Dogs love to eat fish. And who can blame them? Delicious, nutritious fruits of the sea. But is it safe, and are there types of fish that may be harmful to your dog? We’ll explain the benefits of fish, which kinds of fish are safe for your dog, the best way to prepare the fish, and the types of fish your dog should avoid eating.

Benefits of Feeding Fish to Your Dog

Fish has many health benefits for your dog. That’s why fish is often an ingredient in healthy dog food because it contains:

  • Rich omega-3 fatty acids
  • High protein
  • Low saturated fats
  • Essential vitamins and minerals

These vitamins and minerals help your dog have a healthy coat and skin. The Omega-3 fatty acids also have natural anti-inflammatory properties that benefit dogs with bowel and joint diseases. 

Plus, dogs love the smell and taste of fish. While most dog foods have perfectly balanced nutrition for your dog, you can supplement your dog’s diet with fish.

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How to Prepare the Fish

fish being prepared to be baked

You can add fish to your dog’s diet as an added supplement or as a treat. You can feed fish to your dog several times a week. You’ll need to cook the fish for your dog to eliminate any parasites or bacteria. When feeding fish to a dog, remove the following:

  • Bones
  • Head
  • Tail
  • Scales

These can pose a choking hazard, intestinal perforation, or cause oral trauma.

Fish should not be their primary source of food because it lacks other nutrients essential to your dog’s diet. If you are thinking of switching to a home-cooked diet for your dog, talk to your veterinarian about what nutrients you’ll need to provide on a daily basis.

Can I Give My Dog Fried Fish?

Fried fish is not suitable for dogs because of the butter, heavy oils, and seasonings. While the fish might be free of parasites and bacteria, your dog may vomit, have diarrhea or suffer pancreatitis from the fried cooking method. It’s not worth risking it unless you like cleaning up dog vomit.

Can I Feed Fish to My Dog Every Day?

While you could technically feed fish to your dog every day, it isn’t recommended. Your dog needs other nutrients in its diet. Supplementing your dog’s daily dog food with fish is a better idea. If your dog suffers from intense inflammation, you may want to talk to your vet about feeding your dog fish every day to get the extra Omega-3 fatty acids.

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The Best Fish for Dogs

Exterior of a fish market in a rural area

Not all fish are equal. And some types of fish are better or safer for your dog to eat. Here are the best types of fish to feed your dog:

  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Herring
  • Light Tuna Fish (canned)
  • Salmon
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

These fish do not have high mercury levels or parasites, making them a great snack or meal topper.

Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Yes and No. Some types of tuna are not safe for your dog to eat. Canned Albacore tuna has higher levels of mercury and parasites in their muscle tissue, making it unsafe for dogs to eat.

Dogs can eat canned light tuna because this kind of tuna is younger and smaller than Albacore tuna when harvested. Light tuna doesn’t contain the same levels of mercury or parasites because they are smaller.

What About Sardines?

Dogs can safely eat sardines because they are small, and their bones are not at high risk for choking. But sardines are often packed with added salt, which is unsafe for dogs. If you want to feed your dog sardines, look for products packed in water that doesn’t contain added salt.

Can Your Dog Eat Mackerel Fillets?

Dogs can have mackerel. Mackerel is high in Omega-3 fats, but you shouldn’t feed raw mackerel to your dog. Raw fish has a natural enzyme called thiaminase that breaks down thiamine in your dog’s food and eliminates the nutritional value. 

Dogs should avoid King Mackerel because it is a bigger, older fish with higher mercury and parasite levels. Please read your labels when buying canned or tinned mackerel, as it can be harmful to your dog.

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Fish You Should Avoid Feeding Dogs

The Food and Drug Administration recommends avoiding these types of fish:

  • Albacore Tuna (canned)
  • King Mackerel
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish

These are larger fish that generally have high levels of mercury and parasites in their muscle tissue. You should also avoid feeding farm-raised fish to your dog. Farm-raised fish do not have industry regulations and can have harmful dyes, toxins, and antibiotic levels.

Adding Fish To Your Dog’s Diet is A Healthy Choice

A brown dog eating Its food from a bowl

While your dog should eat balanced, nutritious dog food daily, it is excellent to add fish to your dog’s diet as a healthy supplement or snack. Fish gives your dog a protein and Omega-3 fatty acids boost, improving their coat and reducing inflammation. Be sure to remove all bones and scales before cooking the fish to eliminate any lingering bacteria or parasites.

All Paws Express is a leader in pet relocation and transportation. We love all things dog and work to provide the best resources to help pet parents provide the best care. We also help you cut through the red tape of pet travel rules and regulations for safe and hassle-free pet travel.

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