How Do I Know If It’s Safe for My Dog to Eat Salmon?

Yes, your dog can eat salmon. And it can be an exceptional addition to their diet. But there are a few things you should know before you break out the fish. 

We’ll explain the pros and cons of giving salmon to your best friend.

A dog sniffs a salmon stuffed with herbs

Is It Safe to Feed Your Dog Salmon?

Before we jump into all the details, let’s just get the important information out of the way. It is safe for your dog to eat salmon, but you don’t want to give them raw salmon or too much salmon in one sitting.

Is Salmon healthy for dogs?

Salmon is an excellent source of nutrients for dogs because it contains healthy oils and nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids and lots of protein.

Feeding salmon to your dog can help keep them healthy and can improve their skin and coat, thanks to all those healthy fats. Who doesn’t want healthy skin?

Beyond that, salmon also contains tons of vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D. It’s packed with Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Astaxanthin.

It also contains Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), which can help brain development in puppies and improve cognitive function and brain health in senior dogs.

That’s a lot of good stuff packed into one little fishy package.

What Parts of Salmon Can Dogs Eat?

Beagle dog about to eat his dog food with salmon
A hungry Beagle dog about to eat his dog food stuffed with salmon – Image source

While salmon is an excellent meat for dogs, they can’t eat all of the parts. The bones in salmon, particularly raw bones, can get stuck in your dog’s throat and cause a choking hazard.

Or, if stuck in your dog’s digestive system, it can puncture their stomach or intestines.

Never, ever feed your dog raw salmon bones

Your dogs can eat the skin and flesh of the salmon without trouble. Just make sure that the meat is thoroughly cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Raw salmon can contain a bacteria called Neorickettsia helminthoeca, and it’s bad stuff. We’ll talk about it more in a bit.

Salmon Part

Safe for your dog?

Can dogs eat Salmon skin?

Yes, as long as it is cooked
Can dogs eat Salmon bones?

No, the bones are dangerous

Can dogs eat Salmon flesh?

Yes, as long as it is cooked

How should you feed your dog Salmon?

So we know dogs can eat cooked salmon, but how do you prepare it? Steam, boiled, baked, grilled – it doesn’t matter how you get the job done.

Just be sure not to use any additions like onions and garlic, which aren’t good for dogs. 

For that reason, you want to avoid giving dogs salmon that has been breaded (or battered), blackened, seasoned, or marinated.

You know those leftovers you have? Don’t give them to Fido unless you can scrape off any seasoning. 

You can also give dogs freeze-dried salmon, which is the process of using a low temperature to dehydrate the fish.

This removes dangerous pathogens without cooking out the nutrients. It’s a healthy way for your dog to eat salmon.

The same goes for dehydrated salmon. This is just fish flesh that has been cooked at a very low temperature to remove the moisture, leaving the healthy bits behind. This is another healthy option for your pooch pal. 

While many humans love smoked salmon, dogs shouldn’t eat smoked fish. It’s high in sodium, and it can still contain some of those harmful parasites because the smoking process might not remove them all.

So instead, stick to baked, grilled, or boiled fish.

Cooked salmon skin is delicious, and many dogs love it. Feel free to give it to your dog (so long as it is cooked). Do note that salmon skin is very high in fat so give it in extreme moderation.

You can even buy salmon skin treats at many pet stores. 

If you don’t want to go through all the work, canned salmon is a great option. Just pick the stuff that is deboned and packed in water.

How Should You Cook Salmon for Your Dog?

Chihuahua having a delicious salmon meal
A Chihuahua dog having a delicious salmon meal – Image source

The easiest way to cook fresh salmon is to coat it in oil lightly and put it in the oven at 350 degrees. Cook it until it is opaque all the way through and measures 145 degrees. 

Should you use Salmon as a treat for your dog?

Because it can be expensive and some dogs can’t tolerate a high amount of it, salmon can make a good treat instead of a regular meal.

Try cooking up fillets and then chop them up into bite-sized pieces. Keep these in the fridge as a treat or for dog training.

You can also use salmon to top your dog’s kibble.

What are safe Salmon treat recipes you can give to your dog?

There are lots of salmon recipes out there for humans, but can dogs eat these? For instance, what about salmon cakes?

Don’t give these to your dogs unless you are sure it only contains eggs, salmon, and safe additions like mayonnaise or parsley

The same goes for salmon croquettes or other human foods. 

Here’s a good recipe to make salmon cakes for your pup:

  1. Combine one can of salmon (the kind without added salt) with one egg
  2. Add to that a half cup of brown rice
  3. Mix together and cook in olive oil on the stove
  4. Let them cool before serving
  5. Feel free to add chopped veggies to the mix if your dog likes them

Can Salmon be harmful to dogs? 

Schnauzer with the kibble food topped with salmon
Meet Ellie, a Schnauzer dog who loves kibbles topped with salmon – Image source

Just to reiterate: no raw salmon! Remember that bacteria we talked about?

If your dog ingests Neorickettsia helminthoeca, they can have vomiting, fever, diarrhea, dehydration, swollen lymph nodes, and they might even die. In fact, many dogs who get this disease die of it.

Another disease is caused by the flukes Nanophyetus salmincola often called salmon poisoning disease, and while other raw fish can carry it, it’s most common in salmon. It’s particularly common in the Pacific Northwest. 

If your dog contracts this infection from these harmful parasites, they will be lethargic, and they may have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. In addition, they may have weight loss, eye, or nasal discharge.

This video shows you more:

There are also a few concerns with feeding dogs, even cooked salmon.

These days, salmon often have a build-up of heavy metals like mercury, which can cause health problems in some dogs, especially those with compromised immune systems or in older dogs. 

Enough amounts of mercury, even if fed for an extended time, can cause mercury poisoning. In dogs, this looks like muscle weakness, loss of coordination, anxiety, skin issues, tremors, and kidney damage.

There is some concern that fish can contain radiation from disasters like the Fukushima reactor failure, but the NOAA says that detectable levels are too low to worry about.

Salmon can also contain chemicals, contaminants, and pollutants like Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Furans, PBC’s (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), and Dioxins.

If you notice signs of salmon poisoning, called your vet (DVM or VMD) right away.

How much Salmon can a dog eat? 

Too much salmon is bad for your dog. The oils can cause diarrhea or vomiting in excessive amounts. So how much can your pup eat?

A forty-pound dog shouldn’t get more than a pound of salmon per week, split over several days. 

Smaller dogs should have a smaller amount accordingly, and larger dogs can, of course, have more.

Canned salmon is an excellent option because it contains a lot of water, so your dog thinks they are getting lots of salmon without overdoing it. 

Just be sure to pick the boneless kind. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Bichon Frise excited for the grilled salmon
An excited Bichon Frise can’t wait for the grilled salmon treats – Image source

Do dogs like Salmon?

Most dogs love the taste of salmon. They are natural carnivores; therefore, they would find meat and fish like salmon delicious and flavorful. But you don’t need to make salmon a part of your dog’s diet if they don’t like it.

Should you give commercial Salmon dog food to your dog?

Many commercial dog foods contain salmon. This is a good way to help your dog enjoy the health benefits of salmon without feeding them the expensive stuff you buy in the store.

Just be sure to check the ingredient list and make sure they are using real, whole salmon.

Can puppies eat Salmon?

Puppies can safely eat salmon; just be sure to keep the portions small. Be sure to remove any small bones from canned or cooked salmon before giving them to your pup.

What are good alternatives to Salmon?

Of course, if your dog doesn’t like fish, you can give them chicken or beef.

But, if you want to try other seafood for the amazing health benefits, try carp. You can get treats made out of the eyes, skin, and other parts of this invasive fish. 

Fish oil or canned oysters are other options. Green-lipped mussel powder can be used as an additive. Or just sneak in some salmon oil to your dog’s food.

Salmon Can Be a Healthy Part of Your Dog’s Diet

Schnauzer eating yummy grilled salmon
A Schnauzer dog eating a yummy grilled salmon snacks – Image source

As long as you prep it the right way, salmon can be really good for your dog. It’s a good protein source, which is why you’ll often see it in high-quality dog foods and dog treats that you can find at places like Amazon and Chewy. 

Many dog owners want to make this nutritious powerhouse a part of their dog’s daily diet. 

Now you know how to make it happen.

Have you tried giving your dog salmon? Let us know your pup’s reaction by leaving a comment below.

The information in this article is deemed reliable, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate a Salmon and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian.

Further reading: What other seafood can dogs eat?


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