Should Dogs Eat Fish? The Benefits And What To Avoid
Dog owners just want what’s best for their darling doggos and more than ever before, people are trying to find a high-quality diet that best suits their dog, searching for the most natural, healthiest option available. It is our job to help you discover the most beneficial diet for your dog and it’s time to find out whether fish is actually good for dogs and if you should include it in your dog’s diet.
Descended from Wolves, it comes to no surprise that a dog’s diet is primarily focused on meat. Whilst the majority of their protein comes from animal-based proteins such as chicken, beef, turkey and lamb, what about fish?
Naturally high in Omega-3, fish is an excellent source of protein and whilst most meat also offers a high percentage of protein, fish contains high levels of what they call ‘healthy fats’, which is why a lot of dog owners introduce fish into their dog’s diet when they need to control weight.
Besides helping with the creation of enzymes and hormones that keep your dog in tip top shape, fish offers a wide range of benefits which is why they should be included in your dog’s diet and nutrition.
The Benefits of Fish for Dogs
Healthy Heart – Having a low-saturated fat content, fish improves blood circulation and can lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood which helps to maintain a healthy heart. Flounder and haddock are both excellent choices because one fillet of Flounder only contains 114 calories and Haddock is a very low-calorie choice for protein.
Arthritis Relief and Joint Health - The omega-3 oils that are found in fish and the high content presented in Salmon can reduce inflammatory response. The natural sources of Glucosamine and Chondroitin that fish contain can also help reduce cartilage breakdown.
Allergies and Intolerances – Acting as a natural anti-inflammatory, fish helps balance immune function which means they are great for dogs with allergies or intolerances to other proteins. Cod is the great choice for boosting your dog's immune system because Cod contains a rich amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Enhances Vision – Did you know that Cod and Herring are excellent sources of vitamin A? Vitamin A is known to promote good vision in low light, as well as slow down age-related sight loss and help with the treatment of eye diseases.
Easily Digested – The protein in fish is easily digested by dogs which means they absorb more nutrients from less food. Efficient digestion reduces the growth of bad bacteria, so fish is beneficial for older dogs with slower digestion and dogs with digestive upsets or with kidney or liver disease. Fish skin in particular is excellent for upset tummies, it is the healthiest part of the fish and it is digested the easiest by dogs.
Skin and Coat Health – All fish contain high levels of Omega-3 oils but cod in particular is very rich in Omega-3 which helps to reduce dry and itchy skin. Fish also contains the collagen protein which keeps skin firm and flexible - preventing dryness of the skin.
Vitamins and Minerals – Besides these benefits that fish offer, they are also fantastic sources of other nutrients to include, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Iodine and Selenium which are essential to your dog’s diet and nutrition.
The Different Forms of Fish for Dogs
There are lots of different types of fish that are good for dogs and there are many forms that they are prepared so your dog can enjoy a varied diet.
Fish Skin – The best part of the fish! Fish skin for dogs is typically dehydrated into deli-style treats just like what we sell here at Betty & Butch. We sell them in a variety of forms including Cod Skin Jumbo, Cod Fish Fingers, Haddock Fish Cubes, Fish Fingers and Cod Bones.
They contain the richest concentration of Omega-3 which offers a huge range of benefits including, heart, skin, eye and joint health. They are easily digested and the different shapes they come in help to remove plaque build-up and they contain a valuable source of collagen which is very important for joint health and skin and coat health for older dogs.
Training treats – Whilst training treats alone have their own benefits, seafood training treats are a great way to introduce fish into your dog’s diet and are particularly beneficial for dogs who are overweight and dogs with allergies and intolerances. They are small enough to give to your dog multiple times during a training session and they are even shaped into little cute fish! What’s not to like?
Sprats – Sprats are a small fish which makes them perfect to use as a meal topper, a training reward and most of all a snack to use for the seek and search game. Due to their delicious smell, dogs can pick up their scent easily which stimulates integral elements of their natural instincts like scent tracking which provides mental and physical stimulation.
Flounder – Gently air-dried, flounder fish is a natural dental treat that your dog can enjoy. Typically low in calories and high in protein, flounder fish is a great option for dogs who need to lose weight. They are large enough that your dog will be munching away all evening but they also act as edible toothbrushes, cleaning your dog’s teeth and keeping gums healthy.
What Type of Fish is Bad for Dogs?
Fried fish - Although they are unlikely to carry parasites and bacteria because of the high temperatures they are cooked at, the added condiments like heavy oil and seasoning is what can cause stomach problems for your dog as well as vomiting and diarrhoea.
Large Fish - There are a couple of fish that dogs can’t eat which are Tuna, King Mackerel and Swordfish. The reason for this is that these fish typically contain high concentrations of mercury because of the industrial pollution of coal plants often leaking mercury in fresh sea water. The bigger and longer the life span of the fish, the more likely the fish will accumulate high levels of mercury concentration.
Feeding your dog fish that has high mercury levels can lead to mercury poisoning which can permanently damage your dog’s cardiovascular system, nervous system, kidneys, and digestive tract. It is best to make sure your dog stays away from these fish and only enjoys the fish mentioned above.
What About Uncooked Fish?
Just like with any raw food you give your dog, there is always a concern for contamination. Although uncooked fish is rich in nutrients, raw fish can carry harmful pathogens like bacteria and parasites that can make your dog unwell. Typically it is not recommended to give your dog fish so it is always best to seek professional advice from your veterinarian first.
So, Can Dogs Eat Fish?
The answer is yes!
There are many different types of fish that are good for dogs including cod, haddock, flounder, salmon, trout, whitefish, sprats and herring, and a variety of different forms that your dog can enjoy - fish skin, sprats, training treats and flounder.
Fish is an excellent addition to your dog’s diet because they are high in protein which is the building blocks for your dog’s health and development, as well as being low in saturated fat which avoids obesity or heart problems.
Fish is best enjoyed alongside other types of meat or can be rewarded as a treat as part of a complete and balanced diet. Check out our fish products in store or online and our new Monthly Fish Box which will change every month to give your dog a varied and interesting diet.