You may know that cod liver oil has been used for centuries to relieve joint pain and to treat rickets, a disease that causes fragile bones in children, but it actually has a myriad of other benefits.
Although cod liver oil is a fish oil supplement, it’s quite different than regular fish oil. Instead of extracting the oils from the tissue of oily fish, this oil is made by extracting oil from the the livers of cod. The liver is rich in fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and D, which give it an impressive nutrient profile. Green Pasture’s Cod Liver Oil is a “high vitamin” oil, meaning this oil comes from a certain species of cod fished during the seasons when the nutrients are at optimal density, resulting in a nutrient content that is 2-5x greater density than other brands while maintaining the recommended ratio of Vitamin A to D. Green Pasture’s gentle heat-free fermentation process naturally maximizes nutrient bioavailability and reduces any contaminants in the food. Every lot is tested for PCB’s, metals, etc.
The Whole Dog Journal points out that “The vitamins in cod liver oil have been proven essential for growth, healthy bones, proper development of the brain and nervous systems, normal sexual development, and a strong immune system. In 2002, researchers in Wales found that cod liver oil’s omega-3 fatty acids disable enzymes that destroy cartilage. As a result, cod liver oil delays and even reverses the “irreversible” destruction of joint cartilage and inflammatory pain associated with arthritis. All of cod liver oil’s human benefits are also dog benefits, including improved memory function, reduced behavioral disorders, and enhanced immunity. America’s dogs are increasingly susceptible to obesity, insulin resistance, and adult-onset diabetes. Cod liver oil has been used in clinical trials on humans with insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes. In both conditions, cod liver oil improved glucose response and other markers of the disease.” Cod liver oil’s vitamin A strengthens the immune system, fights infection, heals the skin, repairs the digestive tract, is essential to the formation of bones and teeth, aids in fat storage, stimulates new cell growth, and improves the body’s utilization of protein.”
Because cod liver oil is so nutrient dense, we consulted our favorite pet food nutritionist, Billy Hoekman, about whether pet owners should be cautious when it comes to dosing for nutrients like vitamin D and A, especially if they’re feeding commercial foods that might already be supplementing with Vit D. He says, “In nature, vitamins A, D, and K2 assist each other in being metabolized. When it’s coming from a natural source like FCLO, there is really no reasonable toxicity level. With that being said, obviously a lot of kibble companies are using synthetic vitamin D in their formulas. I still don’t think the dosage is high enough in the FCLO oil to come close to that toxic level they are referring to, and most dogs (and people), whether they are kibble or raw fed, are too low in vitamin D.” When we asked him about proper dosing, he said, “Each tsp has 1,250 mg of omega 3. I would just compare those numbers to other omega 3 supplements. At those dosages it would be impossible to get a toxicity in any fat soluble vitamins, including D”.
Cod liver oil is best stored in a cool dark place. As Whole Dog Journal suggests, “we recommend you feed saturated fats like butter or coconut oil in combination with cod liver oil. The body needs saturated fat in order to absorb and assimilate the fat-soluble vitamins. An easy rule of thumb is to give equal amounts of cod liver oil and saturated fat, so for every teaspoon of cod liver oil, give your dog a teaspoon (or more) of butter or coconut oil.”
Most people find the taste of Cod Liver Oil to be offensive, but dogs generally love it!
NOTE: With any new supplement, we always recommend that you start with a very small amount and build up to the recommended dose to avoid any digestive surprises.