What Fish Can Dogs Eat?

How healthy fish is for dogs and what health risks there might be.


The dog descends from carnivorous wolves, who mostly hunted prey on land. But fish can be part of a dog’s diet when the right fish is chosen and it’s given in the right amount. There’s lots of vitamins and minerals in fish that promote canine health. Fish contains valuable omega-3 fatty acids.

This article looks at how healthy fish is for dogs and what health risks there might be. You'll also learn which types of fish are best for dogs and which fish you should avoid feeding them.

For further information on feeding dogs fish check out Belle & Duke, one of the leading raw pet food suppliers in the UK, who have a page dedicated to the topic.

Nutrients For Dogs Found In Fish

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is especially important for the eyes, skin and coat. It’s good for a dog's bones, and also strengthens the nervous system and promotes digestion and immune defense.

Vitamin B: Fish provides dogs with vitamins B2, B3 and B12. These B Vitamins are primarily used for energy production and cell formation and have an important influence on many other bodily functions.

Vitamin D: This vitamin is necessary for the formation of bones and muscles. In addition, it strengthens dogs’ general well-being and immune system.

Minerals: Iron, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and iodine are other important building blocks that a dog can get from fish. Among other things, these minerals are essential for blood and muscle formation and energy.

Unsaturated fatty acids: Fish is particularly valuable for dogs because it contains significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than other foods. Omega fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and strengthen the cardiovascular system and lower elevated blood lipid levels.

Fish is very easy for dogs to digest and is usually well tolerated by animals with food allergies and other digestive problems.

Concerns In Feeding Dogs Fish

Fish also carries risks for dogs. For example, it spoils quickly and can contain dangerous germs. These germans can usually be killed by cooking or freezing the fish.

However, cooking can increase the danger to your dog posed by fish bones. In their raw state, fish bones are very flexible and the dog can usually eat them with no problem. When heated, these bones become hard and then even small bones can get stuck in your pet’s throat.

A less obvious health risk is the enzyme thiaminase. This enzyme breaks down vitamin B in the body, making it unusable for the dog. If you feed too much of it, your pet can become severely vitamin deficient. You can prevent this by cooking the fish since heat destroys thiaminase.

If there is ever the risk of tapeworms in fish, these are better killed by freezing than by cooking. The temperature should be at least -10°C and fish should be kept at that temperature for several days. The danger of tapeworm infestation exists primarily in freshwater fish but marine fish can also be infested with parasites.

What Fish Can Dogs Eat?

The best fish for dogs are mainly marine fish that do not contain thiaminase. The most important of these are salmon, herring and sprat. Cod, mackerel, plaice, halibut, and other popular sea fish are also free of thiaminase.

Marinated herring is also safe but you should remove any onion and wash off the marinade before feeding it as a rollmop. Fresh herring is even better for your pet.

Freshwater fish contain less valuable unsaturated fatty acids. However, some species are considered safe for dogs, for example, trout, pike and perch.

What To Watch Out For

If the fish comes from a fish farm, it might unfortunately be contaminated with chemicals. A well-known example of such contamination is pangasius. It’s best to stay away from this fish altogether. It often contains harmful pollutants, antibiotics and germs.

Eel is free of thiaminase and therefore suitable for dogs but don’t ever serve it raw because its blood is poisonous. This applies to humans’ diet too, so don’t ever go eating raw eel yourself either!

Fish for dogs should be served as fresh as possible. Be careful not to simply feed any fish waste. Quality is very important for your dog's health. If possible, buy products with a quality seal indicating that there are no chemical additives or environmental toxins.

As long as it’s the right fish and given as part of a varied diet, there’s no reason why you can’t serve your dog fish. Just remember that even though fish is notorious you can’t go giving just fish to dogs.

Put pieces of the right fish into the dog’s bowel alongside meat dog food and some vegetables. A varied diet with lots of nutritious elements is the way to keep your dog healthy, fit, and happy.

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