Can dogs eat salmon?

Written by Dr Andrew Miller MRCVSDr Andrew Miller MRCVS is an expert veterinary working in the field for over 10 years after graduating from Bristol University. Andy fact checks and writes for Pure Pet Food while also working as a full time veterinarian. Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. - Our editorial process

Salmon is one of the most popular fish for us humans to eat thanks to the versatility of the meat, its great taste, and numerous health benefits. You might wonder if your furry friend can enjoy a slither of salmon with you, and may even assume they will also receive the paw-sitive nutritional benefits the fish offers.

While dogs can eat salmon, that doesn’t mean they can eat all the kinds of salmon we humans do. Read on to find out what sort of salmon your pup can eat, how much they should have, and the benefits and risks of feeding salmon to your canine companion.

Can dogs eat salmon?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked salmon and it’s just as nutritious for your pooch as it is for you. In fact, many of the health benefits of eating salmon do transfer to our furry friends.

Salmon is rich in high-quality protein, omega-3, and vital vitamins including vitamins A, B, and D as well as minerals like potassium and selenium. This nutritious fish, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids, will work wonders for your pup’s coat, prevent inflammation, and help to maintain healthy muscles and growth.

It will also help to improve their cognitive function and keep their brain healthy, which is especially important for developing puppies and senior dogs. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of salmon will also help to combat any inflammation your pup has, whether it is allergies, arthritis, or even IBS.

Salmon is also considered a low-mercury fish (similar to prawns), containing less heavy metals and contaminants than larger and longer-living species like tuna. This means your pup can eat salmon more often, but still in moderation to prevent the potentially harmful build-up of mercury in their body.

This will also combat overeating, which can cause gastrointestinal upset and diarrhoea, as well as unwanted weight-gain caused by gorging on too much of the fatty fish.

As well as making sure you exercise moderation, you should only feed your pup cooked salmon that is served plain. Don’t feed your pup any salmon that has been seasoned or slavered in sauces as the additional ingredients can cause illness. You must take care when feeding your dog salmon to ensure there are no bones. Fish bones can be brittle and sharp and cause irritation and injury when swallowed.

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Can dogs eat salmon raw?

No, your dog should not eat raw or undercooked salmon. Whether you have caught it yourself or bought some fresh sushi or sashimi, you should not offer any to your pup no matter how tasty they think it smells.

This is because of the potential parasites that may be in the fish’s flesh. Usually, cooking or sufficient freezing will kill these pests off.

The problem with salmon, and other fish which swim upstream to spawn, is that they may be infected with parasitic flatworms. The worms themselves are not an issue.

The trouble is that these flatworms may be infected with a bacteria called Nanophyetus Salmincola. This bacteria has the potential to make both humans and dogs sick, but our dogs are far more seriously affected and can contract “salmon poisoning”.

Salmon poisoning in dogs

You might wonder why you or your cat can eat raw salmon and never hear about salmon poisoning. That’s because only canines seem to be affected, which includes your pooch. That’s why you or I, your cat, or a bear can catch and eat raw salmon right out the river. But if your dog eats raw salmon, it can prove fatal.

Signs of salmon poisoning can take as long as 6 to 10 days to develop. If your dog is infected but left untreated, they can die within 14 days of eating contaminated, raw salmon.

Losing your pet is a harrowing thought, and exactly why prevention is more important than the cure. All you need to do to keep your dog safe is to not feed them raw salmon.

However, if they do manage to eat some and show signs of sickness, you must take them to a vet. As long as your pooch receives prompt treatment, they should recover in a few days.

Signs of salmon poisoning:
  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Lethargy

  • Depression

  • Dehydration

  • Lack of appetite

  • Fever

  • Weakness

  • Discharge from the nose or eyes

  • Swollen lymph nodes

If your dog contracts salmon poisoning they will be given an anti-parasitic worming treatment which will kill off the flatworms, and antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. They may be given intravenous fluids to rehydrate them.

If your dog manages to eat some raw salmon, you must contact your vet for advice. Should your pup show any signs of illness, take them to the vets straight away.

Can dogs eat smoked salmon?

No, dogs shouldn’t eat smoked salmon for the same reason they should not eat raw fish. Because the fish is cured rather than cooked, smoked salmon could still contain flukes and bacteria that can cause salmon poisoning. However, the chances of infection are a lot less than if they ate raw salmon.

Additionally, smoked salmon contains a lot of salt, which is not healthy for your pup to eat. Just like with humans, eating too much salt is unhealthy, and dogs require much less salt than we do.

Some salt is necessary in their diets, but too much can cause dehydration, sickness, and even sodium poisoning, making moderation key to striking a healthy balance.

Can dogs eat salmon skin?

As long as the skin is cooked and served plain, your dog can eat some salmon skin. Just remember to cut it into pieces before feeding it to your dog to prevent choking. (Don’t just peel off the whole side of salmon skin and toss it to them!)

You should only feed your dog a little salmon skin as it contains a lot of fat and could contribute to unhealthy weight gain if eaten too often.

Can dogs eat tinned salmon?

Yes, your dog can eat tinned salmon but only in small amounts. Tinned salmon contains a lot of salt so you must limit the amount they eat. You might find some canned salmon that has no added salt, and this would make a much better choice for your pooch.

Tinned salmon preserved in water is the best option for your pup. Salmon preserved in oil will need to be thoroughly drained and only fed in small amounts so your dog doesn’t ingest too much oil.

Salmon in brine is also “safe” for dogs to eat, but it has a much higher salt content. Salmon tinned with water has little additives to worry about and makes the healthiest option for a cost-effective seafood snack for your dog.

However, given the additives and preservatives often used in canned food, you’re best to opt for fresh salmon and it’s higher nutritional value.

How much salmon can a dog eat?

As with most foods, feeding in moderation is key to keeping your pooch happy and healthy. You should limit salmon to a once a week treat at the most and make sure that it’s a portion suitable for your dog’s size.

A dog can safely eat up to 10g of salmon for every 450g that they weigh. (Or for sake of ease, 10g of salmon per 500g of your dog’s body weight.)

Recap: Can dogs eat salmon?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked salmon that is served plain and the nutritious fish will provide plenty of positive benefits for your pup’s health. You can even safely feed your dog tinned salmon in water, but fresh is best. As tasty and healthy as salmon is, portion control is important to prevent weight gain and sickness from overeating.

However, you should never feed your dog raw salmon due to the risk of salmon poisoning, which can be fatal. If your dog manages to eat any raw salmon, you must contact your vet.

Salmon has tons of nutritional benefits as we know, which is why we use it as the main protein source in some of our Pure recipes!

Complete and balanced food, every Pure recipe has the perfect amount of natural protein, fruit and veggies, alongside added vitamins and minerals to promote healthy, happy dogs.