It might seem intuitive that consuming dietary fats like olive oil could help promote healthy skin and coat. But commercial dog foods are already high in omega-6 fats, which are mainly what vegetable oils have to offer, so adding additional omega-6 fats to your dog’s diet likely does little to improve skin health. Studies definitely support the premise that the addition of omega-3 fats improves skin health, especially in allergic individuals. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis when given at sufficient dosages. In most cases, fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs.
A small study that was done in the early ’90s suggested that feeding olive oil to dogs with issues that stem from slow emptying of the gallbladder (the repository for bile, which aids with fat digestion in the small intestine) might improve the strength of gallbladder contractions. Theoretically, this should aid with moving bile, which has a tendency to become thick and sludge-like, out of the gallbladder and into the small intestine, where it can do its job.
Every now and then, I hear about the potential benefits of using olive oil topically for various skin problems. Does this do any good? The answer is probably not. When skin is crusty and dry, oil can certainly lubricate the area and temporarily reduce flaking; however, this is not a definitive treatment for anything.
The same message goes for ears. Olive oil does not treat any kind of ear problem and can be quite irritating if put into the canals of the ears. If your dog is shaking his head or scratching his ears repeatedly, it’s likely that he has an ear infection and he needs to see his veterinarian for definitive treatment.