As a Veterinarian nutritionist and a dog mom myself, I believe it is important for dog owners to know exactly what are the benefits of fish for our dogs.
As dog owners, we’ve all seen dog food brands that include fish as one of the listed ingredients, but not all fish provide the same benefits. Let’s have a look in more detail:
Did you know?
Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends that we humans eat fish twice a week? The reason is that fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D as well as important minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, and iodine.
Did you know that the benefits of fish in a dog’s diet are very similar to the benefits of fish in our own diets?
2 Main Health Benefits of fish for dogs
A. Source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 has beneficial effects throughout a dog’s different life stages. In puppies, Omega 3 can improve cognitive functions and learning abilities. Omega 3 is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and therefore it is good to keep our dog’s joints in good condition, free from pains and stiffness throughout their lives.
B. High-quality protein. High-quality proteins, also known as ideal proteins or complete proteins, are those that are highly digestible and contain highly available essential amino acids. Essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are those that are fundamental and indispensable for healthy development. Let’s put it this way, both dogs and us humans can't live without them. Not all sources of protein have a complete range of essential amino acids but fish does. Fish is also a great alternative source of protein for those doggies who can’t tolerate chicken (like mine 😅).
Fish? Yes! But what kind of fish?
When selecting fish for your dog, remember that you want a fish that is high in Omega 3 and low in heavy metals such as mercury. This means salmon, sardines, and trout are good choices and tuna, halibut, swordfish, and sea bass will be poor choices (they can contain Omega 3, but the presence of mercury will outweigh any other benefit).
When preparing fish for your dog, please bear in mind that:
A. Raw fish can be a source of parasites or harmful bacteria, so better to cook it before giving it to your dog.
B. Fish bones can be a real enemy for a dog’s health (they can cause choking and internal damage. So always take the time to remove these from your fish preparation.
How to prepare?
Boil, steamed, or grilled, are excellent ways to prepare fish for your dog. You can even sprinkle it with a bit of olive oil!
If your dog is on a homemade diet, try introducing it once a week, by replacing any other protein sources (meats), that day.
If introducing fish as a treat or a topping that can also be a great idea, but then just moderate on the amount.