Can Dogs Eat Canned Salmon?

Photo by vallgall on Flickr

I think it’s pretty clear that dogs are more than mere pets, they are part of our families. 

As such we often find ourselves wanting the best for them, just like for the rest of our family. 

We want them to have the best time on their walk, we want them to have the best haircut compared to other dogs on the block and we want to give them the best food that we can. 

Sometimes this can lead us to giving our dogs special or unique food. Maybe it is as a special treat to celebrate when they came into our life, or a new diet that we think will be both healthy and yummy for them. 

One of the foods that many people may be wondering if it is safe and healthy to introduce into their dogs’ diet, is canned salmon. 

We know that salmon is very rich in Omega oils, and is good for us, but is it good for our furry family members too?

The short answer is yes, all those Omega-3 fatty fatty acids in Salmon are very good for our dogs. 

What’s more, salmon can also serve as a great source of protein for them too. 

In fact, if you were to look at a lot of the commercially, high quality dog food, you’d find salmon as an ingredient in many of them. 

Salmon is also a great protein substitute for dogs suffering from allergies  to more common proteins, like chicken. 

And their dog has a certain condition that these oils will help with?

Why Canned Salmon?

Now we know that salmon is good for our dogs, but what kind of Salmon should we get? 

You may find yourself standing in the grocery store with a can of salmon in your hand, looking at the fresh salmon that is offered. 

Which one should you get for your dog?

One of the biggest differences you may notice between that fresh salmon and the canned salmon may be the price. 

You may be wrestling with the fact that the fresh salmon is much more expensive,  but also thinking that must mean that it’s actually a better product. 

While there are a lot of positives for eating fresh salmon, it’s important to note that just because it’s fresh doesn’t specifically mean it’s better.

Most canned fish is canned as quickly as possible, often before the fish even leaves the dock. 

That means that all of the nutrients that are in the fish are preserved in the can, with no way for them to deteriorate as the fish moves from the docks to your grocery store.  

Canned salmon also allows for longer shelf life and better storage. 

If you decide to give your dog some salmon every day, you can buy a larger supply and store it longer than you can fresh salmon. 

This means less trips to the grocery store and less worry about the changing prices of salmon on a week by week basis. 

Finally, it’s important to address the quality of the salmon that is used in canned salmon. 

Today, the salmon that goes into a can is of the same salmon that is sold fresh at your grocery store. 

Many of them come from the very same processing center, right at the dock, with some being put on ice while others are canned, before being sent to grocery stores. 

What’s good about canned Salmon?

As we have already discussed, canned salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids for our dogs. 

But, you may be wondering, what exactly about these fatty acids is good for my dog? 

These fatty acids help with the proper development of brain and eye development in puppies, which will have long term benefits for them.  

For older dogs these fatty acids help maintain and can even improve cognitive function. What’s more, they can help with the treatment of arthritis and chronic kidney disease. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are not the only health benefit of canned salmon for our dogs though.  

As has been stated before Salmon is a great source of protein for them, which is required for healthy growth and to keep their muscles, fur,  and organs more healthy and operating at peak efficiency. 

Salmon is also a great source of fat and carbohydrates, which serve as an energy source four our four legged friends. 

It also has a good amount of calcium which will help maintain strong bones, especially in older dogs.  

What is bad about canned salmon?

One of the downfalls of canned salmon is that they use salt to help preserve the meat. 

This means that canned salmon has a high amount of sodium compared to fresh salmon.  Dogs do need  salt in their diet, it helps them maintain cellular functions like fluid balance and nerve signal transmissions. 

That being said, it’s important to make sure that our dogs don’t have too much salt in their diet.  

Too much salt in your diet can cause dehydration, vomiting and even diarrhea. 

On average, you want to try to limit your dogs daily intake of sodium to about 1g per day. 

Now, this amount will be different for each dog, smaller dogs can process less sodium, while larger dogs can process more. 

The average can of salmon has about 605mg, or a little over half of your dogs daily recommended intake.  

It’s important to examine your dog’s diet as a whole, what other sources of sodium might they have in their diet to make sure that they aren’t ingesting too much sodium. 

You also want to make sure that they alway have access to clean water. 

If their body senses that it has too much sodium, they will get thirsty and drink water in an attempt to help process the extra sodium. 

There is one other thing that should be addressed about canned salmon, the fact that it contains bones. 

While we always want to be extra careful when it comes to bones in anything our dog eats, the good news is that we don’t have to worry about the bones in canned salmon. 

The bones in canned salmon have been treated to be soft enough that they are able to be consumed by humans and other animals without causing any damage to their mouths and throats as well as not cause any digestion problems down the line.

Pink or Red Salmon?

Pink or Red salmon, which is better? Which is healthier? 

Some would say that this is an argument as old as time. 

Ok, maybe the only people who would say that are fishermen. 

But it is still something that we should take a look at. 

There are only a few differences between red and pink salmon, the biggest difference being the size. 

Red salmon are typically larger than pink salmon, but there is a smaller population of red salmon. 

This means that red salmon will cost more than pink salmon, especially when you are looking at the fresh salmon in your grocery store.  

Many people feel that the red salmon also has more taste than the pink salmon.

What does this mean to you when you are looking to give your dog salmon? 

The big thing is the taste, with the red salmon being more flavorful, there is a chance that your dog might not like it. 

It may also clash with any other food you are feeding your dog. 

At the end of the day, it’s a decision for you to make for your dog, and for you to maybe experiment with and see which goes best for your dog, and which they like more. 

How much canned Salmon should I feed my dog?

Now that we have determined that it’s safe to give your dog canned salmon, and you’ve decided whether to give them red or pink, we need to look at how much we are giving them. 

Should we implement it into their daily diet? Or should it be a special treat that they get every once in a while?

The truth is somewhere in between, limiting their intake of canned salmon to once, maybe twice per week. 

It is important to remember that even though Salmon has a lot of health benefits for our dogs, it does not complete everything that they will need in their diet. 

Also, due to the high sodium content of Salmon, we want to make sure that we are not having them eat that every single day, as it can overwork their organs. 

That is why it’s best to limit their intake to once or twice per week, and even that, depending on how much you give them at one time.

As much as they would like to have us crack open that can of Salmon and let them eat the whole thing, we also need to limit the portion size of Salmon our dogs eat. 

With every dog being different, the best way to measure is based on their size, and the size of their meal. 

Typically, you want to keep the portion size of their salmon to ten percent of their overall meal for that day.

How much is canned Salmon?

While we always want to buy the best for our dogs, we also have to make sure we are getting the most bang for our buck. 

So, we often need to budget how much we are spending. 

While prices vary depending on your location and where you are buying you can expect to pay about $1.90 USD for a 7.5 oz can or $2.50 USD for a 14.75 oz can.  

In many places you can also purchase packs of canned tuna, resulting in a discount on the price per can. 

It’s important to look at the prices at your local store to find the best deal that works for you and your dog. 

Canned Salmon vs Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is another common type of fish that is canned and sold in stores, often right next to the canned salmon. 

It is only logical to wonder if canned tuna, which is also a little cheaper, might be good for your dog the same way that canned salmon is. 

While tuna has many of the same health benefits as salmon, there is one major drawback. Tuna can have high levels of mercury compared to other types of fish. 

Too much mercury can cause digestive issues for your dog, which can become life threatening, especially with older dogs. 

While it is safe to give your dog some canned tuna, it’s best to keep it as an occasional treat instead of part of their weekly diet. 


Now we know that not only is canned salmon good for us, and our dogs, but in some ways it can even be better than fresh salmon.  

We know that it is important to make sure that we limit how much our dog eats, due to the high sodium content, and that we can choose between the heavier, more flavorful red salmon, or the more bland, lighter pink salmon. 

But most importantly, we have discovered something that is not only safe, but healthy and tasty that we can add to our four legged family member’s diet plan, that shows them just how much we love them.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!