Giving Salmon or Tuna to Dogs

by Amy M. Armstrong Google
    Cooked salmon is easy to add to your dog's dry food.

    Cooked salmon is easy to add to your dog's dry food.

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    Salmon and tuna are two examples of foods that are good for you as well as your four-legged friend. The couple servings per week of fish dietitians suggest humans consume can also benefit dogs when given in canine-sized portions. Feeding cooked meat or oils derived from these two is appropriate.

    Modern Dog magazine lists salmon as one of 10 "human" foods that can be fed to dogs. Salmon makes the list because of its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. The website VetInfo states that omega-3 fatty acids can improve a dog's dull coat and dry skin, as well as aid in healing time and reduce skin infections. Modern Dog also lists a boosted immune system as a benefit of omega-3 fatty acids.

    DogChannel.com cautions against feeding raw salmon to dogs, so no sushi for Fido. This is because while in the ocean, salmon naturally pick up a parasite -- a flatworm called Nanophyteus salmincola. This flatworm is regularly infected by a rather nasty rickettsial organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which according to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine causes salmon poisoning disease in canines. The parasitic flatworm often finds a home in snails, which are a major food source for salmon as they grow to harvest-able weights. The flatworm itself does not affect salmon, but passes on the harmful impact to those eating raw fish. When flatworm larvae infected with the rickettsial organism are exposed to the enzymes in a canine's digestive system, they burst open and embed themselves in the dog's intestinal tract, causing inflammation. Fortunately, the cooking process kills these microscopic flatworms.

    DogChannel.com lists vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy as symptoms of raw salmon poisoning in a dog. Symptom onset may not occur until five to seven days post ingestion. Elevated temperatures ranging between 104 and 107 degrees and bloody diarrhea are common. If left untreated by antibiotics, VetInfo indicates 90 percent of infected dogs die.

    There are several methods to get salmon in Fido's diet: Supplemental capsules for him to swallow, oil to pour over his food or treats used as rewards for good behavior. Verify the treats are not just "salmon flavored," but do contain actual salmon by reading the label thoroughly. Adding flakes of canned salmon over your pup's kibbles works well to give him a full taste of the real meat. Feed 1.5 ounces of salmon per 10 pounds of your dog's weight. Follow directions on bottles of supplemental capsules or oils and feed treats sparingly. Talk to your vet before giving your pet supplements or a major diet change.

    Modern Dog magazine suggests saving a bit of tuna for your canine friend the next time you make a sandwich for yourself -- but just a bit. Tuna is a treat for dogs and not a main source of protein. Canned tuna tends to be high in sodium and mercury. The ASPCA indicates it is acceptable to give dogs the juice from canned tuna as a treat with this caveat: Don't let it become a main caloric source. At least 90 percent of Fido's calories ought to come from high quality dog food. That leaves 10 percent of his diet for treats, such as tuna juice or tuna meat itself.

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    About the Author

    Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.

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