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Should Horses and Ponies Be Fed Cod Liver Oil?



Why The Question?

Horses are herbivores meaning they do not naturally eat any animal or fish, cod liver oil is made from the liver of cod fish, in the old days a barrel would be filled up with cod livers and seawater and then left to rot for up to a year before being used. These days it is made from steam cooking cod livers. The livers are then pressed and the oil from the pressing is gathered

Why Feed Cod Liver Oil To a Horse?


Cod liver oil has high levels of essential fatty acids and it is believed this can improve the health of a horse suffering from a vitamin A or D deficiency, lack of sunlight being a known cause of this

Benefits are said to include

1) Improved joints leading to greater mobility
2) Glossier coat
3) Reduced risk of laminitis
4) Better temperament
5) Stronger teeth, hooves and bones
6) An overall improvement in general health

Why NOT feed Cod Liver Oil To a Horse?


1) The ethical question of them being herbivores and going against nature
2) Insufficient evidence that supports the claimed benefits
3) There are alternatives that are not animal by products – some examples include linseed oil (fatal if not used correctly) and sunflower oil
4) Claims that it may contain high levels of toxins, an example being mercury
5) Previous known link that animal by products in animal food have lead to BSE
6) Good quality hay and grass should be providing the essential fatty acids that horses need

Join the debate – should you feed your horse or pony cod liver oil? Some vets claim it’s wholly beneficial while some categorically state that herbivores should not consume animal by products, we would always advise consulting your own vet if you are unsure


Feel free to add your comments below


10 Responses

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  1. “prefer to use linseed oil, the worry is that as our oceans are full of nasty chemicals then so are the fish, so who knows what we are eating ourselves as well as wondering what’s in our animal feed, the BSE scare is not a distant memory.”
    There is probably just as much chemicals sprayed on the crops that we feed our horses as there is in the ocean it’s unavoidable what ever way you choose to go unfortunately.

  2. a bit off topic but cod liver oil is reputed to help repel dog fleas…anyone know if this is true cos it would be great to stop buying the horrible chemicals

  3. just copied this and have to agree with the last sentence.

    "some experts claim that the best source of omega 3 oils for horses is linseed (or flax) oil, whilst others maintain that marine oils are the best type to feed to a horse or pony.

    Although cod liver oil and other fish oils are widely available, horses are naturally vegetarian and it is thought by some experts that fish oils are an unnatural food for horses; the Omega-3 found in cod-liver oil is a different type to the Omega-3 in Linseed Oil. Sunflower oil is also a popular equestrian EFA supplement.

    Fat is scarce in an equine's natural foods and it might not seem natural to feed it to horses, but it has been proven that a horse must obtain "good fats" or "healing fats" in order to be healthy. Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids or oils are good fats.

    The Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have nowbeen linked to a wide-range of health benefits. Research has indicated that increased levels of EPA & DHA supplied in Omega-3 oils may help to maintain pain-free, supple and mobile joints in horses and ponies.

    These two important nutrients have also been identified as being extremely beneficial in helping to maintain a healthy heart and good circulation.

    Linseed has been fed to horses for centuries in the form of linseed jelly – so perhaps the old ways are the best."

  4. what's your thoughts on this, most people have voted no so far..cod liver oil for horses – good or bad?

  5. what's your thoughts on this, most people have voted no so far..cod liver oil for horses – good or bad?

  6. prefer to use linseed oil, the worry is that as our oceans are full of nasty chemicals then so are the fish, so who knows what we are eating ourselves as well as wondering what's in our animal feed, the BSE scare is not a distant memory.

  7. wonder why its recommended by some vets?

  8. its an animal by product so no…

  9. one nice person needed to start this off on the website please 🙂 you just follow the link above…

  10. its the cod liver oil debate…follow the website link to add your pennys worth…please do not post here as we ran this last week on facebook 🙂

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