Hold the Sashimi: Can Dogs Eat Raw Fish?

My dog is the best dog in the world. I wouldn’t just say that…I would know it! But you know how our pets are; they surprise us with a lot of other things, leaving us with that same feeling of wonder similar to when we discovered vegan cheese or how amazing the benefits of coconut water actually are.

One time, we went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. They were very accommodating and even allowed my pup to sit under the table instead of outside on the porch. My parents had already eaten but agreed to take shared bites of sashimi.

Can dogs eat raw fish? This question wasn’t a problem until the little chunks were within reach of his hungry mouth! I thought frantically of nothing else but “Can dogs eat sashimi?”

The quick answer is NO. While I am glad that my pup was only able to gobble up a couple of pieces, I made sure I never fed him salmon sashimi ever again. Let me share with you why!

Benefits of Fish For Dogs

It wouldn’t hurt to type in any search engine “can dogs eat trout,” for example, as it’s crucial to know which types of fish to eat would greatly benefit (and overall, be safe) your dog.

Pets love to fish, and while you might think it’s not a good idea to feed your dog fish, you’ll be happy to know that the opposite is actually true. Fish, when prepared carefully, is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your dog’s health and well-being.

Fish contains protein, which is important because it helps build muscle mass. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), which have been shown to help reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.

Here are a few more benefits of feeding your dog fish:

  • Fish can help improve your dog’s skin and coat. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can help reduce inflammation and support your dog’s natural defenses against infections, which means you may notice less flaking or itching on their skin.
  • They’re also a great source of protein for dogs who need extra energy and help keep them lean! This could be especially helpful if you have a large breed dog (such as an Irish Setter) since they’re more likely to gain weight than other breeds.
  • Dogs love the taste of fish! Feeding your dog fish can make mealtime more fun for both of you because it’s something new to keep them interested.

Dangers of Fish For Dogs

Understandably, some dog owners would want to give their pets every possible food variant, but in my opinion, fish can lead to health complications for your beloved dogs if not prepared correctly. What are the dangers of considering raw fish for dogs?

white puppy eating on a red bowl

Salmon Poisoning Disease

Salmon Poisoning Disease is a real risk when you feed your dog raw fish. The disease is caused by a toxin in some types of wild salmon and trout, as well as in some other types of fish, including shellfish.

It’s caused by a bacteria called Neorickettsia helminthoeca, found in water bodies worldwide. Affected fish are usually infected through the gills, skin, and mouth and usually die within 48 hours of contracting the disease.

The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivation. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms after eating salmon or trout—and especially if they’re experiencing all three at the same time—it’s important to get them to a vet immediately.

Rickettsial Infection

This type of infection will usually affect the dog’s heart and lungs.

The most common ways for your dog to contract this type of illness are by eating raw fish or drinking unfiltered water contaminated with fleas or other insects carrying the bacteria.

You should be aware that there are many types of rickettsia, some more dangerous than others. However, all forms can cause serious illness in dogs.

Symptoms include fever, lethargy, weight loss, coughing, difficulty breathing, and diarrhea. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet after they have eaten raw fish or drank contaminated water, you should take them to see a vet immediately because it could be life-threatening if not treated quickly enough.

Parasitic Disease

Fish and seafood contain parasites that can cause problems for your dog’s digestive system and heart. The most common parasite found in fish is the roundworm, which causes serious illness in dogs.

brown dog chewing something on the grass

If you feed your dog raw fish or other raw seafood, it’s important to ensure it’s cooked thoroughly—or better yet, don’t feed it!

Heavy Metal Poisoning

Heavy metal poisoning is a real danger for dogs, especially if they’re eating fish. Fish can be contaminated with mercury, lead, and other toxic metals, which can cause serious problems in dogs—including kidney failure, seizures, and death.

Fish Bone

One of the most common dangers is that your dog will ingest fish bones. Fish bones are hard for dogs to digest, which can lead to blockages in their digestive system. This is especially dangerous if your dog eats whole fish or fish bones without chewing them up first.

I’ve written a post dedicated to answering the question can dogs eat fish bones. In case you’re more curious, I’ve also prepared a post responding to another question can dogs eat seaweed?


The most common allergy to fish is the result of a protein called parvalbumin, which is found in herring, salmon, cod, and other types of seafood.

If you feed your dog fish, it’s possible that she could develop an allergy to this protein. This can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, sneezing, itching and swelling around the eyes and face, hives or eczema—and sometimes even anaphylactic shock.

If your dog is experiencing allergic reactions to fish, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet can help you determine which fish is causing the allergy, and they’ll be able to recommend treatments that will help your dog avoid future reactions.

How Should You Prepare Fish for Dogs?

Fish is a great source of protein for dogs, but if you’re not careful about how you prepare it, it can make your pup sick. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re feeding your dog fish:

preparing raw fish
  • Make sure the fish is fresh. If it smells “fishy” or looks slimy, don’t feed it to your dog!
  • Remove all bones from the fish before feeding it to your pet. Bones can be uncomfortable for dogs’ stomachs and intestines and can cause problems like constipation or obstruction of the intestinal tract if they get stuck there.
  • Avoid giving your dog raw or undercooked fish as this could increase the risk of food poisoning or parasites like tapeworms being transferred into their digestive system through ingestion of their eggs on surfaces where raw meats have been stored without refrigeration beforehand (such as at grocery stores).

Does Cooking Affect Omega-3 Levels?

Can dogs eat cooked fish?

And if yes, will cooking affect the Omega-3 content?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked fish. The omega-3 content of fish isn’t affected by cooking, so you don’t have to worry about your dog getting a deficiency in those nutrients.

Fish is a great source of protein and Omega-3 fats, which are really good for your dog’s coat, skin, and brain function.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is that some breeds are allergic to specific types of fish—so if your dog has a history of allergies or food sensitivities, it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet before giving them any type of new food.

What Kinds of Fish Are Good for Dogs?

Dogs love fish, and we’re not just talking about the tasty kind. It turns out that fish oil is actually an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and many veterinarians recommend it to keep dogs healthy. So which kinds of fish are good for dogs?

st bernard dog lying on the grass

Tilapia is an excellent choice because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for keeping your dog healthy! Salmon is another good choice because it also contains omega 3s as well as other nutrients like vitamins A & D, which help keep your dog healthy as well!

Which Fish Should Dogs Avoid Eating?

You should know that some types of fish are more dangerous than others. For example, if your dog eats anchovies or sardines, it’s not likely to have any serious side effects. However, if he eats mackerel or tuna (which are both high in mercury), there’s a chance he could develop organ damage from the toxins in those fish.

If you want to feed your dog fish as part of a balanced diet, stick with salmon and tilapia. They’re both low in mercury and high in protein.

Can Dogs Eat a Lot of Fish?

Can dogs eat seafood? Can dogs eat a lot of fish?

The answer is yes, but not all fish. In general, a dog’s diet should consist of high-quality protein and fiber, with a mix of vitamins and minerals. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids essential to a dog’s health. But some types of fish, such as those with high mercury content, aren’t safe for your pet to eat.


When it comes to fish or seafood, make sure you feed your dog in moderation and that the fish has been prepared well. This will prevent an allergy or illness because your dog won’t consume too much of it. This will help keep your pooch healthy and fit.

It’s always advised to check with your veterinarian before you give a dog food that it has not eaten before. Many dogs will indeed eat fish; however, it’s important to check that the fish is non-toxic and that the amount you give your dog won’t cause any issues.

Please stay tuned for more articles on what we can best feed our pets! Considering getting some treats for your dog aside from the usual entrées? If you’ve considered biscuits or crackers, see this post on whether can dogs have goldfish crackers.

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Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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