Can Dogs Eat Dried Fish?

Photo by jen on Flickr

Dog owners, you must have somehow realized that if you provide your precious dogs with food, water, shelter and affection, they will think you are “God”!

Beautiful creatures our dogs are!

Well as a “god” to your dog’s much thought has to be put into feeding them right, not just feeding them.

Some foods are delectable to these creatures, others just aren’t.

Stephen Denny once said: “if dogs don’t like your dog food, the packaging doesn’t matter”. 

Now, when it comes to feeding with the best, fish is a great choice for dog owners, especially dried fish.

In this article, we would see the importance of dried fish, compare it with other fish forms and see how fish is a good choice for these precious pets. 

Why might an owner want their dog to eat dried fish?

Firstly, fish is a huge source of nutrients, especially proteins which are essential for growth and daily metabolic activities. 

Dried fish is abundant in low saturated fatty acid, the main source of Omega-3 acid.

It’s important to note that some of these fatty acids and oil cannot be produced naturally by your dog’s body, so you might want to supplement these by adding them to your dog’s meal. 

Another reason dog owners might want their dogs to eat dried fish is it can be given as a treat to dogs, and they can be certain it has its nutrients intact. 

What nutrition does dried fish provide for dogs?

The nutritional value of dried fish for dogs are numerous, let’s discuss a few: 

  • Proteins: Proteins are building blocks of living things, they are important sources of antibodies (they fight against disease) and enzymes (chemicals necessary for metabolism). 

Proteins are present and necessary for hair development, muscle growth, skin formation, bones, and lots more. If you have a very furry dog, it has loads of the protein Keratin, which is a necessary structural protein.

  • Low calories: Dried fish is low in calories, unlike beef. 100g of dried fish contains 300 calories and 80% protein, but beef contains twice the calories and way less protein.
  • Balanced Nutrient profile: With a low amount of saturated fat, low cholesterol, little salt content, and a high level of essential vitamins and minerals, dried fish has a balanced nutrient profile. 
  • Dental care: Unlike fresh or cooked fish, the texture of dried fish is firm and consistent, this makes it easy for dogs to chew and it helps remove tartar from your dog’s teeth.

If you have a dog with dental problems and finds it difficult to chew, all you have to do is soak dried fish in the water to soften it. It doesn’t lose its consistency or freshness, it’s just soft enough for your dog to feed on easily.

Dried fish is a great source of selenium which is necessary for preventing cell and tissue damage.

 Iron is essential in red blood cell production, this transports oxygen to all the parts of the body, if your dog doesn’t consume enough iron, he would be weak and tired most of the time. Other nutrients like copper, phosphorus, calcium and iodine are found in dried fish 

  • Omega3 acid is a huge nutrient necessary for skin nourishment in dogs. 
  • Mobility: If you have a very active dog, then you might consider giving dried fish, the nutrient calcium and Omega3 acid are necessary for healthy joints, agility and mobility. They also play a vital role in reducing inflammation.
  • Food Allergies: Some dogs are allergic to common protein sources chicken, in this case, dried fish is a great substitution.
  • Weight control: Low saturated fat present in dried fish helps in controlling the weight of your dog.
  • Strong Immune system: Immunity is the body’s response to infections, the Omega-3 and Omega-6 present in dried fish is a great means to confer strong immunity on your dog against fungal and bacterial infection.
  • Sight and Olfaction: Fish is an excellent source of retinol (vitamin A), a vitamin that is necessary for good sight or vision and also helps treat eye diseases. Omega-3 acid also helps protect the lining of your dog’s nose which is necessary for the smell.

The advantages of dried fish are inexhaustible but as we know everything has disadvantages. What are the disadvantages of dried fish?

What are some disadvantages Of dried fish?

Some of the disadvantages of dried fish are:

  • Tummy upset: The stomach of some dogs may not agree with dried fish. That being said, it is very important to test little portions of dried fish with your dog first before fully introducing it into his diet.
  • Fishbones: Bones can be very discomforting if they get stuck in your precious dog’s throat. You can imagine how bad it is for a  human; worse yet, they can cause lacerations and puncture the gut. So, before you feed with fish, make sure to carefully remove all the bones with your fingers, or, preferably use a meat grinder.
  • Mercury poisoning: A study conducted on fishes from a local market in Bangladesh, showed that due to pollution, there could be mercury leaks, and these can flow into streams, lakes and other water bodies that contain fish, predisposing a dog who feeds on it to mercury poisoning. This becomes worse if your dog is fed infected fish over a long period. Please be mindful of this, you wouldn’t want your precious dogs hospitalised. But you can always ensure you buy from trusted vendors, and if you have a knack for trying out new things, you could learn to dry fish properly.  

Additionally, it is important to note that, the total buildup of mercury concentration levels over time is lethal, the current mercury action level approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 1.0 μg/g.

  • Parasitic infections: If not prepared properly, dried fish can contain parasitic eggs, which could upset your precious dog’s stomach or lead to vomiting. So, please ensure the fish is prepared properly and stored right.

So, we have seen that if proper care isn’t taken, dried fish could be disadvantageous for dogs. Fishbones can be a choking hazard if they are not crushed fully or meticulously removed.  

It could also contain harmful substances, like mercury, if preserved with mercury-containing chemicals. They can also contain parasitic eggs if not carefully prepared.

When it comes to preparing dried fish, ingredients could be added to enhance the taste or even preserve it, one of such ingredients is salt.  Should you feed your dog with salted dry fish?

Should dogs be fed salted dry fish?

There is no easy way to say this, salted dry fish is harmful to your dog’s, it is not recommended.

Lots of fishes are saltwater fishes and they absorb the salt into their “meat”, so most of the fishes we buy have high salt (sodium) content.

If your dog has a large build-up of sodium, this leads to a serious illness, hypernatremia, which results from long term sodium build-up. 

For a 100g portion of salted fish, it contains 306% daily value of sodium, 7027mg, which is five times over the daily intake of a human adult.

That’s a huge salt content for our furry friends!

You might wonder, if salted dry fish is not recommended how about raw, cooked or frozen fish, are these recommended?

Dried vs raw vs froze vs smoked vs cooked fish

We already spoke extensively on dry fish, now why is it a better choice in comparison to other types of fish. 

  • Raw fish: It’s important to remember that all fish types contain nutrients, however, raw fish predisposes your dog to harmful pathogens that can make your dog sick. Also, raw fish contains an enzyme thiaminase that inactivates thiamine (vitamin B1) which your dog needs. But cooking destroys this enzyme. 
  • Frozen fish: Feeding your dog with frozen fish, might not be completely wrong, but it’s important to note that some fish types like trout could contain parasites even when frozen. So you might want to select properly.
  • Cooked fish: Cooking fish is good, but you have to avoid using ingredients that could harm your dog, spices, butter, additives and the likes. Keep them away from your dog!
  • Smoked fish: When it comes to smoking fish, sometimes the heat isn’t hot enough to eliminate some parasites, so it’s not advisable to feed your dog smoked fish.

As we have seen, these fish types have their merits and demerits, so choose the best choice for your precious dog.

How can I store dried fish?

It’s only natural you would want to buy and store food that is good for your dog. So how can you store dried fish properly:

  • Store in an air-tight container in your pantry
  • Wrap in many layers of paper and refrigerate
  • Store in glass jars

It is important to note that, to preserve your dried fish for long, you must keep it away from water.  You can refrigerate your fish, but ensure it is properly wrapped and sealed before refrigerating.

Where can I buy dried fish from?

If you are in the USA and you need to find shops where you can get dried fish, here are a few places:

  • Primal Pet foods  sell through local retailers

These are online platforms you can get dried fish

  • Amazon sell online
  • My seafood
  • Etsy
  • Arirang USA

When it comes to pricing, dried fish could be sold within the range of $20-$40/lb. 

Note: This pricing is not fixed, if you are buying online, it depends on the fish type and the vendor. If you are buying from a shop, pricing may vary as well. It’s best to confirm from your local vendor or online store.

Should puppies eat dried fish?

Definitely.

Puppies can eat dried fish, from the benefits we have seen, as growing dogs, they need it to function and grow.

Just ensure you choose right and you give it to them moderately.

At this point, it’s important to remember that no specific amount of fish is stated to give your dogs, so your keyword should be moderation.

Give your dogs fish moderately and also visit your veterinary doctor for more advice if you intend to include fish in your dog’s diet.

Finally, your furry friends trust you to take care of them.

So, ensure you give dried fish in moderation, make sure to cook properly so it is parasite free, avoid raw fish and most importantly, keep salt and spice away from your dog’s meal.

Now you can enjoy watching your furry friends savour the taste of their safe, dried fish meal.