Interested in switching your dog to a raw diet? Here’s a simple list of steps you should take to prepare their food:
- Create a complete meal plan.
- Select which fish to feed—certain types of fish are better for dogs than others.
- Sanitize your work area and utensils.
- Prepare the fish by deboning and freezing for at least seven days.
- After adequate freezing, prepare the fish and other ingredients for your dog.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces, utensils, and bowls when complete.
The rest of this article will detail specific steps of the process and present more information on which types of fish are best for dogs and why!
Table of Contents
- How do I create a meal plan including raw fish?
- What goes into a balanced diet for dogs?
- Can I supplement raw fish into my dog’s commercial diet?
- What are the benefits of feeding fish to my dog?
- What types of fish are safe for my dog?
- What types of fish are unsafe for my dog?
- Why is it important to keep my work area clean?
- How should raw fish be prepared?
- Why are fish bones dangerous?
- Can dogs eat cooked fish skin?
- Why is freezing raw fish important?
- Is there a risk of environmental bacterial contamination from raw fish?
- How often can my dog eat fish?
- How many treats are too many?
How do I create a meal plan including raw fish?
You can create a balanced and complete meal recipe for your dog with the assistance of a veterinarian. When you’re preparing food for your dog at home, it is essential to ensure you provide adequate nutrition for your pet. A veterinarian can help you do that by following guidelines for pet nutrition set out by organizations like AAFCO.
What goes into a balanced diet for dogs?
Balanced nutrition for dogs involves more than just protein. Though fish is an excellent source of protein for dogs, they require other nutrients that cannot be obtained through fish alone. Therefore, a comprehensive meal plan will likely involve grains (such as corn) and vegetables in addition to fish protein. Sometimes, vitamins and minerals need to be added in the form of supplements to ensure optimal nutrition.
Can I supplement raw fish into my dog’s commercial diet?
Absolutely! If you are already feeding your dog a commercial diet, be sure to adjust their calorie intake to reflect the extra calories from fish. To ensure you aren’t giving too much food, keep the fish portions small. If commercial diets are more your speed, there are a variety of frozen or freeze-dried raw diets available in pet stores.
What are the benefits of feeding fish to my dog?
Fish is an excellent novel protein source, which can be beneficial for dogs with food allergies. Fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids provide a natural anti-inflammatory effect that can benefit dogs suffering from joint disease.
What types of fish are safe for my dog?
Feeding your dog younger and smaller fish like salmon, cod, and whitefish is a great choice! These fish are less likely to have significant parasite burdens or unsafe levels of mercury in their tissues. According to the EFSA, farmed salmon typically do not contain parasites.
What types of fish are unsafe for my dog?
Large, long-lived fish such as albacore (white) tuna, swordfish, and sharks are not safe for dogs. Because they are usually much older when harvested, these fish typically have parasites in their skin, muscles, and internal organs, as well as high levels of bio-accumulated mercury.
Why is it important to keep my work area clean?
According to the FDA, raw fish contains many harmful species of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses in humans and pets. Rigorously cleaning your kitchen and utensils, along with good handwashing, will keep you and your family safe by eliminating bacteria in your kitchen. You should clean all surfaces and wash your hands with hot, soapy water after contact with raw fish.
How should raw fish be prepared?
Fish heads, fins, scales, bones, and uncooked skin are not safe for dogs to eat—you should remove all of these from the fish before feeding them to your dog. Heads and fins are too boney, and uncooked fish skin or scales can harbour heavy bacterial loads that may make your dog sick.
Why are fish bones dangerous?
Fish bones are tiny, incredibly brittle, and not safe for dogs—they can be a choking hazard, damage your dog’s gums if they break or get stuck in the mouth, and irritate or injure their internal organs when ingested. You should purchase deboned fish or manually debone them before serving them to your dog.
Can dogs eat cooked fish skin?
Cooked fish skin is okay for dogs to eat. Fish skin contains collagen, a protein in connective tissue that can benefit your dog’s skin, coat, and joints when supplemented into their diet. Dried fish skin also makes a tasty and crunchy treat for dogs!
Why is freezing raw fish important?
Freezing fish for at least seven days will kill any parasites and eliminate the risk of passing these parasites to your dog. Practicing temperature control (keeping your raw fish cool) also prevents bacteria in the fish from multiplying, keeping the bacterial burden low and making the fish safer to consume raw.
Is there a risk of environmental bacterial contamination from raw fish?
According to the AVMA, dogs fed a raw food diet can shed harmful bacteria like salmonella into the environment. It is crucial to pick up your dog’s droppings safely and quickly to avoid the spread of harmful bacteria in your home or community spaces. For this reason, feeding a raw fish diet is not recommended if you are living with children or immunocompromised individuals.
How often can my dog eat fish?
Depending on your dog’s needs, fish can be consumed several times a week as an addition to their regular diet or as a daily protein source if they require novel protein due to allergies. You can also give your dog fish as an extra-special treat or a desirable food reward to help with training.
How many treats are too many?
We all know that dogs love treats—sometimes a little too much! So keep the ten-percent rule in mind: if you’re giving fish to your dog as a treat, it should account for no more than ten percent of their daily caloric intake. Keep in mind that if you’re feeding your dog other types of treats as well, you’ll want to adjust this number downward – you’ll want their primary food source to be at least 85% of their diet.