Cod liver oil ability to promote good health has been recognized for centuries. A rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D, it helps to treat and control joint problems, muscle stiffness, rheumatism, and rickets, among other conditions. Can these same benefits to humans be translated into dogs? Read on to discover more about using cod liver oil for dogs nutrition.
Is Cod Liver Oil Good For Dogs?
Can I give my dog cod liver oil? Yes, you can. It is, as a matter of fact, a good supplement for dogs thanks to its ability to not only provide omega 3 fatty acids but also vitamins D and A. On the downside though, cod liver oil naturally contains less omega 3 fatty acids compared to other common fish oils such as salmon oil, tuna oil etc. most manufacturers make up for this shortcoming by concentrating the EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids when processing the oil.
There is still one more risk you need to be aware of though before you begin using cod liver oil for dogs supplementation. Although safe for dogs, cod liver oil can cause vitamin A toxicity if given to dogs in very high doses or over a long period of time. The major side effect of cod liver oil in dogs, vitamin A toxicity manifests itself in symptoms such as loss of appetite, constipation, weakness, weight loss, limping, and stiffness.
For long-term provision of omega 3 fatty acids to your dog, salmon oil, krill oil and other fish oils are a much safer option compared to cod liver oil.
Cod Liver Oil for Dogs Benefits
Now that you know that you can indeed use cod liver oil for dogs’ nutrition, you are likely interested in knowing what specific benefits this oil provides to your pet friend. Most of the health benefits of the cod liver are linked to the presence of two omega 3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Both EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids which means that the dog’s body is not able to synthesize them. Instead, they have to be obtained from food sources. Once in the dog’s body, these omega-3 fatty acids help to balance omega 6 fatty acids.
Although they are necessary for normal body functioning, omega 6 essential fatty acids exert inflammatory effects on the body when available in very high concentration.
Dogs that feed exclusively on processed pet foods with lots of grain and plant oils are at an especially high risk of having too much omega 6 fatty acids. Feeding such dogs with cod liver and other sources of omega 3 fatty acids is often beneficial. Among the benefits associated with using cod liver oil for dogs’ supplementation are:
Reduces Dry Coat and Skin in Dogs
Dry coat and skin along with itching, flaking (dandruff) and hair loss is often a sign of omega 3 fatty acids deficiency. According to Sarah Mark, VetMB, MRCVS, a vet at Petplanet.co.uk, cod liver oil is a good treatment option for dogs with skin problems since it promotes healing of the skin by supplying it with essential fatty acids.
Cod liver oil could be the right step to shiny, healthy‑looking coat and skin for your dog. Mark, however, cautions against feeding your dog with very high doses of cod liver oil.
Helps To Reduce Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs
Can I give my dog cod liver oil for joints? That is a good question given the widely documented evidence of omega 3benefits to the joints. The anti-inflammatory effects of cod liver oil goes a long way in alleviating the pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
In the body, the EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids in the cod liver oil are converted into prostaglandins and series 5 leukotrienes. These exert an anti-inflammatory effect on the joints affected by arthritis, fostering their ability to flex and move about while reducing the stiffness and pain.
The anti-inflammatory effect of cod liver oil is also reportedly beneficial to dogs with kidney disease.
Enhance Your Dog’s Brain Function
Old dogs can benefit from cod liver oil’s ability to enhance brain function. This makes the dogs more alert. According to Dr. Sarah Brewer, a nutrition expert at Healthspan, the DHA essential fatty acids in cod liver oil facilitates faster transmission of a message between brain cells by increasing the fluidity of brain cell membranes while EPA plays a role in cell signaling.
Help to Strengthen Your Dog’s Immune System
Cod liver oil can help to strengthen your dog’s immune system. This can, for example, make your dog more resilient against chronic and seasonal allergies, one of the triggers for dog snoring.
Promotes Heart Health in Dogs
The omega 3 fatty acids in cod liver oil help to support heart health. This is attributed to its anti-inflammatory effect coupled with its ability to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. According to Dr. Sarah Brewer, cod liver oil can also help to prevent irregular heart rhythms in the muscle of the heart experiencing declined blood supply.
In addition to feeding your dog cod liver oil, you will want to change your pooch’s diet. Instead of grain and vegetable oils laden foods, switch to a grain-free diet that also includes lots of raw, grass‑fed meats.
Puppies along with pregnant and lactating dogs as well as dogs that are recuperating from an injury or suffering from a chronic or terminal illness such as arthritis, cancer, etc. have a particularly higher demand for essential fatty acids and are perfect candidates for supplementation with cod liver oil.
Best cod liver oil for Dogs
According to the WebMD, cod liver oil can be obtained from the fresh liver of codfish (Gadidae) but that may not be a suitable option for every pet owner. If you are one such owner, you can instead give your dog a commercial cod liver oil supplement.
These are usually sold in capsules and all you have to do is include one with your dog’s food a few times per week.
The best cod liver oil for dogs should be not only pure but also refined to eliminate toxins and heavy metals. Any high-quality cod liver oil for humans e.g. Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil or Athelas Neutraceuticals is safe to feed to your dog. If you prefer, however, you can use a product specifically formulated for pets e.g. Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil.
Dosage for Dogs
As previously mentioned high dosages of cod liver oil carry the risk of vitamin A toxicity. Your supplementation goal should be aimed at capitalizing on the health benefits of cod liver oil for your dog while minimizing the risk of adverse side effects such as vitamin A toxicity.
Part of this is ensuring that you use cod liver oil supplementation to give your drained dog the impetus it needs for a certain duration only. As for the question “how much cod liver oil should I give to my dog?” the right dosage will vary from one product to another depending on its specific composition.
Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil, for example, recommends a dose of 2.5 ml for dogs and other pets weighing below 40 pounds which gives your canine friend 184 mg and 253 mg of EPA and DHA respectively. This dosage is to be increased progressively in intervals of 2.5ml for every extra 20 pounds. For a dog weighing 65 pounds, for example, 7.5 ml of the cod liver oil should be given daily.
As with any other cod liver oil for dogs and pets, however, this product is not safe for use as a daily supplement of omega 3 fatty acids in the long term. For additional or regular supplementation, use fish or krill oil instead.