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A Guide to Canine Nutrition: Is Fish Good For Dogs?

A Guide to Canine Nutrition: Is Fish Good For Dogs?

More dog owners are turning to fish-based pet foods. They are seeking a high-quality, novel protein diet as an alternative, or addition to meat-based dog foods. Fish is a great protein source for dogs, it's nutrient-rich and, for most dogs highly digestible.

Fish is not only good for dogs, but is also considered to be one of the best proteins they can eat. Our fish for dogs guide explains some of the key nutritional benefits.


The benefits of a fish diet for dogs

Fish is a great, easily digestible protein source and is relatively low in saturated fats and empty calories. Fish can also offer a great source of alternative protein for dogs with allergies to meat such as chicken and beef.

Fish is an abundant natural source of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, phosphorous, and iodine. These are essential to the overall health and well-being of your dog.

Fish can be beneficial for dogs with joint issues as it contains healthy dietary fats, enriched with essential Omega-3 fatty acids.


Fish for your dog’s skin and coat health

Fish that's rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, can help maintain good skin and coat condition. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that the body needs but cannot produce naturally, therefore it must be consumed in food.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help our dogs achieve a shiny and healthy coat. It can also help to aid in reducing minor skin irritations which often result in itchiness.


What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Healthy fats play an important role in canine nutrition. However, it’s important to note that not all fats are equal. Fats are essential for our canine companions' health. Some act as an energy source, while others play a more important role in regulating health.

All nutritional fats are composed of fatty acids, and the two primary groups are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid)

When it comes to Omega's, research has shown that DHA and EPA provide the most powerful health benefits. Therefore, it's recommended to enrich the diet of your dog with Omega-3 fatty acids that are high in bio-available forms of DHA and EPA.

Studies have shown that adding Omega-3 fatty acids to a dog’s diet has alleviating effect on an over-reactive immune system. This can lead to reduced itchiness and improvements of skin health and coat quality.


The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dogs

  • Supporting the brain development of young dogs and puppies
  • Helping dogs with joint mobility and reducing joint inflammation
  • Supporting and strengthening the immune system of dogs
  • Boosting cardiovascular health
  • Improving the skin and coat health of dogs
  • Helping to reduce canine anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity


The benefits of fish for your dog’s immune system

Seafood is a great source of selenium. Selenium is important for the immune system. It helps protect cells and tissues from damage.

Iron is vital for the making of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. An iron deficiency can result in lethargy and tiredness. Whitefish is beneficial due to its high level of absorbable iron.

High protein foods including meat and fish are a great source of zinc, with herring and sardines being particularly high in Zin. Zinc helps the body make new cells and enzymes. It also assists with the digestion of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your dog's diet. Additionally, zinc helps with wound healing.

Sea fish are a good source of iodine. Iodine helps to make thyroid hormones, which are essential for supporting cell function and keeping your dog's metabolic rate healthy.

There are eight B-complex vitamins. Fish is a great source of B6, B12, and niacin (B3). These vitamins aid in metabolizing food and maintaining a healthy nervous system while providing the body with energy. Furthermore, they help form haemoglobin which is the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body.

Vitamin A is essential for good health in dogs. It helps the immune system fight off illness and infection. Additionally, it helps with bone growth and development and helps keep bones healthy as your dog ages.


Fish is great for your dog’s joints and bones

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. It is present in fish, especially oily fish like salmon, anchovies, herring, and mackerel. The Omega-3’s found in fish and fish oil helps maintain healthy joints and tendons, keeping your dog active throughout its life.

Vitamin D is important for your dog's bone health. Herring and sprats are a great source of vitamin D. This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous. These nutrients are essential for helping to maintain strong bones and teeth at all stages of a dog's life.

Small fish like sprats and sardines are a rich source of calcium and can be eaten whole, including the small bones. Calcium gives bones and teeth their strength. It also plays an important role in ensuring that blood clots normally and regulates muscle contractions, including the heartbeat. Additionally, calcium has a role in cellular, nerve, and digestive functions.

Fish such as cod are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral and works together with calcium to form the minerals that make up your dog’s bones. Magnesium also aids in proper muscle functioning and maintaining heart health.


FAQ - Fish For Dogs

Is fish good for dogs with allergies?

Fish can be an excellent option for dogs with allergies and food intolerances.

Dogs can have allergies or intolerance to many types of food. Some of the most common food allergens for dogs are chicken, beef, grains, peas, and dairy. Dogs with food allergies often experience a range of issues, these can include vomiting, itching, ear infections, swelling, wind, and diarrhoea.

If your dog suffers from any food allergies or intolerances your vet may recommend switching to a hypoallergenic pet food made from novel protein. What is hypoallergenic dog food? Simply put, hypoallergenic means less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

The term novel protein means introducing your dog to a new kind of protein that's not usually found in commercial dog foods. Foods that contain less common protein sources, like fish, increase the likelihood of the dog never having eaten it before. Meaning the protein isn’t recognised by the body as a source of allergy. Feeding these ‘novel proteins’, such as fish can help to reduce the chance of an allergic response.

There are certain nutrients that, when added to a dog’s diet, can help to relieve allergy symptoms. These include Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A. Omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect so this helps to counter inflammation caused by an allergic reaction. It also helps to repair skin that may have been previously damaged by allergic reactions.


Is fish a good source of protein for older dogs?

As part of your dog's balanced diet, fish is a great way to provide seniors with high-quality protein without overburdening their digestive system in the same way that some red meats may do.

As your dog gets older, their collagen levels will decline. Fish, particularly fish skin is an excellent source of natural collagen which is highly beneficial to your dog's health as they age.

A key function of collagen is maintaining the elasticity of ligaments, joints, tendons, skin and cartilage. Collagen also helps to strengthen teeth, hair, bones, and nails. In older dogs, as their collagen levels deplete it’s important to supplement their diet with a source of high-quality collagen to help maintain skeletal and skin health.

Supplementing your dog’s diet with fish from an early age means that you’ll ensure their collagen levels are supported throughout their lives.


What is a good quality fish treat or pet food?

When it comes to choosing a fish-based dog treat or food there are a number of things to look out for. Firstly, look at the ingredients. 

Food and treats that have fresh fish as the first ingredient and are formulated with natural ingredients are likely to be far healthier than treats with a low percentage of fish and a load of ingredients that you’ve never heard of.

Look for food that is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified. This ensures that the fish is from traceable and sustainable sources. MSC certification ensures that you are contributing towards sustainable fish stocks. This means there are enough fish left in the sea for them to reproduce.


Why do some dog kibbles contain dried fish or meat meal concentrates?

Due to the concentrated nature of dried meat meal, these are often used in pet kibble to boost protein percentages.

The raw ingredients used to make meat and fish meal are usually of lower quality than human-grade meats. This lowers the manufacturing cost.

Processing meat at extreme temperatures, such as rendering and grinding it into a dry powdered meal, reduces the quality of proteins. Additionally, it lowers the digestibility and bioavailability.

Banquet is renowned for its leading brands, Tribal and Naturea. The main ingredient in these products is always premium cuts of human-grade fresh meat or fish. When we say we only stock pet food that offers truly superior nutrition, we really mean it!


What is fish meal in dog food?

Fish meal is a dry ingredient that is processed by cooking fish at extreme temperatures, drying and grinding it into a fine powder. Meat meals are often made with meat or fish that is unsuitable for human consumption. It can be listed in a number of ways, with or without specifying the fish species used.

Many commercial pet foods will utilise low-quality, highly processed fish meals as the key ingredient in their formulas. Meat and fish meal or concentrated meat powders are heat treated to very high temperatures. This changes the protein structure, making it harder for dogs to digest.


Can dogs eat mussels?

Green lipped mussels make a highly nutritious dog treats for good health. This makes them an excellent addition to your dog's diet. They contain anti-inflammatory agents, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids.

Air-dried NZ Green Lipped Mussel Dog Treats are a premium, all-natural, healthy snack for your furry friend. These treats are made from 100% New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels. They are also a great source of natural glucosamine and chondroitin, which help to support joint health. Great for training and rewarding your dog!


What are the best dog treats made with fish?

Tribal healthy Tuna & Olive Oil Dog Treats are a delicious choice for your pet. They are made with natural and healthy ingredients and crafted by hand. Tribal Rewards are batch baked in eco-friendly wood-fired ovens that emit no carbon dioxide. This means you can feel good about giving your pup a tasty treat.

For smaller training treats, Naturea Semi-Moist Fish Treats are a great choice. This is a treat made with fresh fish and has an intense taste and texture that your canine companion will love!


Shop Fish based diets for dogs in New Zealand online @ Banquet:


Tribal Fresh Pressed Dog Food - Grain Free Salmon

The world’s first cold-pressed dog food made with fresh meat! This grain-free dog food is nutritionally complete, specifically developed for adult dogs. Tribal cold-pressed food is made with fresh salmon, green-lipped mussels, and joint care.

Fresh Pressed offers a nutritious meal for canines with delicate digestive systems, made with premium natural ingredients.

Tribal Fresh Pressed Salmon recipe includes fresh human-grade salmon, together with MSC-certified Blue Whiting Fish. Blue Whiting Fish is high in protein and antioxidants. It is also easy to digest, and this makes it a great option for dogs with sensitivities.

Tribal Cold Pressed is enriched with fresh salmon as its main ingredient. Furthermore, it also contains Omega-rich salmon oil and green-lipped mussels sourced from the waters of New Zealand.


Naturea Naturals Adult Dog Food - Small Breed Tuna

Tuna is a meat of valuable nourishment, rich in vitamins and amino acids. It’s an excellent source of fatty acids which contribute to strengthening muscles and joints. Naturea Naturals Adult Small Breed Tuna comes with a kibble size that is perfectly adapted to our smaller friends. This is a mono-protein formula, ideal for dogs with a tendency to develop allergies to other meat proteins.

The tuna used in this formula is human grade and comes from sustainable fish sources and respects bio-diversity.


Naturea Naturals Adult Dog Food - Salmon

Naturea Naturals Salmon all-breeds is an optimal dietary choice due to its naturally high content of essential fatty acids. This single-source protein diet for adult dogs provides excellent nutritional benefits and dogs love the delicious flavour. Each bag contains fresh deboned salmon as the main ingredient to ensure optimal satisfaction for even the pickiest of eaters.

All Naturea Naturals recipes are all-natural and free from wheat, gluten, corn, soy, and anything artificial.


Tribal Gourmet Sausage for Dogs - White Fish

Made with 80% white ocean fish this limited-ingredient dog roll is made with just three wholesome ingredients! Tribal sausages are great for adding variety to your dog’s bowl at mealtime. Nutritionally complete and balanced for adult dogs, feed as a complete meal or alongside fresh dog food, cold-pressed, or kibble.


Shop our complete range of natural dog food online @ Banquet Best For Pets

Our specialty is supplying the dogs of New Zealand with premium hypoallergenic dog food, grain-free, and novel protein diets. We have wet and dry food options suitable for young puppies through to adult dogs and senior citizens. Fresh meat or fish is always the first ingredient in all our pet foods.

To learn more about the amazing superfood benefits of including fish in your dog's diet, check out 101 Superfoods for Dogs on one of our favourite NZ pet blogs The Pet Edit.

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