Can Dogs Eat Fish? Effects of Fish for Dogs as a Dog Food
Dogs can eat fish safely. Cooked fish is better for dogs because it’s easy to digest and free from bacteria and parasites. Raw fish should be given to a dog only if frozen for at least 24 hours to kill the bacteria and parasites.
Fish is okay for dogs to consume without being negatively affected in limited amounts. The safe amount for fish consumption for a dog is between 1 to 3 fishes depending on their size. Large dog breeds can consume more than one fish per day, unlike small dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Pugs.
Fish is a fundamental protein source for dogs since salmon contains 22 grams of protein per 100 grams. A fish can meet a dog’s daily protein and omega 3 fatty acid intake. Fish is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids and a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals for dogs’ overall health.
Feeding fish to dogs has benefits for the dog’s teeth, mood, and health. Fish help reduce inflammation and allergies in dogs while improving their overall health and boosting energy levels.
View Table of Contents
- What are the Benefits of Fish for Dogs?
- What are the Harms of Fish for Dogs?
- When Should a Dog Eat Fish?
- Which Nutritions From Fish are Beneficial for Dogs’ Health?
- Which Nutrients From Fish are Harmful to Dogs’ Health?
- Can Fish Affect a Dog’s Mood?
- Can Baby Dogs (Puppies) Eat Fish?
- Can Old Dogs Eat Fish?
- Can Different Dog Breeds Eat Fish in Different Amounts?
- Which Fish Recipes and Parts Can be Eaten Safely by Dogs?
- What is the Best Fish Type to Feed a Dog?
- Which Dog Food Brands Do Use Fish within Dog Food
- Which Dog Diseases Can Affect Dogs’ Fish Eating?
- What Else Can Dogs Eat Together with Fish?
- What Are the Fish Dog Food Recipes?
What are the Benefits of Fish for Dogs?
The benefits of fish for dogs are listed below.
- Improves energy: Fish can give more energy to dogs thanks to its omega 3’s and other healthy fats, which supply calories necessary for energy provision.
- Protects Heart: Since fish is very low in saturated fats, it improves blood circulation and lowers cholesterol levels hence helping to maintain a healthy heart in dogs. Fish species such as flounder and haddock are excellent choices as they are low in calories.
- Enhances vision: Vitamin A, otherwise known as retinol, is abundant in fish such as herring and cod. This vitamin not only helps to promote good eyesight, especially in low light, but it also reduces age-related vision loss as well as aiding in the treatment of many eye illnesses.
- Relieves arthritis and promotes joint health: The omega 3 fats in fish offer anti-inflammatory effects and help treat arthritis and other joint problems. Additionally, fish has natural glucosamine and chondroitin that help prevent cartilage damage, further improving joint health.
- Protects Allergies: Fish is an excellent alternative for dogs allergic to other protein types, thanks to its omega 3 fatty acids. These fats act as a natural anti-inflammatory and help balance the immune function making fish suitable for dogs with intolerances.
- Better skin and coat: Fish is rich in omega 3 oils that help reduce dry and itchy skin hence helping to maintain healthy skin in dogs. Fish skin is also rich in collagen protein which keeps skin firm and flexible.
What are the Harms of Fish for Dogs?
The harms fish can cause to dogs are listed below.
- Pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset: Fish that’s cooked in too much oil or contains seasoning can cause gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis in dogs.
- Parasitic contamination: Raw fish has many parasites which can cause health problems for dogs if ingested.
- Choking hazard: Uncooked fish has many small bones, which may pose a choking risk
When Should a Dog Eat Fish?
Dogs can eat fish at any time and at any age because fish has easily digestible proteins and low saturated fats. Fish protein can be digested easily by dogs because a dog has good bacteria and enzymes in the stomach, which aid in breaking down the fish.
A fish has lower saturated fats than beef and chicken. The low saturated fat amount affects the dog’s digestion speed because a dog has pepsin and lipase, which help process the fats. Since fish is easy to digest by a dog, it can consume it anytime during the day.
Giving fish treats to dogs at bedtime is great as fish makes an excellent source of melatonin, a hormone essential for good sleep. A fish backs the melatonin for dogs because it contains tryptophan which aids in its production. This is particularly helpful for dogs that have poor sleeping patterns as it can help normalize them.
If a dog is suffering from arthritis, and joint problems such as osteochondrosis or dysplasia, it can eat fish because fish provides natural sources of anti-inflammatory. The omega 3 fatty acids plus chondroitin and glucosamine relieve the pain of joint problems.
Certain fish such as fresh salmon and sardines can better treat joint problems because they contain higher omega 3 fats. When a dog has arthritis, the dog’s owner can include a gram of fish for the dog’s daily diet. If it is a large dog breed, the amount can be 5% higher. Dogs suffering from arthritis or other joint problems can eat fish to help relieve pain.
How Much Fish Can a Dog Eat per Day?
The number of fish a dog can eat per day depends on the dog’s age, size, and health condition. However, fish should be fed in moderation per day as too much of it can cause health problems for your dog. In general, fish should not make more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. If it’s part of the dog’s everyday diet, you should limit fish to twice a week. For instance, a large dog breed such as a labrador can consume 3 times more fish than a small breed dog per week.
How to calculate a safe daily portion of fish for a dog?
The table below shows the approximate total daily calorie needs for dogs and treats should supply.
Approximate Daily Caloric Needs for Average Dogs
Total Calories per day – including treats
Allowed Calories of all Treats per day
154 g of Atlantic Salmon contains 154 calories
Using the table above can help dog owners determine how to ensure fish treats are healthy and addictive for their dogs. This will help not spoil your dog by causing weight gain or other health problems.
Fish is packed with nutrients that are beneficial to dogs, and giving them to dogs for the first time requires caution. Therefore test your dog’s reaction, and if it does not have any adverse effect, then fish might be suitable for your dog.
Which Nutritions From Fish are Beneficial for Dogs’ Health?
A few reasons why this seafood makes a nutritious dog treat include the many health benefits listed below.
- Potassium: Fish, such as sardines, is packed with potassium. Most types of fish can deliver at least 10% of the daily potassium requirement per serving that dogs need. This mineral is essential for proper body functioning in canines. It can help regulate the body’s fluid balance, muscle, and heart contractions and send nerve signals in dogs.
- Calcium: Fish is also rich in calcium which can help in building strong bones and teeth, ensuring normal blood clotting, regulating muscle contractions, and aiding proper nerve and cellular functioning.
- Phosphorus: Fish comes with reasonable amounts of phosphorus. This is crucial for strong bones and teeth and aids the proper functioning of some B vitamins.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: These are essential fatty acids present in fish. Omega 3’s act as a potent natural anti-inflammatory. Omega 3 also helps with the heart, skin, and coat health of dogs. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids help maintain healthy joints and tendons, thus keeping your dog active all through his life.
- Selenium: This is helpful for dogs’ immune systems and protects cells and tissues from damage.
- Zinc: Zinc aids in the formation of new cells and enzymes, as well as the digestion of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in dogs’ diets. It also helps with wound healing.
- Iodine: This mineral helps produce thyroid hormones, essential for keeping your dog’s metabolic rate and cells healthy.
- Magnesium: Besides working with calcium in bone formation, magnesium helps proper muscle functioning and maintains heart health. Fish such as cod are rich in this mineral.
- Vitamin D: This is an essential nutrient that’s crucial for the well-being of dogs. It helps to regulate the balance of and retention of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is abundant in fish like herring and sprats.
- B-Vitamins: Fish contains several B-vitamins, including B3 (niacin), B6, and B12. These vitamins are essential in breaking down and releasing energy from food, maintaining a healthy neurological system and skin, and forming hemoglobin, transporting oxygen throughout the body.
- Vitamin A: This is an essential nutrient in keeping dogs’ immune systems in optimal working conditions. It is also necessary for good bone growth and development.
- Iron: Fish also contains iron which aids in the production of red blood cells tasked with transporting oxygen around the body.
- Protein: Fish is a healthy source of proteins which are the building blocks for organ tissues and cells. Additionally, proteins have amino acids in charge of various body processes, including maintaining smooth workflow and digestion. They help with ligaments, tendons, cartilage tissue repair, muscle development, and keeping skin, hair, and nails healthy.
A nutritional profile of 100g of catfish containing 144 calories are listed below:
- Calories: 144
- 7.2g Total fat: 11%
- 1.6g Saturated fat: 8%
- 66mg Cholesterol: 22%
- 119mg Sodium: 5%
- 366mg Potassium 10%
- 0g Total Carbohydrates 0%
Which Nutrients From Fish are Harmful to Dogs’ Health?
Fish cannot cause any significant harm to dogs’ health, and most canines tolerate them well. Any harmful content in fish that can adversely affect your dog’s health is listed below:
- Potassium: A fish can include 10% daily potassium needs for dogs. It can help in boosting muscle growth and strength, metabolism, neural function, bone health, and organ functions, including kidney, heart, and liver functions. But, too much potassium can be harmful to dogs. It can lead to hyperkalemia, a condition in which there is too much potassium in a dog’s blood leading to heart problems. Too much potassium can lead to difficulty in urination, a slow heart rate, lethargy, vomiting, body weakness, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upsets.
- Calcium: Fish contains 15 mg of calcium for every 100 grams. Dogs require 50 mg of calcium per kilogram of their body weight. Calcium helps in healthy bone growth and maintenance, proper muscle formation and function, and maintaining a healthy heart and nervous system in dogs. However, too much calcium can lead to hypercalcemia, adversely affecting dogs’ kidneys, the heart, and nervous systems. Low calcium levels can also lead to calcium deficiency which is harmful to dogs.
- Thiaminase and Vitamin B1: Raw fish, regardless of the type, has an enzyme called thiaminase. This enzyme’s role is to break down any thiamine (vitamin B1) that a dog consumes. Thiamine is vital in ensuring the proper functioning of the nervous system of dogs. Feeding raw fish to dogs may lead to thiamine deficiency. However, properly cooking fish denatures this enzyme making it useless due to the high temperatures.
- Sodium: Many fish live in salty waters making their bodies absorb a lot of salt (sodium chloride). As such, the fish you get is high in sodium. Feeding too much fish to dogs may lead to sodium buildup, which can lead to hypernatremia. This condition can cause serious health problems for dogs. Symptoms of hypernatremia include excessive thirst, lethargy, and seizures.
What Fish Can Dogs not Eat?
Dogs should not eat the following species of fish.
- Shark: Given their large size and long lifespans, sharks contain unhealthy levels of mercury and other heavy metals. The fact that they eat smaller fish further increases the mercury level. They also accommodate various parasites on their skin, muscle tissues, and internal organs.
- Swordfish: These have very high mercury accumulations, which can harm dogs.
- King mackerel: Avoid feeding this to dogs as it has high levels of mercury and harbors harmful parasites under their skin.
- Albacore tuna: This type of fish is usually older at the time of harvest hence more likely to have higher mercury levels.
- Tilefish: Dogs should not eat tilefish as it has more parasites and higher amounts of mercury by the time it’s caught and processed.
Can Fish Affect a Dog’s Mood?
Yes, fish can affect a dog’s mood positively. It helps improve the mood of canines just like it does for human beings. This is because fish contains tryptophan which is essential for the production of serotonin. This is a hormone that promotes happiness in humans and dogs as well.
Can Baby Dogs (Puppies) Eat Fish?
Yes, regardless of their breed, weaned puppies can safely eat fish in small amounts as a treat or as part of their diet. In addition to their regular puppy diet, feeding puppies fish will help them grow bigger and stronger. The high-quality protein and good fats in fish can help puppies to build and develop muscles. However, ensure the fish has minimal mercury content, is properly cleaned, deboned, thoroughly cooked, and pressed before feeding.
Can Old Dogs Eat Fish?
Yes, old dogs of all breeds can safely eat fish. Fish provides an excellent source of easily digestible proteins ideal for senior dogs’ slower metabolisms. Additionally, the omega 3 fatty acids in fish provide natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are necessary for good joint health in old dogs.
Collagen levels in dogs decline as they age. Collagen is a vital type of protein that makes up a large amount of a dog’s body and skin. This protein is crucial for keeping a dog’s ligaments, tendons, skin, and cartilage flexible. It also determines teeth, nails, bones, and hair strength.
As such, it’s critical to supplement an older dog’s diet with healthy sources of collagen to maintain their skeletal and skin health as their collagen levels decrease. Therefore, feeding fish can be beneficial to old dogs as it provides an excellent source of collagen to support healthy joints.
Can Different Dog Breeds Eat Fish in Different Amounts?
Yes, different dog breeds can eat different amounts of fish per day, depending on their size. Generally, large breed dogs can take more fish daily than small breed dogs. A large breed dog such as a Labrador with an average weight of between 55-80 pounds can eat more fish daily than a Pug whose average weight is 14-18 pounds.
Thus, different dog breeds have different nutritional needs in daily calorie content, vitamins, and minerals. As such, their daily fish intake also varies with their weight.
Dog breeds such as German shepherds, Newfoundland dogs, and Bull Mastiffs can eat one or more fish daily. But breeds such as Chihuahuas, Corgis, Yorkshire Terriers should eat less fish per day.
Which Dog Breeds are Fish More Beneficial for?
Fish is beneficial to all dogs. Being high in proteins, rich in healthy fats, and low in calories, fish is a healthy source of nutrition for dogs. Plus it’s packed with omega 3 fatty acids, various essential vitamins, and minerals necessary for ensuring good health in dogs.
However, breeds prone to arthritis and other joint issues such as Labradors, German shepherds, and Golden Retrievers can benefit more from the omega 3’s which act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Which Dog Breeds are Fish Less Beneficial for?
Fish is not less beneficial to some breeds. It only becomes less valuable if you don’t observe moderation and also if not well prepared.
Which Fish Recipes and Parts Can be Eaten Safely by Dogs?
Dogs can safely eat fish oil, cooked fish fillet, fish head, fish skin that you should thoroughly cook to avoid bacteria infection. You can give cooked fish as a treat on its own. Or you can also top your dog’s regular food with flakes of cooked salmon. You can further make homemade meals with fish plus some veggies and grains.
1. Fish Skin
The skin of fish is an incredible source of collagen, which is especially beneficial for older dogs.
So, can dogs eat fish skin safely?
Yes, dogs can eat thoroughly cooked fish skin safely. However, raw skin is harmful to dogs as it is covered with bacteria which can be lethal to your dog. Fish skin is also high in fats, and you should feed them in moderation.
2. Fish Sticks
Fish sticks, also known as fish fingers, are made using minced meat from battered whitefish or fried bread.
Can dogs eat fish sticks safely?
It is not advisable to give dogs breaded products such as fish sticks as they may contain oils and seasonings such as salt that may be harmful to dogs.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil comes from the tissues of oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon. Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Can dogs eat fish oil?
Yes, dogs can take fish oil safely. Fish oil provides a healthy way of supplementing omega 3 fatty acids beneficial for skin and coat health.
4. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is a condiment made of fish, salt, and water. It’s usually made from oily fish such as anchovies.
Can dogs take fish sauce safely?
Yes, you can give fish sauce but in minimal quantities, as it’s pretty salty. It can help motivate picky dogs
5. Fish Fillet
Fish fillet consists of deboned fish meat. It is rich in proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, minerals, and essential vitamins necessary for good health.
Can dogs eat fish fillets safely?
Yes, a fish fillet is an excellent source of good protein that can help dogs build and maintain lean muscles.
6. Fish Scales
Fish scales are found on the skin of fish.
Can dogs eat scales?
No, you should not feed your dog on fish scales. This is because they can be unusually long and sharp, making them harmful for dogs. They may cause injury to the dog’s throat or digestive tract.
7. Fish Cake
A fish cake is made using a minced fillet that’s mixed with a starchy component such as ground potato and fried till golden brown.
Can dogs eat fish cake safely?
Yes, fish cakes are perfect treats for dogs on special occasions. However, ensure that the cake doesn’t contain any ingredients that may harm your dog.
8. Fish and Chips
Fish and chips may be an excellent treat for humans. But,
Can dogs eat fish and chips safely?
No, you should never give fish and chips to dogs. Chips contain too much salt and oil which may upset dogs’ stomachs. Too much salt can cause salt poisoning.
9. Fish Head
Fish heads are a great source of proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, and other vital nutrients necessary for a dog’s health.
Can dogs eat fish heads safely?
Yes, dogs can eat fish heads safely but only if they are regular fish consumers as it can be hard to swallow.
10. Fish Fingers
Fish fingers are small strips of fish fillet covered in breadcrumbs or batter and pan-fried or grilled.
Can dogs eat fish fingers safely?
No, it’s not recommended to give dogs fish fingers as the crumb or breading may contain seasonings and salt which can be harmful to dogs.
11. Fish Balls
Fish balls are rounded meatballs that are made from fish paste.
Can dogs eat fish balls?
Yes, fish balls are safe for dogs provided they are made without seasonings, which may cause an upset stomach. Again, moderation is key.
11. Fish Broth
Simmering fish make fish broth that extracts nutrients from the bones and scales over a long time.
Can dogs eat fish broth safely?
Yes. Fish broth is packed with joint nutrients such as chondroitin and glucosamine, healthy fats, and natural probiotics. These can help with arthritis, digestive, skin, and coat issues.
12. Tuna Fish
Tuna is one of the fish that are safe for dogs to consume. However, you shouldn’t feed canned Albacore tuna to dogs.
Can dogs eat tuna safely?
Yes, cooked tuna is safe for dogs to eat. If you go for canned tuna, ensure it’s packed in water, not oil.
13. Cooked Fish
You can cook fish in many ways, including steaming, grilling, and frying. However, the best way to cook fish for dogs is without oil and any seasonings.
Can dogs eat cooked fish?
Yes, as long as it doesn’t have oil and seasonings. Cooking kills bacteria present in fish and makes it easy to digest.
14. Steamed Fish
Steaming is among the best ways to prepare fish for dogs as it does not involve any oil. It involves boiling fish in some water.
Can dogs eat steamed fish?
Yes, steamed fish is healthy and highly nutritious for dogs and presents them with many health benefits.
15. Grilled Fish
Grilling fish adds pleasant flavor and aroma to fish that dogs can’t resist. Besides, grilling also helps to kill any bacteria in fish.
Can dogs eat grilled fish safely?
Yes, dogs can feed on grilled fish without any issue. However, ensure that it doesn’t have any bones that may harm your dog.
16. Raw Fish
Fresh raw fish has a higher risk of harboring and transmitting bacteria and other harmful parasites found on the skin, muscle tissues, and internal organs.
Can dogs eat raw fish?
No, dogs should never eat raw fish as it exposes them to potentially lethal microorganisms and other harmful fish-borne parasites.
What is the Best Fish Type to Feed a Dog?
Fish such as light tuna, white fish, salmon, cod, sea bass, flounder, mackerel, herring, and catfish are excellent fish choices for dogs.
These fish types are small and short-lived and have low mercury and other heavy metal levels, making them safe for dogs to eat.
Which Dog Food Brands Do Use Fish within Dog Food
The following are some of the dog food brands that include fish in their dog food:
- Purina dog food: Purina is a reputable dog food brand that’s well known for offering high-quality nutrition at an affordable price.
The company includes fish as the main ingredient in some of its recipes. For example, their Purina Beyond Alaskan Cod, Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Canned Dog Food uses Alaskan Cod Fish as the primary ingredient and includes salmon. This provides dogs that have sensitivities with high-quality proteins to help build and maintain strong and lean muscles.
- Taste of the wild: This is another trendy dog food brand renowned for its high-quality dog food offers.
The company also has some recipes that feature fish as their main ingredient. This includes the Ancient stream canine recipe that contains salmon as the number one ingredient. Salmon makes the bulk of the food providing quality protein and omega fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin.
Which Dog Diseases Can Affect Dogs’ Fish Eating?
Fish is safe for dogs to consume. However, it can cause adverse health conditions. Some of the negative effects of fish-eating include:
Dogs that are sensitive to fish may have severe allergic reactions upon eating fish. Symptoms of fish allergies may appear as soon as the dog starts to eat fish and include:
- Ear infection
- Skin infection
- Itchy skin
- Hair loss
- Licking of feet
- Hives, swelling, or anaphylactic shock
Another danger of feeding dogs is the risk of mercury. Some fish have mercury. Large-sized and long-lived fish have high mercury concentrations. Feeding dogs exposes them to the risk of mercury poisoning, which can be lethal to dogs. Too much mercury in a dog’s body can cause cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, and kidney damage.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning in dogs include:
- Loss of feeling in the paws
- Vomiting blood
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal chewing
- Inability to urinate
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
Salmon poisoning disease:
Uncooked fish harbors various microorganisms and parasites. These microorganisms include salmonella bacteria. Feeding raw fish to dogs exposes them to the risk of getting salmon poisoning disease. This can have fatal health effects. Dogs with salmon poisoning disease will exhibit symptoms such as:
- Distended abdomen
- Weight loss
Fish contains a lot of fats. Feeding too much fish to dogs can make them gain extra weight and put them at risk of pancreatitis. As such, you should only feed fish in small quantities.
Can Dogs Eat Fish When Sick?
Yes, sick dogs can eat fish as it is packed with multiple beneficial nutrients to make them feel better. However, moderation is vital because feeding too much can cause them to have an upset stomach.
Can An Anemic Dog Eat Fish?
Yes. An anemic dog can eat fish. Fish is rich in iron which is essential for the production of red blood cells. These are crucial components of blood that help to transport oxygen throughout the body.
Can Dogs With Kidney Disease Eat Fish?
Yes, dogs with kidney disease can safely eat fish. The various kidney-friendly nutrients in fish, including potassium, calcium, vitamin K, can help boost kidney health in dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Fish to Help With Diarrhea?
Yes, dogs can eat fish to help with diarrhea. Fish is easily digestible and contains healthy sources of fiber which help ease diarrhea. The fish broth has nutrients that can help dogs with diarrhea.
Can a Nursing Dog Eat Fish?
Yes, nursing dogs can safely eat fish as it has various nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, which can aid in developing strong bones for puppies. The omega 3 fatty acids also help brain and skin health.
What Else Can Dogs Eat Together with Fish?
Dogs can eat the following foods together with fish.
A single clove of fresh, raw, and organic garlic is safe and can benefit dogs in many ways. It can help improve the immune system, cardiovascular and liver health. It can also help fight infections and keep off pests in dogs. However, too much garlic can cause garlic poisoning due to thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs.
Dogs can safely consume a chip or two as a treat as chips themselves are not toxic to dogs. However, you should not feed these regularly as too many chips can be harmful to dogs. This is due to their salt and fat content, leading to weight gain and sodium poisoning if too much is eaten.
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C and healthy fiber. As such, dogs can safely consume the flesh of lemon in moderation as too much of it may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Besides, lemons also contain psoralen that can cause skin reactions in dogs.
It’s made from ground corn. Cornmeal is beneficial to dogs if taken in small amounts. It is a source of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. It also contains linoleic acid that helps maintain healthy skin, coat, and immune systems. It’s also rich in fiber which promotes gut health. However, in excess, corn can cause health problems in dogs.
What Are the Fish Dog Food Recipes?
The following are easy recipes for homemade fish dog food.
- Fish and sweet potato mash: This is a simple meal with few ingredients and thus ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs. This needs fillet, sweet potato, and a teaspoon of olive oil. Boil and mix everything.
- Fish treat: This is a simple dog treat that can be an excellent reward for dogs. You need a can of salmon, a can of tuna, eggs, and flour. Mix the ingredients, spread in a baking pan, bake, and cool.
- Fish cake: This is an excellent snack that’s richly flavorful and protein-packed. It will need canned tuna, potato, frozen peas, eggs, and fresh parsley. Boil eggs, potato, and peas separately, then mix all of them.