Salmon, a reddish oily fish, is a popular and healthy food item that’s eaten around the globe. Their rich buttery flavor makes them one of the most consumed fish, especially in America.
But do you know the appreciation of this fish isn’t limited to humans only? Our pups enjoy eating salmon too! Now as a concerned pet parent, you might wonder if it’s the right decision to feed salmon to a dog.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether you should feed salmon to your dog and whether it has the same health benefits for them as it does for humans.
5 Health Benefits of Salmon
The short answer is YES! Dogs can eat salmon as it offers many health benefits. In fact, you’ll find many popular commercial dog foods use salmon as a main ingredient.
But how does this fish improve or support your dog's health? Let’s find the answer to this question by discussing the 5 reasons dog food companies use this ingredient.
1. Rich Source of Protein
Protein is an essential nutrient in your dog’s diet. It’s required for growth, healing, and almost every metabolic process.
Salmon contains approximately 20 grams of protein per 100 grams. This is very close to other protein sources like chicken which contains approximately 27 grams per 100 grams and beef which contains approximately 26 grams per 100 grams.
This is why real salmon, chicken, or some other kind of meat is the first and largest individual ingredient in more premium dog foods. If your veterinarian has recommended a fish-based diet for your pup, you can find some good options.
But it’s important to note that just a home-cooked salmon does not contain all the nutrients a dog needs. That’s why you should never replace their daily well-balanced meal with just salmon.
This however doesn’t apply to commercial dog food that’s made using salmon and is labeled a complete meal because it contains other ingredients that balance its nutritional profile.
2. Provides Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play an important role in your dog’s diet. These can be categorized into 3 sets α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While ALA is found in plant oils, DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.
It is important to note that your dog’s body doesn’t produce these fatty acids. You need to add supplements or food items like salmon that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids in their daily diet.
These fatty acids can have many positive effects on the overall health of your dog, such as:
- Reduces dry flaky skin and keeps the fur and coat shiny
- Prevents and heals skin allergies
- Supports brain development in puppies
- Improves cognitive function
- Improve heart and vascular function
- Support immune system
- Great for vision and eye health
- Relieve joint pain and mild stiffness that improves mobility in older dogs
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory
3. Filled With Vitamins & Other Micronutrients
Salmon has a rich nutritional value. It contains many vitamins and minerals that play an important role in supporting various functions in your dog’s body.
The complete nutritional breakdown of salmon is as follows:
- Vitamin A - Known to support vision health, bone growth, and immune system
- Vitamin B6 - Helps in the production of red blood cells and supports the proper functioning of the nervous system
- Vitamin B12 - Plays an important role in cell growth, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and protein synthesis
- Thiamin or Vitamin B1 - Promotes motor functions and boosts cognitive functions
- Niacin or Vitamin B3 - Aids in digestion and metabolism of fatty acids
- Phosphorus - Supports kidney function and promotes the growth of strong bones and teeth
- Calcium - Required for growth and development of bones and teeth, supports muscle contraction and proper nerve function
4. Good For Digestive Health
The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon play an important role in promoting healthy bowel function. Firstly, they help in lubricating the digestive tract which keeps digestion flowing smoothly. Secondly, the anti-inflammatory properties of salmon strengthen the intestinal lining in your dog’s body and help prevent many gastrointestinal diseases.
5. Can Promote Weight Loss
Salmon has less cholesterol and saturated fat when compared to other popular meat options like chicken. If your dog is trying to lose some weight, it might be a good option to add salmon to their diet.
You can even talk to your veterinarian about switching to a fish-based diet to promote healthy weight loss. But don’t replace their entire meal with just home-cooked salmon as it doesn’t contain all the necessary nutrients required by a dog’s body.
How Often Should You Feed Salmon to a Dog?
Now that you know the benefits of feeding salmon to your dog, the next question that comes to mind is how often should you feed them salmon, and can a dog eat salmon every day?
Ideally, the answer will vary depending on your dog’s health, age, breed, and nutritional requirements. But you can feed a complete and balanced commercial pet food with salmon every day.
If you’re cooking salmon at home, you can serve it as a treat or mix it in with their daily well-balanced meal.
If you’re skeptical about your dog's dietary requirements and restrictions, you can consult with your veterinarian before adding salmon to their diet.
How to Feed Salmon to a Dog
There are various ways to feed salmon to your dog. Below we have outlined some of the popular ways of preparing salmon and which ones are safe for your dogs.
1. Raw Salmon
Many vets recommend avoiding raw or undercooked salmon to your dog. It might contain a parasite calledneorickettsia helminthoeca which is known to cause salmon poisoning disease. This disease can be deadly for your dog.
The dangerous part is that your dog might not even show signs of salmon poisoning until 5-6 days after eating a raw infected fish. After which it often gets too late to actually treat them.
If in case your dog has eaten or even licked raw salmon, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
2. Grilled & Roasted Salmon
Cooked salmon is a healthy option for your dog. You can pan fry, grill, roast, steam, poach, and even bake salmon before feeding.
Just remember to not add any additional ingredients or seasonings like butter, onion, garlic, salt, or pepper as these can be harmful to a dog’s health. You can however use small amounts of dog-friendly oils like sunflower oil to avoid the fish sticking to the pan while cooking.
Also, while cooking, make sure the internal temperature of salmon reaches at least 145°F to kill all the bacteria and parasites. Once cooked perfectly, allow the salmon to completely cool down before serving it to your dog.
You can try various ways to add salmon to your dog's diet such as:
- Mix it in with your dog’s usual meals to add more texture and taste
- Serve in small bites as a treat
- Add in some home-cooked vegetables and grains like rice to make a delicious homemade snack
3. Canned Salmon
Canned salmon is a safe and convenient way to feed your dog. You can easily carry it along when going on picnics or small trips with your dog.
But while buying canned salmon, look for dog-friendly brands or salmon that’s soaked in water. Oil-soaked canned salmon contains sodium and fat. If eaten in large amounts, these ingredients can be harmful to your dog.
Also, check the ingredient list before buying. It shouldn’t contain any other harmful additional ingredients.
4. Smoked Salmon
Dogs shouldn’t eat smoked salmon as it contains high levels of sodium. On average, 100 grams of smoked salmon contains 700 milligrams of sodium whereas 100 grams of fresh cooked salmon has only 75 milligrams of sodium.
Too much sodium in your dog’s diet can lead to multiple health problems including vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, excessive dehydration, and seizures. It can also lead to salt poisoning or sodium poisoning.
Different Parts of Salmon - Which Ones Are Safe for a Dog?
Apart from the actual salmon meat, it may also consist of skin and bones. Let’s briefly discuss whether these parts of salmon are safe for your dog or not.
1. Salmon Skin
Your dog can eat cooked salmon skin but it isn’t as healthy as the actual fish. The skin has a higher fat content that can lead to health issues like weight gain if eaten regularly.
You can restrict the consumption of salmon skin for an occasional treat. Also when you serve them salmon skin, cut it into small pieces so it’s easy to chew and digest for a dog.
2. Salmon Bones
Salmon bones are small, hard, and very sharp. They can get lodged in your dog’s mouth or stomach causing them to choke or lead to some serious damage to their digestive tract. Thus it’s important that you carefully remove all the bones from the salmon before cooking and feeding it to your dog. It’s always a good idea to buy a boneless salmon filet for your dog.
3. Salmon Eggs
Dogs can eat salmon eggs or salmon roe but it’s also an unhealthy option. It contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and calcium that can be beneficial for their health. But salmon eggs also contain a high amount of sodium which can cause some major health issues.
Salmon for Puppies
In a nutshell, the same rules of feeding salmon to a dog apply while feeding salmon to a puppy.
It’s a tasty and nutritious food option that can offer many health benefits during their early growth and development stages. But don’t exceed the recommended portion sizes which is 10 grams of salmon for every 500 grams of their weight once a week only.
Also, cook the salmon properly, allow it to cool down, and serve on its own or add it to their daily meal.
There might be a chance that your puppy has a fish allergy, so try to serve them a small piece first and monitor their reaction for the next 24-48 hours. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction like vomiting, diarrhea, or constant scratching or licking, contact a veterinarian.
Commercial Dog Foods Contain Salmon
Salmon is a popular protein added to commercial dog foods. You’ll find various treat options, meal mixers, and complete meals made using salmon.
If you want to feed your dog fish-based food but don’t want to go through the trouble of cooking salmon at home, you can try these dog foods.
Salmon oil is another great option for your dog especially if they’re suffering from skin allergies or itchy and dry skin. This oil is made from the healthy fats or omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon. But since it’s a supplement you should consult a veterinarian about the required dosage.
Precautions While Feeding Salmon to a Dog
Salmon is a safe and healthy fish to feed to your dog. The only two precautions you need to remember are the portion size and the risk of salmon poisoning.
Even though salmon is highly-nutritious , it isn't enough to fulfill your dog’s daily dietary needs. You should always feed this fish as a supplement to a well-balanced meal. You can also consult with your veterinarian to determine the exact portion size according to your dog’s requirements and health issues.
On the other hand, many vets recommend that salmon poisoning can be easily averted by simply keeping your dog away from raw salmon. Always cook the salmon before feeding and ensure that the internal temperature has reached a minimum of 145°F to kill all the bacteria and parasites.
Also, stay on alert about the following signs of salmon poisoning:
- Upset stomach causing vomiting or diarrhea
- Fever that is followed by hypothermia
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
If you notice any of these signs within a week of feeding salmon to your dog, consult your vet immediately.
Salmon is a delicious and nutritious option for your dog. It's a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and is also chock-full of vitamins.
But remember to monitor the portion sizes and serve salmon in moderation. It should never replace your dog’s well-balanced meal.
If you still have any doubts, you can talk to your veterinarian before feeding salmon to your dog.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding salmon to a dog.
1. Can a dog eat raw salmon?
Many vets recommend that dogs should never eat raw salmon. It might containneorickettsia helminthoeca parasite that causes salmon poisoning disease in dogs. It’s a fatal disease that can result in death if left untreated.
2. How to cook salmon for a dog?
There’re various ways to cook delicious salmon for your dog. You can pan-fry, grill, roast, steam, poach, and even bake salmon filet before feeding it to your dog. But don’t use any additional ingredients and seasonings like onion, garlic, salt, and pepper while cooking.
Once cooked and cooled, you can cut it into small chunks and serve as a treat or mix it in with their usual meal.
3. Can a dog eat canned salmon?
Yes, a dog can eat canned salmon that’s soaked in water. You should however avoid oil-soaked salmon for your dog as it contains salt, fat, and oils. If eaten in large amounts, these ingredients can be harmful to your dog.
4. Can a dog eat salmon skin and bones?
Dogs can eat cooked salmon skin occasionally. It does contain many vitamins and minerals but it also contains high amounts of fat that can be harmful to a dog and can cause weight gain if eaten regularly.
On the other hand, dogs should not eat salmon bones as they are small, sharp, and brittle. They can easily get lodged in your dog's mouth or stomach which can lead to choking or damage to their digestive tract.
5. Can I feed salmon to a dog every day?
Yes, you can feed a complete and balanced commercial pet food with salmon every day.
6. Can I feed salmon to a dog suffering from diarrhea?
You can feed unseasoned boiled salmon with some plain rice to your dog when they’re suffering from diarrhea. It isn’t a cure but it can help settle their tummy while providing some essential nutrients.
If your pet has any health issues, you should consult with your veterinarian before feeding them salmon.