Can dogs eat salmon safely? Salmon is only safe for dogs as long as it has been prepared correctly. Salmon contains lots of nutrients that are good for dogs. But raw salmon can contain a bacteria that is poisonous to dogs, and can kill them. So, you must cook salmon thoroughly to kill any bacteria that are present, making it safe for your dog to eat. Let’s take a look at why raw salmon is so dangerous, and how to safely cook and prepare salmon for your dog to eat.
Is Salmon Safe For Dogs?
Salmon is an exceptionally nutritious food for humans as it is low in fat and high in protein. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for good health. But, as pet owners, we know that what is good for us isn’t always good for our pups. So, can dogs eat salmon safely?
Dogs can safely eat salmon so long as it is fresh, boneless, well-cooked and fed in small portions. Salmon is often the main ingredient in many high quality dry and wet dog food products. Like many human foods, you should limit giving salmon to your dog no more than once a week.
Is Salmon Good For Dogs?
Salmon is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which help promote a healthy skin and coat for your dog. Omega 3 is also useful for his heart and immune system. Older dogs and dogs with arthritis can benefit from salmon as it assists in the reduction of inflammation and stiffness in the joints. Feeding salmon to young puppies helps develop their brains, as well as assisting older dogs to concentrate better. Especially those that are a little senile.
Salmon is also high in amino acids, essential for keeping your dog healthy and active. It’s an excellent food for dogs with skin irritations and allergies.
When Is Salmon Bad For Dogs?
Is salmon bad for dogs in any way? Yes, it can be if not cooked correctly. Can dogs eat raw salmon?
You should never let dogs eat salmon if it is raw or under-cooked. Raw and uncooked salmon is extremely poisonous to dogs and can be deadly. Uncooked or undercooked salmon contains bacteria and parasites which are harmful to dogs, possibly leading to salmon poisoning disease (SPD). Giving raw salmon for dogs to eat, even a small piece, can result in your pet becoming extremely ill and possibly fatal consequences.
Salmon Poisoning In Dogs
Although humans and animals have eaten raw fish for thousands of years, dogs and other canid species (foxes and wolves) are prone to salmon poisoning. So, what is it that causes salmon to be poisonous to dogs? Salmon is infected with a parasite known as Nanophyetus salmincola (NS). This parasite is somewhat harmless, but the danger is if it becomes infected with an organism called neorickettsia helminthoeca. This is what causes salmon poisoning.
Thoroughly cooking salmon will kill any harmful parasites and bacteria that are present in the fish. Salmon poisoning in dogs is potentially fatal if it is left untreated. The answer to, “Can dogs eat raw salmon?” is a resounding, “No!”
Signs Of Salmon Poisoning
The problem is that it can take up to a week before a dog displays any clinical signs, so you and your vet may not even consider salmon poisoning. As a result, this can make diagnosis and treatment difficult, which is not good news for your dog. Also, it is possible for dogs with salmon poisoning to spread the infection to other dogs via their feces.
The most common dog salmon poisoning symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Raw Salmon
Take your dog immediately to your veterinarian if he displays any of these symptoms. Inform your vet if you know, or suspect that your dog has eaten raw salmon. A fecal sample, detecting the parasite’s eggs within the feces, or a needle sample from a swollen lymph node reveals the diagnosis for salmon poisoning.
Treatment for salmon poisoning is quite straightforward if detected in time. Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe an antibiotic to kill the rickettsial organisms that caused the poisoning and a wormer to kill the parasite. If your dog is dehydrated, then your veterinarian will give him intravenous fluid. The good news is, that once treatment has started, dogs usually show rapid improvement within a couple of days.
Can Dogs Eat Smoked Salmon?
So, if cooked salmon is okay, can dogs eat salmon when it’s smoked? The short answer is no. You should never give smoked salmon to your dog. The reason for this is that smoked salmon is cured, so it contains an excessive amount of salt which is dangerous for dogs. There is also a small chance that smoked salmon contains parasites which can result in a fatal condition in canines.
Can Dogs Eat Canned Salmon?
Can dogs eat salmon that came from a can? Yes! Giving canned salmon for dogs to eat occasionally as a treat is perfectly safe. The salmon is already cooked, causing the bones to soften, so it blends into the food, creating no problems to dogs. However, it is advisable to buy canned salmon soaked in water rather than in brine or oil as the salt and oil content can be harmful to dogs.
Also, be aware that some types have a high sodium content. Always opt for those with low sodium or which have no salt added.
Adding a few flakes to your dog’s kibble to make a tastier feed is an ideal way to feed canned salmon.
Can Dogs Eat Salmon Eggs?
Dogs can eat salmon eggs, if they have been processed into caviar. However, it should be noted that caviar has a higher amount of salt and other seasonings. So make sure only to give it to your dog in extreme moderation.
Can Dogs Eat Salmon Skin?
What about other parts of the fish? Can dogs eat salmon skin? Dogs can safely eat salmon skin so long as it is cooked thoroughly and without any garnishing. But is salmon skin good for dogs?
Salmon skin consists of the same healthy nutrients as the rest of the salmon and is very tasty, so dogs love it! Ultimately, the answer to, “Can dogs eat salmon skin?” is, “Yes!” However, it does have a high-fat content so should be fed in moderation as an occasional treat and never to dogs who are overweight.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Salmon?
Can dogs eat salmon when it’s been cooked? Yes! If you wish to give salmon to your dog, it should only be fed fully cooked. Once again, it is vital that you never give your dog raw or under-cooked salmon. It’s best to only give your dog salmon in moderation, such as once a week.
Health Benefits Of Salmon For Dogs
Fully cooked salmon, without much added salt or spices, can be very beneficial for dogs. A few of the benefits have already been mentioned previously, but the most important ones revolve around Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 has a good effect on the skin and coat, as well as the heart health of your pup.
Is Salmon Good For Dogs With Food Allergies?
Just like their owners, dogs can develop food allergies or sensitivities. And sometimes, those sensitivities are in response to very common ingredients, such as chicken. If your dog has an allergy or sensitivity to some ingredients in his usual dog food, a food that includes salmon as a source of protein may be a good solution.
How Can I Feed My Dog Salmon?
So how should you prepare salmon for your dog? Always use fresh boneless fillets of salmon. They shouldn’t contain any bones, but it is best to check before cooking as small bones can choke your dog or become lodged in his stomach or intestines. You can either steam, grill, poach, bake or roast the salmon, but do not add any oil, salt, and pepper or seasonings such as onions or garlic, which can be extremely harmful to dogs.
Can dogs eat salmon skin and eggs as frequently as the meat? No, it’s better to limit anything that may have a higher salt content. Your dog can also enjoy the many benefits of salmon by adding salmon oil to his feed or giving him dog treats such as salmon jerky.
Does Dog Food Contain Salmon?
There are many commercial companies which produce salmon dog food. Some products contain only salmon as a meat protein source, whereas others have salmon as the primary protein but include additional meat. So, why would you feed salmon dog food to your pet?
If your dog appears to be healthy and passes his annual vet checks with flying colors, then there is no need to change his feed. However, if he has the occasional digestive upset, has itchy, flaky skin or his coat appears dull, then it may be an idea to change his diet onto salmon dog food. It is also a good choice of food if your dog is a picky eater, as many cannot resist the taste of salmon! Your vet can always advise if you are unsure.
Feeding Your Dog Salmon Dog Food
If your dog has allergy issues caused by traditional meats such as beef and chicken, then it is vital that you check the ingredients to ensure the food only contains salmon. But dogs cannot live on salmon alone as it does not fulfill a dog’s essential carbohydrate and vitamin requirements.
Therefore, it is crucial when using a salmon dog food product that you check it is made with real salmon, high-quality ingredients and offers 100% balanced nutrition, consisting of all the necessary vitamins and minerals. The label should reveal the food is “complete and balanced” and approved by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) or other.
Can Dogs Eat Salmon Summary
Salmon is a nutritious and beneficial food for dogs to eat so long as there are no bones present, and the fish is cooked thoroughly with no added salt and pepper or seasonings. Can dogs eat raw salmon? No! Never feed raw or under-cooked salmon to your dog.
You should only let dogs eat salmon in moderation, no more than once a week, as feeding too much can result in pancreatitis. The safest way to feed this fish is with a high quality formulated salmon dry dog food.
Does your dog like salmon? Do you have any healthy salmon recipes that you use for your dog? Share them below!
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References and Further Reading
- Studies on salmon poisoning disease of canines: I. The rickettsial relationships and pathogenicity of Neorickettsia helmintheca. CB Philip, WJ Hadlow, LE Hughes – Experimental parasitology, 1954 – Elsevier
- Salmon poisoning disease in dogs on southern Vancouver Island. AJ Booth, L Stogdale, JA Grigor – The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 1984 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- The pathology and etiology of salmon disease in the dog and fox. DR Cordy, JR Gorham – The American Journal of Pathology, 1950
- Salmon Poisoning Disease. VetMed WSU
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