What’s in a fish?
Eating fish meat has quite a few advantages and is often not given up even by people who have completely excluded red meat or even all other types of meat from their diet. What is it about fish that makes it worthwhile? Which fish for dogs are valuable?
Fish is a source of highly digestible protein, which is, after all, an essential component of a dog’s diet. It is responsible for the proper growth of dogs, gives them strength and helps them maintain adequate muscle mass, so it is crucial for their life at every stage.
Not every type of protein is equally well absorbed by the body, nor is every protein complete. Fish meat is rich in high-quality protein, so eating it keeps you healthy and energetic.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated acids and are widely regarded as the most valuable. They have an excellent effect on a dog’s claws and coat, making them healthy and strong, and keeping the coat shiny and free from shedding.
They also positively influence the nervous system and have a very strong effect on the immune system, as well as the circulatory system. Saltwater fish have the most valuable omega-3 fatty acids.
This element has a positive effect on the circulatory and immune systems and supports the functioning of the thyroid gland. It is also important for the proper functioning of enzymes. As an antioxidant, it protects cells from free radicals and has anti-cancer effects.
An excess of iodine can lead to disorders of the nervous system and a deficiency in heart disease and a significant reduction in immunity.
Iodine is very important for the body. On the one hand, it only directly affects the thyroid gland and the hormone balance, but the proper functioning of the organism largely depends precisely on whether the hormones are secreted correctly, as they affect the whole organism and are very important for health.
Thus, iodine also ensures that the dog’s body has proper muscle function, proper metabolism or a healthy nervous system, and much more.
Fish is rich in vitamins A, D, E and those of the B group – the best sources of the latter are lean fish. Vitamin A is excellent for your dog’s eyesight, as well as skin and coat condition, and strengthens the immune system. If your dog is deficient in vitamin A, he may have problems seeing at night and in dim light. In turn, his coat will look worse and may fall out profusely.
Vitamin D has a positive effect on the bones, making it particularly important for dogs that are still growing. Its ability to improve the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and assimilate them in the correct proportions by the dog is also important.
Vitamin E inhibits oxidation processes in the body. Its deficiency can lead, among other things, to impaired growth in puppies, as well as to eye problems and reduced immunity.
The B vitamins have a positive effect on the condition of the animal’s skin and coat, promote normal metabolism and support the functioning of the nervous system.
Can a dog eat fish?
Fish is full of valuable ingredients, making it very healthy. So is fish a good idea for your dog? Yes, but there are a few things to bear in mind. Above all, fish is also a source of thiaminase, a compound that breaks down thiamine, or vitamin B1.
Heat treatment neutralises this compound, so raw fish for your dog is not the best idea, especially if it is going to be given to your dog every day as part of a staple diet rather than as an occasional snack.
Thiamine oxide is also found in fish – this, in turn, can lead to kidney failure – and, like thiaminase, is found in raw fish and is neutralised by the heat treatment process.
Thiaminase and trimethylamine oxide are also not found in all fish. Salmon, sole, cod and halibut, for example, are free of thiaminase. Trimethylamine oxide is much less common than thiaminase and can be found, for example, in hake or pollock. Can a dog eat fish without heat treatment if any of these compounds are present? In small quantities and as a snack, it should not be harmful.
Raw fish served in small quantities should not harm your pet, especially if it comes from a verified source and is tested for bacteria and parasites.
Treats such as dried fish for dogs are a very good idea – the drying process does not adversely affect the values contained in the fish, so fish prepared in this way is not only tasty but also healthy.
Fish for puppies
Rich in omega-3 acids, fish will also be a very valuable snack for puppies. Particularly recommended for small doggies are oily saltwater fish, which contain more omega-3 fatty acids and promote puppy development.
It’s also best to give them heat-treated fish, as this will ensure that the meat is hazard-free. What about bones? Can a dog eat fish bones? Not! Neither puppies nor adult dogs should be given them.
In the latter case, you can make an exception only if the bones are very finely ground together with the meat. Bones are very dangerous for dogs – a puppy may choke and its digestive system may also be injured. An adult dog is also exposed to this danger.
Fish for dogs – summary
Boneless fish can be a very healthy snack for your dog. If you plan to introduce fish as the main source of protein in your dog’s diet, be aware of the negative effects of trimethylamine oxide and thiaminase on your dog’s body – the compounds are neutralised by heat treatment of the fish. If supplied to the body for too long, they can lead to health problems.
Which fish will be best for your dog? Oily saltwater fish are generally considered to be the most nutritious, through their high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids. If you give your dog fish, make sure it comes from a good source.