Can dogs eat salmon?

Salmon, a popular type of fish that’s touted as a superfood for people, is full of beneficial fats and nutrients. But, is salmon healthy for your dog? When properly prepared, salmon can be a great addition to your dog’s regular diet. Some types of salmon, however, can cause dangerous health problems. Before you share your fish dinner with your furry friend, ensure you know what harmful situations to avoid.

Nutritional benefits of salmon

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, salmon is one of the healthiest types of fish you can prepare for both you and your pet. It also contains vitamins A, D, and B-complex, as well as the minerals zinc, potassium, and magnesium. Some of the impressive health benefits:

  • Healthy skin and fur

  • Improvement of skin irritation and allergies

  • Improved joint mobility

  • Decreased joint inflammation, helping alleviate symptoms of arthritis

  • Strengthened immune function

  • Improved brain function

Many dog foods and supplements for skin and joint health contain the same omega-3 fatty acids that are found in salmon. Feeding the fish to your pet can be a great way to provide a boost in these beneficial nutrients.

Health risks of feeding raw salmon to dogs

Raw and undercooked salmon can contain parasites and bacteria that can make your pet extremely sick, so be sure to thoroughly cook any salmon before feeding it to your dog.

Flukes — Raw or partially cooked salmon can contain a flat, worm-like parasite called a fluke. If salmon infected with flukes is ingested by your dog, she can develop illness characterized by:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Dehydration

Salmon poisoning disease — Raw or partially cooked salmon can also contain the bacteria Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which causes an illness known as salmon poisoning disease. Most commonly seen in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, northern California and southern Vancouver Island).  According to veterinarians at Washington State University, salmon poisoning can cause:

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Dehydration

  • Lymph node enlargement

  • Death within 14 days (if not treated)

The signs of salmon poisoning don’t occur until about five to seven days after ingestion of the raw fish, so it can be difficult to connect the sudden onset of clinical signs to fish eaten several days ago. Salmon poisoning disease only affects canines, which is why bears, cats, and raccoons can safely eat raw fish.

Tips for feeding salmon to your dog

  1. Thoroughly cook salmon before feeding it to your dog. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends cooking fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F.

  2. Completely debone and remove the skin from the fish you plan on sharing with your pup.

  3. Pre-cooked canned salmon is a safe choice, but stick with salmon packed in water instead of brine or oil.

  4. Stay away from smoked salmon, which contains high salt levels, and could contain harmful parasites and bacteria not eliminated by the smoking process.

     

Safe salmon recipes

Ready to let your dog indulge in some salmon? Try these recipes!

Salmon Dog Treats

Your dog will salivate as she smells these irresistible treats from PetHelpful baking.  

Ingredients:

1 14.75 ounce can of pink salmon packed in water

2 cups flour

2 eggs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

  2. Open the can of salmon, but don't drain the liquid.

  3. Put the salmon and its juices into a large mixing bowl, and flake the meat apart with a fork.

  4. Crack and add two eggs, and mix with the salmon.

  5. Mix the flour into the salmon/egg mixture.

  6. Spray a baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray, and dump the dough mixture onto the sheet.

  7. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking to them.

  8. Press the dough out flat until it is about 1/4 inch thick. If you want the treats to be more moist, you can make it thicker. If you want crunchier treats, you can make it thinner. You don't need to make perfect corners as this will later be broken into small treats.

  9. Place the cookie sheet in the oven. Let it cook for 25–35 minutes, depending on whether you prefer softer or crunchier treats.

  10. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, lift the entire batch off the cookie sheet before cooling, and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

  11. Once cooled, divide the treats into desired portions, bag, and freeze for up to two months.

Save a few treats to give to your furry friend right away. She will be licking her lips after smelling them baking!

Salmon cakes for dogs

Salmon patties are a human favorite, so why not make a dog-friendly version for your pooch? Try this recipe from Dog Treat Kitchen.

Ingredients:

1  14.75oz can of salmon

2 egg whites

¼ cup sour cream, low or fat free

2 tsp dried parsley

½ cup carrot, shredded

½ cup plain bread crumbs

1 tsp dried dill

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

  2. Drain liquid from the salmon. Remove bones and skin, if any.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the salmon, egg whites, sour cream, parsley, and carrot.

  4. In a separate shallow dish, stir together the plain bread crumbs and dill.

  5. Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop one ball and lightly flatten into patty form.

  6. Thoroughly coat the patty in the bread crumb mixture.

  7. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

  8. Repeat until there is no salmon mixture left. (Recipe should make 24 salmon cakes.)

  9. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip the patties and bake for 12 additional minutes.

  10. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

  11. Treats can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to two months.