I like eating fish cooked in any way possible, but is it ok to share some with my dog? I smoke meat a lot, just about every weekend, and fish is often on the menu. As much as I love it, can dogs eat smoked salmon as well? Is smoked salmon safe for dogs to eat? Or any smoked fish? Or any smoked meat, for that matter?
Let’s take a look.
While some human foods can be given to them as treats and even mixed in with their normal diet, certain foods are harmful to dogs.
Before experimenting with something new, it’s best to know what to look for to ensure you aren’t accidentally feeding your pooch something dangerous.
It’s also important to differentiate home-cooked smoked salmon (or other meat) and store-bought.
Therefore, if I want to give my dog salmon, it would be better to feed them plain, cooked, steamed, or grilled fish without any additional seasonings that might be harmful. This way, I can ensure my beloved pet gets the nutrition they need without risking adverse effects (American Kennel Club).
Is fish safe for dogs to eat?
Let’s get that out of the way early.
The short answer here – yes, fish is safe for dogs to eat. AKC says so.
Is smoked salmon safe for dogs?
First, did you smoke it or buy it in a store?
There is a significant difference between store-bought smoked salmon (or any store-bought smoked meat or fish) and smoked salmon that you smoked yourself.
Smoked items you buy from the stores will have salt, nitrates, and nitrites added to help keep them “fresh” while it sits on the shelves until you buy them.
I doubt you are adding nitrites or nitrates to what you smoke food at home, so that worry goes out the window.
The quick answer to the question “Can dogs eat smoked salmon” is it depends:
- Store-bought smoked salmon should not be fed to dogs.
- Home-smoked salmon is fine to feed your dog if the rubs and marinades you use are also safe.
- Rubs and marinades that include excessive salt, garlic, onion, or anything spicy are unsafe for your dog.
Five considerations for feeding your dog smoked salmon
There are five primary concerns for feeding your dog smoked salmon if you smoke the salmon yourself:
- Rubs you add to the fish
- Marinades you may have used
- Was it cold-smoked or hot-smoked?
The rubs and marinades you use to prepare the salmon may have ingredients that are harmful to dogs, so that’s the first consideration.
Another consideration is how you are smoking the salmon. Anything that remains in a fairly low temperature for a prolonged period of time is subject to contamination. Cold-smoking meats and fish fall into this category, so salts, brines, and/or nitrites are often used to keep this meat safe. It’s the nitrites (and nitrates) that can harm the dogs.
Of course, fish bones can choke your dog, so be very careful here. If it chokes you, it’ll likely also choke your dog. The best bet is to remove all bones before feeding any fish to your dog.
Taste, of course, is important. Most likely, your dog will like it, but if not, try something else.
That said, salmon in its unsmoked form could be a safe choice for dogs if it is cooked properly without dangerous seasonings like garlic or onions. Salmon contains many essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, that can benefit a dog’s overall health, according to PetMD.
Benefits of Salmon for Dogs
Salmon is a nutritious fish that, when cooked correctly, offers a variety of health benefits to our canine companions, including nutritional value and improvements to skin and coat health.
Salmon is an excellent protein source for maintaining strong muscles and a healthy dog immune system.
It’s also rich in vitamins B3 and B6, and minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, according to The Canine Nutritionist.
These nutrients help support various bodily functions, such as energy production and the formation of red blood cells.
Skin and Coat Health
Feeding salmon to your dog can also contribute to healthier skin and coat. PetMD states that fish is a great natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, vital for maintaining a glossy coat and reducing inflammation in your dog’s skin.
Furthermore, these fatty acids provide a natural anti-inflammatory component to your dog’s diet, which can benefit pups suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or joint diseases like arthritis.
Potential Risks of Feeding Smoked Salmon to Dogs
While salmon is not harmful to dogs, certain risks are associated with feeding them store-bought smoked salmon.
Salt content is one of the main reasons store-bought smoked salmon can harm dogs. This can lead to excessive sodium in their diet, which can cause dehydration and even sodium poisoning.
Another issue with smoked salmon comes from the smoking process itself.
Curing fish might involve using nitrates and nitrites, which can harm dogs.
If we’re talking cured, smoked salmon, the additives may be dangerous to dogs.
If we’re talking salmon you smoked on your smoker yesterday, it’s probably not a problem.
Bones and Choking Hazards
Smoked salmon may contain bones, which present choking and injury risks to dogs.
Bones can splinter and cause obstructions or injuries in a dog’s digestive system.
If a bone chokes or irritates me, it’ll do the same for my dogs. I work hard to remove the bones before feeding fish to my dogs.
So, can/should I feed my dog smoked salmon?
Though salmon itself is not harmful to dogs, feeding them store-bought smoked salmon introduces potential risks such as high salt content, harmful chemicals from the smoking process, and bones that can lead to choking or injury.
To keep our furry friends healthy, it’s best to avoid giving them store-bought smoked salmon.
As mentioned, it makes sense to differentiate store-bought from smoked salmon you cook yourself. The latter is likely fine.
Alternatives to Smoked Salmon for Dogs
Since store-bought smoked salmon is typically high in sodium and may contain harmful additives, it’s not the best choice for our furry friends. Instead, let’s explore some other options that can give our dogs the benefits of fish in a safer way.
How to Cook Salmon for Dogs
When it comes to cooking salmon for my dog, my top priority is ensuring it’s prepared in a simple, safe way.
I prefer to steam, bake, or boil the fish without adding seasonings, such as salt, garlic, or onions, which can harm dogs.
This allows my dog to enjoy salmon’s taste and nutritional benefits without the risks of sodium and spices.
If I’m smoking meat, and I do just about every weekend, sharing some fresh smoked salmon with my pups is fine.
Plain Cooked Salmon
As mentioned earlier, plain cooked salmon is a great alternative to smoked salmon. I skip the salt and seasonings to make it more suitable for my dog.
After ensuring the salmon is fully cooked and properly deboned, I can serve a small portion as a treat or mix it into my dog’s regular food for a protein boost.
Other Fish Options
There are many other fish options that my dog can enjoy. For example, salmon, cod, and whitefish are all safe and healthy choices. I cook these fish similarly to salmon, avoiding seasonings and high-sodium preparations.
You may also consider prawns as a snack for your dog. In moderation (as with all things), prawns are safe and healthy for your dog.
Always remove any bones before serving, as they can pose a choking hazard or cause internal injury.
Dog-Specific Fish Treats
I prefer to provide my dog with a store-bought snack; plenty of dog-specific fish treats are available. These treats can be an excellent option, as they are formulated with dogs in mind, offering nutrition and taste without the risk of harmful ingredients.
Choose reputable brands and closely read labels to ensure the product meets my dog’s needs and preferences.
Can Dogs Eat Smoked Salmon – Conclusion
Salmon is a safe choice for dogs if cooked properly and free of bones and seasonings.
Salmon provides our furry friends extra vitamin B and omega-3s for their overall health and well-being.
However, when it comes to store-bought smoked salmon, feeding it to our dogs is not advisable due to the high sodium content and potentially harmful nitrates and nitrites. If you smoke the salmon yourself (as I do!), you can better control the use of these items, and the result is likely something you can safely share with your dog.
On the other hand, the skin of smoked salmon can be a nutritious treat, as long as it is not too salty and we avoid adding harmful seasonings, such as garlic and onions.
Ultimately, to ensure the health of our pets, it’s essential to provide them with a well-balanced diet that includes appropriate amounts of fish, like properly cooked salmon, and other nutrients. By doing so, we can offer them the best possible care and support their long-term health and happiness.
We take this stuff seriously and research before sharing it with you.
- American Kennel Club (AKC)
- Trupanion Pet Insurance
Lucky day – this is a brand new article, first published in April 2023