Many dog parents feed dog foods that contain fish or fish meal, and use fish as an ingredient in dog treats. But is fish safe for dogs? How about mercury contamination? What kind of fish can be safely fed to dogs? Read on and find out.
Fish, especially fatty fish such as sardines, tuna and salmon, are nutritious and contain essential fatty acids that we all (dogs included) need. More and more dog foods and treats use fish (meat and/or meal) as the main protein source.
However, many of us are wary of the high mercury levels in some fish, and wonder if in fact it is safe to feed fish to our dogs.
This page looks at the following topics:
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are also good sources of vitamins B and D, as well as trace minerals.
Fish, together with fish oil, can improve a dog's hair coat and skin conditions. Fish rich in Omega-3 FAs may also be able to strengthen a dog's overall immunity and health due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Fish is a source of animal protein for dogs, which is more readily digestible than plant proteins.
Before we go and grab that bag of dog food that contains salmon meal or add tuna to our dog treats, we need to understand the following risks:
Does that mean that fish for dogs is no good and we should not feed our dogs any foods that contain fish and/or fish meal?
There are several ways that we can still reap the health benefits of fish while at the same time minimize the risks of exposing toxins and chemicals to our dogs:
How about tuna? Should we give up on this fish totally?
We can still give tuna to our dogs once in a while if we choose the less contaminated one. According to the guidance from EPA, a safer choice of tuna is the "canned light" tuna — Children under six can eat up to three 3-ounce portions per month. Older children and adults can safely eat it once a week. For dogs, I would imagine once a month should not pose that big a risk.
Bottom line? Fish can be fed to dogs occasionally as a source of protein and Omega-3s, but do not rely only on fish for these sources. Rotate the protein sources often and, if you choose not to feed fish to your dog at all, consider giving your dog a supplement of Omega-3 fatty acids.