Can Dogs Eat Salmon?

April Saylor
By April Saylor. Reviewed by Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP on Mar. 1, 2023
little dog looking up at salmon filets on the kitchen counter

NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be OK for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

Does your pooch have a penchant for fish? Many dogs like the taste and smell of seafood, but it’s important to understand the benefits—and possible risks—anytime you consider adding a new ingredient to their diet.

Thankfully, when it comes to cooked salmon, your dog is safe. Salmon is a popular ingredient in many types of commercial dog food and is also OK for your dog to eat as a food topper or tasty treat. As with any new food, you’ll want to be careful not to feed your dog too much salmon to start, and be sure to watch out for any extra ingredients that might be included in typical “human recipes” (like butter or seasonings) that can be dangerous for dogs to eat. 

Keep reading to find out how to safely prepare salmon for dogs, and when you’ll want to ask your vet for advice.

Is Salmon Good for Dogs?

Salmon can be a great addition to your dog’s diet, and many high-quality dog food brands use salmon as a protein source. Unlike some seafood, such as tuna, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that salmon contains very low levels of mercury.

So, adding a little cooked, plain salmon to your dog’s bowl can be a great way to give them an extra boost of flavor and nutrition. A few nutritional benefits of feeding your dog salmon include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon is a great source of omega-3s, which are good for dogs’ skin and coat health, and can even improve mobility for dogs with joint issues or other inflammatory diseases.
  • Protein: In addition to being an excellent source of healthy fats, salmon is also a good source of protein, which helps your pooch build and repair muscle tissue. There are many high-quality dog foods that use salmon as a main source of protein, which can be a great option for dogs who have allergies to other proteins like chicken, beef, or lamb. 
  • Vitamins and minerals: Salmon is also a good source of B vitamins. One important nutrient that’s critical for keeping your dog’s brain and nervous system healthy is vitamin B12, and salmon is rich in B12.

Just be sure to check with your vet before making any major changes to your dog’s diet, especially if your dog has any health conditions or sensitivities.

Can Dogs Eat Salmon Raw?

Even with all the health benefits of salmon for dogs, pet parents should be cautious about feeding their pooch raw or undercooked salmon. Feeding your dog uncooked salmon can make them very sick. Raw and undercooked salmon can contain a parasite known to cause salmon poisoning disease, which can be fatal for dogs if left untreated. So sorry, sushi-sniffing hounds! Baked, broiled, grilled, and boiled fish are all much safer options for dogs to eat.

If your dog does get ahold of raw salmon or raw fish of any kind, give your vet a call so they can help you determine next steps.

Can Dogs Eat Salmon Skin?

If you’ve baked a nice salmon dinner but don’t care much for the skin, it’s fine to share that leftover bite with your pooch. Salmon skin is safe for dogs to eat. Just be sure the fish has been thoroughly cooked and isn’t seasoned with spices or ingredients that are toxic to dogs (like onions, butter, or garlic).

In fact, that scraping of salmon skin can be a great way to give Fido extra nutrients rather than throwing it into the compost if it’s not to your taste. Salmon skin actually contains even more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids than the rest of the fish. So if you’re not a fan of the skin, topping off Fido’s food dish with a small amount of your leftovers can be a win-win for you both. Just remember to feed your dog salmon skin only in small amounts.

How to Safely Feed Salmon to Your Dog

Salmon is a safe snack for dogs, but that doesn’t mean you should grill them an entire fish for dinner tonight! Giving salmon as a treat is a good place to start, and you can gradually increase amounts to let your dog’s body adjust to the new food. This can help them avoid adverse effects like an upset stomach or diarrhea, which can happen when your dog’s usual menu changes.

Any salmon given to your dog should be fresh, cooked, and free from bones, which pose a choking hazard. Avoid any seasonings or extra ingredients, as many common ingredients are not safe for dogs to consume.  

Canned salmon is also OK for dogs to eat, but you’ll want to watch the sodium. While canned salmon in water is a better choice for dogs than salmon packed in oil, rinse it thoroughly to remove any excess salt or oil from the canning process before adding it to your dog’s dish.

How Much Salmon Can Dogs Eat?

Feeding small amounts of fresh, cooked, boneless salmon as an occasional treat is considered safe—and even healthy—for dogs. But as with any new food, start slow! It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to your dog’s health. 

Here are some general guidelines for how much salmon is safe for dogs to eat, based on their weight:

Note that these are just general guidelines. It’s always best to check with your vet before making major changes to your furry friend’s food bowl. And remember: Raw seafood can contain harmful bacteria and/or parasites that can cause illness in dogs.

Featured Image: iStock/O_Lypa

April Saylor


April Saylor

Freelance Writer

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