There's Something Fishy Going On
All fish is an excellent source of protein, calcium, selenium, niacin (B vitamin), and omega-3 fats. Canned fish such as tuna or salmon makes a healthy treat for your dog. When choosing tinned fish, look for fish packed in water without added salt. One of the best ways to feed fish is to add a quarter tin of fish to your dog’s meal. Or try this recipe for Tuna Fudge—a rather unappealing name but dogs love it.
You can also feed your dog smelts, sardines, anchovies, herring, and mackerel. These are considered to be fatty fish because they tend to have a higher proportion of omega-3 fats than other fish. Fish should not be fed raw to your dog because of a naturally occurring enzyme in the fish called thiaminase. This enzyme breaks down thiamine (B vitamin) in your dog’s food and makes it unusable by your dog’s body.
On average, a 6-ounce tin of tuna contains 119 C, so this would be a special treat for your dog rather than an everyday snack. One average-sized sardine contains approximately 25 C, so you could feed one sardine to a Labrador every day. For a smaller toy breed dog (under 20 lb), you should not feed more than half a sardine per day.
Anchovies are very similar to other fish in terms of nutrient profile and their small size makes them ideal small snacks for your dog. One anchovy (4 grams) has 5 C, so you could feed a few more and not worry about extra pounds on your pooch. A Labrador Retriever could have five anchovies per day and a smaller dog (under 20lb) could have two or three. If you don’t like the smell and mess of canned fish, buy frozenanchovies, which are available in many Asian supermarkets. When purchasing anchovies, avoid those packed in salt; when fed to excess (i.e., a whole bag of chips) high-sodium treats can be hard on your dog’s kidneys.
Although there is no direct evidence suggesting that dogs are at risk, if your dog is pregnant or lactating it is best to limit the amount of fish that she consumes because of the concern over mercury and PCB contamination.
Tip: Try adding the water from tinned fish to some kibble, treats, or fresh veggies and freeze it into fish pops.