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Can dogs eat salmon? Is it really safe?

Can dogs eat salmon? Is it really safe?

Salmon is that kind of fish you either love or hate (well, like any fish actually). However, what we can’t deny is that salmon is actually very healthy, especially because it’s full of omega-3 fatty acids which are great for the immune system. Now, if it’s so healthy for humans, is it good for dogs too? Can dogs eat salmon?

It’s a fact that salmon is rich in omega-3, protein, astaxanthin, vitamins, and minerals. However, the problem with fish is that our oceans and seas are polluted. This means that salmon (and every fish, especially tuna) is exposed to dangerous toxins. It also contains parasites that could actually make your dog very, very sick.

With that being said, in this article, we’re going to answer the question of can dogs eat salmon and how safe salmon really is for dogs.

If you would like to learn more about all the foods that are safe for dogs, we have several articles on that topic too:

If there are specific foods that you’d like to learn more about if they are safe for dogs we have some suggestions for that as well:

Can dogs eat salmon?

The simple answer to the question can dogs eat salmon is yes. Dogs can theoretically eat salmon. The proof for this is that salmon is a common ingredient in high-quality dog foods. You can even buy special salmon dog food. However, there are definitely a few important facts you should know before giving your dog salmon for lunch. First of all, you should know that the only safe salmon recipe is salmon cooked with no added salt or other spices. Salmon skin and smoked salmon should never be given to our beloved dogs.

Many human foods could trigger food allergies in dogs, so when introducing your dog to a new food, always start slow. Give him small amounts and see how his stomach will handle it. Always make sure that the fish does not have any small bones in it as well. These could seriously injure your dog’s digestive system. That’s why the best choice would be to stick to salmon fillets. While this nutritious food can add certain benefits to your dog’s diet, know that you should still never overfeed your dog with it. Any food can lead to weight gain, which is especially problematic for overweight dogs. 

Benefits of salmon

As mentioned above salmon is one of the main ingredients in certain kinds of dog food. This is for good reason. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a great source of protein and high in B vitamins. Besides this, it’s a good source of potassium, it’s full of selenium, and it contains astaxanthin. But salmon definitely isn’t cheap, which is why it’s mostly found in dog kibble of higher quality. 

Salmon has many health benefits such as improving and regulating the immune system. It’s great for dogs that suffer from arthritis because it can reduce inflammation. This food also helps reduce joint issues in older dogs. In addition to that, it can also promote healthy skin. A lot of fish will actually do that because seafood is generally speaking rich in healthy fats and oils

Salmon highly improves your dog’s coat and skin health and can even help prevent skin allergies. This fish also helps produce more collagen in your dog’s system. This fish can fight heart disease and lower blood pressure and triglycerides and helps to slow cancer cell growth. Some even believe that salmon improves the brain function of our dogs. 

Therefore, it’s pretty clear that this popular dish is in fact healthy and can be beneficial. However, that doesn’t mean that your dog HAS to eat salmon to be healthy. Dogs should get all of their nutritional needs met by the regular dog food that they consume. Salmon should just be an occasional snack for them, and nothing more than that really. 

Concerns with salmon

The benefits of salmon are undeniable, but so are the concerns. Now, please, before you introduce any new food to your dog, no matter which it is, always consult your veterinarian. Food allergies are pretty common in dogs, and you don’t want to upset your dog’s stomach just so he can try some of your salmon. 

With that being said there are several concerns many experts have with salmon, only some of which are:

  • Salmon can have parasites like roundworms or flukes. This can cause vomiting, lack of appetite, fever, bloody diarrhea, weakness, and dehydration. This condition is also known as salmon poisoning, and it’s the reason why you should NEVER give your dog raw salmon. You could put his life in serious danger. 

  • GMO – Farmed salmon was the first animal approved by the FDA to be genetically modified. So if you are against GMO, definitely avoid salmon. We will leave the discussion about if you should or should not feed your dog GMO for another day, however, naturally resourced food will always be a better choice. 

  • Heavy metal can be found in the oceans and in fish. These heavy metals are basically a by-product of industry and don’t break down well. The heavy metals that can be found in salmon and other fish are mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic. While the chances of your dog getting heavy metal poisoning from salmon are pretty slim, they are never zero. 

All of these can have serious effects on your dog’s health and cause blindness, nerve system disorders, cancer, liver damage, and also kidney damage.

In conclusion: Can dogs eat salmon?

Yes, your dog can eat salmon, but there is one important thing to remember! You have to cook salmon safely: Plain, without any added salt or other types of spices and herbs. You can also give your dog tinned salmon in water, although fresh salmon is preferable. Salmon is delicious and healthy, but that does not mean that you should give your pooch too much salmon. That could lead to weight gain, and make his stomach upset. Small amounts will still deliver all of the nutritional benefits of salmon. 

Raw salmon, or even undercooked salmon, on the other hand, should never be fed to your dog due to the risks of salmon poisoning. If you notice any signs of salmon poisoning in your dog, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Salmon skin and smoked salmon aren’t a safe choice either, as they contain a lot of sodium which can be a health risk too in numerous ways.

My name is Jackie and I am a veterinarian with a degree in veterinary medicine. With extensive experience in treating various animals, I am known for my compassionate and personalized approach to animal care.