Can Dogs Eat Salmon Skin? (Healthy Recipes Included)
Dogs can eat cooked or previously frozen salmon skin, cut into small pieces – never give a dog freshly caught raw salmon. Salmon is excellent for healthy skin, nerves, metabolism and immunity. These homemade dog food recipes include salmon and herbs to help dog’s arthritis, inflammation, chronic infections and senior needs.
The most important things to know if you want to add salmon skin to your dog’s diet are:
- Never give a dog freshly caught, raw salmon skin or flesh
- Always cut fish skin into small pieces
- Spice up your dog’s salmon with healing ingredients for common health conditions
- Choose wild-caught or sustainably-raised salmon
Top Healing Salmon Recipes for Dogs
Healing Fur Souls answers all your salmon questions! Plus, our Canine Herbalist gives you three easy salmon recipes to help dogs with arthritis, inflammation, infections or aging. Boost your dog’s wellness through holistic nutrition and natural herbs!
Can Dogs Eat Raw, Freshly Caught Salmon?
Do you fish for salmon? Or enjoy fresh salmon from the fish market?
Despite being tempted to reward your dog with a bite of freshly caught salmon, don’t do it. There are three reasons you should never allow your dog to eat fresh, raw salmon.
Three Reasons Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Freshly Caught, Raw Salmon
Bacteria and Parasites
Salmon skin is covered in mucous that often harbours bacteria, parasites and sea lice. Stress, antibiotics and handling can further impact the healthy microbiome of a salmon’s skin, leading to growth of opportunist, harmful bacteria. Freshly caught salmon exposes your dog to potentially harmful infections.
Salmon Poisoning Disease
This is a rare but fatal disease for dogs that eat fresh, raw salmon from the Pacific Northwest. Some Pacific salmon carry a bacteria-harbouring tapeworm that dogs are susceptible to. Freshly caught raw or undercooked salmon can carry this parasite and make a dog very, very sick.
Salmon has soft tiny bones (cartilage) that can lodge in a dog’s throat causing choking or internal injuries.
Is It Safe for Dogs on a Raw Food Diet to Eat Salmon?
Raw fish that are processed and sold for dogs’ meals are flash frozen for a period of time long enough to kill any bacteria or parasites that may be present. In addition, raw dog food producers grind bones, muscle meats, skin and organs to eliminate any choking risk. So yes, raw salmon is safe and nutritious for dogs on a raw food diet, when processed correctly.
Dogs Can Eat Raw Salmon that Has Been Frozen and Thawed
If you’ve caught a salmon or purchased one freshly caught, it’s wise to debone and freeze the filets. Salmon that has been frozen for at least two weeks can then be thawed and offered to dogs. Just make sure the fish is boneless or finely grind the flesh, skin and bones before feeding.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Salmon?
Dogs can enjoy cooked salmon, including cut-up salmon skin. Just make sure there aren’t any bones in the fish or that they’re finely ground. Although salmon bones are softer when cooked, bones can still get caught in dogs’ throat as dogs don’t have the ability to grind food with their teeth. Cooked salmon is often preferred to raw for senior dogs or those with serious health conditions like cancer. Contact us at Healing Fur Souls to book a virtual consultation and Holistic Treatment Plan for your dog’s unique needs.
Can Dogs Eat Smoked or Cured Salmon?
Whether through liquid or wood smoke, the smoking process adds nitrates to foods, which are known to cause stomach cancer in animals and are generally unhealthy for people. High amounts of salt are used in the curing process, so avoid giving smoked or cured salmon to your dog. Besides, smoked salmon is expensive. Go for one of the safer forms of raw salmon described above, or “get your chef on” and cook up one of the delicious healing salmon recipes below!
Can Dogs Eat Dehydrated Salmon Skin?
Dehydrated salmon skin is a tasty treat that is low in calories, and high in protein, healthy oils and nutrients. They offer a chewy treat that is more digestible than rawhide and good for your dog’s teeth and gums. You can dehydrate fish skins yourself, or buy them as an extra-special treat for your favourite Fur Soul.
Hint: Buy wild-caught or sustainably-raised dehydrated fish skins like these, because they tend to be lower in toxic mercury and parasites. Fish skins that aren’t wild or sustainably raised are typically from countries with lower industry standards; that means these products are highest in toxins and antibiotics – and not healthy for your dog.
Foods that Heal: Salmon Recipes for Arthritis, Inflammation, Chronic Infections and Senior Dogs
“Get your chef on” with these healing salmon recipes for dogs!
Does your dog have arthritis, swollen joints or other inflammatory conditions?
Healthy Omega-3 fats from fish sources can reduce joint swelling and pain. Salmon skin has the highest concentration of omega-3 fats and minerals, so keep the skin on for these recipes – just ensure salmon is wild-caught or from a sustainably-raised source to avoid toxins, antibiotics and bacteria.
Chronic ear or skin infections?
Antioxidants and vitamins in salmon and salmon skin can keep skin healthy and support the immune system. Omega-3 oils reduce inflammation and itching.
Is your dog a senior?
Seniors need more protein as they age to maintain muscle strength, good immunity and healthy organs. They also require omega-3 oils to keep inflammation down and support healthy joints. Salmon and salmon skin are excellent ways to keep your senior dog active and healthy during his golden years. Add vegetables and flaxseed to keep seniors’ slower digestive systems happy and healthy.
How to Cook Salmon for your Dog
Salmon is easy to cook. Start with these tips and then add healing vegetables and herbs for your dog’s specific health issues (below).
- Start with boneless salmon fillets. You can use skinless salmon, however fish skin contains the highest concentration of omega-3 fats and minerals, so keep the skin on to benefit the most. If you choose salmon with bones, food-process the salmon after cooking. If you choose skin, cut up into small pieces after cooking
- Choose one of these delicious cooking methods: frying, poaching or baking
- Don’t add any spices other than the ones specified below
- Adjust the amount to your dog’s weight and activity level
Boost the healing benefits of salmon by adding a few simple ingredients to your dog’s meals. These are our Canine Herbalist’s absolute favourite salmon recipes for dogs with health issues!
Healing Salmon Recipe for Dogs with Arthritis and Inflammation
Arthritis is painful and one of the most common inflammation-related illnesses dogs can develop. Essential fatty acids, ginger and turmeric are backed by research to reduce pain and swelling.
- In a frying pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly diced turmeric over the salmon (or 1/4 tsp dried turmeric)
- Fry salmon until colour turns light pink and flakes easily
- Boost this anti-inflammatory meal by adding diced broccoli, tomato and kale during the final 1-2 minutes of cooking. Cool, cut up skin (if applicable) and serve.
- Our dogs just can’t wait for meals to cool on their own, so we stir in a couple of ice cubes and test the temperature on the back of our hands.
For a natural Holistic Treatment Plan for your dog’s arthritis, including nutrition and supplements, book a virtual consultation.
Healing Salmon Recipe for Senior Dogs
Older dogs need more protein to protect bones, reduce muscle loss and repair skin. Flaxseeds keep bowels moving and parsley cleans blood and helps keep the urinary tract healthy. Add some vegetables to keep this meal simple and light to meet the needs of less active seniors.
- Place salmon on a tray lined with parchment paper
- Add a quarter cup of diced carrots or sweet potato mixed with a few teaspoons of finely diced parsley
- Sprinkle salmon with a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds (or psyllium husk)
- Bake salmon skin-down (if applicable) at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes
- Cool, cut up skin in small pieces and watch your senior have the healthiest meal of his life!
Salmon Recipe for Dogs with Chronic Infections
Chronic ear infections and hot spots are often symptoms of underlying issues like poor gut health, food sensitivities and immune issues. Help support your dog by healing his gut and optimizing immunity. Bone broth helps to heal the gut to help boost immunity and mitigate auto-immune responses . Garlic and basil leaves are used for their antimicrobial, antiviral and antioxidant properties.
- Fill a sauce pan with enough water to cover the fish
- Stir in a tablespoon of homemade or powdered bone broth and a clove of minced garlic
- Lower the salmon into the broth
- Bring water to a fast simmer, turn off heat and add a few fresh basil leaves
- Cover the pan tightly with its lid. Allow the fish to cook (poach) 20-30 minutes
- Remove the leaves, cut up salmon skin and pour the cooled, healing bone broth over the salmon
- For an extra immune boost, give raw goat milk or plain, organic goat kefir as a bedtime snack.
- Want to be the coolest Fur Momma or Fur Poppa around? Make our La-La Lavender Dreams Herbal Dog Treats and send your Fur Soul off to bed for some extra sweet dreams!
Food Energetics of Salmon
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers each type of food to have energetic qualities such as warm/neutral/cold, wet/dry. As an example, dogs whose constitution tends to be warm or hot should balance their heat with a cooling or neutral diet.
“Hot” dogs tend to display anxiety, have chronic ear or skin infections, allergies and pant (even at rest). “Cool” dogs are relaxed, seek out warm places to sleep and may have a poor appetite.
Although TCM is a complex system of medicine, basic concepts can provide helpful guidance when treating dogs’ health conditions naturally.
Fortunately, salmon is considered a “neutral” protein in TCM, and is a healthy protein for almost all dogs and health conditions, which is why we love these medicinal salmon recipes!
What’s the Best Type of Salmon to Feed My Dog?
Beware of Fish Farms
Much of the world’s supply of salmon comes from salmon farms, where fish are confined to small spaces and selective breeding, leading to:
- higher levels of opportunistic infections (bacteria and parasites)
- bone deformities
- antibiotic and pesticide overuse
- harm to local ecosystems
Unless fish comes from sustainably-raised farms with higher industry standards, don’t buy it.
Toxins and Nutrition
When it comes to nutrition and contaminants, studies are inconclusive. An Indiana University study determined that farmed salmon had significantly higher levels of toxins than wild-caught salmon. Another study analyzed the contaminants and essential nutrients of several types of salmon and found that farmed Atlantic salmon was one of those that rose to the top in terms of lower amounts of toxins and high nutritional value.
When choosing salmon for your dog, the most important things to look for are:
- High amounts of healthy fats (DHA and EPA). Salmon is considered an oily fish, and a good source of these healthy fats. Research suggests that DHA and EPA are highest in wild Sockeye and wild Chinook
- Low potential for contaminants, including mercury, antibiotics, hormones and opportunistic diseases. The highest levels of heavy metals such as toxic mercury were found in farmed organic Chinook, and lowest in farmed Atlantic (organic and non-organic) salmon. Too much mercury in your dog’s body can lead to mercury poisoning.
What’s the Healthiest Salmon for Your Dog? : The Short Answer
First, look for labels on packaging that indicate the fish is “wild-caught” or “sustainably-raised”.
Secondly, choose one of these types of salmon:
- Wild-Caught Salmon
- Wild Sockeye
- Wild Chinook
- Organic Atlantic Salmon
- Sustainably-raised farmed Atlantic Salmon (non-organic)
Should I Give My Dog Salmon Oil?
If you feed your dog salmon 1-2 times a week, and supplement a raw or cooked whole foods diet daily with small amounts of healthy oils, you likely won’t need an additional salmon oil supplement.
However, if you can’t feed your dog frozen raw or cooked salmon, consider salmon oil as a healthy supplement to your dog’s daily diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
EPA and DHA are important Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon that contribute to healthy nerve functioning, skin, mental and emotional well-being and keeping inflammation down. These oils are present in salmon flesh and skin, but can also be extracted into a convenient oil.
Extraction of oils from salmon occurs through several different processes, including use of pressure and solvents. High quality oils will cost more, but meet higher standards in removing contaminants like mercury and PCBs and preventing oils from becoming rancid. Research brands of salmon oil carefully.
Tips for choosing salmon oil for your dog:
- choose human grade supplements
- ensure oil is from fish that are wild-caught or from sustainably-raised fish farms
- use oil before the best before date, as fish oils can become rancid quickly
Vegan, vegetarian or fish allergies in the household? There are several alternatives to salmon oil including flaxseeds, eggs, coconut oil and red meat.
Be kind to every living being. Respect the earth we share together.
Baeverfjord, G., Prabhu, P., Fjelldal, P., Albrektsen, S., Hatlen, B., Denstadli, V., Ytteborg, E., Takle, H. et al. (2019). Mineral nutrition and bone health in salmonids. Reviews in Aquaculture. 11 (740-765).
Colombo, S. & X. Mazal. (2020). Investigation of the nutritional composition of different types of salmon available to Canadian consumers. Journal of Agriculture and Food Research (2).
Indiana University. (2004, January 9). Farmed Salmon More Toxic Than Wild Salmon, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040109072244.htm
Minnitti, G., Hagen, L., Porcellato, D., Jorgensen, S., Pope, P. & G. Vaaje-Kolstad. (2017). The Skin-Mucus Microbial Community of Farmed Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar). Frontiers in Microbiology. 8 (2043).