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Dog licking the liquid dropper with Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil in it

Cod Liver Oil vs Salmon Oil for Dogs: Battle of the Fish Oils!

The omega-3 industry is enormous — and it’s still growing. On supermarket shelves and inside online stores, you won’t just find “regular” ol’ fish oil anymore. You’ll find a variety of omega-3 blends and even individual ingredients like cod liver oil and salmon oil.

Why are fish oils so popular? Because they contain high concentrations of EPA and DHA essential fatty acids, which help the body naturally fight inflammation.

But the nutritional profiles and compositions of cod liver oil and salmon oil are fairly different — so how do you know which oil will work best for your dog? You might be wondering, “Should I give cod liver oil to my dog?” or “Does my dog need salmon oil?”

If this is you, don’t rush to the pet store just yet. Start by considering these crucial factors:

  • The health benefits of each oil for dogs
  • Potential side effects of each oil
  • Cost and availability
  • Quality and purity
  • Omega-3 content

As pet parents, we know you’d do anything to keep your dog healthy and strong. Supplementing their diet with the best omega-3 oil can help keep their eyes, heart, joints, and skin in excellent condition.

Let’s find out the major differences between the two oils.

Difference #1: Source of the Oil

The primary difference between cod liver oil and salmon oil is their source.

Salmon oil is extracted from sea-farmed salmon, including from the head, fins, and intestines. Cod liver oil is extracted from the livers of codfish, which are often found in the Pacific Ocean and the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean.

Man with a salmon in his hands on a fishing vessel

Codfish get their omega-3 fatty acids by consuming phytoplankton, which absorbs microalgae — the original source of the fatty acids.

To capture, extract, and purify cod liver oil, manufacturers subject it to intense processes that involve exerting high pressures like dry rendering, wet processing, and enzymic hydrolysis.

The precise and complicated production process increases the chances of codfish oil containing impurities, and can interfere with the overall health benefits of the oil supplement.

Salmon oil, on the other hand, is derived from sea-farmed salmon. Unfortunately, knowing what sea-farmed salmon are fed can be challenging for consumers, particularly if the fish are imported from a foreign country.

That’s why we recommend oil from wild-caught salmon, such as our Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs (and for cats too!). Along with being made with just one ingredient (wild-caught salmon!), our oil is molecularly distilled to remove contaminants like mercury and PCBs.

Difference #2: Health Benefits

Why do dogs need salmon oil and its benefits?

Salmon oil contains high levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. These molecules play a number of vital roles in the body, including:

  • Fighting inflammation: Chronic inflammation can sometimes result from a bodily imbalance of omega-3s and omega-6s. Since salmon oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it improves the balance, hence reducing inflammation.
  • Soothing allergic or irritated skin: If your furry friend suffers from a skin condition or allergic reaction, salmon oil supplements can help their skin cells build a stronger barrier to inhibit reactions when they inevitably encounter popular allergens like grass and dust.
  • Promoting a shiny and soft coat: Salmon oil helps balance the skin moisture and promotes healthy skin and coat for your pup.
  • Improving brain and cognitive functioning: DHA plays a critical role in the brain and heart development of growing pups.
  • Fighting cancer: Salmon oil delays the growth of cancer cells once they start to spread. It also fights against cancer-related outcomes like depression.

Meanwhile, cod liver oil is one of the oldest original sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Doctors were recommending it for patients with joint pains during the 1700s (!), and its history dates back even further.

Similar to humans, dogs can get great benefits from cod liver oil’s abilities to…

  • Improve memory function
  • Fight infections and boost immunity
  • Decrease inflammation and lessen joint pain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Support healthy brain and eye development
Dog sitting in a woman's lap and licking her face

In most cases, cod liver oil is administered to dogs with anti-inflammatory conditions like dermatitis and hepatitis, or those requiring joint support for arthritis as they grow older.

Dogs diagnosed with heart disease, high cholesterol, or cancer can also benefit from omega-3 oil supplements.

Plus: Did you know that cod liver oil is the only omega-3 source containing significant amounts of vitamins A and D?

Among other functions, vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin. Vitamin D keeps bones strong and balances the calcium-phosphorus levels in blood.

Despite the benefits of cod liver oil for dogs, giving excess oil can cause more harm than good. If your pup already has sufficient levels of these vitamins in their diet, more cod liver oil food may force their liver to work harder to process the excess vitamins.

Difference #3: Cost and Availability

Another key difference? Cost. While price varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, cod liver oil tends to be more expensive than salmon oil, primarily due to:

  • The extraction and production process: Cod liver oil is more difficult to collect and produce.
  • Purity and testing: The extraction process requires testing for the purity and quality of the oil before bottling.

Most dog parents find it challenging to identify and purchase pure cod liver oil, because many manufacturers sell supplements with added synthetic vitamins.

Harmful heavy metals can also contribute to the oil’s impurity. Since codfish live long lives, they accumulate more of these substances than smaller fish like herring. These toxins can build up over time in a fish’s liver and gills.

Obviously, you want any heavy metals removed before giving codfish oil to your dog! But this removal process adds an expensive step to the production process.

Before purchasing any oil supplement for your dog, here’s what to keep your eye out for:

  • Third-party certifications: GMP and other third-party certifications prove that the supplement has been tested and is safe for consumption.
  • Smell: A terrible smell is a sign of poor-quality products.
  • Ingredients: Look for naturally derived ingredients with few or no additives, binders, or fillers.
  • Purity: Supplements may be distilled for purity and potency, to help deliver effective doses of their active ingredients.

Difference #4: Side Effects

Dog sleeping in bed while man and woman are looking at each other

Despite the tremendous benefits of cod liver oil and salmon oil for your dog, it’s important to note that not every dog reacts well to oil supplementation.

Salmon oil is a generally safe supplement. Administering it in higher doses is entirely safe, and can produce more effective results than under-dosing. (If your pup has a sensitive stomach, you might choose to start with smaller doses anyway, to avoid digestive upset.)

When given at extremely high, non-vet-recommended doses, salmon oil may cause:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Weight gain
  • Delayed wound healing
  • And more side effects you and your pup definitely want to avoid!

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, we recommend discontinuing their salmon oil supplement and consulting your veterinarian.

Speaking of vets: It’s essential to consult a trusted vet before administering cod liver oil to your dog. Some vets don’t recommend cod liver oil as a supplement for EPA and DHA fatty acids.

Dogs already receiving sufficient vitamins A and D from their regular daily diet could experience an overdose of these vitamins when their diet is supplemented with cod liver oil. The over-supplementation can also create a vitamin E deficiency, resulting in the need to buy an additional vitamin E supplement for your furry friend. Yikes!

High doses of cod liver oil in your dog’s system may also prevent blood clotting, increasing the chances of bleeding. Below are other side effects:

  • Heartburn
  • Stomach upsets
  • Cell damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of coordination

Tl;dr: Start slowly with oil supplementation, read the ingredients on your dog’s food to avoid over supplementing, and always ask your vet for advice.

Cod Liver Oil vs Salmon Oil for Dogs: Choosing Between the Two

Now that you know the major differences between cod liver oil and salmon oil, what oil supplement most suits your furry companions?

Let’s compare ‘em side-by-side:

Salmon Oil Cod Liver Oil
Rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids Fewer omega-3 fatty acids
Does not contain a significant amount of vitamins A and D Provides vitamins A and D — sometimes more than your pup needs, which can be harmful to their health
Smells and tastes like real salmon, making it ideal for dogs that love strong scents Poor taste due to its exposure to heat and oxygen during extraction and production

So, what oil supplement should you choose for your pup?

While both cod liver oil and salmon oil contain essential fatty acids, salmon oil is an overall safer option because it has higher levels of the fatty acids required for your dog’s body to perform its natural processes — without the risk of over supplementing vitamins A and D.

Because of how cod liver oil is extracted and produced, it’s easier to purchase an impure cod liver oil supplement containing toxins like mercury that can damage your dog’s brain and kidneys.

That’s why we recommend a high-quality salmon oil supplement, an excellent choice for pups with allergies, skin irritation, or a limited diet.

What makes a salmon oil supplement “High quality,” you might ask? Look for a supplement that:

  • Is made of 100% wild-caught salmon oil
  • Contains high levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids
  • Lacks any additives or fillers
  • Has been tested by third-party labs

Where to Buy Salmon Oil for Dogs

If you’re looking for the highest quality salmon oil supplement for your dog, look no further.

Paramount Pet Health Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs

At Paramount Pet Health, we’re devoted pet parents just like you. Our Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is not only high-quality, but tastes and smells good. It contains zero fillers, additives, or binders, and just one ingredient: salmon oil!

Made with all-natural, human-grade ingredients, Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is among the most bioavailable sources of healthy fats you’ll find for your dog.

Place your order today, and we’ll ship it to your location in the US within 0–2 days. If you’re outside the US, email us at, and we’ll work it out. :)

You’ll marvel at the salmon oil supplement’s effect on your pup, just like our customer Krystal:

"My pups hair is so shiny and soft and he doesn't itch anymore. Best product ever and I'll keep buying it."

Krystal, USA — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Verified Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs Review

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