Let’s talk raw fish for dogs!
First off, yes, dogs can certainly eat raw fish. As a matter of fact, it’s an important part of raw dog food.
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.
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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.
The benefit of feeding whole fish is that it includes the brain along with the eyes. 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, and anchovies.
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.
A word of caution: Don’t feed green lipped mussels if your pup has a shellfish allergy. My current 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!
How Much Raw Fish Can My Dog Eat?
Raw fish should make up roughly 10% of your dog’s daily food 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 Bonnie & Clyde’s wild-caught fish oil, dogs can have 1 pump of the oil per 20 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.
Fish Bones & Fish Heads – Can Dogs Eat Them?
Yes, they can. Raw fish bones are as soft and pliable as raw meaty bones from poultry or rabbit.
Dogs can also eat larger fish heads like salmon heads. I’m linking to a blog post about that topic at the end of this blog post.
Should I Feed Raw 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 fish whole, followed by ground, air-dried, canned, and fish oil.
It essentially depends on your personal preference and your sourcing ability.
When I’m out of whole raw fish and waiting on a new online order to come in or can’t find whole fish at the grocery store, I’ll feed single-ingredient fish treats like the kind from Real Dog or Icelandic +.
I also used to feed my previous pups Missy & Buzz canned fish like sardines and Bonnie & Clyde’s wild-caught fish oil. Both are great options, but my current pup Wally has a food intolerance towards sardines and anchovies.
Since Bonnie & Clyde’s fish oil is partially made of sardines and anchovies (and mackerel), Wally can’t have that oil.
Where To Buy Raw Fish For Dogs
Of course you can find raw fish at some local grocery stores, depending on your geographical location and how well the store is stocked.
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!
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, and Hare Today.
Raw Feeding Miami carries dehydrated green lipped mussels and smelts, as well as ground salmon, ground and whole thread herring, salmon chunks, mackerel, sardines, and smelts.
Raw Paws Pet Food carries whole smelt, ground Atlantic salmon, as well as a mix of beef and mackerel that’s ready to feed as is.
My Pet Carnivore carries ground lake herring, whole lake herring, whole sardines, ground lake trout, whole lake trout, and ground lake whitefish.
Hare Today carries whole sardines, ground sardines, ground Atlantic herring, ground sardines and bone, green lipped mussel powder, and dehydrated ground salmon.
Fish Dogs Shouldn’t Eat
Dogs shouldn’t eat larger fish like tuna and shark.
That’s because the larger the fish, the more heavy metals and toxins they come with.
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.
Easy Raw Dog Food Recipe With Raw Fish
Here’s a super easy raw dog food recipe for your pup that features 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 recipe, I chose complete rabbit from a farm in TN (they ship within the US).
I mixed it 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.
Of course you can also choose other complete grinds to mimic this recipe.
How To Feed 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 food allowance. That’s because it’s a natural anti-inflammatory food that’s important for brain and joint health.
It can either be fed whole or ground, air-dried, canned, or as an oil.
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 sardine, smelt, herring, trout, mackerel, salmon, and even 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.
Happy fish feeding! Does your dog have a favorite fish? Let me know in the comment section below!