The Essential Guide to Dog's Eating Fish

The Essential Guide to Dog's Eating Fish

When it comes to our furry companions, ensuring they receive the right nutrients is a top priority. As responsible pet owners, we often seek ways to diversify our dogs' diets and provide them with wholesome, tasty treats. One question that frequently arises is whether dogs can enjoy the same seafood delicacies that so many of us so much enjoy.

Fish, with its reputation as a nutritional powerhouse, seems like a tempting choice. But before you start sharing your seafood dinners with your canine friend, it's crucial to understand the ins and outs of incorporating fish into their diet.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits, potential pitfalls, and best practices of feeding fish to dogs, helping you make informed decisions about what's on the menu for your four-legged family member.

Can Dogs Eat Fish?

Let's cut straight to the chase. There are a number of fish species that our dogs can eat. In fact, incorporating fish into your dog's diet, whether as an ingredient in their regular food or as a supplement, is a great way to better support their health.

Health Benefits of Fish for Dogs

From their ability to promote healthy skin to supporting a vibrant and luscious coat, fish can support a dog's health in a number of ways. A high-protein food that's low in saturated fats and packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, fish is both an excellent snack and a great protein to replace another one. Here are some of the benefits that fish provides for dogs:

  • Great Source of Protein: Fish supports strong muscle and body tissue development, helping your dog maintain a healthy physique.
  • Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s promote healthy skin and a shiny coat, improve cognitive function and brain growth, and support the development of eyesight.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Fish can reduce inflammation, making it beneficial for dogs with conditions like arthritis.
  • Easy to Digest: Cooked fish is easy for dogs to digest, making it a good option for dogs with gastrointestinal sensitivities.
  • Hypoallergenic: Fish is generally hypoallergenic, meaning dogs are less likely to be allergic to it compared to other protein sources.
  • Nutrient-Dense: Fish provides essential vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, K) and minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese) that support overall health, including cell health, eyesight, immune function, strong bones, and metabolism.


4 Potential Risks of Serving Fish to Your Dog

While our dogs can eat fish, there are a few risks you should pay attention to.

  1. Food allergies: Just like us, our dogs can be allergic to pretty much anything, including eating fish. So make sure you slowly introduce fish into your dog's diet if you have never fed them fish before.
  2. Influence on a dog's weight: While it's exciting to hear of the health benefits feeding fish to your dog can have, too much fish can lead to undesired weight gain. You can feed your dog some fatty fish, such as sardines, but they should be kept to a minimum.
  3. Serving the wrong types of fish: Besides avoiding large predatory fish with long lifespans, you should avoid giving your dog fish with a high salt content such as smoked salmon that can lead to salmon poisoning, along with fried fish such as fish sticks.
  4. Parasites and harmful bacteria: You never want to feed your dog raw fish as uncooked fish can contain parasites such as tapeworms and harmful bacteria.

    When you take these risks into account, it's pretty easy to take advantage of all the benefits that eating fish has while avoiding any of the risks.

    Types of Fish To Avoid Giving Your Dog

    Large oceanic fish with long lifespans are significantly less safe for dogs due to their high mercury levels. This includes:

    • Swordfish
    • Tilefish
    • King Mackerel
    • Albacore Tuna

    Over time, these fish accumulate heavy metals due to pollution and their consumption of smaller fish.


    Instead, you should opt for shorter-lived species. Farm-raised fish tend to have lower levels of mercury, but not as much as one would think, with some studies finding comparable mercury levels between them and their free-roaming counterparts.

    What Types Of Fish Are Safe For Dogs?

    There are many types of fish dogs can eat that are great for their health.

    Can Dogs Eat Tuna Fish?

    Tuna fish is an excellent fish to give to dogs, but you should only give your dog tuna in moderation and avoid albacore tuna. Predatory oceanic fish such as tuna are prone to containing higher levels of mercury.

    Can Dogs Eat Fish Skin?

    Dogs can eat fish skin, and fish skins make for an excellent snack. Just make sure it's properly cooked fish and free of fish bones. Similar to fish meat, fish skins are rich in protein, nutrients, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

    Can Dogs Eat Salmon?

    In moderation, salmon is an excellent source of protein, essential fatty acids, and nutrients. Raw fish of any type are more prone to carrying harmful bacteria and can make your dog sick, so make sure the salmon is prepared properly by cooking it before feeding it to your dog.

    Now, it can be tempting to give your dog some raw fish sushi, but it's best to keep it for yourself. Salmon poisoning disease is extremely dangerous and fatal in most dogs that do not receive treatment for it. Salmon poisoning is caused by rickettsial bacteria found in parasitic flukes and flatworms.

    Can Dogs Eat Cod?

    Cod is one of the best types of fish you can give to your dog as it's lean in fat, high in protein, and packed full of essential fatty acids and nutrients.

    Is It Okay To Feed My Dog Sardines?

    Sardines make for an excellent snack and most dogs go wild for their flavor. Canned sardines can be quite salty, so make sure to opt for sardines canned in water. While they will still have some salt, it's not nearly as much as brined fish. Additionally, you want to avoid canned fish packed in oil to help avoid health problems such as pancreatitis.

    Can I Give My Dog Fish Oil?

    Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is a brilliant supplement to consider giving to your dog. Like us, our dogs typically get too many omega-6 fatty acids in their diet. While omega-6 fatty acids aren't inherently bad, in fact, they have a lot of benefits; they need to be counterbalanced with omega-3 fatty acids. Too much oil can cause upset stomachs, so make sure to follow the dosage instructions that come with your dog's fish oil.

    If you don't want to give your dog fish oil or struggle to get them to take supplements, you can put your dog on a commercial dog food that's enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. You can also create homemade meals that feature fish at home for your dog, which we'll help you with later in the article.

    Tips For Adding Fish To Your Dog's Diet

    Fish can be given as a simple snack or incorporated into your dog's regular dog food. When looking to add fish to your dog's diet, there are some big things to pay attention to.

    Cook fish vs. raw fish - Fish are no strangers to parasites, and it's highly recommended you cook your fish before giving it to your dog. There are a variety of ways to cook fish: steaming, grilling, etc.


    Dealing with fish bones - Fish bones can be tiny and sharp, making them a choking hazard for your dog, so make sure your fish is thoroughly deboned before serving to your dog. Additionally, they can puncture your dog's mouth and damage their internal organs.

    Selecting safe fish species> - Safe fish for dogs include flounder, cod, salmon, trout, and sardines. You should avoid giving your dog large oceanic fish such as swordfish and mackerel.

    Feeding in moderation - You can always have too much of a good thing. While low in fat and high in protein, feeding your dog too much fish can lead to obesity.

    Thanks to all-in-one cooking units like ChefPaw, pet parents can easily make complete and balanced meals for their dogs at home that incorporate fish. To say that fresh fish meals will out-compete most commercial dog food is an understatement.

    Should Dogs Eat Raw Fish Or Cooked Fish?

    Introducing fish into your dog's diet is a fantastic idea, but you should only feed your dog cooked fish, as raw fish can contain parasites and bacteria dangerous to your dog's health.

    How Much Salmon Can A Dog Have?

    When adding salmon as a treat on top of a complete and balanced diet, it's best to follow the 10% rule that says treats and snacks should make up no more than 10% of a dog's daily calories. So if your dog requires 1000 calories a day, 900 of those calories should be coming from their regular dog food and only 100 at most from snacks and treats.

    How Do I Feed Fish To My Dog?

    There are so many ways you can feed your dog fish. You can feed them sardines straight from the can, steam them up a nice piece of salmon, or opt for commercial dog foods that incorporate fish in their recipe. Then there is ChefPaw that can whip up fish-based complete meals for you right in your home.

    Prepare Fish With ChefPaw

    Requiring only a small single space on your kitchen counter, the ChefPaw machine and its app are the easiest ways to create homemade balanced dog food meals that feature fish. After creating your dog's profile in the app, you are given a plethora of meals customized to their nutritional needs, several of them that feature fish. You can also easily swap out an ingredient in any of the recipes.

    So if you think your dog has food allergies to beef and want to just swap it out for fish in a recipe, ChefPaw will reanalyze the recipe and make any adjustments to ensure the recipe is still satisfyingly your pet's nutritional needs based on standards set by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

    The ChefPaw app will tell you just how much fish you can give your dog and will provide a full nutritional breakdown of the entire meal.

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