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Can Dogs Eat Fish?

Fish on beach with dog in background

If you are looking for a one-word answer to this question, it would be YES. Being meat-lovers, dogs love to eat fish but you will need to follow some precautions while feeding your canine friend. Fish is indeed rich in nutrients that are useful for puppies. However, there are certain scenarios in which fish can be dangerous for dogs.

Do Dogs Eat Fish?

Dogs like to eat fish and it can be a good addition to a balanced diet. It’s rich in amino acids and is found in some quality dog foods as an ingredient. There are many varieties of fish that are good for dogs. Some of the most popular among them are:

  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Atlantic Mackerel

On the other hand, some species and forms of fish are NOT safe for canines and must be avoided. This list includes:

A smoked fish is too salty for dogs to eat because the smoking process involves the use of brine. Similarly, shellfish contain high levels of toxic substances such as heavy metals.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Bones?

Fish head and bones on cutting board

Fish bones are quite dangerous for your dog due to their brittle nature. They can get lodged in the dog’s mouth, causing damage to the organ walls. Stuck fish bones can cause a lot of pain to your dog and the removal process can be expensive.

Sometimes, fish bones can cause internal bleeding and serious medical complications. Likewise, choking is also a possibility if you give your dog fish bones. Therefore, make sure that you’ve removed any stray ones before serving fish to your pet.

In case your dog ends up eating fish bones, you should call your vet immediately. If the vet instructs you to induce vomiting, a small amount of Hydrogen Peroxide will do the trick. A medicine dropper from an over-the-counter liquid baby medicine works well for this purpose. Generally, dogs vomit within 15 minutes of ingesting Hydrogen Peroxide.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Skin?

fried fish skin on a slate serving plate

Just like bones, fish skin is also harmful to your dog. The skin of fish is covered with several bacteria that can be dangerous for your pup. In certain cases, some bacteria can prove lethal for your canine. You should NEVER take such a risk and stick to cooked fish to keep your companions safe. Baking, cooking, or grilling the fish is the way to go if you want to feed it to your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Fillet?

fish being filleted on a cutting board

Your dog can eat cooked fish fillet without any issues. However, you should not feed raw fish fillet to your pet. Raw fish can cause some serious health hazards to your dog due to bacteria. In addition to that, a pup carrying these bacteria can also affect the small children in the house.

Although dogs with strong immune systems are protected against raw fish, it is often not worth the risk. Other than bacteria, raw fish contains mercury, which is poisonous for your canine. Therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid raw fish fillet for your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Heads?

2 fish heads on a glass plate

Dogs can eat fish heads BUT only if they already eat fish regularly. The head part is a bit harder to eat, so it is best to break it down into small pieces. Slow-growing fish have hard bones that can be painful for dogs. On the contrary, quick-growing fish usually have softer bones that are easier to consume and don’t cause many issues.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Fingers?

fried fish fingers on a decorative plate

While a small amount of fish might be acceptable for dogs, breaded fish products like Fish Fingers are not recommended. The crumb or breading often contain seasonings (and salt) that could be harmful to dogs. They are also often cooked in oil or fats that are not healthy for canines. For these reasons, it is better to avoid feeding your dog fried or battered fish.

Benefits of Fish for Dogs

beagle stealing fried fish from plate

Sensitive dogs are unable to eat several foods due to different allergic reactions. Due to the hypoallergenic nature of fish, it is highly unlikely that it will cause an allergy. Similarly, dogs can digest fish easily (much faster than other foods), which makes it suitable for their sensitive stomachs. Moreover, fish contains fatty acids such as omega-3 that is great for dogs’ skin and coat.


Fish are packed with nutrients and are safe for your dog as long as you exercise precaution. You can avoid bacterial infection by never feeding raw fish or fish skin to your dog. Likewise, the fish that your dog eats should NOT be fried because excessive fats are not beneficial.

Whenever you feed table scraps to your dog, make sure it does not contain substances that are toxic to dogs. Garlic and salt are the biggest offenders here. Dogs enjoy an occasional fish treat and will remain healthy as long as you are careful with feeding them. Always contact a vet as soon as possible if your dog eats something toxic and never panic in such situations.

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