regulated by the FDA.

What should I look for in dog food that contains DHA?

When choosing a dog food that contains DHA, you should look for one that is high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. The food should also contain a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Additionally, the food should ideally be free of fillers and artificial additives.

man checking dog food label
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

How much does dog food with DHA cost?

DHA-enriched dog foods tend to be more expensive than regular dog foods. However, they are still relatively affordable and are a good value for the money.

What are some brands of dog food that contain DHA?

There are many brands of dog food that contain DHA. Some of the most popular brands include Nutro, Wellness, and Blue Buffalo. Most puppy foods contain DHA as well.

Can I give my dog DHA supplements?

Yes, you can give your dog DHA supplements. However, it is important to talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements.

What are the symptoms of a DHA deficiency in dogs?

Symptoms of a DHA deficiency in dogs include poor cognitive function, dry skin, and dull coat. If you think your dog may be deficient in DHA, you should talk to your veterinarian.

How can I add DHA to my dog’s diet?

There are a few ways you can add DHA to your dog’s diet. You can give them DHA supplements, feed them fish oil, or choose dog food that is enriched with DHA.

My dog doesn’t like fish, will he still get the benefits of DHA?

Yes, your dog will still get the benefits of DHA even if he doesn’t like fish. DHA is available in other forms, such as capsules, that can be mixed into food. Additionally, there are many brands of dog food that are enriched with DHA.

dog eating in a food bowl
Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

My dog is already on a fish oil supplement, do I still need to add DHA to his diet?

If your dog is already taking a fish oil supplement, you may not need to add additional DHA to his diet. However, you should talk to your veterinarian to be sure.

I’m not sure if my dog is getting enough DHA, what should I do?

If you’re not sure if your dog is getting enough DHA, you should talk to your veterinarian. They can help you determine if your dog’s diet is adequate and make recommendations for how to add DHA if necessary.

divider-dog Conclusion

DHA is an essential fatty acid that offers many potential health benefits for dogs. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision about whether or not to feed your dog food that contains DHA. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.

Related Reads:

Featured Image Credit: Ayla Verschueren, Unsplash

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets