Can Dogs Eat Salmon? It Can Be Toxic or Healthy, so Here’s the Truth…

Salmon is great for humans. It includes essential omega-3 acids that support brain and bones’ health. And indeed, the following scenario happened at least once: while you were savoring that delicious salmon fillet,  your dog was asking for a piece using all the tricks up his furry sleeves. You might have questioned yourself in that second: Can dogs eat salmon? Can I feed it to my pup?

Well, let’s try to research the subject together before rushing into conclusions.

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Is Salmon bad for dogs? Can it be poisonous?

Giving that fish to your dog can be an act of kindness with deadly consequences. Salmon Poisoning Disease is a possibly fatal illness observed in dogs that eat some types of raw fish, including Salmon. It can be contaminated with a parasite named Nanophyetus salmincola. Overall, it is relatively harmless. However, the danger happens when the parasite itself is tainted with Neorickettsia helminthoeca. It’s this microorganism that originates salmon poisoning.

“Dogs are the only species susceptible to salmon poisoning. That’s why cats, raccoons, and bears eat raw fish regularly without consequence,” states  Dr. Bill Foreyt, from Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Generally, clinical symptoms develop within six days of a dog consuming an infected fish and might include lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, and swollen lymph nodes.

If the disease is untreated, death occurs typically within two weeks after eating the infected fish. Ninety percent of affected dogs die if the condition is not treated by a specialist.

Is Salmon good for dogs? What are the benefits?

In Spite of the dangers described in the previous section, Salmon is very rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy omega fatty acids. Its various nutritional benefits make it very beneficial for canines too. For instance, fatty acids mentioned helps the immune system, may reduce inflammation and can be helpful for your dog’s skin and coat health. Most type of Salmon – raw, cooked, canned (we’ll get to it) – also contain a similar set of other nutrients. For instance, Calcium.  According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, insufficient Calcium can lead to irritability and loss of muscle tone.

Also, Potassium which is vital for both electrical and cellular and functions, including conduction of electrical charges through the nerves, heart, and muscles. Therefore, a lack of Potassium in the bloodstream will jeopardize the healthy functioning of these tissues.

And of course, Vitamin A that is accountable for vision, growth, immune function, fetal development, and cell function in dogs. So Salmon can be an excellent addition for canines diet.

Can dogs eat raw Salmon?  

No, absolutely not. As mentioned before it would be hazardous even though raw Salmon seems to be extra nutritious. According to the research database of the United States Department of Agriculture 100g of raw wild Atlantic Salmon has 142 kcals, 19.84g  of proteins, 6.34g of fats (including 0.98g of “questionable” saturated fats and the rest being “good” poly- and monosaturated) and a whole bunch of other nutrients.

I will list the ones with the most content: 12 mg of Calcium, 29 mg of Magnesium, 200 mg of Phosphorus, 490 mg of Potassium, 7.86 mg of Niacin, 0.81 mg of Vitamin B6, 40 IU of Vitamin A.  And there are some less amazing things in the raw Salmon too – that includes 44 mg of Sodium and 55 mg of Cholesterol.

However, if you want to avoid the suffering from salmon poisoning along with a substantial veterinary bill for curing it, we’d recommend to skip it altogether.

And if you are still not persuaded about those parasites in the raw fish, we’d covered more of the topic in our article answering the question “Can dogs eat salmon skin?” and in our piece about dogs eating shrimps. So you can read more on the subject of raw, and even watch a short video, here.

Can dogs eat cooked Salmon

Depending on the recipe. Fried aside (frying will make fatty fish even fatter, and therefore, not very edible by canines), let’s talk about grilled Salmon in the section.

According to the researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture 100g of cooked grilled Salmon holds 103 kcals, 18.10 g  of proteins, 3.45g of fats (including 0.43g of “questionable” saturated fats and the rest being “good” poly- and monosaturated). And, of course, other healthy nutrients including 34 mg of Calcium, 86 IU of Vitamin A and 1 mg of Vitamin C.

And there are some less healthy elements in the grilled Salmon too – 190 mg of Sodium and 56 mg of Cholesterol. So, way fewer nutrients than in the raw fish and also high in Sodium. However, if you grill a separate small batch for your dog deliberately skipping all the seasoning, it can be a proper option to share the joy of the salmon feast with your pup.

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How to cook Salmon for dogs?

Start with the right choice of fish – pick fresh boneless fillets, since they’re less possible to have small bones in it. But be sure to inspect the piece for small bones anyway  – any of those may pose a choking threat. If you are sure that the fish is fine – poach, steam, grill, bake or roast, the Salmon with no salt, oil, pepper, or other seasonings, including well-known pups’ offenders: garlic or onions.

As with any food, serving size control is essential. Share a small bit of fish with your dog and restrict his salmon intake to a weekly or rarer.  

Is canned Salmon safe for dogs to eat?

It depends. As per researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture 100g of canned Salmon includes 129 kcals, 19.68 g  of proteins, 4.97g of fats (including 0.86g of saturated fats and the rest being “good” poly- and monosaturated) and other nutrients.

Amongst the majors are 215 mg of Calcium, 30 mg of Magnesium, 337 mg of Phosphorus, 344 mg of Potassium, 6.63 mg of Niacin, 0.3 mg of Vitamin B6, 57 IU of Vitamin A, 547 IU of Vitamin D, 0.64 mg of Vitamin E, etc. And there are some questionable things in the canned Salmon too – for instance, 403 mg of Sodium and 55 mg of Cholesterol.

So, even though from a nutritional point of view canned Salmon looks really attractive it’s just too much Sodium in it (average sized 30-pounds pup cannot consume more than 100mg of Sodium per day).

Therefore we’d recommend to avoid canned Salmon or maybe give a try to a recipe designed specifically for dogs, like grain-free salmon-chicken meal by Solid Gold. It has all the benefits of the canned Salmon + more nutrients added, including a wide range of probiotics for better digestion, Vitamin D3 and Biotin for better skin and coat and, most importantly, pups seem to really enjoy it.

Can dogs eat smoked Salmon?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. As found out and documented by the researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture 100g of canned Salmon contains 117 kcals, 18.28 g  of proteins, 4.32g of fats (including 0.93g of saturated fats and the rest being “good” poly- and monosaturated).

Plus more nutrients – 11 mg of Calcium, 18 mg of Magnesium, 164 mg of Phosphorus, 175 mg of Potassium, 4.72 mg of Niacin, 0.27 mg of Vitamin B6, 87 IU of Vitamin A, 685 IU of Vitamin D, 1.35 mg of Vitamin E, etc. Probably the most amount of nutrients we’ve seen so far.

However, smoked Salmon also has the highest amount of Sodium –  672 mg in a 100g serving. Way too much for your pup even in case you are going to share just a small piece of fish with your four-legged friend.

Salmon and dogs. Summary.

Wrapping it up – when cooked right with zero seasonings added Salmon can be a suitable supplement to your pup’s diet. It’s a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, which strengthen the immune system, may reduce inflammation, and can keep your pup’s coat silky and healthy. It’s also a good protein source. In fact, Salmon is a typical component of high-quality dog food. If your pooch is allergic to more traditional sources of protein, e.g., chicken, Salmon may be a better choice.

But remember about the parasite threats carried by the raw Salmon. Smoked, canned and fried variants are perhaps too high on Sodium and fat. However grilled, roasted, baked or steamed alteration might be suitable.  

Even though this fish can be perfect for your dog when well cooked and served in smaller servings, the pup still mainly get all their nutritional needs from their regular dog food diet.  

So maybe it makes sense to think of trying some quality salmon based dog-food options. Our best suggestions would be Smoked Salmon, and Sweet Potato treats by Nature Gnaws or recipe by Nutro with salmon and lentils (and you might want to read my post “Can dogs eat lentils?” to know why).

Thanks for the blog graphics: