Dog stealing cooked fish from a plate

Can Dogs Eat Fish? Proceed with Caution…

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Can dogs eat fish? That is a reasonable question for dog owners to ask. After all, if you can give your dog some of the scraps off your plate, why wouldn’t you? But not all foods are safe for dogs to eat. While it is not 100% safe in all scenarios, you can usually feed your dog fish without any notable issues.

However, we still recommend that you read through to the end of this article so that you have all the information available to make an informed decision. Just because it is usually safe for your dog to eat fish doesn’t mean it should be the primary food in their diet or that you should feed it to them all the time.

Can Dogs Eat Fish?

Dogs can eat some fish, but you need to proceed with caution.

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not yes or no. There are some situations where it is safe to feed your dog some fish, but there are other situations where you should stick to dog food.

There are two primary factors you need to consider before feeding your dog fish, and those are the type of fish and whether it is cooked.

Typically, small and wild-caught fish are safe options for your dog to eat. Here are a few of the types of fish you can feed your dog without issue:

  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Herring
  • Light tuna fish
  • Salmon
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

These fish are unlikely to have a lot of mercury or any parasites. Fish you should avoid feeding to your dog include:

  • Albacore tuna
  • King mackerel
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish

If you are feeding your dog fish, you should again try to avoid giving them raw fish if at all possible. While raw fish is fine in small amounts, it does expose your dog to infections such as salmonella and listeria. Additionally, you can catch these diseases from your dog, and you do not want that.

How Much Fish Should You Feed Your Dog?

Remember, too much of a good thing can turn bad. That statement is true for most things in life, and feeding fish to your dogs is not an exception.

If you are feeding fish to your dog, it should be plain, cooked, grilled, or steamed. Additionally, you should only give it to your dog in limited quantities. Giving your dog too much fish can lead to obesity.

As a result, we recommend that you consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet. Dogs vary in size significantly, so we cannot say for certain how much fish your dog can eat.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

Your dog makes you happy, and as a result, it makes sense to try to make your dog as happy as possible. They will be happy when you give them fish, but they are not a great judge of what is good for them.

Fish can be good supplemental food in a dog’s diet, but it should not be fed to them every day. Consult your vet to see how much fish your dog should eat.

Wondering if other common human foods are safe for your dog to eat? Check out the articles below to learn about other foods that are safe (and not safe) for dogs to eat:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.