Phytoplankton Vs Fish Oil For Your Dog: Omega 3 Showdown

phytoplankton or fish oil for your dog

Phytoplankton or fish oil for your dog? Marine phytoplankton have been making rounds in the dog food world. And with good reason. These tiny, single-celled organisms are being touted as a whole-food, all-in-one health boost for your dog. Many people feed their dog a fish oil supplement, but now, marine phytoplankton is giving fish oil a serious run for its money.

Phytoplankton or fish oil for your dog? What’s the difference? Is one better than the other?

What is Omega 3?

Omega 3 fatty acids are a group of unsaturated fats that support healthy cell function. We all need them. The 3 most vital omega 3s are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-lineolic acid). DHA and EPA are derived from sea-life, and EPA is from plant-based sources.

Omega 3 Benefits

Omega 3s benefit our (and our dogs’) immune systems, joint function, skin and coat health, brain function, circulatory system, and many more vital bodily functions. It is considered an essential fatty acid, as our dogs’ bodies cannot produce it on their own. Most people do not get enough omega 3s in their diets, so it’s no wonder that our dogs are deficient in this fatty acid too.

Your dog needs omega 3s for skin and coat health, along with support on the cellular level.

Sources of Omega 3

Omega 3s most typically come from marine and plant-based sources. Marine-based sources are rich in EPA and DHA. These sources are mostly krill and algae. Plant based sources, full of ALA, are usually in nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts (which are not good for dogs), and hemp seeds. Fish oil is also touted as a rich source of omega 3s. New research is beginning to focus on marine-based sources, like marine phytoplankton. Why?

What is Marine Phytoplankton?

Phytoplankton are tiny, microscopic plants at the very base of the marine food chain. All life in the ocean depends on them. Additionally, they support life on Earth because they help produce the oxygen that we breathe here on land.

Phytoplankton are single-celled organisms. Therefore, they are chock-full of beneficial nutrients your dog needs because it’s all packed into their one tiny cell!

Phytoplankton are considered one of the most nutrient-dense and vital sources of nutrition in the world. These green powerhouses support your dog with:

  • Chlorophyll
  • Essential Fatty Acids; Omega 3s and 6s
  • Macronutrients
  • Antioxidants
  • Trace Minerals
  • Carotenoids
  • Vitamins
  • Protein

One of the best things about phytoplankton is that a LITTLE goes a LONG way! Just the tiniest amount can support digestive issues, protect from cancers, support mineral requirements in raw and homemade-fed dogs, fight diseases, and support your dog’s healthy bodily functions.

Phytoplankton as a Source of Fatty Acids

Many people who formulate or make their dogs’ diets realize that our Best Friends need Omega fatty acids. These omega fatty acids support allergies, skin and coat, heart, and joint health. The most common source of Omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil.

Phytoplankton, being a sea organism, is also abundant in Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Phytoplankton have nearly double the amount of Omega 3s as fish oil. This is because fish are not able to produce DHA or EPA on their own. Of course, they get it from feeding on krill, which feeds on phytoplankton.

Fish Oil For Omega 3 Support

We supplement with a high-quality fish oil. Personally, I like this one because it’s made with smaller fish and hempseed oil. Plus, we go through a smaller bottle before it can oxidize.

An abundantly common source of Omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil. Fish oil is a convienent way to support your dog with omega fatty acids bacause it is generally simple to dose with easy-to-use pumps, droppers, or capsules. These are added directly to food. I personally give my dogs a high-quality fish oil made from anchovies, as they are smaller than salmon and not as full of metals and toxins.

Fish oil, although popular and useful does have some downfalls.

  1. Fish oil is highly sensitive and can oxidize quickly, especially if not stored correctly or used in a timely manner. Oxidation is directly connected to inflammation, which we like to avoid in our pets.
  2. Fish oil is often made from larger fish, higher on the food chain, such as salmon. These can contain mercury, PCBs, and other heavy metals and toxins.
  3. Also, many enivronmentalists feel that fish oil is not sustainable as its production contributes to overfishing.
  4. Additionally, there are concerns over radiation in Pacific fish after the Fukishima Nuclear Disaster in 2011.

Phytoplankton for Omega 3 Support

  1. Digestive Support: Since phytoplankton is a single-celled organism, its nutrients are highly concentrated. This makes it ideal for easy digestion. The nutrients in phytoplankton can actually be digested right in the mouth, therefore, if you have a sick dog, just getting a little in her mouth with water can have benefits. Additionally, nutrients are easily absorbed by dogs with leaky gut syndrome because they enter easily through any mucous membranes. Dogs with leaky gut generally have problems absorbing nutrients through whole foods due to inflammation in the small intestine.
  2. Mineral Support: Most dogs, even dogs fed a Complete and Balanced kibble diet, are deficient in many trace minerals. This is due to widespread use of glysophate (Roundup) on crops. Essentially, it binds to minerals in the body and removes them before they can be digested. Phytoplankton is full of bioabailable trace minerals that can prevent, and even reverse diseases.
  3. Disease Fighter: Our environments, toxins, and stress all create free-radicals in the body. It’s a natural process that damages and kills cells. These free radicals can build up in the body and cause premature aging. Antioxidants help fight off these free radicals. Guess what? Phytoplankton is full of antioxidants, including one, SOD (Superoxide Dismutase), which helps remove heavy metals and toxins from the body. Scientific studies have found that sea turtles, one of the longest living animals on the planet, have high levels of SOD in their body. They also happen to be marine animals. Coincidence? I think not.
  4. Liver Support: Since phytoplankton is readily absorbed through the mucous membranes, the liver is given a break from its heavy lifting during digestion. Phytoplankton can bypass the liver and go straight to work.

Phytoplankton or Fish Oil for Your Dog?

So what’s the difference? Phytoplankton or fish oil for your dog?

Both offer the benefits of providing your dog with vital omega 3s. Again, I do use a fish oil for my dogs. Here are reasons why I am rethinking the fish oil and considering a phytoplankton source for omega 3s.

  • Planet Health: Most of us are conscious of the environmental hazards human activities pose to planet Earth. Particularly from overfishing. My initial concern over phytoplankton was, well, it’s from the sea too. Aren’t we going to over-harvest that too? Won’t that cause issues to the marine food chain? Good news! Since phytoplankton is a plant, many producers are responsibly growing it on land with sunlight. This still provides the benefit, without the environmental tax on our seas. Look for phytoplankton grown on land on your labels.
  • Phytoplankton offers those vital ALA omegas, since it is a plant. Fish oils have DHA and EPA, which phytoplankton also support. Notably, ONLY salt-water phytoplankton offers EPA, not freshwater.
  • Ease of Absorption: Since phytoplankton is a single-celled organism, efficiency is the name of the game. Phytoplankton sources are easier for our Best Friends to absorb than fish oil based omegas.
  • Shelf life: If not stored properly, fish oils go rancid and oxidize. Oxidation is something we’d like to avoid in our dogs as it leads to premature aging and inflammation.

Phytoplankton Sources for Your Dog

Since this is a relatively new area of research, products for humans are just beginning to emerge on the market. Science for our Best Friends isn’t far behind. Here are a few products and phytoplankton sources that are safe to share with your Best Friend.

Look for products that are:

  • Grown on land under sunlight (sustainable!)
  • Free from fillers
  • Watered with salt water (not fresh water)

This is not an endorsement or review of any products. These are simply some ideas that fit the above criteria.

Mr. Ros Marine Phytoplankton: Bonus, the daily recommended amount is 1/8 teaspoon for dogs, so a bag will last quite awhile. A bag costs around $40 for 60 grams and has up to 240 servings (I assume this is if feeding the smaller amount to a cat) While the cost is a little more than a bottle of fish oil, if you use 120 servings for a dog, that will last around 4 months.

Adored Beast Apothecary Phyto Synergy: Adored beast is behind many sustainable and planet friendly harvesting practices. While this bottle is around $55 for 15 grams, it has mostly 5 star reviews.

Holistic Bin Canine Supergreens: This one is a bargain at $19 for a 100 gram bag. I noticed this was a blend of phytoplankton, barley grass and spirulina. While great supergreens, barley grass is land-based, and spirulina is a freshwater algae, so may not have the same composition as a saltwater-based phytoplankton supplement.

I am also sure there are some human phytoplankton sources that you could share with your Best Friend. Why not buy some for your own health, and share a small amount with your dog? Suggested serving sizes are about 1/8tsp per day for an average 50 pound dog.

We supplement our food with all sorts of whole-food sources, but some things in powder form are just fine too!

What’s it Gonna Be? Phytoplankton or Fish Oil for Your Dog?

While both fish oil and phytoplankton offer some serious omega 3 boosts to our Best Friends, I do believe I’m going to try out some phytoplankton. Why? Personally, I am concerned about the toll our activities are taking on the planet and I want to do my part, no matter how small. So if it’s phytoplankton or fish oil for your dog on account of the planet, I’ll try phytoplankton.

Additionally, the idea of a nutrient-dense, fully-digestable nutrient source sounds like a win for our Best Friends. My friend, Oliver has some digestive issues. I want to support him with something that’s easy to absorb. Phytoplankton fits the bill.

What about you? Are you going to try out some phytoplankton for your Best Friend?

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