Cod Liver Oil for Dogs: Why it’s the Best Supplement

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An explainantion of the many benefits of cod liver oil for dogs and why it's the best supplement for your dog.

Welcome to the fourth and final post on my series on feeding dogs.  Last time I touched on cod liver oil for dogs as a great supplement, but today I thought I’d expand on it just a bit.

After reading the BARF Diet and researching the ideal diet for dogs, it’s funny just how many parallels there are between nutrition for dogs and nutrition for humans.  This is particularly true when it comes to healthy oils.

Consider these parallels:

  • The same refined vegetable oils that cause problems for humans also cause problems for dogs.
  • Just like humans, pets cannot manufacture the essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-6s and omega-3s and must get them from their diet.
  • Just like humans, pets need a balance of omega-3s to omega-6s for good health.
  • Too many omega-6s promote inflammation in dogs just like in humans.
  • Processed pet food contains excessive levels of omega-6s, just like processed human foods.
  • Processed pet food is lacking in healthy omega-3s just as most supermarket food is for humans.
  • Factory farmed meat is deficient in omega-3s for humans and pets.
  • When processed pet foods label “high in omega-3s” they’re using the same tricks that processed human foods use. 

Here’s a meme I created a while ago as a good example:

An explainantion of the many benefits of cod liver oil for dogs and why it's the best supplement for your dog.

That is a perfect example of an industrially-processed, nutrient-deficient “food” full of chemicals and trans-fats.  Add a little cheap fish oil or flaxseed oil to the chemical shit storm and now you can say “Omega-3” in huge print on the front of your product.  You see this sort of misleading nonsense everywhere these days, including dog food.

And let’s not forget that EFAs are very susceptible to heat and oxygen.  Modern manufacturing methods to extract EFAs from plant or animal sources usually damage the very fragile fatty acids.  As such, it’s just as unlikely your dog is getting any benefit from all those supposed omega-3s in your dried kibble formula as you are from eating Jif peanut butter.

This is why a good source of cod liver oil is a great supplement for your dog, especially if he/she is not eating a raw diet.

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, author of the The BARF Diet says…

“Cod liver oil is the one daily (or weekly in the case of very small pets) supplement I recommend  above all else for the vast majority of pets.  My strongest advice is if you supplement with nothing else, you always supplement with fresh cod liver oil.  Perfect for both cats and dogs.”

As I said in my last blog, I give Lipton, the golden retriever I live with, about a half teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil a few times per week.

Why Fermented Cod Liver Oil For Dogs?

There are two huge benefits of fermented cod liver oil for dogs over unfermented versions.

The first is that the fermentation process preserves the nutrient content.

Green Pasture  is the only company in the United States that uses this fermentation process which allows the oils to separate naturally from the livers.  This is the traditional method of extraction which was used before industrialization.

An explainantion of the many benefits of cod liver oil for dogs and why it's the best supplement for your dog.

Click here to find Green Pasture on Amazon.

All other companies use some form of refining which includes, heat, deodorization, winterization and bleaching to extract the oils and create the final product.  These processes can damage the delicate essential fatty acids and vitamin A and D, the very reason we take them.  Many companies add back vitamin A and D in synthetic form but it is highly questionable, and in my opinion unlikely, that our bodies absorb and utilize these synthetic forms.

This is why you won’t find fermented cod liver oil in Whole Foods or other large distributors.  Green Pasture can’t make it fast enough to supply those outlets.  The fermentation process takes TIME.  It takes 6 months to a year to ferment.  That is just not profitable and that is why no one does it anymore.

To learn more about the manufacturing of cod liver oil, click here.

The second reason is that the fermentation process enhances the nutrient content, in particular the amounts of naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins A and D.  These nutrients are so vital to so many life-promoting processes in our body.  Dried kibble is deficient in these nutrients, no matter how good the quality.  And though many brands add them back in (just like with human foods and supplements), again, the extraction and processing methods compromise their nutritional value.

What About Excess Doses of A and D?

Many people are concerned about overdosing with A and D especially since fermented cod liver oil has higher amounts.

Dr. Billinhurst writes…

“…it is generally advised that you be cautious – because massively excessive doses may result in overdosing with vitamins A and D.  However, I wish to stress, in practice, it is quite difficult to produce vitamin A overdose.  Such a feat usually requires an inordinately high level of vitamin A containing substance, such as liver or cod liver oils or vitamin A capsules, is fed for weeks, months or even years!  However, erring on the side of caution, a safe level at which to supplement cod liver oil is to give enough cod liver oil to supply between 20 and 40IU of vitamin A per pound of pet (dog or cat) per day.”

Fermented cod liver oil contains approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin A per teaspoon.

So I give Lipton a half teaspoon.  That’s actually a little more than what Dr. Billinghurst suggests but I’m not really worried about it.  I only give it to her a few times per week and she’s not eating a raw diet.

Eric Letendre of The Amazing Dog Training Man, who I interviewed in part III, feeds his little 8 pound maltese-poodle mix an eighth of a teaspoon a few times a week.

Note: If your dog is on a restricted diet or you have concerns over feeding your dog cod liver oil or any supplement, be sure to consult with your vet, ideally a holistic one as they will be more aware of the benefits of proper nutrition and supplementation.   The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for veterinary advice.

Where to Buy Fermented Cod Liver Oil

For sources of fermented cod liver oil for dogs, click here.

And to learn more about feeding your dog I recommend the following sources, both from holistic vets:

1. The Barf Diet by Dr. Ian Billingshurst


Read the Rest of My Series on Feeding Dogs

Well that concludes my 4 part series on feeding dogs.  I hope you enjoyed it!

If you missed part 1, 2, and 3 you can find them here:

Part I – Why You Should Stop Feeding Your Dog Dog Food

Part II – What to Do When You Can’t Feed Your Dog a Raw Diet

Part III – Why You Should Feed Your Dog Human Food


An explainantion of the many benefits of cod liver oil for dogs and why it's the best supplement for your dog.

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  1. I’ve been giving our 2 year old golden retriever a small amount of cod liver oil a few times a week too (I think she has psychic ears because she can always tell if I have the coconut oil out, or the cod liver oil, and comes running into the kitchen for “treat”). I just give her a little bit of what I am already taking, which is the cinnamon high vitamin butter oil/cod liver oil combination. I am hoping the cinnamon isn’t a problem for dogs. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Jill, I did a very brief check on google and it doesn’t look like a little cinnamon would be a problem for dogs (it may even be beneficial), but I would research it a little more just to make sure. Or maybe just get the regular flavor next time to be on the safe side.

  2. I have capsules of butter oil/fclo. How much should I give my doggies of 16 kilos and 12 kilos ?? Thank you very much. Should I also continue giving them their coconut oil as well as fclo?

  3. For more extensive look at species appropriate diet, research Dr. Tom Lonsdale and Kymythy Schultz.

  4. Karl Allen says:

    I just ordered Green Pasture’s newest product, the infused coconut oil. It says it contains, “Each serving will be 65% min coconut oil, 2+/-ml of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and .5ml +/- of X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter oil and / or Blue Ice Skate Liver Oil.”

    So I assume all those other oils are good for the dogs too? But what about the concern with vitamin A & D? Not sure how much of this I should give my dog (a 70 lb German Shepherd).

  5. Sean Stewart says:

    I live in Kenya, and can get “fresh” CLO. Would that be harmful to my dogs? Is there a way that I can safely ferment it? This is what is available

    Thanks for any help.

  6. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the excellent work!

  8. This is true for cats too…Isn’t it??

    • Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it
      was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say,
      I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the
      whole thing. Do you have any points for beginner blog writers?
      I’d really appreciate it.

  9. Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you
    knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?

    Thanks a lot!

  10. can i give my 2 yr old bull mastiff cod liver oil? if yes what are the benefits of this product for him?

    • I have 10lb Chicuacua-Mini Dobie.Have been putting Trader Joe’s coconut on Corkys food but he seems to tire of it on his Bil-Jac dry food.Considering going to beef kidney & liver with CLO.Had Saint yrs ago u could sit and watch her grow. Would this be ok for my little guy? Thanx so much. ❤️

  11. Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with
    my myspace group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would
    really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks

  12. very good article. i started using fermented cod liver oil a month ago. i believe it is an excellent product for me, my dog and two cats and 4 stray cats. i will continue to purchase it from green pastures.

  13. I have a question about the cod liver oil for pets. My older vizsla is slightly anemic and my vet wanted me to feed her liver two times a day. This has helped, she is also on cranberry plus chewable tablets. Baking the liver is kinda a chore sometimes, and easy to forget to buy/do consistently for me when life gets busy…rather be running them on hikes. Anyways, could this be used to prevent a dog from being anemic. Basically she had gained some weight due to the really bad winter we had…snow at least two feet deep all winter. Thanks for any info.

  14. Could cod liver oil also help dogs who are slightly anemic? Or be also a prevention for it?

  15. good day to all i just want to ask if it is okay to give 1 caplet twice a week of cod liver oil to my chow chow puppy months up

  16. i mean still 2 months old up chow2x puppy

  17. Jennifer says:

    I just got some fermented liver cod oil to start giving my 4 year old – 90lb golden retriever. I can’t find much information on what a good dose would be. I did read someone’s comment on a different website that they give 1/4tsp – 1/2tsp a day to their 13 year golden retriever. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I also want to add the reason I want to start giving him this is because I changed his diet from a decent quality dry dog food to fresh chicken, rice, eggs and sweet potatoes. So I want to make sure he’s still getting all his vitamins. Are there anyother supplements I should be giving him?

  18. why must it be only a few times a week for small dogs, and why must it be fermented? I’ve been using nordic naturals cod liver oil.

    Thank you

  19. WilliamHype says:

    wow, awesome article post.

  20. Our 10 yr old 22 lb dog mixed breed had lung tumor removal. No other involvement. I have cod liver oil capsules, what mg or IU is recommended for her weight? Also have an 8 lb mix dog as well, dose? Thank you!

  21. Hi there,

    If anyone still reads this post and can provide me some feedback, that would be wonderful. How much cod liver oil would you recommend giving a 70lb lab retriever? I just ordered the Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil (unflavored) and plan to alternate this with coconut oil every other day for my dog. He was just diagnosed with lymphoma at age 11, so I am attempting a holistic approach. I am also giving him Dr. Mercola’s probiotics for pets and will be starting Dr. Mercola’s organic power mushrooms for pets soon. I am currently transitioning from Taste of the Wild pet food to Orijen, so all of this will be added to his food.

    Thank you for any feedback you can give me!


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