As a conscientious dog owner, you want to feed your dog the very best. You’ve spent an inordinate amount of time studying the latest information regarding canine nutrition and made numerous trips to the pet store to read the labels of every high quality bag of kibble you can find. You’ve considered the benefits of raw and cooked diets. Truly, you have left no stone unturned.
In the end, you were able to settle on a diet that suited your dog perfectly. He enjoys eating it and is thriving. Still every dog likes to have a little something different now and again. After all, who wouldn’t get bored eating the same meal day and in day out for years? Since protein ranks high on your list of favorite foods, you’ve been thinking about adding a little bit to your dog’s diet. Maybe fish is a good place to start?
This leads you to the important question: is fish a safe protein to feed your dog?
Popular Fish Options for Dogs
When it comes to stinky foods, our dogs seem to like them best of all. However, since dogs are equally as fond of eating moldy tarts out of a dumpster as they are the best quality kibble money can buy, discerning nutritious and healthy foods for our dogs is a task that falls to us.
Can Dogs Tuna?
Both raw and cooked tuna are perfectly acceptable foods to feed your dog. However, as with all human foods introduced to the canine palate, some precautions must be observed.
If raw tuna is the route you want to go, it is important to make certain that it is as fresh as possible. Raw foods carry bacteria that can be harmful for both pet and human consumption. While many of these bacterial strains are killed during the cooking process, they remain alive in refrigerated meat. For the utmost in safety precautions, ensure that the tuna you feed comes from a high quality, reputable food source and is as fresh as possible. If you wouldn’t eat it raw yourself, Fido shouldn’t either.
It is also important to ensure that the raw tuna you choose to feed your dog is free from bones. Even in commercially prepared raw tuna, some bones can easily be overlooked. Tuna bones can lead to choking hazards, obstructions, or even rupturing of the intestines.
Canned tuna poses little risk for our dogs to eat. The best choice is tuna that is packed in water. Oil-packed tuna merely increases the calorie count of the fish, a problem that can lead to weight gain and even potentially pancreatitis, a condition that ranges in severity from mild to life-threatening.
It is also wise to avoid tunas that contain additional flavorings or spices. Onion and garlic are toxic to dogs, and though tolerated in small doses, are best not fed to your dog at all. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Since tuna is a fish that is high in mercury, it is best fed to your dog on an occasional basis only. Tuna is also high in sodium, another substance which can cause health problems in our dogs.
Tuna does offer many canine health benefits when fed infrequently as a treat. It is rich in many beneficial vitamins and minerals and is also an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
How about Salmon?
When it comes to adding fish to your dog’s diet, salmon is worth serious consideration. Like its more common counterpart, tuna; salmon earns high marks for its plenitude of Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to reduce inflammation which in return decreases pain from joint issues such as arthritis.
Salmon’s natural oiliness also provides support for coat and nail growth. Adding salmon to your pet’s meals will keep his coat looking glossy and feeling soft.
It is interesting to note that salmon is often included in many high quality commercial kibbles. Champion Foods includes salmon in its fish-based foods produced under the brand names Orijen and Acana. It is an excellent source of protein which is easily digestible and packs a powerhouse nutrient punch.
Unlike tuna, salmon should never be fed raw or undercooked to your dog. Raw salmon contains a plethora of bones which can be hazardous for your dog’s intestines and esophagus. But more than this, raw salmon also carries the potential to be ridden with parasites. However, cooked boneless salmon fillets or even canned salmon are an excellent choice as an additive to your dog’s diet. For best results, poach or bake all fillets.
While salmon is a perfectly acceptable food for your dog, it is best to limit it to an infrequent treat with once a week the absolute maximum. This allows your dog to reap the benefits of this powerful food while minimizing any potential gastrointestinal discomfort or unpleasant side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea.
While it is generally accepted that most fish are approved protein sources for canine consumption, there are some that are far better for our dogs than others. Veterinarians give top billing to the following fish options:
- Saltwater whitefish
- Freshwater whitefish
- Arctic char
Fish that is higher in mercury content such as swordfish and tuna are best served in very limited doses only.
Important precautions when feeding fish
As with any human food fed to dogs, there are precautions you should heed. Fish bones, whether present in raw, cooked, or canned fishes, are always hazardous to your dog’s health. Care must be taken to remove them prior to adding the fish to your dog’s regular meals. Failure to do so could result in a costly and painful visit to the emergency room of your nearest veterinary clinic.
If you choose to feed raw fish to your dog, the utmost in hygienic standards must be observed. Raw fish is a ripe breeding ground for bacteria and parasites. For this reason, most owners opt to cook any fish they plan to give to their dogs.
Moderation is the key when it comes to feeding fish to your dog. Too much of any food, no matter how nutritious, is bound to upset his tummy.
Lastly, feeding fish in place of a well-rounded diet is a recipe for disaster. Commercially prepared dog foods or veterinary-recommended recipes for home cooked or raw diets are formulated to ensure that all of your dog’s nutritional requirements are met on a daily basis. Balance is key to proper health and nutrition. Fish can be a wonderful addition to an excellent quality diet but should never replace it.
Can Fido eat fish? Absolutely! Cook some up for Fido and the family to enjoy tonight!