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Can Dogs Eat Fish?

Can Dogs Eat Fish Feature Image

If you've ever strolled around the dog food aisle of your local pet supply store, you may have likely realized that fish is often on the menu for fish-based dog food. But can dogs eat fish? Can dogs eat seafood? 

Don't take the bait! Just because it is an ingredient in dog food does not necessarily mean that your pet can already safely consume any type of fish you could offer him. 

We recommend consulting with your vet prior to feeding your dog fish. And if you decide to add fish to your dog's diet, read this article first to learn about your haddock from your halibut.

Benefits of Fish for Dogs

Is fish good for dogs? Or is fish ok for dogs? Both questions got a yes. In fact, just as it does to humans, it also has a lot of health benefits for dogs. Some of the benefits of fish for your dog include:

Source of Protein

Fish is a great meat and a healthy source of protein and an alternative to pork. Besides, it is commonly included in commercial dog foods as an alternative protein source. Fish does not only contain high levels of protein, but it also contains high levels of fats, vitamins, and minerals too.

Easily Digestible

Fish is relatively low in saturated fats and it's easy to digest as a cooked product, making it ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Rich in Omega-3

Fish is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which can help make a dog's skin and coat shiny, silky, and smooth and can be great for canines with certain food allergies that limit what they can eat.

Omega-3 fatty acids also provide a natural anti-inflammatory property to a dog’s diet, which can be very beneficial to pups that suffer from joint diseases such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. Fish skin can be a helpful source of collagen as well, which is especially vital for the bone and skin health of aging dogs. 

Hypoallergenic Food

Even if your pup is sensitive to specific types of foods, it’s unlikely he'll have a reaction to fish. Usually, meat proteins are the real cause of allergic reactions in dogs.

Dogs Eating Fish is Okay

What Types of Fish Are Safe for Dogs?

Let us find out the types of fish dogs can eat. Generally, younger, smaller, wild-caught fish are safer choices when considering adding fish to a dog's diet. Here are all the types of fish that are safe for your dog:

Tuna

Many claim that tuna is one of the best fish for dogs and one of the only fish on this list that is safe for dogs to eat raw or cooked. If you want to feed your dog raw tuna fish, make sure to get rid of the bones first. If it's canned, make sure that the canned tuna is packed in water and not oil. Although tuna is filled with essential fatty acids, it's also high in histamine and mercury, so only let your pooch have it in moderation.

Salmon

Salmon is a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is also high in essential fatty acids which may help to lessen inflammation in the body. Salmon also contains selenium, vitamin B12, and is usually lower in heavy metals compared to other fish. Salmon is best when it's wild-caught, as farmed salmon may contain harmful chemicals.

Sardines

This oily fish is also high in essential fatty acids. Look out for the bones, though, sardines' bones may be small, but they can still get caught in your pup's throat. It's fine to feed your dog canned sardines too. They are low on the food chain and small. Sardines contain minimal amounts of mercury, unlike larger fish, making them less of a toxin threat for dogs.

Atlantic Mackerel

A good source of omega-3 fatty acids, Atlantic mackerel is lower in mercury than other types of mackerel like King Mackerel. These acids can help restore health, improve skin conditions, and can even help to reduce shedding. So it’s safe for your dog to eat when served in moderation.

Whitefish

Lean fish including haddock and cod are a great source of protein and B vitamins.

Mussels

They are considered to be a superfood because they contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and enzymes on top of the Omega-3s, making them a fine supplement to add to a dog’s diet.

Mollusks, Cooked Lobster, Squid and Octopus

They are also an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals like zinc, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium that you can add to your dog's food to sneak in a few extra nutrients.

Dogs Can Eat Fish in their Diet

What Fish Can Be Harmful to Dogs?

Now that we've talked about the good stuff, you might also be wondering: is fish bad for dogs?

There is still an ongoing debate about whether or not it is okay and safe for dogs to eat fish. Some pet nutritionists and vets say that dogs can eat fish and be happy and healthy without any problems. Other animal experts, on the other hand, are against feeding fish to dogs. 

Then there are even others who recommend offering only small amounts of fish to a dog's diet. So before we can consider whether fish is safe to be fed to dogs, we need to first understand some of the risks involved if we do give our dogs fish.

There are 3 major reasons why many experts say that you should not let dogs eat fish. These include high levels of mercury, parasites, contamination, as well as thiaminase, vitamin B1, and a high concentration of sodium [1].

Since you're now aware of these three warning factors, it's time to know the fish, seafood, and servings that can be harmful to dogs which include:

Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon is not safe because the smoking process involves curing the fish in brine with too much salt. That makes it too salty for your dog.

Shellfish

Shellfish – prawns, mussels, oysters, and clams – are filter feeders, so can contain dangerously high amounts of toxins like heavy metals. They’re also a common cause of food poisoning. While it was mentioned that mussels can be served to dogs, there are other, safer methods to feed your dog with this joint-friendly supplement.

Breaded or battered fish

Stodgy, greasy coated fish are definitely not good for dogs. Stick to varieties from the fish counter, instead.

Farm-raised fish

This should generally be avoided as well due to the increased potential for toxins in the muscle and skin of the fish once they are processed and harvested.

Fried Fish

Avoid serving dogs fried fish at all costs. There is no nutritional value from supplying extra oils to fish and will only reduce your dog's overall health over time.

How to Prepare Fish for Your Dog

Can dogs eat cooked fish? Of course. But if you're not used to handling or cooking fish, please take note of the following before giving your dog some fish to try:

Is it fresh? Has it got bones in it? Like humans, your dog can choke on bones so make sure to debone the fish before serving it to your pup. When it comes to serving fish, it needs to be fresh without additional seasonings or flavors–and should be cooked thoroughly. 

Also, remember that your dog needs more than a bowl of fish. He needs a complete and balanced diet so it is good to include it with rice. So make sure you purchased a fish that is AAFCO labeled.

How much fish can dogs eat, you ask? Fish should only be given in small amounts periodically (one or two times per week). Moderation is key, here. Too much fish can lead to obesity and other health issues.

Fish has Health Benefits for Dogs

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Eat Canned Fish?

Yes, dogs can eat canned fish as long as it's given with no oil or packed with salt. You can look for the ‘no salt added' phrase on the can's packaging just to be sure. You can supply about a quarter of a can to your pet's daily diet to add some extra nutrients and protein.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Fish?

No, dogs cannot eat raw fish. In fact, raw fish for dogs should always be avoided. Any raw fish could be carrying harmful bacteria (listeria and salmonella) and parasites (roundworms, flukes, and tapeworms) that will not only make your dog sick but will make you sick as well.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

No, dogs cannot eat fish bones. It should never be fed to a pup. They are small, brittle, and can lodge themselves in your pet's mouth, throat, abdomen, and intestines. If you suspect your dog has ingested fish bones, call your vet as soon as possible, to avoid any harmful damage. 

In any case, uncooked fish skin should also be avoided due to its potential to transmit bacteria and parasites.

Will Eating Fish Make My Dog Sick?

No, eating fish will not make your dog sick. Fish itself is not harmful to pets, but the way owners prepare it can cause health problems. Fish cooked in too much oil can cause an upset belly in dogs, or even lead to serious illnesses like pancreatitis. Seasonings may also cause serious health issues for pets, especially if they contain toxic ingredients such as garlic.

Conclusion

Do dogs like fish? Definitely, yes. Dogs are carnivores by nature. Hence, even fish meat that is commonly consumed by people is naturally drool-worthy to our canine pals. The basic rule of thumb when it comes to feeding fish to your dog is to be cautious when serving or preparing the fish and always cook the fish properly.

We hope this article helped you understand the common questions: can dogs have fish? Or can dogs eat fish? Make sure your dog doesn’t have any seafood allergies before adding any fish species to your dog's diet.

And when you feed fish to your dog, try to avoid a lot of added unnecessary fats and calories. If you are concerned about feeding your dog a fish treat or you feel that the fish that they have already consumed didn't go well, contact your vet for more guidance on what to do next.