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Salmon for Dogs: Is Salmon Safe for Your Fur Babies?

As many of us with fur babies know, dogs are like cooking companions—always in the kitchen for sniffs and the occasional ingredient that falls on the floor. And if your mouth is watering as you prepare your Alaskan Salmon Fried Rice, then you can expect your furry friend to find the smell just as enticing. So should we spoil them? Can dogs eat salmon? Let’s take a look. 

Can Dogs Eat Salmon?

Nutrition Your Dog Needs

Like humans, dogs have basic nutritional requirements. 

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

While many dog foods are designed to meet these requirements, the inclusion of controversial ingredients like melamine (plastic), BHA and BHT (artificial preservatives), food dyes, and meat meal (leftover animal bits), are encouraging many pet-owners to seek healthier alternatives with recognizable ingredients.

Enter: salmon, a tasty treat for both humans and hounds. 

Can Dogs Eat Salmon?

Yes, dogs can eat salmon. Many of the reasons salmon is a good choice for humans are also why it’s a healthy food for them. However, it’s crucial that the salmon is prepared properly.

First, it’s important to recognize that salmon often has small, brittle bones that could present risks of choking or damage to internal organs. Be sure to look for boneless salmon, or take some time to make sure you remove all bones before they end up in the dog bowl. 

This brings up another important question: 

Can Dogs Eat Salmon Skin?

Yes! And not only do they love it, it comes with a lot of health benefits. Since salmon skin is such a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, when consumed your furry friend will notice improvements in their  fur, skin, joints, and immunity. The only thing to be wary of is that it is properly cooked and free of seasonings

Salmon skin is also higher in fat, so you may want to consider salmon skin for dogs only on their diet “cheat days” to prevent weight gain. Also, to prevent choking, you may want to cut the salmon skin into strips. 

Can Dogs Eat Smoked Salmon?

Unfortunately, because smoked salmon is cured, it means that it has a lot of salt. Similar to humans, dogs can’t tolerate a lot of salt. 

While necessary in their diet, dogs require even less salt than humans, so smoked salmon will likely elevate sodium levels too high, possibly leading to dehydration, sickness, or sodium poisoning. 

The latter is actually more common than salmon poisoning, and may lead to symptoms like: 

  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme thrust
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Muscle spasms or stiff muscles
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tongue Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Seizures

So, be sure to check for bones and only prepare plain, never-smoked salmon (free of any seasoning). Be careful with the skin, or leave it out for dogs that should be on a lower-fat diet. 

Most importantly, always, always thoroughly cook the salmon if you are not sure if the salmon is sushi-grade

Salmon for Dogs

What About Raw Salmon for Dogs? Can Dogs Eat Raw Salmon?

Yes, like humans, dogs can eat raw salmon as long as it is sushi-grade. Sushi-grade salmon is quickly caught, bled, gutted, and iced before being flash-frozen. In the process of flash-freezing at -30℉, all bacteria and parasites in the salmon are killed. At Alaskan Salmon Co., our salmon is all sushi-grade so it is safe to consume by you and your fur babies.

Conversely, if you’re unable to get top-quality, sushi-grade salmon, feeding your dog raw or undercooked salmon is NOT recommended as it may contain bacteria and parasites. There’s a specific parasitic flatworm called Neorickettsia helminthoeca that can be especially problematic for your four-paw friend. When the flukes (the parasitic flatworms) enter the intestines, they can become embedded and allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream. 

In humans, this fluke may just result in gastrointestinal discomfort. Unfortunately, in dogs, the bacteria can spread to many organs, and your pup may suffer from the following signs of salmon poisoning:

  • Decrease in appetite
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Significant weight loss
  • Fever
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Discharge from nose and eyes

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Untreated, most dogs die within just two weeks.The sooner your precious pup is in the good hands of a vet, the higher their chances of survival. 

Benefits of Salmon for Dogs

Although we’ve mentioned some of the possible dangers with raw and smoked salmon, it’s important to address the commonly asked question: is salmon good for dogs? It is! In fact, if you look at many high-quality dog foods, you’ll see salmon listed as an ingredient. 

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is an excellent way to support the health of your pooch. Omega-3’s specifically are known to support a dog’s immune system, keep their coat looking healthy and shiny, and reduce inflammation. These omega-3 fatty acids and their benefits are also why many pet-owners are turning to salmon oils for dogs. 

Salmon is also a good source of protein, as well as vitamins A, B, and D, and minerals like potassium and selenium. All in all, salmon can help to improve a dog’s cognitive function and support their muscle health.  

Tips on Choosing Salmon for Dogs

To harness all of these benefits of salmon for your dog, be sure to look for wild filets and prepare it well. Canned salmon is okay, too. Just be sure that it’s in water instead of brine or oil. 

Wild is best! 

Treat (wo)man’s best friend to world famous, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and you’ll be supporting them with the best quality, heart-healthy nutrients. Not only that, but wild-caught salmon is free of the potential concerns of farmed salmon, like the fact that they have toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations 8x higher than wild salmon

While salmon is safe and healthy, consider consulting a veterinarian before introducing any new foods with your dog. Also, keep an eye out for any adverse reactions. As a general rule of thumb, keep the serving size down to less than 100 grams (3.5 oz.) per ten pounds of their body weight and consider feeding them just one portion a week. 

Sorry Fido, your puppy eyes and wagging tail shouldn’t earn you another serving.

Final Thoughts on Salmon for Dogs

As a quick recap: Can dogs eat cooked salmon? Yes. Can dogs eat smoked salmon, or salmon with pin bones? Absolutely not. Both sodium and salmon poisoning for dogs has been reported with smoked salmon, so be sure to leave the smoking and flavor for human mouths. 

While there are some special considerations that you should make before dishing up some up to your adoring dog, know that salmon for dogs is an all-around positive diet addition. For many of the same reasons wild Alaskan salmon is good for humans, it’s also a nutritious and delicious treat for dogs. Bon(e) appetite!