Fish and Shellfish in Dog Food

Fish is increasingly common in dog food as a source of healthy protein and nutrition. Most of the fish found in dog food is leftovers from the fish eaten by humans: such as salmon, mackerel, pollack, cod and so on. It is generally minced for use in dog feed.

Fish is rich in omega oils such as omega 3 and 6. These fish oils have great benefits for your dog’s skin, heart and joint problems.

There are some problems with fish as part of a dog diet. As fish contains so much water in comparison to animal meat, a lot more is needed in order to maintain a healthy diet. This is one of the reasons why fish is often mixed up with animal meat or fish meal.

Fish meal is made by grinding the whole fish – bones, skin, offal and all. It can be quite smelly, but the dogs don’t mind (even if you do!) Although many dog foods containing fish will specify a species, fish meal can be made from any kind of fish.

Furthermore, in order stop fish meal becoming rancid it is laced with antioxidants. These can be derived from natural sources, but some manufacturers may use chemicals that can have potentially harmful side effects. If this concerns you, look for foods that are guaranteed to be free from artificial additives.


Salmon is a powerful, muscular fish with a distinctive taste that dogs love. It is very popular and much less of a luxury item now that it is farmed around the world. High in fishy fats, it is naturally good for your dog’s digestion. You will find several dog foods containing salmon although like all fish it is generally balanced with red meats or poultry for bulk, nutritional value, and price.

Cod Family

The cod family includes haddock, hake, pollack as well as cod itself – the types of fish most familiar to us from fish and chips and fish fingers. Not as oily as salmon, cod tends to be uncommon in dog foods due to the amount of treatment needed to make it nutritionally useful to the canine digestive system. When found in dog food, it tends to be bulked up with lots of fish meal – which as we’ve mentioned can come with some less healthy effects.


Containing many of the essential oils and vitamins found in oily fishes and salmon, tuna has a much denser flesh and closer to red meats in texture. Tuna is a meaty, protein rich fish that is more often used in dog treats rather than dog food due to its relative expense.

Other Oily Fish

Other familiar fish are also sometimes found in dog food: sardines, mackerel. These oily fish contain important vitamins – notably A, B3 and D. These aid your dog’s digestion, as well being critical to the development of healthy skin, teeth, fur, and bones.

Shellfish: Green-Lipped Mussel

Green lipped mussel is rich in anti-inflammatory minerals. Not only that, but they contain natural pain relief for joint conditions such as arthritis. This makes them a very popular ingredient with owners of older dogs.


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