Salmon is a type of fish widely used by humans in their diet. It’s very tasty, filled with protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But can dogs eat salmon?

The short answer is: Yes, they can, but not all kinds. Many dog foods contain salmon, and dogs can eat certain types of it, but there are a few things you should watch out for. Let’s learn more:

What Kinds of Salmon Are Safer for Dogs?

Salmon can be a tasty and healthy addition to your dog’s diet, but you have to watch out for a few things.

The Species

Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon are among the many types of fish your dog can eat.

While Atlantic salmon is one species — Salmo salar — there are several species of Pacific salmon: 

  • King (chinook)
  • Coho (silver)
  • Pink
  • Sockeye (red)
  • Chum (keta)

The king, coho, and sockeye salmon are often eaten fresh or cooked. 

But can dogs eat pink salmon and chum salmon? Yes, but they’re usually used for canning, freezing, or smoking in the food industry, so you’ll rarely come across these types of salmon in a raw state. 

Overall, the fish species is less important than how you serve it to your dog.

Farm-Raised vs Wild-Caught

So, the salmon species doesn’t matter much, but what about its habitat? Depending on where it lives, salmon can be farm-raised or wild-caught. But which kind of salmon is better for dogs?

Farm-raised salmon has been grown in mass quantities for a long time now. With time, fish farming methods have advanced significantly. That said, farm-raised salmon still have more fat, calories, and contaminants than their counterparts living in the wild. They’re also typically exposed to more antibiotics. Due to all this, wild-caught salmon might be a healthier option for your dog.

Benefits of Salmon 

In what ways is salmon good for dogs?

Salmon contains nutrients and vitamins essential for your dog’s health, such as:

  • Protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin A, D, and B

Also, it has minerals like:

  • Selenium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

All these nutrients give your dog healthy skin and a shiny coat and help with muscle development. They prevent inflammation and strengthen the immune system, as well as heart, kidney, and nervous system health.

Risks of Salmon in Canine Diet

Before you feed your furry friend anything, you should know that some foods can be bad for dogs. While your dog can eat salmon, sometimes that may cause problems.

Mercury Poisoning

Salmon as food for dogs might be dangerous due to the risk of mercury poisoning. Some industries leak mercury into the lakes, rivers, and oceans. With time, the fish in those areas consume this mercury and accumulate it in their bodies.

The longer a fish lives, the more mercury it contains. If your dog ends up eating this fish, it may lead to poisoning. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include:

  • Vomiting blood
  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
  • Discoordination and anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Hair loss
  • Blindness

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian.

Dangerous Bones

The salmon skeleton contains very small, brittle bones that break easily. So can dogs eat salmon bones? Well, they can’t.

Because these bones are very small, they’re a choking hazard. 

Another risk they pose is scratching or puncturing your dog’s digestive system, which leads to a lot of other problems. The bones can also accumulate and block your dog’s intestines.

Besides these, there’s always the risk of salmon bones hurting your dog’s tongue and gums.

salmon sashimi

Salmon Poisoning

So fish bones are out of the question, but can dogs eat raw salmon? 

The answer is a resounding “No.” Even if people eat sushi or sashimi with raw salmon, dogs should avoid these foods. That’s because raw salmon can contain parasites that can lead to poisoning.

Raw salmon can have the parasite Nanophyetus salmincola that can be infected with a strain of rickettsia called Neorickettsia helminthoeca. This bacteria causes salmon poisoning in dogs.

As little as six days after your dog eats some raw salmon, you may notice a few symptoms. These include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever 
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration

If you notice these symptoms and contact your vet in time, this disease is very curable. If left untreated, it may result in death within two weeks.

Prevention, as always, is better than cure, so before feeding salmon to your dogs, make sure you cook it first. That’s how you’ll avoid these unpleasant and dangerous symptoms.

Fish Allergy

So, in what other way is salmon bad for dogs? Well, like any other food, salmon can contain allergens, so your dog could potentially have an allergic reaction to it.

The symptoms would appear right after your dog ingests the food and include:

  • Itchy skin and paws
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Asphyxiation
  • Anaphylactic shock

To prevent an allergic reaction, it’s best to test your pup for allergies at home. If you notice that your dog shows these symptoms after eating some food, contact your veterinarian.

Too Much Salt

At this point, you might be wondering: “Can dogs eat smoked salmon instead of cooked?” We have to disappoint you — no, they can’t. Smoked salmon isn’t processed in a way that destroys all parasites. Because of this, the risk of poisoning is still present. 

Besides parasites, the way we make smoked salmon is dangerous, too. People add a lot of salt to the fish during the process. Too much salt can cause dehydration or lead to sodium poisoning. 

Symptoms of sodium poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Incoordination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian.

What Types of Salmon Can Dogs Eat?

We have answered the “Can dogs eat salmon?” question in general, but what kind of salmon is good for them exactly? Well, there are a few options.

Salmon Skin

So, we know that dogs can’t eat fish bones, but can dogs eat salmon skin? 

Yes, they can. As long as you cook the skin, clean it well, and avoid using salt or other seasonings, your dog can enjoy it. But don’t just peel off the whole skin and throw it at your dog. Be sure to cut it into smaller pieces to avoid choking.

Another important thing to mention is that salmon skin contains a lot of fat. This can lead to unhealthy weight gain. To avoid this, offer salmon skin to your dog on special occasions only.

Canned Salmon

Can dogs eat canned salmon? Yes, they can. Always make sure to get the salmon preserved in water instead of the one preserved in oil. Just like too much salmon skin, too much oil can be bad for your dog, so you’ll need to drain it and only feed a little to your pet.

Salmon preserved in water is healthier as it has fewer additives and calories. Still, canned foods often contain a lot of salt and may cause sodium poisoning. Either way, fresh salmon, once properly cooked, will always be healthier than canned.

Dog Food With Salmon

So we know that salmon is good for dogs, but sometimes we just don’t have access to fresh fish. In such situations, we can reach out for dog food with salmon as its main ingredient. For example, you can order dry dog food that contains salmon, like the Purina Salmon and Rice Formula on Amazon. Another option is dog snacks with salmon, like the BIXBI Salmon Jerky Dog Treats.

Salmon Supplements

Now that we know all the salmon benefits for dogs, you might want to enhance your pet’s nutrition by using salmon supplements.

Usually, these come in the form of oils you can add to your dog’s daily meals. A good supplement I recommend is Zesty Paws salmon oil on Chewy. It contains a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids that’ll make your dog’s skin and coat healthy. It also tastes good, which is always a plus.

How Much Salmon Can Your Dog Eat?

Can dogs eat salmon every day? We wouldn’t recommend it. As with any other food, moderation is key.

Too much salmon can disrupt the balance of your dog’s diet. Because the fish contains a lot of fat, it may lead to weight gain. Also, cooking salmon might include adding a bit of salt, which can result in increased salt intake that can harm your pet.

We recommend feeding your dog small quantities of salmon once or twice per week. Make it a special treat rather than part of their regular diet.

Of course, these rules don’t apply to special dog food and supplements because they come with their own recommended dosages.

How to Prepare Salmon for Your Dog

Salmon is good for dogs only if it’s prepared properly. Here’s how you do that.

Don’t Use Salt

If you’ve ever wanted to give your dog salmon directly from your plate, you’ve probably wondered: “Can dogs eat seasoned salmon?” 

The answer is no. If you cook the salmon yourself, avoid adding salt to it. You should avoid smoked salmon for the same reason.

Cook It Well

Cook the salmon until it becomes opaque and flakes easily. You can also check it with a food thermometer and wait until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, you’ll kill all the dangerous pathogens.

Remove the Bones

Salmon bones can cause a lot of problems for your dog. They can hurt the tongue and gums or perforate or block the intestinal tract. To avoid this, remove the bones from the salmon filet before giving it to your dog as a treat.

Can Dogs Eat Salmon? — Wrap Up

Dogs can eat salmon. In fact, salmon can be very beneficial to your dog. It contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals essential to your dog’s health.

But salmon can potentially cause problems like mercury and sodium poisoning, salmon poisoning, and even provoke allergies.

To get the most out of this delicious fish, be sure to prepare it well and give your dog well-cooked, unsalted salmon. You can also try some canned salmon commercial dog food or supplements. That said, always avoid giving your dog raw or smoked salmon.

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