Can dogs eat Salmon?

Updated 19 June 2024
Read time: 11 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer
article author
Reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon
Team Vet

Yes - dogs can eat salmon! This pink, fleshy fish is one of the healthiest foods a dog can eat; but it must be prepared correctly and included as part of a balanced, nutritious diet. Let’s go into the array of health benefits of salmon and discuss the best way to serve it to your hungry pooch…

Is salmon good for dogs?

Salmon is a healthy option for most dogs. Salmon is not only super tasty for pooches, it’s also packed with nutrients that offer a party of health benefits in a dog’s body. There are exceptions, however, depending on how well your pooch digests oily fish.

What are the health benefits of salmon?

Let’s unpack all the ways eating salmon is beneficial to a dog’s health:

  • Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These essential fatty acids contribute to good skin and coat condition, boost the nervous system, heart function and brain health, and act as an anti-inflammatory (to reduce pain in a dog’s joints, for instance). A dog’s body can’t produce these fatty acids on their own, so must receive them from food, such as oily fish. 
  • Lean Protein. Salmon is a nutritious source of lean protein, which is fundamental to muscle development, repair and strength. Lean proteins are the cornerstone of a healthy canine diet - so if your pooch is allergic to chicken or beef, salmon is a great alternative.
  • Vitamins D & B12, Niacin and Pyridoxine; critical for skin and bone health, boosting the immune system and metabolising energy. 
  • Super tasty. Dogs love the taste of juicy salmon, which means they’ll feel satisfied and full when it’s part of their meal. 

Can puppies eat salmon?

Puppies can definitely eat salmon, so long as it’s freshly prepared, cooked and served in tiny pieces without any bones or seasoning. Salmon is a great protein source for puppies that will help develop their strength as they grow. 

When is salmon unsafe for dogs?

Though it’s full of healthy nutrients, there are a few ways in which salmon can be unsafe. 

  • The most obvious is if the salmon isn’t fresh, as fish can easily spoil and carry bacteria. Be sure to choose fresh salmon from a reputable fishmonger or supermarket - if frozen, defrost it thoroughly and cook well before serving. 
  • Salmon can be unsafe when served with bones, or when covered in seasoning or flavourings. Sushi, smoked or cured salmon is also not advisable. 
  • If your pooch has pancreatitis or any other digestive issue, salmon might not be the best food for them. Be sure to check with your vet first. 
  • There’s a small chance your dog may have an allergy to salmon, which also can make it an unsafe food.  

Can dogs be allergic to salmon?

Your dog may have a salmon, fish or seafood allergy, so it’s important to introduce the food slowly if they haven’t eaten it before. Serve a small portion of salmon and watch over your pooch in the hours following. If they show any of the following signs, don’t include salmon in their diet:

  • Extended or severe diarrhoea or vomiting 
  • Swelling, redness or itchiness of the skin
  • Change in behaviour (lethargic, low mood etc.)
  • Ear infections
  • Breathing issues (wheezing, etc.)
  • Bloating or pain in stomach

Can salmon make dogs sick? 

Salmon will usually make a dog very happy, but as with all foods, it can make a pooch sick if prepared incorrectly or if their digestive systems don’t respond to it. If the salmon isn’t fresh, is marinated in sauces or flavourings, or if you feed your pooch only salmon, it could negatively impact their digestive system and make them unwell. 

If your dog has issues digesting fats (for example if they have pancreatitis) you may be better off feeding your dog a protein option that’s lower in fat.

How to safely give salmon to your dog?

The general rule with salmon is to prepare a fresh piece of fish without bones, cook it plain (either pan-fried, steamed or in the oven) and serve without seasoning or flavourings. This way it remains healthy and nutritious with the lowest risk of upsetting your pooch’s tum. If you decide to feed your dog a home-cooked diet with salmon as the base ingredient, it’s important to consult with a nutritionist first, to ensure your pooch is getting all the nutrients they need.

How much is safe to give your dog?

Salmon can be fed to your dog as part of a balanced diet, and can make up the protein portion of a meal (the majority!). You can safely feed your dog salmon every day if they don’t have any allergic reactions and enjoy it (lucky pooch).

Can dogs with pancreatitis eat salmon?

It’s not recommended. Dogs with pancreatitis suffer with difficulty digesting fats, and salmon is an oily fish with a high amount of fatty acids. Though these are highly beneficial to most dogs, it might cause harm to a dog with pancreatitis, who could struggle to digest it and become ill. Speak to your vet for advice first if you’re worried about feeding salmon to your dog. 



What types of salmon can dogs eat?

Let’s go into more detail over the best types of salmon to feed your pooch…

Can dogs eat salmon fillet?

Yes! A fresh salmon fillet, de-boned and cooked plain is one of the healthiest ways to feed salmon to your pooch. Just be sure the fillet isn’t marinated in sauce or flavourings or coated in salt. Cook it either in a pan, oven-roasted or steamed. 

Can dogs eat smoked salmon?

No - smoked salmon isn’t recommended, whether it’s cold-smoked or hot-smoked salmon. As it’s cured, the sodium content is greatly increased, which will only have negative impacts on your dog’s heart rate and digestive system. It’s probably not going to harm your pooch if they accidentally eat a piece of smoked salmon, but don’t feed it to them intentionally. 

Can dogs eat salmon skin?

Yes, salmon skin, or salmon scales, is a safe food for dogs. Just be sure it’s cooked along with the rest of the salmon, and isn’t covered in any salt or seasoning. Fried salmon skin is ok for dogs to eat, again so long as it’s not coated in anything. Served plain, salmon skin will contain a lot of the beneficial nutrients that salmon fillet does. 

Can dogs eat raw salmon?

No, it’s preferable to serve the salmon cooked. Raw or uncooked salmon is more at risk of being contaminated by harmful bacteria, which can be killed off in the cooking process. 

Can dogs eat cooked salmon

Yes - cooked is the preferred way to serve salmon to your pooch. Lightly cooking a piece of fresh salmon, such as pan-frying, poaching or baking, without any added salt or flavourings, is the safest way for your dog to eat salmon.  Try to remove all the bones before cooking, too, to avoid unnecessary choking hazards. 

Can dogs eat tinned / canned salmon?

No - it’s not a great idea to feed tinned salmon to your pooch. Tinned fish tends to be soaked in brine, oil or other flavourings which can raise the salmon’s sodium and fat content. It also won’t contain all the delicious nutrients of fresh salmon. 

It might be ok to feed a small amount of tinned salmon in spring water, but freshly cooked salmon is always the better option. 

Can dogs eat red / pink salmon?

Yes. The varying colour of salmon depends on the fish’s diet, and means red salmon has a firmer texture and stronger flavour. Both pink and red salmon are suitable for a dog to eat, and both are full of nutritious omega fatty acids. Just be sure the salmon is de-boned, cooked well and served plain without seasonings. 

Can dogs eat salmon paste?

No - commercial salmon paste isn’t recommended as it’s usually full of salt and additives which reduce its nutritional value to a pooch. If your dog wants a taste of delicious salmon, feed them some healthy dog food with salmon, or some fresh salmon you’ve prepared yourself. 

Can dogs eat salmon heads?

The flesh of a salmon is preferable to the full heads, due to choking hazards - but if the heads are cleaned, cooked and soft enough to eat, you can offer them to your pooch.  They’re full of beneficial nutrients just like the rest of a salmon. If they were frozen, make sure they’re fully defrosted before cooking.

Can dogs eat salmon bones?

It’s not recommended to feed any fish with bones to your pooch, even if the bones seem quite soft. There could be bigger, tricker bones within a full fish or fillet that pose a dangerous choking hazard. Ask a fishmonger to debone a piece of salmon, or debone it yourself, before serving.

Can dogs eat frozen salmon?

Yes - freezing fish keeps it fresh and retains its goodness! But frozen salmon must be fully defrosted and cooked before your pooch takes a bite. Frozen fish won’t be kind to your dog’s digestion and could make them ill. 

If the salmon has been frozen just to preserve, and is then cooked, it should still contain lots of its goodness, such as omega fatty acids and protein.

Can dogs eat salmon oil?

Yes - salmon oil is hugely beneficial to a lot of dogs. As a lot of the goodness from salmon comes from its oil which is full of essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6, fish oil is a popular supplement for dogs. Salmon oil for dogs can contribute to good skin and coat condition, brain and heart function, a boosted immune system and it can reduce inflammation (in a dog’s joints, for instance). 

Just be wary if your pooch has pancreatitis - fish oil may not be suitable for them. Talk to a vet first if you have any concerns about feeding your dog a fish oil supplement. 

Can dogs eat raw salmon sushi/sashimi?

Though raw salmon for sushi, or sashimi, is prepared for safe human consumption, it’s still not recommended to feed it to your dog. 

Sashimi grade salmon may have been salted or cured, and the salmon used in sushi may have been soaked in soy sauce or another condiment unsuitable for pooches to eat. There may be hidden wasabi, or some other seasoning that dogs will find distressing on the palate! 

If the sushi uses raw fish, this may contain parasites or bacteria that are unsafe for a pooch. Best keep the sushi as a human treat. 

Is my dog at risk of poisoning from salmon?

No, it’s highly unlikely. Salmon that’s available in the UK is typically caught locally or in Scandinavia - meaning we don’t need to worry about the presence of Rickettsial organisms in raw fish like they do in other parts of the world, like the USA. However, cooked salmon is always the safest way to feed your pooch.


  • Overall, salmon is a nutrient-rich food for dogs, full of helpful omega fatty acids and lean protein. Salmon can be included as part of a balanced, well-rounded doggy diet. 
  • That said, it’s important to speak to a vet before feeding your pooch too much salmon. As it’s an oily fish, it may not be suitable for all dogs, particularly if they have pancreatitis or other issues digesting fats. 
  • Fresh salmon, de-boned and well cooked without added salt or seasoning is the safest way to serve it to your pooch. Avoid smoked salmon, or raw salmon, to be sure your dog is getting the safest dose of fishy goodness.

What other foods can dogs safely eat?

If you’re keen on feeding your dog salmon, but you’re looking for other nutritious alternatives, why not try these? 

  • We have two tasty options of dry dog food with salmon; Health & Digestion and Joint Care

  • If you think your pooch could benefit from the multiple nutrients provided by oily fish, Pooch & Mutt has a range of supplements for dogs that use salmon or salmon oil. Get in touch with us if you have any further questions about feeding salmon to dogs.

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