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Can Labradors Eat Fish?

White Labrador Retriever chewing a fish head

Yes, Labradors can eat fish because it carries a range of essential nutrients, like fatty acids and protein. However, there are some guidelines about a fish-based diet that the owners must keep in mind. Keep reading to know the best types of fish for dogs, and the suitable methods to prepare them.

Benefits of Fish for Labradors

Fish is beneficial for Labradors as it contains a great amount of protein. It can be used as an alternate source of animal meat if your pup suffers from food allergies. The abdominal problems of your Labradors can also be solved by eating fish because it contains less fat than meat. This is why fish is considered a clear substitute to sustain the weight of your canine.  

Eating a fish also provides omega-3 fatty acids to your pooch. They help in reducing inflammation and keep the skin and coat of your dog beautiful and healthy. Fish can also be useful in countering the effects of joint disease because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The skin of fish provides collagen which is quite effective for the bones and skin of old dogs.

Types of Fish that are Safe for Labradors

Small fish on ice to the left side of the image on a scratched dark background

Several kinds of fish are safe for dogs, especially when they are cooked properly (and without seasonings). Some people do tend to feed raw fish to their pups, but it’s not recommended in most cases due to parasites. The following are some types of fish that can be given to Labradors without worrying.

Tuna

Tuna isolated on a white background

This is one of the most common fish as it is found in almost every ocean of the world. A member of the Scombridae family can be safe for dogs in cooked as well as in raw form. If you are giving your dog raw fish, make sure that you have removed all the bones from it.

This fish has a nice amount of protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are useful in repairing brain tissues. These acids will also help to decrease diverse contaminations, like skin irritation and rashes.

Salmon

Salmon isolated on a white background

This fish was first found in the North Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Its family group is Salmonidae and always needs to be cooked before serving to dogs. It has protein, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids that boost the immune system of canines. The anti-inflammatory nutrients of salmon can also be helpful for your pup’s coat, joints, and brain health.

Atlantic Mackerel

Atlantic Mackerel isolated on a white background

It can be found in the western, eastern, and western Atlantic Oceans. It is also found in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. This fish is a member of the Scombridae family and is pretty safe for Labradors.

Atlantic Mackerels are small and have very little mercury in them. They contain heart-healthy proteins with omega-3 fatty acids that are useful in boosting the mind of your Labrador.

Types of Fish that are NOT Safe for Labradors

Almost every kind of fish is dangerous for dogs in raw form (except tuna and some others). This is because they have huge amounts of parasites in their skin and internal organs. Other than that, high levels of mercury are another massive reason due to which some fish are not safe for Labradors. The following are some types of fish that are unsafe for dogs, even when cooked.

Shark

Shark isolated on a white background

Sharks are considered the largest fish in the world. They live a long life, and they keep accumulating toxic materials from the water. Being a slow-growing fish, sharks have a high toxicity rate of heavy metals, like mercury. Therefore, eating sharks is extremely dangerous for dogs. Some common symptoms that are observed after a dog eats this fish are skin irritations, shocks, and emotional dysfunction.

King Mackerel

King Mackerel isolated on a white background

The main reason King Mackerels are not safe for dogs is the continuous collection of mercury inside their tissues. Similar to sharks, these long-living fish have a lot of parasites inside their skin and muscles. Hence, they can upset the health of your dog and make things quite severe.

Orange Roughy

Orange roughy on ice

It is also called deep-sea carp. Although it is quite small compared to the previous ones, it lives for more than 100 years. Due to such a long lifespan, they gather a lot of mercury and parasites from the ocean. As a result, eating this fish is extremely risky for dogs as well as for humans.

NOTE: According to the EDF, this fish has the vilest eco-rating and high mercury levels.

How Much Fish Can Dogs Eat?

Fish have relatively low calories, but giving too much fish to your Labradors is not good. It can increase the weight of your pup and obesity is the last thing you want for your pooch. This is because it can result in many dangerous ailments, such as diabetes and heart disease. Over-consumption of fish can also cause some other health issues, like diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis.

It’s hard to determine the exact amount of fish that can be given to a dog. However, there is a general rule for dogs that you should follow. According to this rule, dogs should not eat more than 10% of their regular diet in the form of fish.

Tips to Feed Fish to Labradors

Yellow lab licking lip awaiting its food bowl

Some important guidelines for every Labrador owner who wants to give fish to his/her pooch are listed below.

  • You can feed leftovers of dog-safe fish to your furry friend. Just make sure to remove the bones because they can cause choking and internal injuries.
  • The easiest and harmless way to feed fish to a dog is to use fish-based dog food. They come in all flavors and have no risk of bones, parasites, or disease.
  • Do not feed seasoned or fried fish as it can cause stomach issues to the dogs.
  • Plain-cooked, steamed, or grilled fish is ideal for Labradors.
  • Fish, like tuna, can be fed without being cooked as it is also safe for dogs in raw form. But, it’s better to cook it if you can.

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