Can Dogs Eat That

Can Dogs Eat Salmon? Everything You Need to Know

cooked fish with two green leaf on round white ceramic plate

Absolutely! Salmon isn’t just delicious for us humans, it’s a fantastic treat for our canine companions too. Packed with benefits, this “superfood fish” (as my own enthusiastic pups would agree!) can be a great addition to your dog’s diet. 

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about feeding salmon to your dog, including its nutritional benefits, potential concerns, and how to prepare it safely.

Let’s get started!

The Nutritional Benefits of Salmon for Dogs

Salmon is more than just a tasty treat – it’s packed with nutrients that can support your dog’s health in numerous ways. Here are some of the key nutritional benefits:

1. High-quality protein

With over 18 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, salmon is an excellent source of lean, easily digestible protein to help maintain your dog’s muscle mass and overall health. 

salmon on a green ceramic plate

2. Omega-3 fatty acids

Salmon is rich in omega-3s, especially EPA and DHA, known for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to promote a glossy coat, maintain skin health, and support joint function. A 3-ounce serving provides more than 1900 mg of these helpful fats.

woman with yorkshire terrier dog

3. Essential vitamins and minerals

Salmon provides a variety of important micronutrients, including selenium (35+ mg per serving) for thyroid and immune function, phosphorus (200+ mg) for strong bones and teeth, vitamin B12 (2+ mcg) for brain health, and niacin (nearly 7 mg) for energy production and metabolism.

These nutrients make salmon a well-rounded addition to your dog’s diet and a great alternative to traditional protein sources like beef or chicken. Many commercial dog foods even include salmon as a key ingredient.

a woman feeding a dog at home

Potential Concerns and Considerations 

While salmon is generally a healthy and beneficial addition to your dog’s diet, there are several factors to consider before serving it up. Let’s take a closer look at these potential concerns:

1. Raw vs. cooked

One of the most important things to remember is to always feed your dog cooked salmon. Raw fish, including salmon, can harbor harmful bacteria like salmonella or listeria, as well as parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, or flukes. These pathogens can cause serious gastrointestinal issues, infections, or even life-threatening conditions in dogs. 

photo of salmon steak

To eliminate these risks, cook it thoroughly to a safe internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C), , according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. This temperature ensures that any potential bacteria or parasites are destroyed, making the fish safe for your pup to enjoy.

salmon on fire

2. Wild-caught vs. farm-raised

When selecting salmon for your dog, you may wonder whether wild-caught or farm-raised fish is the better choice. Both types can be nutritious, but there are some key differences to consider:

  • Farm-raised salmon may have higher levels of pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, due to contamination in the fish feed or farming environment. They may also be exposed to antibiotics used to prevent disease in crowded fish pens.
woman sitting home sofa with her dog

  • Wild-caught salmon, on the other hand, tends to have lower levels of contaminants and is not treated with antibiotics. However, it is often more expensive and may be less readily available than farm-raised options. Ultimately, the choice between wild-caught and farm-raised salmon comes down to your individual priorities and budget. If you’re concerned about contaminants, opting for wild-caught fish may be the best choice. However, if affordability and accessibility are your main considerations, farm-raised salmon can still be a healthy option for your dog.
close up person holding fresh caught fish hand lake

3. Mercury and other contaminants

Like many fish, salmon can contain trace amounts of mercury, PCBs, and dioxins, which are environmental pollutants that accumulate in the fish’s flesh over time. While these contaminants can be harmful in high doses, salmon is generally considered a low-mercury fish. According to the FDA, salmon is one of the “best choices” for fish consumption due to its low mercury content, with an average of 0.022 parts per million (ppm) of mercury. This means that moderate consumption of salmon, such as a few times per week, is unlikely to cause mercury toxicity in dogs. However, if you have concerns about contaminants or your dog has a compromised immune system, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for personalized guidance on how much salmon is safe for your pet.

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4. Salmon oil supplements

If you’re interested in boosting your dog’s omega-3 intake, you may consider giving them a salmon oil supplement. These concentrated oils can provide a potent dose of EPA and DHA, the beneficial fatty acids found in salmon. When selecting a salmon oil supplement, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality, purified product from a reputable manufacturer. Look for oils that have been molecularly distilled or undergone other purification processes to remove contaminants like mercury, PCBs, and dioxins. 

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Always adhere to the recommended dosage guidelines based on your dog’s weight and age to avoid potential side effects such as diarrhea, decreased blood clotting ability, or vitamin E deficiency.

If you’re unsure about the appropriate dosage, consult with your veterinarian.

dog vet consultation

5. Allergies or sensitivities

Although uncommon, some dogs may be allergic or sensitive to fish, including salmon. If your dog has never eaten salmon before, it’s essential to watch for any signs of an adverse reaction when introducing it to their diet. Symptoms of food allergy or intolerance in dogs may include:

  • Digestive issues (vomiting, diarrhea, or gas)
  • Skin problems (itching, redness, or hot spots)
  • Ear infections
  • Respiratory difficulties (coughing, wheezing, or sneezing) 
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If you observe any of these symptoms after giving your dog salmon, stop feeding it immediately and seek advice from your veterinarian. They might suggest an elimination diet or allergy testing to identify the potential cause of the reaction.

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How to Prepare Salmon for Your Dog

Ready to serve up some salmon for your eager pup? Here’s how to do it safely and simply:

1. Choose Fresh, High-quality Salmon

When shopping for salmon for your dog, prioritize quality and freshness. Look for salmon from reputable sources, such as a trusted fishmonger or a high-quality grocery store. If possible, choose salmon from colder northern or southern waters, as these fish tend to have the highest levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids due to their natural diet of omega-3-rich plankton. When selecting salmon, trust your senses. Fresh fish should have bright, shiny skin, firm flesh, and a mild, ocean-like aroma. Avoid salmon that looks dull, mushy, or has a strong, fishy odor, as these may indicate that the fish is past its prime.

slices fresh salmon slices

2. Thoroughly Debone the Fillet Before Cooking

Before cooking the salmon for your dog, it’s important to remove all the bones from the fillet. Fish bones, even small ones, can pose a serious choking hazard or cause intestinal damage if swallowed. 

close up photo of dog wearing sunglasses

To debone the salmon, use tweezers or your fingers to carefully remove any visible bones. Pay extra attention to the thickest part of the fillet, where bones tend to be larger and more numerous. Run your fingers over the flesh to detect any remaining bones, and remove them as needed. 

If you’re not confident in your deboning skills or are short on time, you can ask your fishmonger to do it for you when you purchase the salmon.

cook cuts salmon into slices

3. Simple and Healthy Ways to Cook Salmon for Your Dog

When cooking salmon for your dog, keeping it simple is key. Avoid heavy oils, butter, or seasonings as they can add unnecessary calories and potentially upset your dog’s stomach. Instead, go for healthier cooking methods like poaching, steaming, baking, or broiling.

cute dog with his owner garden

To poach salmon, gently simmer the deboned fillet in water for about 10 minutes or until it turns opaque and easily flakes with a fork. For steaming, place the salmon in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover it up, and let it cook for 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness.

If you prefer baking, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C), lay the fillet on a lined baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes. For broiling, place the salmon on a broiler pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the fish is cooked through.

Regardless of your chosen method, ensure the salmon reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C) to guarantee it’s safe for your dog to enjoy.

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4. Remove the Skin Before Serving

While the skin of the salmon is edible and not harmful to dogs, it’s best to remove it before serving. Salmon skin typically contains high levels of fat and calories, which, if eaten in large amounts, can result in unwanted weight gain and other health problems. To remove the skin, simply use a knife to slice between the flesh and the skin, separating the two. The cooked salmon should easily pull away from the skin, making it a quick and simple task.

salmon salad

5. Start with Small Portions (A Few Ounces)

When you first introduce salmon to your dog’s diet, begin with small portions to gauge their reaction to the new food. A few ounces of cooked salmon, depending on your dog’s size, is a good starting point. If your pup shows no signs of digestive upset or allergic reactions, you can gradually increase the amount over time. As a general guideline, a serving of salmon for dogs should be about 1 ounce per 10 pounds of body weight. For example, a 30-pound dog could safely enjoy 3 ounces of cooked salmon in a meal. However, every dog is unique, so it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for personalized portion recommendations based on your pet’s individual needs.

adorable chihuahua dog with female owner

6. Mix it Up!

One of the best things about salmon is its versatility – there are endless ways to incorporate it into your dog’s diet. Here are a few creative serving ideas to keep mealtime exciting:

  • Salmon topper: Flake the cooked salmon and sprinkle it over your dog’s regular kibble for a tasty and nutritious boost.
  • Salmon and veggie mash: Mash cooked salmon with steamed vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, or green beans for a satisfying and balanced meal.
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  • Salmon treats: Mix flaked salmon with a small amount of mashed potato or cooked oatmeal, form into bite-sized balls, and bake for a few minutes for a tasty and healthy homemade treat.
  • Salmon broth: Simmer salmon bones and scraps in water for a few hours, strain, and use the broth to moisten your dog’s dry food or as a flavorful base for homemade dog soup.


1. How much salmon can I feed my dog?

A: Moderation is key. A few ounces of cooked salmon a few times a week is a safe and healthy amount for most dogs. If you’re unsure, check with your veterinarian for personalized guidance based on your dog’s size, age, and health status.

2. Can I feed my dog canned salmon?

A: Yes, as long as it’s packed in water (not oil) and doesn’t contain added salt or seasonings. Drain it well before serving.

3. What if my dog doesn’t like salmon?

A: Every dog has their own taste preferences. If your pup turns their nose up at salmon, don’t force it. There are plenty of other fish options to try like cod, whitefish, or herring, or you can stick with more traditional protein sources.

Final Words

Salmon can be a delicious, nutritious, and safe treat for dogs when prepared properly. If you’re on the lookout for other safe human foods for your dog, check out our selection here. From crisp cucumbers to juicy pineapples, we’ve got everything you need.


About Judith D. Swan

With a passion for pooch health and nutrition, I've dedicated myself to exploring every "Can dogs eat...?" scenario you can imagine. With a background in veterinary science and years of experience in the pet care industry, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. From the common to the curious, I've researched it all to ensure that your canine companion gets the best possible care. But hey, I'm not just about facts and figures. As a proud dog parent myself, I understand the bond between humans and their four-legged pals. That's why I'm committed to providing trustworthy, practical advice that keeps both tails wagging.