Can Dogs Eat Fish? How to Keep Your Pup Healthy

If you try to give your dog a healthy diet, you might be wondering if your four-legged pal can eat fish. The answer is: yes! Fish can be an extremely healthy addition to a dog’s diet. 

But there are a few things you should know, including which fish are best and what to avoid.

Dog tries to scrounge a fish from the table

We’ll help you sort it all out in this guide.

How Safe is Fish for Your Dog?

So long as the fish is not contaminated and is cooked appropriately, most fish is healthy and safe for your dog to eat.

However, you don’t want to feed certain parts or feed your dog fish that has been seasoned, smoked, or salted.

It also depends on the type of fish that you are feeding. Generally, fresh fish is a great source of nutrients and helps build a healthy immune system.

What are the health benefits of fish in a dog’s diet?

Fish is healthy because it contains a range of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. All fish are a great source of protein and amino acids. Some, like salmon, are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. 

Fish skin contains collagen, and the flesh is a good source of vitamins D, B2 (riboflavin), B12, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, healthy enzymes, and potassium. 

Fish is one of the best sources of essential fatty acids, which is perfect for your dog’s health. That’s why so many commercial dog foods are including fish and why nutritionists recommend it.

What Parts of Fish Can Your Dog Eat?

Alaskan Malamute licking the fish
A hungry Alaskan Malamute dog licking the fish – Image source

Cooked fish skin is a treat for your dog, and some pups absolutely go crazy for fish skin. 

Fishbones, fins, and tails are a big no-no, however. The bones and spikes can impale your dog’s digestive system or can become a choking hazard.

Dogs can eat fish heads, but with a few exceptions. They must be cooked, and only some fish are acceptable, such as salmon. Also, avoid fish heads if your dog hasn’t regularly been eating fish.

Fish Part

Safe for your dog?

Can dogs eat fish skin? Yes, so long as it isn’t fried
Can dogs eat fish bones? No, these are dangerous
Can dogs eat fish fins? No, the spikes are dangerous
Can dogs eat fish tails? No, tails contain bones and spikes
Can dogs eat fish heads? Yes, some fish are fine

How should you feed Fish to a dog?

Dogs cannot eat raw fish. Not only can it make them sick, but if they carry certain parasites or bacteria, it can kill them. 

On the other hand, cooked fish is fine as long as it has been deboned and cleaned properly. However, fried, battered, or breaded fish is too fatty and should be avoided.

The same thing goes for frozen fish sticks. These aren’t very nutritious and aren’t healthy for your pup.

Canned fish is fine so long as it isn’t packed with added salt or sugar. The best way to prep fish is to bake it, grill it, or broil it. If you need to add oil, make sure you only add a small amount. 

What Types of Fish Can Dogs Eat?

A Poodle eating kibinago snacks
A little Poodle dog trying to eat kibinago snacks – Image source

Not only are sardines tasty and safe for your furry friend, they are high in omega fatty acids, selenium, and copper but low in heavy metals. 

A small amount of tilapia is acceptable, but make sure you are purchasing from a reputable source.

Many dogs love catfish, but again, be aware that some catfish come from dirty water. Buy from a reliable source.

Cooked or canned tuna is an excellent option for your pooch. Don’t choose canned fish that contains added salt, however. Learn more in our article “Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Salmon, especially wild-caught, is one of the best fish for dogs. It is lower in contaminants and high in omega 3 fatty acids, b12, and selenium. 

Avoid smoked salmon or salted salmon, however. Remember that fish should always be cooked.

Raw salmon can cause salmon poisoning, which is caused by a fluke called Nanolhyetus salmincola, and it can be deadly.

For more information, check out our guide on “Can Dogs Eat Salmon?

Anchovies, sardines, mussels, and herring are all sustainable and nutritious and are a good part of a balanced diet.

How much fish can your dog have?

A little fish goes a long way. Too much, and you’ll make your dog sick or cause them to become obese since fish and fish oil can contain a high concentration of calories.

Check with your vet for specific recommendations for your particular dog and the type of fish you’re feeding.

In general, fish shouldn’t make up more than ten percent of your dog’s diet, according to the AKC. Too much fish can cause health problems and negate the health benefits of fish. Too much can cause illness or pancreatitis.

Can Fish be Harmful to Dogs?

French Bulldog excited for the grilled mackerel with veggies
A French Bulldog waiting for the delicious grilled mackerel mixed with veggies – Image source

Although fish can be very healthy, there are some instances when you’ll need to use caution. For instance, just as humans can ingest toxic metals from eating fish, so can dogs. 

Some fish have high mercury levels. This can cause serious problems in high enough doses. Mercury poison can cause central nervous issues, which appear as weakness or disorientation. 

Other fish are contaminated with industrial waste or other chemicals. Some fish carry parasites or bacteria such as salmonella or listeria. Not only can that make your dog sick, but it can make you sick, as well.

Types of Fish that aren’t safe for dogs to eat?

Generally, the higher the fish is on the food chain, the more mercury it will have in its flesh. Think shark, tuna, mackerel, and swordfish. High levels of mercury can be incredibly damaging.

Other fish can be infested with industrial waste. Eel, bass, cod, and flounder are particularly susceptible. 

Finally, raw fish can contain parasites that can make your dog extremely ill. Always cook your fish.

Allergic Reaction to Fish

It’s rare for dogs to have an allergic reaction to fish; however, it’s not impossible.

If you notice your dog is constantly scratching their skin or paws, they keep getting diarrhea or vomiting after eating; they might have food allergies.

Try removing fish from their diet to determine if fish is the culprit in their allergies. If it is, your pup should recover from their allergies once you take it our of their diet.

How Can You Add Fish to Your Dog’s Diet?

Fish can be given as a stand-alone treat, or you can add it to their food. Some dog foods contain fish, usually whitefish or salmon. Make sure the fish is boneless and cooked whenever feeding fish.

How to prepare fish for your dog

Feel free to buy a little extra fish next time you’re at the market to give to your dog. Just remember to cook it (and don’t batter, season, bread, or fry it). 

If you want to make a yummy little fish treat, try this tasty salmon recipe:

What are things you should keep in mind when serving fish to your dog?

Remember that fish should always be cooked and carefully sourced. Start with just a little fish, and then expand from there to see how your dog reacts.

Keep in mind that some fish are contaminated with toxic metals, chemical waste, or human waste. You also need to keep in mind how nutritious a fish is. 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium keeps an up-to-date list of sustainable fish to eat and which to avoid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Chow Chow dog having fried sea bass meal
Meet Miso, a Chow Chow dog with his favourite fried sea bass snacks – Image source

Do dogs like fish?

Dogs are natural carnivores, and fish is meat. Most dogs love the taste and smell of fish, while some aren’t that interested.

Try giving them a little piece to see how they feel before giving them a big bunch of fillets.

What are dog foods that contain fish?

Many commercial dog foods now carry foods with fish in them. Iams, Eukanuba, Taste of the Wild, Hill’s, Wellness, Purina, and many more have fish-based recipes featuring all kinds of fish species.

Kibble or freeze-dried food is a great way to avoid the harmful bacteria of raw fish, but beware that they can still contain metals or other contamination, which can cause toxicity.

Should you give fishy treats to your dog?

Many dogs love fishy treats. Fish ice cream, fish snacks, dried fish, they can all be great. Just check the ingredient list and make sure everything in the treats is good for dogs.

Can puppies or pregnant dogs eat fish?

Both puppies and pregnant dogs can eat fish as they will benefit from the extra protein found in fish.

But make sure it has been deboned and cooked correctly before feeding it to them. Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury.

Can dogs eat other kinds of seafood?

You can add or sprinkle seaweed to your dog’s food as seaweed is nutritious for both humans and dogs. However, dogs shouldn’t eat raw shellfish, but they can eat cooked crustaceans and mollusks. 

Giving sushi to your pup is also not recommended since sushi contains raw fish, which can be dangerous to your dog.

Fish is a Fantastic Source of Nutrition for Dogs

Shetland Sheepdog looking at the fish treats
A Shetland Sheepdog patiently waiting for the fish treats – Image source

Go ahead, give Fido some fishy goodness. Fish is healthy, so long as it has been prepared properly and you know where the fish is sourced. Also, make sure to feed your dog the right amount only. 

Overfeeding your dog any kind of food is terrible and can lead to some serious health problems.

Have you tried giving your dog some fish? Let us know if they loved it by leaving a comment below!

Further reading: What other seafood can dogs eat?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.