Salmon is a popular fish for people to eat and it's also sometimes used in dog food. But when pet owners prepare salmon for themselves to eat, they may also want to share it with their dogs. Knowing whether or not this salmon is safe for dogs is important for pet owners that want to keep their dogs healthy and happy to understand.
Do Dogs Like Salmon?
Salmon, along with several other kinds of fish, is a popular food option for dogs. It may be found in formulated dog foods since it is a good meat for providing beneficial fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Because of this, it is a good alternative to traditional beef and chicken. Most dogs enjoy eating salmon dog food and may also like eating fresh salmon prepared at home but every dog has their own preferences.
Salmon is not only a tasty fish but it's also a nutritious one. Three ounces of cooked, farm-raised Atlantic salmon contains over 18 grams of protein, over 1900 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, over 35 mg of selenium, over 200 mg of phosphorus, over 2 mcg of vitamin B12, and almost 7 mg of niacin, in addition to many other nutrients. Salmon provides a very well-rounded source of nutrition and some of these nutrients also help to support bodily systems including the skin, heart, and kidneys.
Concerns With Salmon for Dogs
Not all types or preparations of salmon are the same, so you have a lot of options to consider before feeding your dog salmon. Some options are safer than others.
Species of Salmon
Salmon are classified by where they are found in the wild so you'll either find Atlantic or Pacific salmon. All Atlantic salmon you are able to purchase in the US are farm-raised but there are also five types of Pacific salmon you can find in stores that are wild-caught: King (chinook), coho (silver), pink, sockeye (red), and chum (keta) salmon. King, coho, and sockeye salmon are the best to eat fresh or cooked at home while pink and chum salmon are often used in the food industry for canning, freezing, and smoking. The species of salmon does not matter when choosing an option for your dog.
Farm Raised or Wild-Caught
In addition to the different species of salmon, these fish can be wild-caught or farm raised. Farm raised salmon have come a long way since they were initially farmed for mass quantity but nutritional and sustainability concerns still exist. Farm raised salmon have more fat, calories, pollutants, contaminants, and the concern for antibiotic exposure than wild caught salmon possesses. Because of these things, wild-caught salmon are thought to be healthier and safer than farm-raised salmon but it is usually more costly, too. PCB's, dioxin, and mercury are the three main contaminant concerns found in both wild-caught and farmed fish. Salmon naturally consume these contaminants in the wild in the fish they eat and if they eat fishmeal on the farm but some farmed fish have been switched to diets that are heavier in soybeans than traditional fishmeal. Because of this, farm-raised and wild caught salmon have similar levels of contaminants in them.
Cooked or Raw
Raw salmon is often used in sushi and sashimi and since it isn't cooked, live parasites, bacteria, and other things may still be present in the meat. These things can cause problems for both people and dogs that consume uncooked meat so cooked salmon is the safer option. Baking, grilling, and sautéeing salmon are popular methods of cooking salmon but the less oil and butter that is used, the healthier it will be for both people and dogs.
Salmon oil is one type of fish oil available for dogs and contains beneficial fatty acids. Salmon oil is very concentrated salmon so it needs to be purified in order to remove contaminants that can be harmful to a dog otherwise too much oil can be problematic.
How Much Salmon Is Too Much?
Dogs should never eat just one thing, unless it is a formulated dog food, because a variety of items are needed to provide a balanced diet. Too much salmon can also be problematic due to the contaminants that it contains, regardless of whether or not it is farm-raised or wild caught. Mercury, PCB's and dioxin can cause serious problems if large amounts are ingested but thankfully salmon is considered to be a low-mercury fish so salmon-containing dog food and even eating cooked salmon several times a week is not concerning. If your dog isn't used to eating salmon though, some vomiting and diarrhea may occur due to the dietary change but it is typically self-limited and resolves once your dog adjusts to the new food.