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Can Dogs Eat Fish? What Happens If Your Dog Eats Too Much Fish?

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Raymond Umpa

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Can Dogs Eat Fish

Can dogs eat fish? And is there something fishy with wanting to feed your dog fish? Considering a pet parent’s pure good intentions for his canine buddy, there’s nothing wrong about it, but something could get wrong.

As they say, sometimes even our best intentions can hurt the ones that we love. So, while it is apparent that dogs can eat fish, we should also accept the fact that we cannot simply feed our dog any fresh fish from the wet market.

There are other fish species that are not safe for them to eat, and there are certain preparations or mixtures that can be harmful to them.

By now, your dog is most likely eating fish-flavored kibbles or wet foods, or you might have been serving him cooked fish at home for some time.

If you want to prevent mishaps along the way and find out how you can get the best from preparing fish for your canine companion, below are helpful bits of information.

Read Also: Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Health Benefits of Adding Fish to Your Dog’s Diet

Fish is an important ingredient in nutritionally balanced commercial dog foods, and we are not surprised since it is rich in lean protein, low in saturated fats, and can be easily digested by your furry body. Some types of fish are also used in limited-ingredient diets (L.I.D.), and prescription diets that can benefit dogs with food allergies, food restrictions, or dietary intolerances.  

Fish is also an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are beneficial in promoting skin health and in maintaining your dog’s coat silky and strong.

It is also a good source of important vitamins and minerals that can help support your dog’s health throughout his life.

With it being a rich source of essential nutrients, there’s no doubt that fish can be an important component of your dog’s complete and balanced diet.

However, if you are already feeding your pup premium commercial dog food, he is most likely receiving optimum nutrients already whether his kibbles or canned food contains fish or not.

In this case, the fish that you are adding to your dog’s balanced diet is already a fish treat. Hence, for him not to go beyond his daily caloric requirements, you should only feed fish to your dog in moderation. In particular, treats should only be 10% of your dog’s calories per day.

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Which Types of Fish Can Dogs Eat?

There are indeed plenty of fish in the sea, so, if you don’t know which one can be dangerous for your canine companion, it would be catastrophic.

On the lighter side, there are also more than enough fish species that are safe and beneficial for dog nutrition, including the following:

Safe Fish for Dogs

  • Salmon
  • Flounder
  • Whitefish
  • Herring
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Whiting
  • Light tuna fish (canned tuna)

These fish are generally safe because they are less likely to absorb huge amounts of mercury in their tissues, and are also less likely to have significant health problems with parasites.

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Which Types of Fish Can Make Your Dog Sick?

The guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration recommend that pet parents avoid giving the following types of fish:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Albacore tuna (canned)

Generally, these larger fish species are harvested once they are older and bigger. Hence, at this age, they are more likely to have high levels of mercury inside their body.

And not only that, because of their size and age, these larger fish types most often have harmful bacteria and parasites.

Additionally, you should avoid feeding your dogs with farm-raised fish, especially from those areas where there are less stricter regulations concerning the quality and type of diet given to the fish.

Also, farm-raised fish are more at risk of having residual antibiotic levels, and other potentially toxic substances once they are harvested and processed.

How Much Fish Is Too Much for Dogs?

Too much of anything can be bad for your dog’s health and/or safety. If you want to treat your dog with a nutritious and delicious fishy dish, feel free to prepare fish for him.

He would enjoy munching on steamed or grilled fish, or even a cooked salmon. However, don’t forget to give it in moderation.

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Offering your pup too much fish now and then can lead to obesity, and put him at risk for infections and other health problems, especially if the fish isn’t cooked or is mixed with other ingredients.

Generally, if you are serving your dog high-quality commercial pet food, he is already receiving a healthy diet that is packed with the nutrients that he needs to thrive each day. So, you don’t have to add additional nutrition, unless it’s recommended by your veterinarian.

Considering your dog’s food is already packed with proteins, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other important nutrients, then, anything that you add to his diet (including cooked fish) can already be considered as treats. And as a rule of thumb, treats should only make up to 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Risks of Feeding Fish to Your Dog

If your dogs eat cooked fish from your countertop while you are busy preparing other dishes, you don’t have to worry as long as it doesn’t contain seasonings and other toxic ingredients. However, that’s less likely to happen considering you cooked it for yourself and not for your dog.

Nevertheless, feeding fish to your dog always comes with some risks. Generally, the fish species that are safe for dogs to eat won’t really pose a significant problem when prepared properly and served in moderation.

So, what matters is you cook it well, avoid adding seasonings, and most importantly don’t forget to remove the bones.

Can Dogs Eat Fish? What Happens If Your Dog Eats Too Much Fish? 2

Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

Fish bones are sharp, brittle, and tiny. When eaten, they can be stuck in your dog’s mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines, potentially causing dental problems and obstructions.

In some cases, fish bones can also perforate the lining of your dog’s organs thereby leading to internal bleeding.

While you might have heard of anecdotal reports that dogs eating fish bones are perfectly fine, it’s still best to err on the side of caution to prevent an unwanted and expensive trip to your vet’s clinic.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines?

Sardines are generally safe for dogs to consume with their skin and bones on since they are small, low in the food chain, and contain minimal amount of mercury compared with larger fish species.

However, you should be careful with the type of canned sardine that you are going to buy. Apparently, you should choose those that are not packed or canned with lots of salt.

Can Dogs Eat Tilapia?

Tilapia is not toxic to dogs, so, your dog can safely eat tilapia as long as it is skinned, deboned, and cooked properly without salt or seasonings.

Tilapia can either be farm-raised or wild-caught. Farm-raised tilapia might be given a substandard diet that won’t benefit your dog. Wild-caught tilapia are better options since they thrive in their natural habitat.

Also, when buying tilapia, it’s best to look for brands whose labels carry the certification of either the Aquaculture Stewardship Council or the Global Aquaculture Alliance.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Fish?

The canine community is divided when it comes to this topic. However, considering that raw and undercooked fish could harbor parasites such as flukes, roundworms, and tapeworms, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And as for the American Veterinary Medical Association, they do not recommend the feeding of undercooked or raw wild-caught fish to dogs of any life stage, including pregnant female dogs and puppies.

Can Dogs Eat Fried Fish?

While fried fish is completely cooked and less likely to transmit parasites to your dog, it’s still not a healthy and safe choice for your pup. Once consumed, there’s a chance that your canine companion may experience diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis due to the oils, butter, and seasonings that are usually used while cooking fish.

Can Dogs Eat Canned Fish?

Yes, they can as long as you give them canned fish that is packed in water and not in oil and doesn’t contain salt, as well as other seasonings. Adding about a quarter of a can to your dog’s food can give him a boost of protein and important nutrients.

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Can Dogs Eat Fish Sticks?

Yes, dogs can also eat fish sticks. However, you may want to stay away from these because many of the store-bought varieties offer very low nutritional value. You will also be adding too much oil to your dog’s diet, which can have negative drawbacks to his overall health.

Feeding fish sticks to your dog regularly isn’t healthy and could lead to obesity, as well as other health problems in the future.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Skin?

Fish skin is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can benefit your dog in a lot of ways – from keeping his coat and skin healthy, to boosting his immune system, heart condition, and overall health. However, it is also rich in fat and can harbor dangerous parasites when not cooked properly.

Hence, when serving it to your dog, make sure to cook the fish skin properly and only offer it to your pup as a tasty treat in moderation.

Can Dogs Eat Salmon?

Yes, dogs can eat salmon as long as it is properly cooked either by grilling, steaming, roasting, baking, or poaching. And as long as it doesn’t contain salt and other toxic ingredients.

This being said, you should not give your dog smoked salmon as this contains a huge amount of salt, and it may also contain the bacteria that causes salmon poisoning.

According to Washington State University, salmon, especially those that came from the west coast, contain a parasite called Neoricketssia helminthoeca, which can lead to salmon poisoning when consumed.

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Symptoms of salmon poisoning that you should watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Weakness

If you notice any of these symptoms after feeding your dog salmon, take him to the nearest vet immediately.

Can Dogs Eat Crab Meat?

Dogs can eat crab meat, but there is a higher risk since it is common for dogs to be allergic to crabs. So, if it’s your first time adding this to your dog’s diet, you should only give him a small amount of cooked crab meat. And of course, don’t forget to observe him if he is exhibiting an allergic reaction to the crab meat.

How to Properly Serve Fish to Your Dog?

Fish preparation starts when you are at the store. When choosing one to buy for your dog, we’d recommend that you stick with deboned varieties.

Dogs can eat fish skin, but the tiny and sharp bones can be a choking hazard, and can even cause intestinal obstruction, dental issues, and internal bleeding.

There are several ways to cook fish. Feel free to choose one that you and your dog prefer as long as you avoid adding salt, seasonings, and other potentially toxic ingredients.

Grilling or steaming are both healthier options compared with other cooking methods since you won’t need to use a lot of oil or butter, which can only add unwanted calories and fat.

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What Happens If Your Dog Eats Too Much Fish?

As mentioned earlier, too much fish in your dog’s diet can lead to obesity, especially if he is already getting enough nutrients from his high-quality dog food.

To be safe, it is best to serve cooked fish to your dog as occasional treats, or you can add shreds of sardines or salmon on top of his favorite kibbles to make it more palatable.

Then again, when feeding fish or any human food to your pup, you should always limit the portions and frequency to avoid overfeeding and unhealthy weight gain.

Can You Feed Your Puppies or Pregnant Dogs Fish?

Yes, you can. Pregnant dogs and puppies can benefit from the extra proteins from fish. So, feel free to give them a serving of properly cooked fish on top of their regular puppy or prenatal diet.

Also, the same rules apply in serving fish – clean it well, remove the bones, and make sure that it is well-cooked without salt and seasonings. You can offer fish either as a treat or as an addition to their balanced home-cooked meals.

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