Can Dogs Eat Herring?

They look beautiful but how safe are they for dogs? ¹

Seafood is one of the essential food components that aid in the development of humans and animals. But while some are beneficial and nutritious, others are quite harmful and risky.

Herring is one of the nutritional powerhouses that is packed with Omega-3, protein, fat, and vitamin D.

They play an important role in the life and health of your pooch. But like every other seafood out there, herring can be tricky.

According to PetMD, too much consumption of oily fish such as Salmon, Herring, Sardine, and Atlantic Mackerel by dogs may put them at higher risk of certain diseases.

To avoid such mishaps and find out exactly how to get the most out of herring, check out the comprehensive lists below. 

But wait! before you continue, go grab some chilled coffee because it’s going to be a long ride.

What are the benefits for dogs of eating herring?

Herring which is also known as “silver of the sea” or “silver darlings” is very healthy in fats and contains a relatively low amount of harmful chemicals that are found in oily fish.

They serve as the nutritional powerhouse of most nutrients that are critical for our pet growth and health. They include:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. A high amount of antioxidants.
  3. Low levels of unhealthy fat
  4. High protein levels
  5. Rich in phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.
  6. Excellent alternative for dogs with allergies (to other protein sources).

They also serve as a good source of vitamin D which are vital to keep muscles, bones, and teeth healthy.

So if humans can eat herring to get all these juicy nutrients, why can’t our dogs too?

What are the risks to dogs of eating herring?

As stated earlier, herring though nutritious and full of healthy nutrients can add unnecessary and harmful toxins to your pooch.

Also, not all seafood that is rich in nutrients is needed on your dog’s diet as some of them can be detrimental to their health.

Some risks you’re likely to run into when you feed your dog herring include but are not limited to:

  1. Possible allergic reactions
  2. Raw herring may contain “herring worm” which can cause gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and stomach upset in dogs.
  3. Risk of contracting bacteria, such as salmonella and listeria, as well as parasites, such as roundworms and tapeworms (if raw or not cooked properly, especially in farmed fish).
  4. Bones, shells, and scales can cause choking and intestinal blockage.

How nutritious is herring and how might this nutrition benefits a dog

herring is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which is good for the heart. They help improve a dog’s skin and coat quality.

They also serve as the main ingredients in most fish-based commercial dog food which help boost their immune system and decrease inflammation.

Furthermore, herring provides a concentrated form of protein that acts as a building block for your dog’s skin, fur, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.

The health benefits of herring to dogs supersede the risks. They are one of the best food you should always include on your dog menu.

Can dogs eat raw herring?

While there are contentions between experts on if you should feed your dog herring or not; you must first evaluate both options.

Feeding your dog raw herring can be beneficial to them because they got to take all the nutrients when served raw without cooking.

Also, dogs are known to have stomach acid that aids in the digestion of raw foods.

But according to numerous sources, raw herring may contain parasites or “herring worms” which may cause gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and stomach upset.

But when properly cooked, you prevent your pooch from being infected.

So you should cook your herring properly before serving them to your dog. 

Furthermore, while you might lose some nutrients along the way, your pooch got to stay alive. 

What is the best way of cooking herring for your dog?

The best way to cook herring for your dog is to cook it plainly by poaching or steaming it with water.

To make it flavorful, the easy way to do it is to mix an herb filling and stuff the fillet with it. Set the stuffed herrings over sauteed onions and bake them until they’re golden.

In addition, you may decide to grill your herrings over high heat and serve them with vinegar sauce and butter.

However, you need to reduce the number of ingredients you put inside your pooch food. 

“There are concerns that these chemicals can be harmful with long-term exposure and ingestion,” says Richter, who recommends avoiding any artificial ingredients in food or treats.

Also, you must reduce the use of smoked, salted, and pickled herring as they contain a very high amount of sodium.

Is the skin safe for dogs to eat?

Yes! Your pooch is free to eat the skin of herring. They contain Omega-3 acid which acts as a fantastic source of nutrition for your dog.

Also, what set the skin of herring from all other types of fish is that this scaly swimmer is low in mercury which makes them ideal for your dog’s diet.

However, herring skin should only be fed to dogs after they have been thoroughly cooked. Before cooking, their skin may contain parasites that are harmful to your dog.

Another way to feed your pooch herring skin is by dehydration.

In other not to lose the nutritional benefits of fish skin without going through the trouble of cooking it, you may try out the dehydrated version. 

Chewy and long-lasting, dehydrated fish skins are healthy and safe than the toxic rawhide, which can be difficult for your dogs to digest

How much herring should I feed my dog?

When you feed your dog herring severy times a week you will see how the appearance and quality of your pet’s coat improves and their bones become stronger.

But it is not recommended to give your dog herring more often, since this can lead to undesirable consequences such as obesity.

Furthermore, herring has fatty meat, which is stopping many pet owners. Therefore, it is recommended to give it rarely, giving preference to other types of fish i.e Salmon.

How dangerous are the bones in a herring for a dog?

herring possess tiny hair-thin bones that have the potential of causing stomach irritation, most especially to their puppies.

The fishbone can puncture a dog’s intestine if care is not taken. 

Before you serve herring to your dog, you should flake it thoroughly to ensure that you get rid of any bones that could pose a choking hazard.

Furthermore, while dogs are known for eating bones, you have to be extra careful as not all types of bones get along with their body system.

Can puppies eat herring?

Yes, you heard me right! You don’t have to restrict them from eating herring. They also need those juicy nutrients to help them grow healthy.

But before you serve them herring, make sure you remove all those tiny bones thoroughly, in other for them not to get choked.

However, it’s not worth taking the risk. Try to find other alternatives that provide similar nutrients for them i.e Salmon.

How available is herring?

Herrings are readily available in packs and can be gotten from any supermarkets or shops near you. But an alternative you might want to try out is Salmon or Flounder if herring isn’t available where you stay.

However, a pack of herring in the U.S as stated on Walmart and Costco sells for $1.72, which is way cheaper than Salmon which costs $8.97.

Although in Australia where you have access to fresh herring, you may be lucky to get 1kg of herring for $7.90.

However, the price of herring or salmon might be cheap or expensive in your area depending on the size and quantity; so be sure to compare prices before committing your money into it.

Alternatives to herring

The best alternatives to herring in terms of price and availability are Catfish, Light tuna fish(canned), Flounder, and Salmon.

The problem with Salmon is that they contain more fat than herring. So if you going for this option make sure you reduce the amount of Salmon you feed your dog.

Catfish is another good alternative as they are very cheap and readily available. Their bones can easily be crushed by a dog but their puppies will need a little assistance.

Concluding our thoughts on whether dogs can eat herring!

So, yes, your pooch can eat herring. Dogs have a lot to gain from seafood, particularly herring.

Whether you decide to go raw with your four-legged pooch or want to treat them to a delicious home-cooked meal; it’s very important to prepare it the right way.

Furthermore, always debone, clean, and cook thoroughly anything you plan on serving your dog as you don’t want to risk exposing them to certain diseases.

Finally, whenever you’re introducing something new to your dog’s diet, always start with small portions to eliminate any risk of side effects.

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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!