Ask The Vet: Can Dogs Eat Salmon?Written by Vet
You might have realized so far that there is a lot of dog food based on salmon. But does that necessarily mean you can feed your dog with real, cooked salmon? What about raw salmon? Read on and discover if this fish should be a part of your pup's diet or not.
Salmon is very beneficial for humans. It contains essential omega-3 acids that promote bone and brain health. You surely were at least once enjoying that perfect salmon fillet, while your dog was begging for a piece of it (will he ever stop begging for food?). You might have wondered in that moment: Can I feed my dog with some salmon?.
You might have realized so far that there is a lot of dog food based on salmon. But does that necessarily mean you can feed your dog with real, cooked salmon? What about raw salmon? Read on and discover if this fish should be a part of your pup’s diet or not.
Can My Dog Eat Salmon?
Yes! You can feed your dog salmon as well as much other fish, but it is very important that you give them well-cooked, boneless salmon. That’s the real short answer, but first let’s find out why, so read along.
Salmon is a fatty fish which is also a good source of omega- 3 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids support the immune system, may decrease inflammation and can be beneficial for your dog’s skin and coat health. It’s also a great source of protein, which is given to dogs allergic to more common sources of protein, like chicken.
Salmon is rich in vitamin A, B (whole series of B vitamins) and vitamin D, it’s also rich in minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Yes. Your dog can safely be fed with salmon under certain conditions.
Is Salmon Healthy For Dogs?
Salmon is very high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) both of which are long-chain omega- 3 fatty acids which have more potent health benefits than alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) a short-chain omega- 3 fatty acid found in foods like flaxseed.
Some of the proven benefits of EPA and DHA include:
- Improvement of the coat and skin, making it soft and shiny.
- Regulates the immune system.
- Reducing inflammation that can lead to conditions such as arthritis.
- Helps to prevent skin allergies, calming overactive immune systems for dogs with allergies or autoimmune diseases.
- Helps with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
- Helps in producing more collagen.
- Helps brain development in fetuses and in puppies, that’s why its common to see it included in puppy and pregnant dogs’ preparations
- Fights heart disease and can help lower blood pressure and triglycerides.
- Is preventative against cancer and slows cancer cell growth.
- Helps promote weight loss in overweight dogs.
- Provides support for dogs with kidney disease and useful in the treatment of kidney problems (frequent urination, loss of appetite)
- Improves cognitive function in older dogs.
- The appearance of joint problems is lessened.
- Helps cachexic (the muscle wasting associated with some cancers).
Salmon is very rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy omega fatty acids. Its numerous nutritional values make it highly beneficial for dogs too.
Which Salmon is the Best?
Chinook (farmed and wild), coho, and sockeye salmon all contain significantly more omega- 3 fatty acids than omega- 6 fatty acids — a key nutrient ratio linked to reducing oxidative stress on your body. That’s the type that causes inflammation and ultimately can lead to chronic disease. Out of the three, chinook has the greatest content of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids, then sockeye, then coho.
Is Organic Salmon a Better Option?
Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not certify seafood as being “organic”. Any fish (including salmon) currently sold as “organic” is imported and labeled to international farming and feeding standards.
Between farm grown (a.k.a. aquacultured) and wild-caught fish and shellfish, both provide lots of proteins and omega-3 essential fatty acids, key vitamins, and minerals. However, they may differ in the number of fatty acids. Farm grown Chinook has shown to have more fatty acids that the wild Alaska chinook.
Canned vs Fresh Salmon
Some people prefer the canned salmon because its already prepared and you can save some valuable time that would have been wasted on cooking and preparation.
Canned salmon and other fish still have the same nutritional value and benefits of fresh fish but it’s generally more cost-effective if you are on a budget.
If you were to feed your dog canned salmon, look for ones that come in water instead of oil. If you can’t find the ones that come in water, it’s best you give them something else and avoid a problem.
It is important to remember that canned foods usually contain more additives that aim to preserve and prolong the shelf life of the canned food, additives that can cause harm with time.
When it comes to choosing the best salmon for your dog, farm grown Chinook has shown to be the healthiest one and the richest one in omega-3 fatty acids. If you buy canned salmon, look for ones in water instead of oil.
How Much Salmon Should I Serve To My Dog?
Giving a lot of salmon or salmon oil can have its negative effects. If given in large amounts your dog can gain weight which can be managed with regular exercise and a healthy diet, have bad breath (especially with salmon oil), stomach aches and pain, dizziness, nausea and could even get diarrhea.
Always give an appropriate portion size, and limit his intake to once a week. Remember salmon has a lot of fat too and there is no real reason for you to do so.
Even though salmon can be very beneficial for your dog when properly cooked and served in moderate amounts from time to time, they mainly get all their nutritional needs from a diet focused around high-quality dog food, not human food.
An adequate portion of salmon should not exceed more than 100g per 10pounds of body weight. Limit your dog’s salmon intake to one portion per week.
Can My Dog Get Salmon Poisoning Disease?
Never give your dog raw or undercooked salmon. It can contain the Neorickettsia helminthoeca parasite, which causes Salmon Poisoning disease, a very fatal disease in dogs.
The N. helminthoeca lives inside a parasitic worm, or trematode, more commonly called “flukes”. Flukes are thick, fleshy, flat, leaf-like creatures that take in their nourishment through one or more suckers that they attach to the inside of their host animals. Nanophyteus salmincola flukes are the carriers, or vectors, of the bacterial parasites that cause salmon poisoning disease in our domestic dogs.
Identifying the signs of Salmon Poisoning Disease in dogs is the first step to knowing if your dog requires medical attention. Diseases and symptoms can vary, so it’s always best to consult your veterinarian if you notice any of the following signs:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Decrease in appetite
- Weakness and lethargy
- Weight loss
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Discharge from nose and eyes
Salmon poisoning if not treated quickly and aggressively can be deadly to affected dogs. The sooner you get the proper treatment, the higher their chances of recovery are. Fortunately, this disease does not affect people, it only affects dogs.
There are many other bacteria found in salmon and other fish that could affect your dog. You can also find many parasites like protozoa, flukes, tapeworms, and nematodes that affect fish and can infest your dog, cat, and even humans.
In addition, raw salmon contains lots of small bones, which are brittle and can choke your dog or lodge in his stomach or intestines, causing lacerations and ulcers which can be deadly if untreated and in a lot of cases will need surgery to take out these bone pieces.
Make sure you don’t feed your dog with undercooked or raw salmon, as it could possibly lead to Salmon Poisoning Disease that can be deadly to dogs.
How do I Avoid Salmon Poisoning?
Always give your dog well-cooked, boneless salmon. This will kill off the harmful parasites and bacteria that may be present. You can poach, grill, steam or bake the salmon with almost no oil added.
It’s not recommended to add salt, pepper, onions or garlic which can affect also your dog’s health. These ingredients are not poisonous but can cause an upset stomach, vomiting and even gastritis to your dog depending on the amounts.
Another important thing to know is that these parasites and bacteria can be killed by freezing the salmon for at least 24 hours, only then they can be eaten “raw”. When you eat sushi, restaurants use frozen fish which is then defrosted thus eliminating the harmful bacteria and parasites.
Can I give my Dog the Salmon Skin?
It is not recommended you give your dog the salmon skin either, it does contain a lot of vitamin D and fatty acids but it also contains a lot of fats too which can get your dog very fat and cause even diseases like Pancreatitis, a disease that starts with signs similar to Salmon Poisoning and can eventually lead to diabetes.
A bit of skin is fine if well cooked. If the fish is grilled you can keep the skin on, which will help your filet stay intact while you cook. You can always remove it later if you prefer.
Salmon Oil Supplements
There are many Salmon or Fish Oils in the market that are for dogs. These include the omega-3 essential fatty acids your dog needs and can be added to your dog’s food or given directly in the mouth.
In my own opinion, I recommend my patients a balanced dog food rich in omega-3 because these oils that come sometimes in pumps or in capsules have too much fat content and I have seen dogs getting fat after just a few months taking them. Also, as with other medications and vitamins, people tend to forget and its easier and less expensive to just buy a good quality dog food than having to buy supplements.
However, this changes when your dog has a disease and needs an increased amount of omega-3 fatty acids (like heart disease, or skin allergies), here you need to supplement.
Anyways, always read the labels and ask your veterinarian for the correct amounts that you should give your dog.
Even if you don’t feed them the salmon or the skin, they can still find the remains in the trash can. So, always be careful handling salmon and other fish, keep them away from your dog and dispose of them correctly and properly (wrap whatever raw salmon you want to dispose of tightly to make it difficult for them to unwrap if they find them) and out of your dog’s reach.
Always remember to wash your hands after handling raw fish as with any other raw meats. Remember you can contaminate other foods this way and affect your own health.
This article has been written by Dr Dr. Miguel A. Mendoza, DVM.
Miguel graduated from the Pedro Henriquez Ureña National University in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2008. Where he imparted Ethnology, Veterinary Parasitology, Laboratory Techniques and Pharmacology. Has a Masters degree in Animal Behavior and a big interest in Veterinary Parasitology and Laboratory.