What Types of Fish Can Dogs Safely Eat?

Can dogs eat fish? Cooked or uncooked? And which fish are the
safest for them to eat?

By Hungry Bark | September 17, 2021

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Fish?

Fish is a healthy meat for us to eat, so why not feed it to our pups? But wait... are there certain kinds of fish that are safe vs. unsafe? And should you cook it, or feed your dog raw fish?

You may have noticed that fish is in many dog food recipes. Fish can be a very healthy part of your dog's diet. But remember—not every type of fish cooked any old way is a healthy option for your pup. There are some important things to know before feeding your dog a piece of your fish dinner.

Benefits of Fish for Dogs

First of all, the benefits of fish in a dog's diet are huge! Just like for us, fish is a very lean, healthy protein with important vitamins. The American Kennel Club says that fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help with things like inflammation. This is especially beneficial for dogs who struggle with hip and joint pain.

Fish is a much leaner option than beef or pork, and is a good alternative for dogs who might be allergic to chicken.

 

Even though fish is extremely healthy, always consult your veterinarian before feeding your dog homemade meals. Your vet can help you determine the healthiest amount of fish to feed your pup. And they’ll let you know what else is important to include in their diet.


And of course, as with any new food introductions—make sure to feed your dog some fish in small portions at first to make sure they don’t have any adverse reactions to it. Most dogs should be totally fine with eating fish. But because every dog’s health is different, you never know if your dog might be allergic.

Can Puppies or Pregnant Dogs Eat Fish?

Yes, fresh fish is healthy and can be a great addition to a pregnant dog’s or puppy’s diet. Just make sure the puppies are already weaned off their mamas first. And of course, make sure the fish is properly cleaned, skinless, deboned, and is cooked all the way through.

You can also give your puppy or pregnant pup some light canned tuna—in water, not oil. And whichever of the safe fishes you choose, always give your dog small portions in moderation.

What Types of Fish Can Dogs Safely Eat?

Although fish as a protein is very healthy for dogs, there are some specific fish that are safe for dogs to eat, and others you should avoid feeding to them. Here’s a list of fish that are good for dogs.

Safe Fish for Dogs:

  • Whitefish
  • Flounder
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Whiting
  • Light tuna fish (canned in water)
  • Sardines
  • Tilapia


PetMD.com tells us that “these fish are generally less likely to have high tissue mercury levels or significant parasite burdens.” So it’s best to choose from this list when picking out your dog’s next fishy meal.

What Fish is Bad for Dogs?

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends avoiding the consumption of the following types of fish.

Types of Fish That Aren’t Safe for Dogs:

  • Shark
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Albacore tuna (canned)

 

These fish typically contain higher levels of mercury in their tissue, and usually contain more bacteria and parasites in their skin, muscle tissues, and internal organs, says PetMD.com. If you’re still not comfortable with feeding fish to your dog, consult your dog’s veterinarian for additional advice.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones or Fish Skin?

It’s important to make sure that you always debone a fish before feeding it to your dog. These bones can be a choking hazard, and should not be given to a dog to chew on. The only fish that seems to be ok for a dog to eat with the bones in and skin still on is a sardine—due to their small size.

Typically, you’ll want to remove the skin in addition to the bones. Any raw skin shouldn’t be eaten by your dog because it’s likely to contain bacteria and parasites that your dog would ingest.

 

Any skin that is prepared as dried jerky can be offered as a snack to your dog—as long as the scales have all been removed. And make sure to avoid salt, seasonings, butter, and oils.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Fish?

Raw fish in general has a great likelihood of carrying parasites and bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and Clostridium. That’s why the American Veterinary Medical Association urges people to not feed their cats and dogs any raw fish. It’s always better safe than sorry.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Fish?

Yes, cooked fish is the safer, healthier way to feed a dog fish. But keep in mind that dogs should not be consuming any salts, seasonings, oils, butters, etc. This will cause them to have stomach upset, leading to diarrhea and vomiting.

 

And while you’re feeding your pup plain, deboned, skinless, cooked fish, remember… everything in moderation! Just give them a small portion from time to time. No bigger than a small handful. And even less if they are a small breed dog.


If you’re not sure what a safe amount looks like, consult your veterinarian. But a good rule of thumb is that any treat for your dog shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily diet.

Can Dogs Eat Fried Fish?

Sorry, but fried fish is a “no.” If your pup snags a small piece of your fried fish, they should be fine. They will probably just have an upset stomach.

But please do not intentionally feed your dog fried fish. Not only is this unhealthy, but according to PetMD.com, fried fish will cause your dog to have “gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and [possibly] pancreatitis.”

And of course, feeding your sweet pup unhealthy foods over a long period of time will also cause issues like obesity—which leads to diabetes, hip and joint problems, heart health problems, and more! So let’s keep their diet clean and healthy.

How to Cook Fish for Dogs

Ok, let’s recap! The fish should always be:

  • Properly cleaned
  • Deboned
  • Skinless
  • Cooked thoroughly
  • Plain—no seasonings, butters, or oils
  • Given in small portions, sparingly

 

And how can you cook it? You could grill it or steam it, as long as it meets the above requirements. And remember—if it’s a treat added to their diet, no more than 10% of their daily food intake.


If you’re looking for a way to ensure that your dog gets all of the nutrients they need in their daily diet, you can also check out Hungry Bark.

All Hungry Bark premium dry food recipes contain clean proteins that are healthy for your pup. Plus superfood ingredients like blueberries, pumpkin, spinach, ginger, and turmeric. With Hungry Bark, your pup can get recipes designed to be both nutrient-dense, and delicious food that your dog will crave.

It takes the guesswork out of creating a well-balanced diet for your pup. And you’ll know that all of the ingredients are human-grade, and slow-cooked to preserve nutrients.

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For more articles with helpful pet parenting advice, check out The Daily Bark blog on HungryBark.com.



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