Our question today comes from Leanne and her chocolate Labrador Bailey, 32kgs of pure joy; "Can dogs eat fish, including salmon, and other seafood?".
Question: Can dogs eat fish, including salmon, and other seafood?
Leanne wrote: “I have a question I have been meaning to email you and ask. Can dogs have seafood? Salmon and basic white fish? Do you think dogs get allergies to that type of thing?"
Answer: Most dogs love seafood, and it's good for them too!
So if you’ve ever wondered, can dogs eat fish? The short answer is…yes! Fish is often an active ingredient in pre-made dog food to add flavour and essential nutrients, as well as being a delicious source of protein when prepared on its own.
In my experience, most dogs love fish and all kinds of seafood too. There are no reported allergies and white fish is often recommended for dogs that do have allergies. It is also often high in zinc, which is great for their skin.
Overall, it is tasty, easily digestible and adds variation to your dog’s daily diet. However, there are a few things to take into consideration if you are wanting to introduce fish into your dog’s diet.
What fish can dogs eat?
Wondering what fish is okay for dogs? We’ve got you covered. There are quite a lot of fish that dogs can safely enjoy, and others which are best avoided.
Safe fish for dogs include shorter-lived species such as ocean whitefish, salmon, flounder, sardines and herring.
I have also found that dogs like calamari and whitebait, and small amounts of smoked salmon, which I have used to help cover the taste when there is a particularly nasty medicine I need to give my pup!
You may also want to give mackerel a go. Green-lipped mussels are likewise a well-known benefit for dogs with arthritis, usually powdered, but giving muscles fresh is a real treat. Out of the shell of course!
Fish not safe for dogs include the longer-lived species like albacore tuna and swordfish, as well as king mackerel and shark.
These types of fish often contain high levels of heavy metals such as mercury which can be poisonous for dogs when consumed in high quantities and over a longer period. This seems to be the reason women are advised to limit their fish consumption during pregnancy.
I prefer not to feed Bobbi the large species of fish but it’s important you remain informed of the risks. Likewise, these types of fish can contain parasites which can cause issues if ingested.
What are the benefits of introducing fish into your dog’s diet?
Fish is an excellent source of low-fat protein as well as Omega 3 fatty acids which can be extremely beneficial for your dog and add all-important variety to their diet.
Moreover, fish is full of flavour and amazing nutrients which can give a much needed boost to your dog’s diet:
- Protein: containing essential amino acids to help build and repair body tissues, protein is a vital ingredient to include in your dog’s diet to help them maintain strong and healthy muscles.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: particularly vital in the early years of your pup’s life, these acids aid the development of vision and the brain in general. Omega 3 is also a great anti-inflammatory agent and can help keep your dog’s joints in check as they get older.
- Collagen: this nifty little element found in fish promotes overall coat, skin and nail health in your dog, keeping them looking and feeling their absolute best.
Great alternative for dogs with allergies: fish has often been found to be a great option for any dogs that may suffer from certain food allergies commonly found in pre-made dog foods or as an alternative to foods such as chicken or other meats.
The risks of fish
While most types of fish are safe for dogs to consume, there are certain things to watch out for when introducing fish into your dog’s diet.
Here are a few of the risks associated with feeding fish to dogs to be aware of:
- Raw fish: feed raw fish with caution. Uncooked fish and all uncooked meat carries some risk of salmonella and listeria. Some advise freezing to kill bugs and parasites but for me cooking is the choice.
- Bones: fish bones are often small and sharp, making them particularly dangerous if ingested. They are a choking risk, can get lodged in the throat and cause discomfort and have the ability to perforate organ walls leading to further issues and complications.
- Oils and seasoning: I like to gently cook fish in a little olive oil. Seasonings very often contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, garlic is often said to be toxic but in appropriate amounts for your dog’s weight is ok..
- Heavy metals, parasites and other toxins: as previously mentioned, there are certain types of fish, such as swordfish and tuna, that are high in heavy metals. Over time heavy metals build up in our dog’s body tissues and can cause health issues.. These types of fish are probably best avoided.
Fish that are farmed when they are older and larger can carry parasites in their organs, skin and muscle tissues, which when ingested by your dog, or humans for that matter, can cause a variety of uncomfortable health issues.
Farmed-raised fish have also been exposed to certain dyes, antibiotics and other toxins during the farming process. I tend to go to canned sardines and source New Zealand Salmon when available.
How to prepare fish for your dog.
Before cooking the fish, I would recommend running your fingers over the raw fish as a way of ensuring that all the bones are removed.
Doing this allows you to feel for any bones and sharp points that may be missed by the eye; often just gently pulling on the bones will dislodge them and allow you to remove them fully and safely. Salmon tail is a great option and doesn’t usually have bones.
The bones in tinned fish are fine to eat as they are softened by the extreme heat required in the cooking of tinned fish and are still a great source of calcium. When buying tinned fish i use the spring water variety or sometimes the olive oil and of course no flavours like chilli. Also try to buy low salt when possible in the tinned variety.
Fish can be a great addition to your dog’s diet, offering variety and a whole host of health benefits.
However, remember everything in moderation, and if prepared properly, fish can be a nutritious and tasty treat to introduce to your dog.
Just make a note of the types of fish that are good for your dog, check for bones before adding to their bowl, and remember to shop sustainably sourced fish where possible.
And to ensure your dog’s diet is even more balanced nutritionally, remember to check out our Wellbeing Essentials Complete 22 blend; the ideal addition to all kinds of doggy diets.