Brown dog sitting next to 2 raw trout fish on a grey cutting board, licking his chops

Can Dogs Eat Raw Fish? How to Feed Raw Fish For Dogs

Can dogs eat raw fish?

Why yes, dogs can certainly eat raw fish.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

As a matter of fact, it’s an important part of raw dog food, so don’t let anyone tell you that raw fish is bad for your dogs to eat.

Brown dog eating a whole herring fish
Wally demonstrates his favorite way of eating raw fish – whole!

My personal feeding preference is whole raw fish.

That’s because it’s the perfect mix of muscle meat, bone, and secreting organs all in one!

These three categories are the most important ones in raw feeding, and brains and eyes aren’t that easy to source.

But of course you can also grind whole fish using a food processor or meat grinder if you prefer not to feed it whole!

Another alternative is to buy pre-made raw dog food with fish in it.

In this blog post, I mention where you can buy either along with these topics:

  • Benefits of raw fish for dogs
  • Which raw fish can I feed my dog(s)
  • How much raw fish can my dog(s) eat?
  • Can dogs eat whole raw fish with fish bones?
  • Where to buy fish for raw dog food
  • Raw fish dogs shouldn’t eat
  • Easy raw dog food recipe with raw fish
  • Raw fish alternatives
  • Bonus: Can dogs eat cooked fish and fish skin?
Brown dog licking his chops over 2 raw trout fish

Benefits Of Raw Fish For Dogs

Raw fish is as important for immune and brain health for dogs as it for us humans!

It also does wonders for their joints and skin and coat health. 

That’s because it’s naturally rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re the ones that decrease inflammation within the body.

For an overview of the Omega-3 fatty acid content in fish, click here. It takes you to a chart from Oregon State University.

The benefit of feeding whole fish is that it includes the fish brains along with the fish eyeballs.

Both are considered secreting organs which are essentially Mother Nature’s multivitamins.

Which Raw Fish Can I Feed My Dogs?

You can feed any oily fish like:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Smelt
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Smelt
weighing a raw salmon head in a stainless steel dog bowl on a food scale
Weighing a raw salmon head
brown dog sitting next to a cutting board with 2 rainbow trouts
Feist mix Wally with 2 raw trouts
Brown dog sitting in front of a stainless steel dog bowl with homemade raw dog food including wild venison, beef, duck, thread herring, lamb, and veggies and herbs.
Wally’s raw dog food features a whole thread herring
cutting up raw mackerel for homemade raw dog food
Cutting up raw mackerel with a knife
Raw dog food topped off with canned sardines in water
Raw dog food topped off with canned sardines in water

Green lipped mussels are another excellent choice of seafood you can add to your pup’s (raw) meals.

They’re chock-full of naturally occurring chondroitin and glucosamine and are extremely beneficial for joint health.

While they’re obviously not fish but mussels, they still belong into the edible seafood category for dogs, so I do want to mention them here.

A word of caution: Don’t feed green lipped mussels if your pup has a shellfish allergy.

My pup Wally can’t have them because of his shellfish allergy, but my previous Boxer pups Missy and Buzz could eat them AND loved them.

Fun fact: They’re only found in the pristine waters off the coast of New Zealand. But not to worry, you can also buy them here in the US!

Stainless steel dog bowl filled with THK's base mix with raw chicken breast, green lipped mussels, and a chicken neck
Raw dog food with two green lipped mussels from Raw Feeding Miami

How Much Raw Fish Can My Dog Eat?

Raw fish should make up roughly 10% of your dog’s daily muscle meat allowance.

For green lipped mussels, large dogs can have 2 per day, medium size dogs can have 1 per day, and small dogs can have 1/2 per day.

For fish oils such as Planopaws Wild Caught Omega-3 Fish Oil (oil made from sardines, herring & mackerel), dogs can have 1 pump of the oil per 25 lbs of body weight.

Dogs who are new to the fish oil should initially get about half of their daily target allowance.

That’s because the oil is rich and concentrated and can potentially cause an upset stomach if too much is fed.

Can Dogs Eat Whole Raw Fish With Bones?

Yes, they can.

Raw fish bones are as soft and pliable as raw meaty bones from poultry or rabbit.

I’ve been feeding my pups Missy, Buzz and Wally whole raw fish since 2016 without any issues.

Related Reading: How to Feed Whole Raw Fish for Dogs

A whole raw fish sitting in front of a plastic bowl with cut up fish

Dogs can even eat larger fish heads like salmon heads.

Feeding salmon heads to 2 Boxer mix dogs outside in the backyard
Boxer mixes Missy & Buzz eating whole salmon heads

Should I Feed Fish Whole, Ground, Air-Dried, Canned Or As An Oil?

All of these options work!

As I mentioned before, my personal preference is to feed raw whole fish, followed by ground, air-dried, canned and fish oil.

A raw dog food order from Raw Feeding Miami includes raw mackerel for dogs
Raw dog food order from RFM

It essentially depends on your personal preference and your sourcing ability.

Single Ingredient Fish Treats For Dogs

When I’m:

  • Out of whole raw fish
  • Waiting on a new online order to come in
  • Can’t find whole fish at the grocery store

…I feed single-ingredient fish treats for dogs.

Brown dog licking his chops over single-ingredient herring fish treats from Icelandic+

My favorite ones are the dog fish treats from Icelandic+, and particularly their whole herring fish treats.

Wally LOVES those too!

A bag of herring fish treats from Icelandic+ next to a brown dog lying down on a tiled kitchen floor
Air-dried herring fish dog treats from Icelandic +
Aid-dried capelin and herring fish treats from Icelandic + hanging on a wall display
Capelin & herring fish treats from Icelandic+

Fish Oil For Dogs

I also used to feed my previous pups Missy & Buzz Bonnie & Clyde’s wild-caught fish oil (made from sardines, anchovies, mackerel and added Vitamin E, unfortunately no longer available) as well as canned sardines.

Both are great options, but my current pup Wally has a food intolerance towards sardines and anchovies, and he also can’t have any salmon.

So that limits my choices for most fish oils from the store.

If your pup doesn’t have any particular fish allergies, try Planopaws Wild Caught Omega-3 Fish Oil (oil made from sardines, herring & mackerel)!

Fera Pets Fish Oil is another option.

That one’s made of mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies that are wild-caught off of the coast of Iceland.

It also has Vitamin E added to it (just like Bonnie & Clyde’s did).

Where To Buy Fish For Raw Dog Food

Of course you can find raw fish at some local grocery stores, depending on your geographical location and how well the store is stocked.

Raw fish selection at a fish market
Divine raw fish selection at a fish market close to the ocean

For example, I can find raw rainbow trout at my local grocery store Harris Teeter here in NC, but that’s it as far as my local fish selection goes!

four different types of raw fish for dogs

Thankfully, there are several online raw dog food retailers that carry raw fish.

For example:

  • Raw Feeding Miami
  • Raw Paws Pet Food
  • My Pet Carnivore
  • Hare Today

Raw Feeding Miami carries:

  • Dehydrated green lipped mussels and smelts
  • Whole mackerel, sardines, and smelts
  • Ground salmon & salmon chunks
  • Ground and whole thread herring

->Save 10% off your Raw Feeding Miami order with my referral discount link.

Raw Paws Pet Food carries:

  • Whole smelt
  • Ground Atlantic salmon
  • A mix of beef and mackerel that’s ready to feed as is

-> Save 15% off your Raw Paws Pet Food order with my affiliate discount code K9Savings.

My Pet Carnivore carries:

  • Ground lake herring
  • Whole lake herring
  • Whole sardines
  • Ground lake trout
  • Whole lake trout
  • Ground lake whitefish

Hare Today carries:

  • Whole sardines
  • Ground sardines
  • Ground Atlantic herring
  • Ground sardines and bone
  • Green lipped mussel powder
  • Dehydrated ground salmon

Which Fish Is Not Good for Dogs?

Dogs shouldn’t eat larger raw fish like tuna and shark, at least not on a regular basis.

That’s because the larger the fish, the more heavy metals and toxins they come with.

raw fish displayed on ice

If you’re feeding raw fish from the Pacific such as salmon, you need to freeze it for a minimum of 3 weeks before feeding it to your pup(s).

That’s because it can carry a parasite that’s known to be fatal to dogs.

The freezing process gets rid of the parasite, but if you want to be on the safe side, don’t feed any raw fish from the Pacific at all.

Dogs who have a specific fish intolerance obviously shouldn’t eat the kind of fish they don’t do well with.

For my pup Wally, that includes green lipped mussels, sardines, anchovies, and salmon.

Can Dogs Eat Goldfish?

Well, it depends on which type of goldfish we’re talking about…

If you’re asking about the goldfish from your fish tank or garden pond, the answer is yes.

Technically speaking, your (water crazy) pup can eat that goldfish.

Maybe they shouldn’t though because your kids may get upset!

Now, if you’re asking about the goldfish crackers, the answer is: ideally not.

Goldfish crackers are a highly processed human snack that’s not exactly good for us either, at least not when consumed on a regular basis.

So while your dog will be OK if they sniff out and eat a goldfish that “accidentally” fell on the floor, do yourself a favor and don’t make it a habit.

There are much better single-and limited ingredient dog treat alternatives your pups (& their bodies!) will love.

Easy Raw Dog Food Recipe With Fish

Here’s a super easy raw dog food recipe for your pup that features raw fish.

The main ingredient is a complete source of raw dog food.

Complete means that it can be fed as is because it consists of muscle meat, secreting organs, and raw meaty bone, the 3 main components of raw dog food.

In this particular raw dog food recipe, I chose rabbit grinds from Raw Feeding Miami.

I mixed them with Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm and added some rainbow trout from a local grocery store.

Paradigm is a dehydrated mix of low-carb veggies and healing herbs.

It only needs to be rehydrated with warm water, which makes it a very convenient way of adding healthy plant matter to raw dog food.

A bag of Dr. Harvey's dehydrated Paradigm and a sample of its rehydrated version
Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm

Of course you can also choose other complete grinds to mimic this recipe.

For example, any complete grinds from Raw Feeding Miami or Raw Paws Pet Food.

Tip: Save 10% off your Raw Feeding Miami order with my referral discount link.

Or save 15% off your Raw Paws Pet Food order with my affiliate discount code K9Savings.

raw dog food recipe card including Dr. Harvey's Paradigm and raw rainbow trout fish

Bonus: Can Dogs Eat Cooked Fish And Fish Skin?

Yes, dogs can also eat cooked fish along with the fish skin, but only if there’s no seasoning and no condiments on either.

AND as long as you’re only feeding cooked fish without the fish bones.

Remember, raw fish bones are soft and pliable – just like raw meaty bones in raw feeding – but cooked fish bones are pointy, sharp and dangerous.

Generally speaking, raw fish is always going to be more nutritious because cooking eliminates a bunch of nutrients.

However, some dogs with certain medical conditions may do better with cooked fish as opposed to eating raw fish.

For example, dogs who undergo cancer treatment.

Some picky dogs may also prefer cooked fish (even if it’s just lightly cooked) because it brings out more of its flavor.

And even aging dogs who’ve eaten raw dog food including raw fish for many years may prefer cooked fish and cooked fish skin as they get older.

That has to do with the weakening of their digestive system as they age.

Raw Fish for Dogs: Bottom Line

Raw fish is an important ingredient in raw dog food and should make up around 10% of your dog’s daily muscle meat allowance.

That’s because it’s a natural anti-inflammatory food that’s important for brain, joint and skin health.

Fish can be fed:

  • Whole
  • Ground
  • Air-dried
  • Canned
  • As an oil
raw salmon head for dog being weighed on a food scale

If you’re lucky and live near the ocean or a well-stocked grocery store, you can potentially get your hands on a large, local selection of fish.

Otherwise, there are a several raw dog food retailers here in the US who carry raw fish such as:

  • Sardines
  • Smelt
  • Herring
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Green lipped mussels

Remember not to feed any raw fish from the Pacific without freezing it for a minimum of 3 weeks.

That’s a safety precaution to get rid of a parasite that can be fatal to dogs.

Also, while it’s fine to feed your dog unseasoned cooked fish, another thing to remember is to never feed your dog cooked fish bones.

Those are sharp and pointy and can hurt your dog.

Only feed your dog RAW fish bones.

Happy (raw) fish feeding!

Does your dog have a favorite fish? Let me know in the comment section below!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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