Cod Liver Oil For Your Best Friend

Not the one you met in 6th grade, or who was matron at your wedding, but the one whose day is made when you come home, who never gets tired of listening to your stories, and who may have a little slobbering problem and a fixation on the local fire hydrant. How does cod liver oil benefit your dog?   The benefits of cod liver oil for humans have been known for many years.  The vitamin D in cod liver oil prevents rickets and its vitamin A prevents night blindness.  It also contains the essential fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Dogs have similar requirements for vitamins and minerals to those of humans.  Dogs can manufacture their own vitamin C, so Fido doesn’t need a daily glass of orange juice, but dogs require the fat-soluble vitamins A and D just like we do.    The vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids in cod liver oil help relieve symptoms of arthritis, maintain a healthy and glossy coat, and keep him active and functioning optimally.

Vitamin A is active in maintaining a healthy reproductive system and eyes.  A deficiency can cause dry eyes and night blindness, and skin and hair problems, as well as slow growth.   According to Provet Healthcare Information, an excess of vitamin A given to a pregnant dog can cause cleft palate in the offspring.  Since cod liver oil is very rich in vitamin A it is important to follow dosage directions to avoid vitamin A toxicity.  Doctor’s Foster and Smith recommend a daily minimum dose of 2272 IU (International Units) per pound of vitamin A and 227 IU per pound of vitamin D.  A lack of vitamin D can result in problems with the eruption of the permanent teeth, as well as muscular and skeletal problems since vitamin D plays a role in the regulation of calcium in the body.  Of the essential fatty acids, one gram per day is recommended for an adult dog.

In dogs that eat a completely natural diet consisting of fresh raw meat with bones, fat and organ meat, all these requirements would presumably be met, as they would be for an animal living in the wild.  A city dog living on dry dog food can benefit greatly from cod liver oil.

Recommended amounts of cod liver oil vary.  One manufacturer makes a cod liver oil formulated for pets and recommends a quarter teaspoon a day for dogs under 20 pounds, half a tsp a day for dogs between 20 and 55 pounds, and for dogs heavier than 55 pounds, 1 tsp daily.  Their product is claimed to have low levels of vitamins A and D.    For your particular brand, check the number of IUs per teaspoon, and adjust the volume you give accordingly, using the daily minimum dose mentioned above as a guide.

If your preferred dog food already has a high level of vitamins, or you are concerned with vitamin toxicity, you might opt for giving him or her fish oil instead.  The benefits of fish oil are mainly its high concentration of essential fatty acids without any vitamins.

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