Salmon’s advertised as being full of wonderful nutrients that are great for your dog.
But salmon are also exposed to dangerous toxins … and they can contain parasites that could make your dog very sick.
Today I’ll talk in more detail about why salmon isn’t a good choice for your dog. And give some alternative foods for getting the nutrients your dog needs.
I’ll also talk about safe practices when you feed salmon … if you still want to after reading this.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog Salmon
There are many reasons why salmon isn’t a great choice for your dog.
Back in 2011, radiation seeped into the Pacific as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The radiation has made its way to the west coast of north America and fish now show signs of radiation.
While studies suggest that the amount of radiation is so low it shouldn’t cause concern … it’s best to avoid Pacific Salmon.
Cesium-137 and strontium-90 are two of the radioactive particles found in salmon. These can build up in your dogs bone marrow and lead to cancer and leukemia.
2. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are carcinogenic man-made chemicals. Governments banned them in the 1970s but they’re still found in products made before the ban.
PCBs are resistant to high temperatures. So manufacturers used them in electrical equipment and as heat transfer materials.
Improper disposal and accidental leaks were major causes of contamination in the past.
Today, we still find PCBs in oceans and in our seafood.
PCBs can cause …
- Skin problems
- Muscle spasms
- Nervous system disorders
3. Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are often found in the oceans and in fish.
They’re a by-product of industry and don’t break down well. The most common heavy metals found in fish are …
And they can cause serious issues …
4. Dioxins and Furans
Dioxins and furans are environmental pollutants.
There are many different dioxins and furans and small amounts make their way into the oceans.
They come from municipal and medical waste, as well as manufacturing.
Dioxins and furans can cause …
- Skin issues
- Liver problems
- Immune system issues
- Reproductive issues
5. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Farmed salmon was the first animal approved by the FDA to be genetically modified. Scientists modified Atlantic salmon so that they would be hungry year-round. This helps farmers grow the fish to market size much quicker.
To make matters worse, nothing on the label indicates the salmon is GMO. So there’s no way of knowing what you’re buying.
Wild salmon can have parasites like roundworms or flukes.
Flukes are especially dangerous if they’re infected by Neorickettsia helminthoeca … a bacteria that causes salmon poisoning disease.
If your dog eats salmon with infected fluke … the flukes will attach to his gut lining. The fluke eggs and larvae will then infect your dog and make him very sick.
Symptoms of salmon poisoning usually appear 6 days after eating the infected fish …
- Lack of appetite
- Bloody diarrhea
- Swollen lymph nodes
You’ll most often find infected salmon in the Pacific Northwest. If you walk your dog in an area where he may be able to scavenge dead salmon, you want to be particularly careful.
For those purchasing salmon at the store, the risk is lower. Just cook the salmon or freeze it for a week to kill off any parasites.
RELATED: Salmon Disease In Dogs …
Alternatives to Salmon
The main reason dog owners decide to add salmon or salmon oil to their dog’s diet is to give more omega-3s … especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
These healthy fats …
- Promote brain health
- Fight inflammation
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Support eye health
- Reduce the risk of some cancers
- Helps probiotics attach to intestinal cells
- Increases healthy bifidobacteria populations
While salmon and salmon oil are high in these healthy omega-3 fatty acids … the risk of other contaminants is very high.
Instead, try one of these 2 alternatives …
Green Lipped Mussels
Green lipped mussels are full of EPA and DHA.
This is because they filter phytoplankton from the water.
Phytoplankton is a marine plant that’s rich in EPA and DHA. When the green lipped mussels filter the water, phytoplankton gets trapped. The mussels then eat the phytoplankton, which gives them a healthy dose of EPA and DHA.
Green lipped mussels are native to New Zealand but … they can also be sustainably farmed, which protects the oceans.
Brain And Eyes
Another great source of EPA and DHA are organs like the brain and eyes.
It may sound a little off-putting, but like other organ meats, the brain and eyes are full of omega 3s. Especially DHA because the brain and eyes need this fatty acid to function.
And 4 oz of brain has about twice as much DHA and more EPA than a teaspoon of fish oil.
These organs can be a little more difficult to find. But you’ll have the most luck at the butcher shop, an abbattoir or meat processor..
How To Feed Your Dog Salmon
If you do decide to feed your dog salmon, it’s important to pick the right kind.
You’ll want to avoid Pacific salmon as well as farmed fish.
Farmed fish may be GMO and contains more PCBs than wild salmon. One study showed that PCB concentrations were 8x higher in farmed salmon.
When you buy salmon, choose a cut without bones. Salmon bones are brittle. They can choke your dog or get lodged in his digestive tract.
You also need to freeze the salmon for a week before you serve it. This will kill off any potential parasites and bacteria.
If you feel more comfortable cooking the salmon to kill off the parasites … steam it. This will preserve more of the omega 3s.
Can Dogs Have Salmon Skin?
Salmon skin is the fattiest part of the fish. While there are no immediate risks if your dog eats salmon skin … toxins and contaminants get stored in fatty tissue.
That means your dog is getting all the risks without any of the reward when you feed him the skin.
To be safe and ensure your dog gets the most nutrients possible, remove the skin before feeding.
Can Dogs Have Smoked Salmon?
You shouldn’t feed smoked salmon to your dog.
The curing process for smoked salmon often includes lots of salt. While you dog needs some salt in his diet … too much can be dangerous. It can dehydrate your dog or cause salt poisoning.
And some smoked salmon contains sugar as well.
Then there’s the smoking process. Make sure you buy cold-smoked salmon, if you feed it at all. Smoking with heat can cause carcinogenic substances called PAHs – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
If your dog does eat smoked salmon, make sure he has lots of water. If it was a large amount, watch for symptoms of salt poisoning …
- Extreme thirst and urination
- Increased heart rate
Can Dogs Have Canned Salmon?
Canned salmon won’t hurt your dog … but the canning process can destroy fatty acids and increase cholesterol.
If you are in a pinch, canned salmon in water (not oil) is a safe choice … but not the most nutritious.
Can Dogs Eat Salmon?
Salmon offers many benefits but they’re outweighed by the potential toxins …
- Heavy metals
And don’t forget … some farmed salmon is GMO.
If you are looking to give your dog an omega-3 boost, choose a safer alternative. Ones like green lipped mussels or organs including the brain and eyes.
If you still want to feed your dog salmon, steer clear of Pacific and farmed fish. And always remember to freeze it for a week to kill any parasites.
That way you can reduce the risk and keep your dog healthy.