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Can Dogs Eat Fish? Everything you need to know

Yes, dogs can eat short-lived, smaller, wild-caught fish. Fish is an excellent source of protein and can aid your dog significantly! However, it would help if you looked for safer fish options and did not feed any fish randomly to your dog. Fish do carry bacteria and mercury, which can be lethal to dogs. 

What is Fish?

Fish are gill-bearing aquatic creatures without limbs. The live hagfish, lampreys, cartilaginous and bony fish, and several extinct related taxa are included in this concept. Around 99 percent of surviving fish are ray-finned fish from the Actinopterygii class, with over 95 percent belonging to the teleost subgroup.

The original meaning of the English term “fish” was substantially broader than its current biological definition. Almost any aquatic species (even whales) is originally a fish, evidenced by names like starfish, jellyfish, clam, and cuttlefish. The attempt to retrospectively adopt the present meaning of fish to terms formed while it had a different connotation, is known as “correcting” such names (e.g., to sea star).

Are Fish Safe for Dogs?

Yes, fish is safe for dogs to eat as it is also a part of their balanced diet. It is considered the ideal protein by many commercial prescriptions. However, there is a list of safe fishes which your dog can consume without any threats. These include:

  • Flounder
  • Salmon
  • Whitefish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Catfish
  • Walleye
  • Tilapia
  • Arctic Char
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Mollusks
  • Mussels
  • Scallops
  • Sardines
  • Whiting

These being the safe fishes for dogs, there are a few other things to bear in mind:

  • Raw fish: Dogs should not eat raw fish as they carry bacteria like salmonella and listeria. These can pose a threat to your dog.
  • Fishbones: Fishbones can choke your dog and injure his mouth, throat, stomach, intestines. It may also perforate the organs resulting in death. 

Why Are Fish Good for Dogs?

Fish is good for dogs as it is packed with vital nutrients. According to Wendy Volhard’s diet plan, you must give fish twice a week to your dog. The benefits that fish provides to a dog are:

Protein: Proteins serve as the foundation for organ tissues and cells. Protein contains amino acids responsible for various functions in the dog’s body, including smooth functioning and digestion. In addition, protein contains amino acids that regulate hormones, develop muscles, repair tissue in ligaments, tendons, and cartilages, and keep skin, nails, and hair healthy.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps your dog’s vision, skin and heals wounds easily. It also aids in bone growth, reproduction, and the overall immune system.

Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is vital for your dog’s optimal health. It supports the nervous system, metabolizes carbohydrates, controls food and appetite stimulation metabolism, and stimulates healthy growth.

Vitamin B2: It is responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats into energy and helps in the production of red blood cells, which transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3 is an immunomodulator and nutritional supplement used with other drugs to treat inflammatory skin disorders in dogs, such as lupus or pemphigoid.

Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is essential. Glucose production, red blood cell, and central nervous function, hormone control, immunological response, niacin synthesis, and gene activation are all aided by this vitamin.

Vitamin B12: Beginning with the neural system, vitamin B12 aids in the formation and improvement of protective tissues that cover the nerves in the brain, giving the dog greater control over all physiological activities. Additionally, your dog’s spinal health benefits from a healthy neural system.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C serves as a powerful antioxidant. It can help prevent inflammation and cognitive aging by scavenging potentially damaging free radicals in the body. Although dogs’ livers can generate vitamin C on their own, supplementation may provide health advantages in some situations. 

Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in the regulation and retention of calcium and phosphorus and in dogs.

Vitamin E: One of your dog’s defenses against oxidative damage is vitamin E. Cell function and fat metabolism are also dependent on this fat-soluble vitamin. Deficiencies can cause vision and muscle deterioration, as well as reproductive issues.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is a fat-soluble substance required to create coagulation proteins necessary for clotting blood. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), which is generated in plants and can be ingested through food or supplements, is the most common dietary source of Vitamin K.

Antioxidants: Chronic inflammation, a hallmark of a wide range of complex health conditions in animals, are neutralized by antioxidants. Antioxidant intake may help with any chronic autoimmune illness.

Omega 3: DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid component, helps puppies develop their brains and eyes properly. DHA may also help dogs with canine cognitive impairment enhance their cognitive function. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven in studies to aid in the treatment of canine arthritis and chronic renal disease.  

Omega 6: Omega 6 aids in reproduction, growth, coat, skin, and immunological responses.

Iron: Iron is required to accomplish critical processes, including carrying oxygen throughout the body in the hemoglobin of red blood cells so that the cells can generate energy. Iron is also required to function various enzymes in the body properly.

Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte essential for your dog’s health. Potassium helps electrical charges in the heart, nerves, and muscles work correctly. If your dog lacks this vital mineral, you may notice that they are constantly fatigued, which is not normal, or that they have no desire to eat.

Calcium: Calcium is an essential dietary component for your dog’s health. It is required for bone and tooth development, nerve impulse transmission, cell communication, muscle contraction, and blood coagulation. Therefore, it’s critical for your dog’s general health that he gets adequate calcium.

Phosphorus: In dogs, phosphorus is necessary for maintaining healthy kidney function. Your puppy’s kidneys must be beneficial to drain toxins from his body through pee efficiently. As a result, he can stay in the most significant physical form possible. In addition, phosphorus aids motor function by assisting muscle contractions. This allows your dog to conduct typical duties such as walking, chewing, and following you on your morning runs. Phosphorus also aids your dog in maintaining a regular heart rate, which is especially important during activity.

Zinc: Zinc is a mineral found in numerous things in the dog’s body, including enzymes, proteins, and hormones. Zinc is also necessary for the immune system and thyroid function. Therefore, zinc insufficiency can cause various issues in dogs, including incapability of infection protection. 

Magnesium: At the cellular level, magnesium is involved in energy generation. Magnesium is required to allow the passage of energy whenever your pet moves a muscle, has a heartbeat, or thinks.

Copper: Copper is necessary for producing bones, tendons and ligaments, collagen, and myelin in dogs. Copper also aids in absorbing iron, making it an essential component of red blood cell activity.

Manganese: Manganese is required to produce energy, metabolize protein and carbs, and form fatty acids in dogs. Manganese is a component of many enzymes and aids in the health and preservation of bone and cartilage in joints.

Selenium: Selenium is a microelement necessary for the proper functioning of the metabolism. It is crucial in a dog’s body for various functions, including antioxidant activity, thyroid metabolism, DNA synthesis, and reproduction.

Why Are Fish Bad for Dogs?

Although fish is good for dogs to eat, it is essential to keep the downsides of fish in mind. Before getting into the downsides of having fishes, let us see which fishes are harmful to your dog:

  • Tilefish
  • Shark
  • Skipjack/Albacore tuna
  • King Mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Marlin
  • Orange Roughy
  • Sea Bass

The downsides of consuming big fish are:

Mercury: Mercury is very harmful to dogs as much as to humans! Canned fish and big fishes have high levels of mercury, which can affect the dog in various ways. Mercury poisoning symptoms are gradual, so they may go unrecognized until mercury levels are high enough to produce severe symptoms. When it comes to mercury poisoning, the central nervous system is generally the first to be damaged. Since the brain stores mercury longer, the toxin piles up in the central nervous system, causing damage. The symptoms of mercury poisoning are:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Emesis (Vomiting blood)
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Loss of feeling in paws
  • Abdominal pain
  • Disorientation
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Chewing
  • Anxiety
  • Blindness
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Unable to urinate
  • Damage of kidneys
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Nervousness
  • Tremors
  • Death

Seasoned fish: Seasoned fish contain excessive salt, oil, other spices, which are harmful to dogs to consume. The symptoms of consuming seasoned fish are:

Salt Poisoning or Hypernatremia (High levels of sodium)

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Pancreatitis
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle tremors
  • Frequent urination
  • Shaking of head
  • High blood pressure

Oil

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pancreatitis
  • Obesity
  • Join issues
  • Cardiovascular issues

Spices

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Preservatives: Preservatives are chemicals used to keep the bacon fresh for a more extended period. The consequences of consuming excessive preservatives are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloat
  • Kidney issues
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

Tapeworm: Tapeworm makes a dog scoot. Scooting is a habit in which dogs drag their bottoms on the ground to relieve discomfort caused by proglottids. Scooting can occur for a variety of causes, including impacted anal sacs.

Roundworms: Adult roundworms dwell in the intestines of the infected dog. Many dogs exhibit no indications of illness; however, dogs with severe roundworm infections, particularly puppies, will show the below signs of infection:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dull hair
  • Pot-bellied appearance

Thiaminase: Thiaminase is an enzyme in fish that breaks down thiamine present in a dog’s body resulting in a lack of thiamine. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Allergies: Dogs can be allergic and intolerant to fish. Symptoms of allergic reactions in your pet include:

  • Sickness
  • Skin rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Ear infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation
  • Stomach ache

How Much Fish to Feed Your Dog?

Provide your dog with adequately cooked fish, once to twice a week. Again, moderation is the key to keeping your dog healthy. It is also essential to consult with the vet before introducing fish to your dog.

How to Serve Fish to My Dog?

Remember to wash the fish, remove the scales and bones. Then cook the fish adequately before feeding it to your dog. Avoid seasonings. You may grill, steam or roast the fish. Finally, top your dog’s kibble with the prepared fish. 

What If My Dog Ate Fish?

If your dog ate fish accidentally, the matter of concern is fishbone, seasoned fish, and raw fish. It is best to visit the vet before expecting the symptoms to show. 

The vet will examine your dog and diagnose the issue to move forward with the treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can older dogs eat fish?

Yes, older dogs can eat fish in moderation as it keeps your pet’s joints, ligaments, skin, cartilage, and tendons healthy. In addition, fish maintain the skeletal and skin health of your dogs.

Can dogs eat Sushi?

Yes, dogs can eat sushi in moderation.

Can dogs eat fish bones?

No, dogs cannot fish bones as they are brittle and can injure the stomach, throat, mouth, and perforate any organ.

Can dogs eat raw fish?

No, dogs cannot raw fish as they carry salmonella and listeria. These are harmful bacteria and cause severe infections and allergies. 

Can dogs eat canned fish?

No, dogs cannot eat canned fish if it has oil. However, canned fish is okay for dogs to eat in moderation if the fish is packed in water. It is also essential to look for the harmful ingredients in canned fish. 

Can dogs eat fish skin?

Yes, dogs can eat fish skin if it possesses omega 3 fatty acids. However, it is also high in fat. Hence, in moderation, fish skin is okay for dogs. 

Can dogs eat fish sticks?

Yes, dogs can eat fish sticks minimally. However, it has no nutritional benefit to offer your dog. 

Can dogs eat fried fish?

No, dogs cannot eat fried fish. It has no nutritional value and leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues.

Can dogs eat carp?

Yes, carp is safe for dogs to eat as it is high in protein. 

Can dogs eat catfish?

Yes, dogs can eat catfish if it is properly cooked!

Final Thoughts

To cut a long tale short, dogs can eat fish, and fish may be a healthy component of your dog’s diet if it is thoroughly cooked without seasonings, does not include any bones, and is not a species prone to high mercury levels like tuna. Contact your veterinarian for further information on dog nutrition or feeding fish to your dog.

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