Sure, there are plenty of fish in the sea. But, salmon sure makes for a delicious and nutritious option! It’s high in protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chock full of vitamins A, B-6, B12, and D, and is a good source of minerals, like potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. The benefits of eating this orange wonder are plentiful for us humans. But, the big question today is: Can dogs eat salmon?
Short answer: Yes!
A Look at The Nutritional Value
Salmon offers up a variety of beneficial nutrients, but so much of its goodness comes from the power of omega-3 fatty acids. A dog’s body doesn’t produce these necessary fats on their own, so they must get them from their diet.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3-ounces of raw wild Atlantic salmon contains:
- Water – 58.2g
- Calories – 121
- Protein – 16.9g
- Total fat – 5.39g
- Calcium – 10.2mg
- Iron – 0.68mg
- Magnesium – 24.6mg
- Phosphorus – 170mg
- Potassium – 416mg
- Sodium – 37.4mg
- Zinc – 0.544mg
- Copper – 0.212mg
- Manganese – 0.014mg
- Selenium – 31µg
- Thiamin – 0.192mg
- Riboflavin – 0.323mg
- Niacin – 6.68mg
- Pantothenic acid – 1.41mg
- Folate – 21.2µg
- Vitamin A – 34IU
- Vitamin B-6 – 0.695mg
- Vitamin B-12 – 2.7µg
- Vitamin D – 307IU
Health Benefits of Salmon
- Anti-Inflammatory – Chronic inflammation is at the root of nearly all diseases. In fact, cancer, arthritis, and digestive disease are all linked to inflammation (in humans and dogs). Good news: Fish that are high in omega-3 fats, like salmon, are said to be a great choice for lowering inflammation in the body.
- Strong Immune System – Salmon touts various vitamins and minerals that help support a strong immune system.
- Heart Health – Omega-3s are linked to improved heart and vascular function.
- Brain Power – Omega-3s are also linked to improved cognitive health. In one study done with 48 Beagle puppies, researchers found puppies fed diets enriched with omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) had improved cognitive, memory, psychomotor, immunologic, and retinal functions.
- Eye Health – Speaking of retinal function, the omega-3 fats and vitamin A in salmon are also great for vision and eye health.
- Digestive Health – Salmon is good for digestive health. The anti-inflammatory properties in salmon aid in inflammatory bowel disorders, the fish is easily digested, and it’s low in calorie which may help with weight loss.
- Ease Joint Pain – Giving your dog a good dose of omega-3s can be a natural way of decreasing inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. Plus, it can help relieve mild stiffness and improve mobility.
- Great for Skin & Coat – Dietary deficiency of omega-3s can cause excessively flaky skin in our pets. The nutrients in salmon help promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Never Feed Raw Or Undercooked Salmon
Before we get into feeding tips, it’s important to note: Never feed your dog fresh raw or undercooked salmon. Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD) is a life-threatening condition that dogs can get from eating or licking raw/undercooked salmon, trout, or other fish infected with the parasite Neorickettsia helminthoeca.
Your dog doesn’t have to consume a lot of fish in order to contract SPD. Far from it. According to the County Of Los Angeles Department of Public Health:
“The infection is present in all parts of the infected fish, including the slime layer on the surface; one dog in LA county caught the disease after licking the ground where water had dripped off an infected trout.”
SPD is most often found in Pacific Northwest in areas from Northern California to the Alaskan coast.
This potentially deadly disease can take 5-7 days for symptoms to appear. Inform your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog ate or licked raw salmon or trout.
- Bloody diarrhea
Additionally, do not feed your dog smoked salmon because it has high levels of salt which can be toxic for a dog. Smoked salmon may also contain harmful parasites that survived the smoking process and could be deadly to dogs.
Given the many benefits of salmon, it’s no wonder it’s the star ingredient in many high-end dog foods. A few bites of de-boned and cooked salmon also makes for a great food topper to chicken or beef-based meals. A few notes when preparing fresh salmon:
- Prepare the fillet by removing the skin and bones.
- Fresh salmon must be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145° per USDA safety guidelines. Undercooked or raw salmon has the potential for salmon poisoning.
Aside from its spot in your dog’s food bowl, salmon also makes for a great base to homemade dog treats. In my cookbook, Proud Dog Chef: Tail-Wagging Good Treat Recipes, I share a recipe for homemade salmon jerky. It calls for one fresh salmon fillet, thinly sliced, and then dehydrated in the oven.
You can also use canned salmon to create delicious and healthy snacks for your precious pooch. Just use a can that’s labeled: skinless, boneless, plain, in water, no salt or flavors added.
Here are some of my go-to treats that use canned salmon:
As with any food, don’t overfeed and, when first introducing this popular fish into your pup’s diet, do so slowly. If you have any questions or concerns, consult with your veterinarian!
Get More Doggy Food Facts
This feature is part of a weekly web series called Food Facts Friday. Every Friday, we share foods that are great for our canine companions. Check out other foods highlighted in this series HERE!