So, you've read all the positive testimonials from dog owners about the benefits of feeding fish and now you want to know whether it really is possible to feed your dog a diet mainly comprised of our finned friends with amazing health results? To answer the question - is fish good for dogs? - we need to take a look at what nutrients our dogs require and examine whether fish can provide all of the vitamins and minerals our dogs would normally receive from other common diets or commercial dog food.
The Benefits Of Fish As a Food For Dogs
Fish and other seafood are excellet protein sources for dogs whilst being rleatively low in saturated fats and empty calories (good for weight control).
This fact alone makes fish a fantastic source of nutrition for dogs.
However, there's more. An even bigger benefit for fish in your dog's diet is the fact that fish is one nature's most natural sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon and trout have high levels of Omega 3, which is just great for aiding your dog's joints and all round mobility. Fish is also known to have beneficial properties for your dog's skin.
Omega 3 fatty acids don't occur naturally in the cells of the canine body so adding them to your dog's daily diet can reap big rewards.
Photo Credit: LuAnn Snawder Photography
Are Their Any Negatives To Feeding Fish To Dogs?
Naturally, too much of anything is a bad thing - whether it be fish, biscuits or any type of food. Imbalance of vitamins or simply taking on board too many calories is something dog owners would do well to avoid.
The real advantage to fish in your dog's diet though is its ability to impart so many good vitamins and healthy properties without the increased risk of weight gain or a protein overload causing your dog's internal organs to have to work harder to process the food.
Is Fish Good For Older Dogs?
Cod as a main staple of your dog's diet is a great way to provide your dog with protein but without over burdening their digestive system in the same way that some protein rich meats do. The downside to this is the price of cod. Not to worry though, Pollock is a cheaper alternative but offers all of the same benefits as cod. You can purchase Pollock from your local supermarket and you'll find if you add up the daily costs of feeding your dog on a diet mainly comprised of fresh, store purchased fish the daily feeding cost won't differ all that much from feeding other types of commercially available pet food.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids contained in oily fish have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids can greatly aid skin itching and other minor dermatological complaints in many dogs. If you purchase Omega 3 supplements you'll often find that cod liver oil is the main ingredient. By feeding a dog on a diet mainly made up of fish, you can ensure your pet is receiving these supplemental benefits as nature intended.
Remember, every dog is different, and there are certain factors to consider when determining the diet program that will fit the needs of his specific age, size and lifestyle. However, there are also general rules that owners must follow to ensure that their pets are getting the balanced food and supplementation that their body requires.
Years ago, when such a variety of dog nutrition wasn't available, dogs were fed foods that were most plentiful in the region. In the arctic, dogs were fed mostly fish and whale blubber; in the southern United States, a dog's diet consisted mainly of cornbread; in Europe, potatoes were the main fare. These diets led to diseases such as black tongue (pelegra in humans), rickets, and other less commonly known ailments, many of them fatal.
In the wild, the canine did not just restrict himself to eating just the meat of his prey. He ate the entire animal, including the contents of the stomach. Wild dogs were known to kill each other while fighting over the stomach contents of their prey. Thus, nature provided the wild animal with a diet considered nutritionally complete.
Domesticated dogs were not allowed that luxury, and usually were fed table scraps. These poor diets resulted in serious nutritional imbalances and severe nutritional deficiencies.
After years of study, it was determined that even though the canine is considered a carnivorous animal, he requires certain carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals to satisfy nutritional requirements just as humans do.
In 1953, the National Research Council compiled and published nutritional requirements for dogs. The NRC is a federally established scientific body whose basic function is gathering research data.
After World War II, the pet food industry in the United States began an enormous expansion. Already a highly competitive business, pet food manufacturers quickly found themselves in neck to neck competition for a piece of this multi-million dollar a year business.
In order to survive and successfully compete in the market, pet food manufacturers knew that they must provide a dog food which was:
A) Nutritionally complete; containing all 26 nutrients that the National Research Council said that does need.
B) Palatable so that the dog would enjoy eating the food.
C) Easy and convenient for the customer to handle.
D) Economically competitive in the market.
Now, as a modern, forward thinking dog owner, you have the advantage of not just the vast array of commercially prepared pet foods, you also have the advanced nutritional knowledge gained through the years of studies and scientific research conducted by nutritional experts from all over the world. You have access to just about any type of food and nutrition you choose to feed. You have access to the information and guidance on good vs bad dog food nutrition. When it comes to the question of whether fish is good for dogs, the answer is an overwhelming, scientifically endorsed YES!