Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Salmon?

raw salmon steak in a grill pan red fish

Salmon is a saltwater fish that has become increasingly popular after reaching its coveted superfood status. The health-conscious community has continuously boasted about salmon’s many nutritious attributes and health benefits. This sea-dwelling dietary staple is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a beneficial fat required by the body since it makes up the cell membranes responsible for many crucial functions in the body.

These fatty acids are ultimately accountable for the structure of your cell walls and the maintenance and functionality of your heart, lungs, and immune system. Per these health-laden attributes, salmon has been given the title of one of the healthiest foods you can consume as a human or a dog. Salmon is also a healthy option for cats due to its high protein content and omega- 3 levels. While there are other ways to include this nutrition into your dog’s diet, salmon is great, easy, and convenient. 

However, dogs and salmon can get a little tricky. Dogs are considered omnivores, meaning they can gather nutrition from various plants and meats. Dogs require the intake of meat which also includes the category of fish. In short, the answer swings to yes, dogs can eat salmon. But, it’s also essential to always check with your vet before adding new foods to your dog’s diet. 

Here are just a few things to consider before your canine friend can dig into some salmon for dinner.dogbowl healthy food around it

Health Benefits of Salmon for Dogs

Salmon can be a healthy addition for your dog in their regular diet from time to time. It may also be an excellent protein-rich option for your dog food if they are allergic to other protein sources, such as chicken or beef. The benefits of salmon for your dog are, in fact, somewhat similar to the health benefits you would receive from salmon yourself. Salmon is an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and D. You will also find that salmon is full of the minerals zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Salmon is very high in eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), also referred to as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can contribute to regulating your dog’s immune system, reducing inflammation from arthritis, increasing collagen production, fighting against and preventing heart disease, and much more. They are both essential to a healthy diet for your dog. 

Dogs can enjoy the benefits of salmon’s high levels of essential fatty acids or omega-3, which are ideal for a healthy body, skin, and coat. They can also offer an increase in their daily energy levels. The fatty acids present in salmon have been proven to display many anti-inflammatory properties beneficial to maintaining your dog’s overall health. Salmon is typically found in the ocean waters of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest region, and along parts of the coast of California. While it’s also found in other regions, the quality and contents of salmon can vary depending on where it’s sourced. A study found that salmon caught in The Alaskan area had 27% less mercury than salmon caught in other areas. Dogs can be affected by mercury just as humans.

“Salmon contains essential fatty acids that deliver the same type of benefits to dogs as to humans,” Backus says. “Some of these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help dogs with dry skin problems.” – Robert C. Backus, MS, DVM, Ph.D 

While regularly feeding this to your dog is an excellent source of essential nutrients, it can be expensive, but the benefits are worth the price. If you live in an area where fresh salmon is caught, consider buying it locally and at the local farmer’s market. If you cannot find reliable, affordable salmon, there are plenty of vitamins and supplements you can include in your dog’s diet that are just as beneficial for them. dogfood bowl with salmon dog foot

Vitamins and Nutrients Found in Salmon

Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA)

Eicosatetraenoic acid is a fatty acid that constitutes part of omega 3 fatty acids, which should be a part of a healthy diet and beneficial to lowering the risk of heart disease. Research has shown that fatty acids can contribute to a reduction of canine arthritis as well as chronic kidney disease.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) 

Docosahexaenoic acid is the other part of the chain of omega-3 fatty acids, which is predominantly responsible for the growth and development of the brain for puppies. In older dogs, the continued benefit of Docosahexaenoic acid is the maintenance of joint health and support of brain function. Older dogs may benefit from an improvement in cognition from the fatty acid.


A dog’s diet requires protein for it to function correctly. Protein is vital for your dog to maintain healthy hair and skin, muscle development, tissue repair, and much more. Your dog needs essential amino acids and may obtain them from eating protein.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin responsible for supporting your dog’s sight, proper growth, bodily function, and immune responses.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is also essential to your dog’s health since it provides the necessary means to change carbohydrates into glucose. This process is imperative as it provides your dog’s body with the energy he needs to chase a ball and go on walks.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is another essential fat-soluble vitamin for your dog that works to regulate the retention and balance of calcium and phosphorus. Fat-soluble vitamins must be monitored as your dog can receive too much for its body. Excess of these vitamins will be excreted in the urine and may cause kidney failure or death. Vitamin D


Your dog’s body requires the presence of zinc as it contributes to the function of many hormones, proteins, and enzymes. Zinc is a necessary mineral for your dog and vital for proper thyroid and immune system function.


The mineral magnesium should be incorporated into your dog’s diet as it is required for various bodily functions and biochemical reactions. Magnesium is essential for regulating your dog’s moods and maintaining muscle health.


Vital to your dog’s health, potassium is an electrolyte responsible for the functioning of electrical charges in the nerves, heart, and muscles. Potassium will work with sodium to maintain a balance or homeostasis in your dog’s body. In other words, they both work to move water in and out of your dog’s cells which will regulate the pH of the blood.

Types of Salmon for Your Dog

When you decide to purchase salmon to add to your dog’s diet, there are a few things to consider before you commit to buying it. It would help if you determined the style of salmon you prefer to feed your dog, ranging from canned, frozen, fresh, wild-caught, or farm-raised. This choice is based on your preference for how salmon is raised and how you will prepare it. Any type of salmon you choose to give to your dog must not be raw but must be cooked thoroughly.

When choosing your type of salmon, it is best to stick to salmon that has been wild caught or raised near the far northern or southern latitudes. Fish from colder marine environments will contain the best type of omega-3 fatty acids. These fish predominantly feed on the type of plankton most beneficial to producing the best quality fatty acids. bowls with food falling

Salmon Treats for Dogs

To avoid any disease or illness, knowing the proper way to cook salmon for your dog is crucial. An important reminder before you serve the cooked salmon to your dog is that you should remove any of the fish skin. The skin is not necessary for your dog to eat as it will increase the number of fatty acids and calories in your dog’s meal. When dogs consume fatty acids, it is essential to regulate ingested amounts to avoid any possible overdose. When cooking the salmon for your dog, you should never add any oil or seasonings to it. Adding salt, pepper, garlic, onions, or butter is unnecessary for your dog and could cause severe illness or medical issues.

Unsure how to cook salmon? Here are two ways to prepare this delicious fish for your dog. 

First method

The most common way to serve your dog salmon is to cook it as you would for yourself and include it in their daily feeding. This method has no added ingredients, so you know your salmon will be clean and suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs. 

2. To prepare the salmon before you cook and feed it to your dog, you must completely debone whatever filet you have chosen.

3. The next step is to cook the salmon by either broiling, steaming, grilling, baking, or poaching the fish.

4. Salmon should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees before it is suitable to be consumed by your canine friend.

5. Allow the piece of salmon to cool completely. Then, cut it into pieces and mix it into your dog’s regular food. cooking salmon

Second Method

If you are looking for another option, you can make smoked salmon treats at home to supply your dog with its many health benefits. This is a great way to include salmon into your dog’s diet if they don’t prefer it mixed in with their other food. 

1. To begin, the only ingredients you will need are a can of salmon, two cups of flour, and two eggs. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees as you prepared a bowl to mix your other ingredients.

2. Next, you should open the can of salmon and dump the entire container into a large bowl with your cracked eggs. Use a fork as you began to flake the salmon and mix it in with the eggs.

3. The next step is to add your flour to the fish and egg mixture. Mix and fold to combine until the consistency is similar to a crab cake.

4. After thoroughly combining, spread the mixture flat on a baking sheet. You may want to use wax paper or non-stick cooking spray to prevent the mixture from sticking to the sheet.

5. Next, press the mixture flat until it is about ¾ inches thick on your baking sheet. If you prefer your treats to be moist, you should leave the mixture thicker.

6. Now, place your cookie sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes. The longer you bake your treats, the crunchier they will turn out.

You may want to use a spatula to lift the treat off of the cookie sheet to prevent it from sticking to the sheet. You can leave the treats on the tray or place them on a cooling rack before you proceed. When the treats are finally cooled, you may break or cut them into your preferred shape. Once you have your treats, bag them up and freeze them to ensure freshness. It is important to remember that your treats are made with fish, and they do require refrigeration. You can store them in the fridge or the freezer based on your dog’s preference.

How Often Should Dogs Eat Salmon?

Like most things in life, your dog should consume salmon in moderation. Salmon is by no means toxic to your dog, but salmon, unfortunately, does not offer all the proper nutrients and health needs your dog requires. To stay healthy, your dog requires a well-maintained and balanced diet. Dogs need a perfect balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals suited to their specific body demands. Salmon can be incorporated into their diet in small quantities. Salmon should not constitute a considerable portion of their diet or be the main meal of their specific diet.

A small amount of salmon given to your dog as an addition to their main diet will garner the benefits available from salmon. A good rule of thumb is the ten percent rule. Based on your dog’s caloric intake, salmon should only constitute about ten percent of those calories. You can also use an online calorie counter to determine the proper intake of calories for your specific dog based on breed type, age, size, and activity level.bowls with food

Risks of Giving Salmon to Your Dog

There could also be some risks to your dog consuming salmon. The extra fatty acids along with vitamin D that salmon can provide may be too much for your dog’s body. Your dog’s system can only allow a particular amount of omega-3 into their body at a time based predominantly on their weight and current diet. Some dogs do not require the addition of omega-3 to their diet and will immediately begin to display some side effects. Too much omega-3 in your dog’s body will cause vomiting, diarrhea, and delayed wound closure. If you notice these symptoms, you should remove salmon from your dog’s diet immediately. Also, contact your vet if symptoms continue or worsen. It is imperative to contact your vet before you begin to incorporate salmon into your dog’s diet as a supplemental addition. 

Another risk to be aware of when feeding your dog salmon is the presence of many small and brittle bones. Bones are an immediate concern to your dogs since they can cause choking or other dangerous digestive problems. It is best to avoid giving your dog any small bones or shards that can easily cause ruptures or tears to their stomachs and intestines. Abdominal incisions can be fatal if not treated right away. You should contact your vet so they can provide treatment to remove the bones and repair the damage safely.

Salmon Poisoning Disease 

Salmon poisoning is an acute infectious disease from your dog consuming raw or undercooked salmon. If salmon is not cooked thoroughly, it can maintain the presence of harmful bacteria and parasites. The parasite responsible for salmon poisoning disease is a fluke known as Nanophyetus salmincola, which must be infected by the bacterium Neorickettsia helminthoeca. This fish disease can cause severe illness and symptoms to your dog.

Salmon poisoning disease symptoms can include vomiting, fever, diarrhea, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes. In this instance, it is not the salmon that is toxic to your dog. The problem arises from the infection that spreads in the bacterium found inside the parasite that infested the salmon. If you suspect your dog has consumed contaminated salmon, you should immediately take them to your vet. Salmon poisoning disease is entirely treatable if caught between the initial two weeks from when the salmon was ingested. It can be life-threatening to go without treatment for salmon poisoning disease. In many cases, salmon poisoning is fatal, where 90 percent of dogs who show symptoms unfortunately die.bowls with food falling


So, can dogs eat salmon? Yes! Salmon can be extremely healthy to your dog’s regular balanced diet. It can offer many vitamins, minerals, and nutrient-dense supplements to your dog’s diet. As with all things, your dog should consume salmon in moderation to avoid any adverse reactions. Salmon is predominantly healthy for your dog, except for a few dangers to be mindful of. The presence of bones is a hazard to watch for, along with the development of salmon poisoning disease from raw or uncooked salmon. Despite a few preventable risks, salmon is a protein-rich occasional addition or treat to consider adding to your dog’s current diet.

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