Dog Health

Is Fish Good For Dogs?

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 fish based diet with amazing health results? To answer the question - is fish good for dogs? - we need to take a look at what nutrients our dogs need and examine whether fish can provide all of the vitamins and minerals our dogs would normally receive from other diets.

To get you the answers you need we've asked Bianca Boulton-Major, a Nutritional Consultant, for her expert opinion on which dogs might benefit most from a fish-based diet and which types of fish should be avoided, and why.

The benefits of fish as a food for dogs

Fish is a great, easily digestible protein source for dogs. Especially for dogs following digestive upsets or with liver or kidney disease, whilst being relatively low in saturated fats and empty calories (good for weight control).

These facts alone make fish a fantastic source of nutrition for dogs.

However, there's more. Bianca tells us that due to the high level of Omega-3 Fatty acids in fish, it is a natural anti-inflammatory to the body making it great for dogs with allergies or intolerances to other non-fish proteins. She says, "Fish is also great for dogs with joint issues and IBD issues."

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.

Is fish a good diet for dogs with allergies?

Bianca tells us fish is great for dogs who suffer from allergies.

She tells us the bioavailable essential fatty acids in fish can help to heal sore, flaky, damaged or itchy skin. This is because Omega-3 fats found in fish oil help to reduce inflammation, which can lessen the intensity of many allergies. Omega-3 fats can also reduce a dog's reaction to pollen and other common allergy triggers found in the environment."

Will dogs benefit from a diet of fish mixed with other protein?

Naturally, too much of anything is a bad thing - whether it be fish, biscuits or any type of food. An 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.

Should dog owners avoid certain types?

We put the question to Bianca. She says, "I recommend avoiding fish that contain high mercury levels like tuna of swordfish and always use caution and moderation feeding shellfish/crustaceans as they can contain a high bacterium load, so if you are feeding them ensure they are cooked as they could cause tummy upset.

"Always check the sourcing of your fish because poor quality care or intensively farmed means increased toxin levels. Salmon and white fish are also great to feed, all of them are a great source of Omega-3 for dogs."

Bianca tells us there aren't many negatives to feeding a fish based diet - and fishy breath will be short-lived.

She says, "You may have to put up with a fishy breath straight after meal time but this should quickly pass, if not speak to your veterinarian as it could indicate an underlying health issue. Feeding an unbalanced fish diet can lead to dietary deficiencies just like in feeding any unbalanced diet."

Bianca tells us feeding a wide variety of protein sources is great for dogs because each source contains a different balance of vitamins and minerals.

"If you're just starting out on a raw diet for your dog, start with one protein source for 2-3 weeks before introducing the next protein source for 2-3 weeks again and continue like this until you have covered a wide variety of sources. This way you will easily be able to detect if your dog has an allergy or intolerance to a particular protein."

Is fish good for older dogs?

Fish, as the main staple of your dog's diet, is a great way to provide your dog with protein without overburdening their digestive system in the same way that some protein rich meats do.

Bianca tells us that this is one of the main reasons that fish is good for dogs, particularly older dogs. She says, "A fish based diet can benefit dogs of all ages, but the benefits are often more noticeable in older dogs who can find too much red meat no longer suits them."

So, is fish good for dogs? Here's the history of the dog's diet

Remember, every dog is different, and there are certain factors to consider when determining what diet will best suit your dog's age, size and lifestyle. However, there are also general rules that you can follow to make sure your pet is getting a balanced diet and all they need.

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 (pellagra 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.

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!





  1. Anita

    July 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Question: my dog (2 yrs old) small breed had pancreatitis – is doing fine now. Need to know if fish (Talapia- baked with lemon juice) would be harmful to her

    • Donna from Iowa

      September 28, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      I feed my Yorkie’s tilapia, off and on. I feed them mackerel, cod, salmon, sardines, many kinds of fish. I don’t use one kind over a week, mostly 2x’s a week or each night a little on their plate. They love all of it.

  2. Dannielle Kirkpatrick

    September 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I’m very happy to be reading this as I have one very fussy
    dog, and it has been difficult finding him something he will
    eat regularly. As he is a sighthound and therefore already naturally slim, he cannot afford to not eat for days. So it was with relief that we recently discovered the Earthborne range of holistic dog biscuits, in particular their fish range. He loves them! So I hope the above info also applies to fish in biscuits? One thing I wonder though, with all this talk of metal and plastic toxicity in fish, do we need to worry about that for our dogs if they it fish?

    • Thomy LeDOux

      May 5, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      I guarantee you, if you feed your pet fish or poultry, they’ll eat it like someone is trying to take it away from them and it’s healthy as ever… NO BONES THOUGH !!

  3. Corascendea Cathar

    November 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I am a dog owner of over 40 years and I rescue sick and injured animals. On the average I own 6 – 8 dogs of all shapes and sizes. I do not feed my animals processed food. I do not feed them anything I would not eat myself.

    Yes, quality fish is good, but it is lethal for older dogs with heart failures, if they also suffer with water retention and need to take diuretics.

    I had a dog with that condition who died on Christmas Day 2007 within three weeks from symptoms appearing, and another dog who died in March 2013, 13 months after identical symptoms appearing in her. The difference was, that I observed with the second dog the almost immediate deterioration after feeding the smallest amount of fish, and I eliminated fish and any fish products from her diet.

    I gave her the omega oils in form of Goji berries, and she loved them!

    Coley is entirely unsuitable for anyone, just look at the colour of its meat and compare with other fish.

  4. helen

    February 20, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    my dog is over weight due to not being able to walk him as much as used to because of problems with his back legs.He is unable to have an operation until he loses weight. which is very difficult as i can walk him as much as used to. ive seen the prices of the dog diet food so i am thinking making homemade food for him. just wondered what sort of fish is best for an overweight dog please? he s only 3 years old.

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  6. Oscar O'Malley

    December 11, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I really like that you mentioned that fish is a great source of protein for dogs. My wife and I recently got a new puppy, and neither of us has had a dog before. We want to be sure that we don’t feed him anything that isn’t good for him! It’s good to know that we can feed him fish because my wife is a pescatarian so we have a lot of fish. Thanks for the information!

  7. Deb

    January 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    This is my go to list of good fish or bad.
    I have 3 dogs that will be eating only fish as a raw meat.

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