While fish is a source of protein and calcium in dog food, dog owners often wonder if feeding their dogs fish is safe. can dogs eat fish? and how much you should feed your dog.
Yes, dogs can eat fish, but owners must be incredibly mindful about the parts and type of fish they give their dogs. Some fish like shark and tilefish are toxic to dogs, while others like flounder and salmon are safe for dog consumption.
Keeping your pet healthy is the top priority for any dog parent, and the solution is to feed your dog high-quality dog food to fulfill its nutritional requirements.
If you have looked at the ingredient list at the back of dog food, one of the most common ingredients is fish. However, fish’s tail, head, and organs should be avoided.
Is Seafood Toxic for Dogs?
Fish is a common ingredient in most high-quality dog food. So fish should be safe for dogs, right? Not necessarily. Depending on the species and method of preparation, some fish types are safe for dogs, while others can be fatal.
Several hazards are associated with feeding your dog fish, even when dealing with safe fish. But these problems can be overcome by proper preparation and selection of fish.
Choking is an issue that can be overcome with proper preparation and patience. Fish are vertebrates with small bones. To include fish in your dog’s food, be prepared to debone and mash fish chunks into bite-sized pieces.
By doing so, you can prevent chances of blockage due to fish bones or large chunks that have been swallowed without chewing. Bones can also cause the tearing of tissues when ingested.
- Bacterial Infection
If fish is stored, handled, or cooked improperly, bacteria can grow on it. When eaten, your dog is at risk of bacterial infection and shows symptoms such as soreness, loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting.
Not only does it put your dog at risk, but this bacteria can be transmitted through your dog’s saliva, making everyone around susceptible to the infection. Bacterial growth in a fish makes it smell rancid, a sign to throw away.
- Spread of Parasites
Another risk associated with raw or undercooked fish is parasite infestation. When cooked, the parasite is subjected to heat, killing it, making the fish safe to eat.
Parasite infestations usually affect the dog’s intestines and may cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and weight, and lethargy.
- Oils and Seasonings
We are used to cooking food in oils and spices. Applying the same to foods for dogs may cause harm to your dog. Excessive fat consumption may cause pancreatitis. Seasonings and condiments are toxic to dogs, and sodium is a strict no.
Oceans are polluted due to commercial activity and unsupervised dumping. Shipwrecks add to the problem. Since fish live in such a contaminated environment, they are bound to accumulate toxins, pollutants, and metal particles in their bodies. These toxins can harm your dog’s health in the long run.
Can Dogs Eat Fish?
Amongst the variety of seafood, fish is amongst the safest type of meat for dogs that is nutritious and enjoyed by dogs. Fish that have been cleaned, deboned, and cooked are generally considered safe for dogs.
When choosing the kind of fish that you want to include in your dog’s diet, consider the following factors:
- Fish Lifespan
If the fish has a long life span, it will likely accumulate lots of toxins in its body. It is better to choose fishes with a shorter lifespan as they have less toxin accumulation in their bodies.
- Fish Size
Similar to the abovementioned point, the larger the size, the more the accumulation. According to the concept of biological magnification, bigger fish have higher toxic content in them as they have two sources of ingestion- the environment and the smaller fish they eat.
Generally, it is advised to opt for small fishes around 5 inches in length.
- Fish Bones
Choose fish that have fewer bones or bones that can be easily removed. This is the most important factor in choosing fish for dogs. Ingested bones cause damage irrespective of their size.
- Fish Smell
If your fish smells rancid, it is an indicator of bacterial growth. Fish smell more with time, making it easy to find fresh fish.
What are the Benefits of Feeding Fish to Dogs?
Fish are extremely healthy foods with several health benefits as long as they are given to dogs in moderation. They can help balance your dog’s diet and prevent diseases.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have a wide range of benefits. It helps in the development of puppies, strengthens immunity, reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart diseases in the long run. It helps in improving the quality and longevity of your dog’s life.
- Amino Acids
Amino acids are essential for good health and longevity. A lack of amino acids can cause heart and immune system problems and make dogs appear ill by dulling their hair and skin.
- High Protein
Animal meat is a great source of quality protein. Fish is a source of lean protein that helps manage dogs’ allergies. It also helps in repairing and maintaining muscles.
Collagen improves bone and skin health, making dogs appear healthy.
Besides these, fish also contains several other nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
How Much Fish Can Dogs Eat?
Fish should be an occasional treat in your dog’s diet and can never substitute for high-quality dog food. Such treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
Can Dogs Eat Fish Skin?
Fish skins are just as nutritious as fish flesh. Dog owners should only give their pets cooked fish skin. This is because uncooked fish skin can have bacteria and parasites living on it, which can make dogs ill.
You can feed your dog freshly cooked or dehydrated fish skin. Removing the skin of fish becomes easier after cooking. So you can first cook your fish without any seasonings in a small amount of unflavored oil and then peel off the skin after it cools down.
Dehydrated fish skins are easily available in the market. The frozen product can be thawed before use and cooked to include in your dog’s food.
Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?
Fish bones are the biggest trouble that is encountered when dealing with fish for dogs. Although fish bones are small and brittle, they can cause extreme pain in ingestion.
They can block your dog’s digestive system and cause choking. They can also tear the internal tissues of your dog’s body, making it a hazard.
Deboning is a must for making fish fit for dog consumption.
Can a Dog Have Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a dietary supplement that helps manage allergies, inflammation, and joint pain. It also improves skin and hair health due to the omega-3 content. Vets recommend fish oil to aid in the problems mentioned above.
Fish oil is safe for dogs, but it must only be introduced after being prescribed by your vet. If you notice any symptoms that can be rectified by fish oil, visit your vet for further checkups to analyze the problem accurately.
Is Eating Fish Heads Safe for Dogs?
Fish heads are safe for dog consumption but difficult to debone. However, it is not recommended to feed your pet raw fish heads. Its shape poses a choking threat for dogs.
The best way to feed your dog fish heads would be by cooking them. You can boil or bake the head without any seasoning.
If you must feed your dog raw fish heads, ensure they have been frozen for at least three weeks. Parasites or bacteria can be killed by either freezing for long periods or cooking in intense heat. This way, fish heads can be safely fed to dogs.
Can Dogs Have Tuna Fish with Mayo?
Tuna with mayo is a strict no for dogs. Although there is no conclusive evidence, vets think tuna’s risks are far greater than its benefits. Tuna are large fish, have a long lifespan, and contain high mercury levels, making them a terrible choice for dogs. An occasional bite would not kill your dog, but it is best avoided.
Mayonnaise is made using egg yolks, oil, and seasonings. The only ingredient safe for dogs out of the 3 is egg yolks. Mayo is also high in fats, making pancreatitis more likely.
As a general guideline, avoid feeding your dog processed foods for human consumption.
Are Haddock Fish Toxic for Dogs?
No, haddock fish is among the list of non-toxic fish for dogs. Along with haddock fish, you can also feed your dog cod, flounder, salmon, trout, whitefish, and herring without worrying about their toxicity.
You must ensure that the fish is deboned, properly cooked, and cut into small pieces to prevent choking.
Are Raw Fish Bones Safe for Dogs?
Fish bones are not easy to digest. Even humans choke on them. Irrespective of whether cooked or raw, you should avoid feeding your pet fish bones.
Are Fish Food Pellets Safe for Dogs?
Fish food is not toxic for dogs. However, if your dog has a history of food allergies, you should keep a watch for 24 hours for any symptoms of resistance.
If you notice your dog developing a fever, vomiting, or itching its skin excessively, rush to your vet.
Is Eating Fish Tails Safe for Dogs?
Fishtails are generally avoided for dogs. This is because the tails of fish are made with small and thin bones. Deboning this part is a tough task. Any remaining bones can cause your dog to choke and may also result in internal tearing.
Can Dogs Have Fish Allergies?
Protein sources are a common trigger for allergies. Fish allergies are relatively less common in dogs as compared to chicken and beef allergies.
Vomiting, diarrhea, and consistent itching are signs of a food allergy. It may take up to 48 hours after eating fish for symptoms to show. Rush your dog to the vet if you notice such symptoms, and avoid feeding your dog fish in the future.
You will also have to pay closer attention to the nutrition labels of dog food to buy those products free of fish.
Can Pregnant Dogs Eat Fish?
Pregnant dogs can eat fish after deboning if they have been cleaned, handled, and cooked properly. Raw fish is strictly advised against due to the risk of bacteria and parasite infection for the mother and puppy in the womb.
Can Dogs Eat Fish Organs?
Never feed dogs organs of fish. This is because parasites can live within the fish’s organs even after being killed. Sometimes even cooking cannot kill these worms, making them a potential threat to your dog and your family.
Can Dogs Eat Fish Every Day?
Feeding your dog fish every day is excessive. Even if you feed it moderate quantities of safe fish daily, it can put your dog at risk of developing a thiamine deficiency.
Exceeding the 10% limit can cause gastrointestinal distress, loss of appetite, visible weight loss, and regular vomiting.
This deficiency can have severe consequences for your pet’s health and can be fatal in rare cases.
Although the answer to can dogs eat fish is a conditional yes, cooked and deboned fish can be used as occasional treats.