Can Dogs Eat Fish?

Does your dog act like he or she wants some fish whenever you’re enjoying some yourself?

Even though it sometimes seems like dogs can eat almost anything, you might find yourself wondering whether fish is a good option for your furry friend. Since dogs have different digestive systems from ours, it is reasonable to be curious about feeding fish to dogs.

  • Are fish likely to sicken your dog or upset their digestion?
  • Are fish among the foods that are dog-safe?

These questions are reasonable ones to ask since there are foods that are not safe for dogs.

Fish is a favorite for many people, and many have noted how much cats like fish? Can dogs eat fish, as well?

Is Fish Safe for Your Dog to Eat?

Yes – your dog can definitely eat fish. Fish is one of the best protein and omega-3 sources for dogs, and it makes an effective alternative to poultry, beef, and pork for dogs with allergies. This reason is part of why so many dog food manufacturers include fish as an ingredient.

Checking out the list of ingredients in many dog food products will help you see how important different varieties of protein are for dogs. Because of their overall importance, protein sources are one of the types of ingredients that deserve the most attention. Fish is a good alternative to other meats for dogs who have allergies, as well as an anti-inflammatory that helps prevent many types of diseases.

What is the Best Way to Prepare Fish for a Dog?

Short-lived fish species like Arctic char, flounder, walleye, herring, lake, and ocean whitefish, and salmon are less likely to contain mercury. The fish varieties that are most likely to have mercury contamination are tuna, swordfish, and Mahi-Mahi.

Dog owners should also avoid giving dogs fish that has seasoning or has been prepared in a lot of oil. The oil that people use in a lot of dishes is a lot harder on a dog’s digestion. Even the naturally occurring oil in fish can upset a dog’s digestive system.

It never hurts to check with a vet to find out if adding fish will help meet your dog’s needs, as each breed has different nutritional requirements. Some larger, high-energy breeds do well on diets with a lot of protein, including fish, while some smaller breeds might have more sensitivity to certain types of food.

Your dog should always eat fish that’s been fileted since small fish bones pose a threat to the digestive tract if they become lodged in the throat, stomach or intestines. Swallowing one of these bones can be a painful ordeal for your dog and expensive for you. These bones also have a higher chance of splintering.

Another hazard to avoid is feeding raw fish because raw fish has been linked to listeria and salmonella. Infection with either of these types of bacteria can make your dog ill, including vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms. Cross-contamination with other household members and pets is also possible.

Grilled, steamed or baked fish in small bites is a great dog treat that does not involve sugar or other bothersome ingredients. When properly prepared, fish makes a great addition to commercial dog food as well. Pureeing the fish and adding vegetables like carrots for a little more variety is another way to treat your pooch.

It’s always a good idea to make sure all fish is thoroughly cooked before your dog eats it. As the bacteria present in raw fish can also sicken people, cleaning makes all the difference. Disinfecting all bowls and surfaces after preparation is a good way to avoid contamination. Washing your hands after handling the fish is also a good way to avoid spreading germs and bacteria around your home.

As with any other food, fish needs to be eaten in moderation. When used primarily as a treat, vets recommended keeping the amount under 10 percent. If incorporated into main meals, you will want to follow your vet’s guidance. Too much fish could contribute to canine obesity, which often comes with issues like diabetes and heart disease.

One thing worth remembering is that dogs do not have to eat fish. Balanced dog foods provide most dogs with sufficient nutrition. Fish contains a lot of natural oils that can give some dogs loose stools. Being careful about how much fish your dog has at a time can help prevent upsets, with most dogs adjusting to gradual changes in food much more easily.

Breeds with delicate digestive systems should have gradual introductions to new foods. Starting small helps give your dog a safe introduction to any new food, especially in the case of smaller breeds more prone to pancreatitis. Always watch for signs of digestive trouble before increasing the amount consumed.

If your dog has severe diarrhea, vomiting, or other serious symptoms, check with your vet.

Pros and Cons of Giving Dogs Fish

All foods that dogs eat have pros and cons to consider. The cons involved with fish are usually minimal with the right type of fish, served in appropriate amounts. However, it is always a good idea to be aware of both the pros and cons before making any changes to your dog’s diet.


  • A source of protein that serves as an alternative to other meats that may cause allergic and other reactions. Your dog will get their daily requirement without risking a negative reaction.
  • Rich in omega-3s that help contribute to your dog’s overall health. A higher intake is associated with skin and coat health.
  • Most dogs willingly eat it, especially if they otherwise become bored with eating the same types of food. Adding variety to a dog’s diet is always a smart choice.
  • Easy to mix into a dog’s dry food, or to live alone as a special treat. Either way, your dog will get the essential benefits from the fish.


  • Must be chosen carefully to avoid mercury contamination. Tuna, swordfish, and Mahi-Mahi are among the types most likely to have contamination
  • Natural oils may cause diarrhea or stomach upsets. Gradual introductions to new foods and smaller portions might be necessary.
  • Easy to overfeed because most dogs enjoy the taste. Most dogs are likely to gobble up new, interesting foods.

What Other Foods Can Dogs Eat with Fish?

When inquiring about can dogs eat fish, many owners also look to other human foods like pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, and green beans. Fruits that contain pits, chives, garlic, and onion need to be avoided the most.

Another thing to consider is making sure any fish you cook for your dog has not been pre-seasoned. Many seasonings might contain garlic, onion or possibly blends with lemon juice. Because all of these are poisonous to dogs, it is safest to just give your dog fish without any seasonings.

When feeding certain types of fruit or vegetable products with your dog’s fish, you can save a lot of time by using canned products. Drain these items, when applicable, Canned vegetable products should always have a reduced sodium level.

The 10 percent rule is also a good rule of thumb for these other ingredients. Consider adding each extra ingredient to your dog’s diet one at a time. An advantage of this method is that when digestive upsets or reactions occur, it is easier to find out which food is responsible.

What About Possible Mercury Contamination in Some Fish?

Selecting fish without considering what type you’re buying carefully can result in mercury contamination. Always make sure you know what kind of fish you are feeding your dog, and where it is sourced. Tuna and swordfish are two varieties most likely to have been exposed to mercury.

What Else Can Fish Cause in Dogs?

Even though most people are aware of the GI upsets too much fish oil can cause, there is another risk to dogs in the form of pancreatitis. Although pancreatitis is relatively rare, its effects are serious and possibly life-threatening. Some smaller breeds have a higher likelihood of getting this condition.

Pancreatitis Symptoms in Dogs

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Important Takeaways

  • Fish is a great alternative to other animal proteins for dogs with food allergies
  • Fish is also rich in omega-3, one of the most essential nutrients for healthy dogs
  • As with many other foods, there is no proscribed serving size. Just make sure the fish and other ingredients do need exceed 10 percent of the food fed.
  • Always make sure the fish is thoroughly deboned before serving. The small size of fish bones increases the likelihood of the bones getting caught in the digestive tract.
  • Serving raw fish is not a good idea, because your dog could contract listeria or salmonella.
  • Whenever you add new ingredients along with the fish, do these introductions one at a time to spot negative reactions.

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