Can My Puppy Eat Fish?

I’ve talked many times about how important it is as a pet parent to feed your puppy a nutritious diet. When you adopt a pup, you take over the responsibility from their mama, one that you will have for the rest of your pup’s life.

Today, many puppy parents make food at home for their puppies and dogs. Some do it to save money, but most do it to be sure their pup gets the very best ingredients in their food.

If you’re like most people, you likely know that, in the wild, canines survive on a diet of mostly meat. Wolves, for example, hunt and eat a wide variety of animals for their food. Until they were domesticated, dogs did the same.

I thought about this the other day when one of my readers asked me about another type of flesh they wanted to give to their puppy. Their question to me was one I’ve heard many times: Can my puppy eat fish?

The answer is that, yes, dogs can eat fish and, when prepared correctly, it’s a very healthy part of their diet. A few caveats include that the fish should be fully cooked (no sushi) and have very little oil added to it when cooked.

Also, all fish you feed your puppy should be deboned completely (even the tiny bones). Lastly, any fish you give your puppy should have no extra seasonings, especially salt, garlic, onions, butter, etc. 

As I’ve discussed in many of my earlier blogs, many spices and seasonings humans put on their food are toxic for dogs and puppies. That’s why plain, fully-cooked fish is best.

Now that you know that your puppy can eat fish and it’s a great addition to their diet, you probably have other questions about feeding them fish. What are the benefits of eating fish for puppies, for example, and what fish can they not eat?

If so, please keep reading! I have the answers to those questions and several more below to help you determine which fish is best to feed your pup.

Benefits of Eating Fish for Dogs

The good news about fish and feeding it to your dog or puppy is that it’s very high in many nutrients, including protein. Puppies and dogs need protein in their diet for strong muscles and bones and many of their body’s natural processes. 

Dogs and puppies also need amino acids in their diet to stay healthy and active. Fish is very high in amino acids and scores a 92 / 100 on the amino acid scale. Amino acids are essential for a puppy’s skin and coat and a healthy, strong immune system.

Speaking of your puppy’s coat, the right kind of fish provides a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, which their skin and coat also need to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids prevent rashes and skin irritation that can be painful for your puppy.

Lastly, fish is high in many vitamins and minerals that your pup needs to mature into a healthy adult dog. Most of these vitamins and minerals aren’t made in your puppy’s body, so they need to get them from food sources. For example:

  • Zinc helps your puppy’s body to create cells and enzymes.
  • Iodine is essential for making hormones and a healthy metabolism.
  • B complex vitamins, including B6, B12, and B3, help your puppy’s body break down food and release its energy. B vitamins also help your puppy’s red blood cells carry oxygen and help their nervous system perform at a high level.
  • Vitamin A is beneficial for your puppy’s immune system and helps them fight off illnesses and infections. It’s also critical for bone development and healthy, strong bones.
  • Selenium supports new cells and tissues and prevents damage to your pup’s existing cells and tissues.
  • Iron in fish helps your puppy’s red blood cells transport oxygen throughout their body. Without it, they will often be lethargic and weak.
  • The vitamin D found in fish helps your puppy’s body to absorb both calcium and phosphorus, essential to their bones and teeth.
  • Speaking of bones and teeth, fish is a rich source of calcium, which is excellent for both and helps their muscles, heart, nerve function, and digestive system.

How Much Fish Can a Puppy Eat?

How much fish your puppy can eat depends on several factors, including their size, nutritional needs, and overall health. If your puppy or adult dog suffers from allergies, fish can be very helpful,  especially for treating allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and arthritis.

As with most foods outside the traditional puppy and dog food, you should give your puppy fish in moderation. That equates to about 1 or 2 oz of fish two or three times a week. Larger puppies might be able to have a little bit more, while smaller puppies should be given less fish.

Ask your veterinarian for advice if you’re unsure of how much fish to feed your puppy. My advice would be that if your puppy is average size and healthy,  you can give them a small amount of fish (properly prepared) several times a week.

What Fish is Safe for Puppies to Eat?

Not all fish is safe or healthy for puppies and dogs to eat. For example, it’s well-known that tuna is very high in mercury, which is unhealthy for all mammals, including humans and dogs.

Generally speaking, the best fish for dogs and puppies is smaller, young, and wild-caught fish species. Below I’ve listed all of the species that, in moderation, are safe to give your puppy and dog, including:

  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Herring
  • Light tuna packed in water
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting
  • Sardines (Packed in water with no additional salt.) 

What Fish Can Dogs Not Eat?

Many fish species today are raised on fish farms where they face incredibly cramped conditions that can cause a wide variety of health issues. Most aquaculture firms use antibiotic treatments to prevent those health issues, but these come with their own drawbacks.

Also, some fish species are harvested and sent to market only when they’re older. The problem here is that, unfortunately, older fish usually have a higher concentration of mercury, an incredibly toxic heavy metal.

Sadly, the longer they live, the higher amounts of parasites you will find in most fish’ skin, muscles, and internal organs. For these reasons, the FDA recommends avoiding the following fish:

  • Albacore Tuna
  • King mackerel
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish 

Can Puppies Eat Raw Fish?

In the wild, eating raw fish is something canines will do whenever they get the chance. Unfortunately, today, raw fish comes with a high risk of parasites and bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, and clostridium. For that reason, feeding raw and even undercooked fish to your pupper is not recommended.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen today, puppies can eat fish as long as it’s fully cooked and prepared plainly. That means no spices, oils, butter, etc. (Baking fish in a glass Pyrex pan is best.) Fish prepared this way is a delicious addition to your puppy’s regular food. It’s also highly nutritious and contains many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. 

I hope today’s blog answered all of your questions about whether your puppy can eat fish. If you have more, please see my other blogs. I’ve covered a wide variety of puppy-related subjects, and I believe you’ll find great advice, tips, and information in all of them. Until next time, best of luck raising your precious puppy!