4 min read


Can Dogs Taste Fishy Food?



4 min read


Can Dogs Taste Fishy Food?


Fish is a healthy, delicious, and nutritious source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. Fish is great for both humans and animals, with many animals relying on fish as their main source of food in the wild - think bears! 

Since summertime is approaching, you are likely going to eat more fish and grill some fish outside on those warm summer evenings. You may be wondering if you can share some of the fish you are eating for dinner with your favorite, furry friend. Good news is, your dog can enjoy most varieties of fish and it possesses some very healthy vitamins and nutritional benefits for your pooch.


Sings of a Dog Liking Fish & Fishy Food

You likely already know how to tell if your dog loves a certain type of food or does not seem to care for another type. Just like humans, dogs make faces and turn up their noses to foods they do not like the taste or texture of. Dogs have more in common with us than you may think. 

If your dog does not like the fish you give them, they will generally let you know pretty quickly that they are not a fan. Your dog may ignore the food completely after a few sniffs and walk away. Alternatively, your dog may sniff the food very intently for a while as if he/she is trying to figure out what this new type of food is and why it smells so bad. 

If your dog doesn't like fish, they may also bark at the piece of food, paw at it, play bow in front of it, or give it the "ugly face" while they snarl and show their teeth. Some dogs will even fling the food around like they are playing with it. 

If your dog does like fish, they will eat it without any issue, beg for more, paw at your leg to let you know they want more, lick their lips, and drool. 

Body Language

There are some signs you may notice if your dog likes fish:

  • Alert
  • Wag Tail
  • Lip Licking
  • Drooling
  • Paw Raised
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog likes fish:

  • Pacing Around You And The Food
  • Staring At You
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Begging For More

History of Dogs and Fish


Dogs have a close connection to their wolf ancestors. Before dogs became domesticated, they relied on hunting for their food. Wolves and undomesticated dogs would generally eat meat and protein-heavy diets. Common food sources were from animals such as deer, elk, rabbit, boar, bison, and of course, fish. Although this would change and be dependent upon location and migration patterns for the seasons. However, fish was often not the first choice of food because they were hard to catch and quite small compared to other larger animals with more meat. 

As dogs became domesticated and evolved into the animals we know and love today, their diets changed and the consumption of fish diminished even more. Today, we generally only feed our dogs a kibble-based diet and do not provide them with any whole, fresh, either cooked or raw, meats or fish. 

People who switch their dog to a fully raw diet, or even a partially raw diet, tend to see a huge improvement in their dog's overall health or relief if they are suffering from a particular issue. Many dog owners claim that once they switched their dog to a raw diet - that often included fish - their dogs gas, stomach, and GI issues improved or disappeared completely. 

Science Behind Dogs And Fish


Dogs can eat fish safely and it contains many health benefits for your dog's overall health. Fish provide a ton of nutrients and can be a great addition to their diet. 

Fish contains a high level of protein that is not fatty and is quite lean. It also has a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, which help keep your dog's skin and coat strong, healthy, and shiny. It is also known to decrease inflammation in the body, so this is a particularly good food to include in your dog's diet if they suffer from conditions like arthritis. Just make sure to remember that you cannot just feed your dog fish alone, as they need other sources of nutrients as well.

Training Dogs to Like Fish


Although fish is very healthy for your dog, there are also some things you should know and consider before introducing fish to your dog's diet. There are some fish that can be given to your dog without any concerns and other types of fish that need to be avoided or only given in smaller quantities on occasion. Some of the most common and safest kinds of fish you can feed your dog without concern include the following: 

  • Ocean Whitefish¬†
  • Lake whitefish
  • Herring
  • Walleye
  • Flounder
  • Arctic char
  • Salmon
  • Pike

These types of fish are great cooked and then fed to your dog along with other sources of nutrients. When cooking fish for your dog, avoid cooking with heavy, fatty butter or salt and pepper. Simply bake the fish in the oven on a non-stick surface with a little bit of healthy, organic and virgin coconut oil. The simpler the preparation, the better for your pooch. 

You want to avoid feeding your dog fish that is considered a long-lived fish like tuna and swordfish. The longer a fish lives, the more heavy metals are able to accumulate within the fish's body. The metal of most worry is mercury, which can cause reproductive and neurological issues. 

Most of the fish that is caught in the Pacific Ocean has the highest levels of heavy metals, mercury, and other radioactive materials that need to be avoided as much as possible in both you and your dog's diet. Therefore, it is best to stick to the low mercury level fish varieties like salmon and cod. You can find these kinds of fish for relatively inexpensive, especially when they go on sale. Make sure you are only buying wild-caught fish from the Atlantic Ocean and always avoid farm raised fish - this is a particular issue for salmon. 

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Safety Tips for Feeding Your Dog Fish:

  1. Talk to your vet before feeding your dog raw fish.
  2. Avoid fish known to contain a lot of heavy metals.
  3. Do not overfeed your dog fish.

Written by a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/03/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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