Feeding fish to our pets can be a great way of providing protein and nutrients. It is, however, a contentious subject, as some pet owners worry about potential contaminants, whilst others have never feed it to their pets. There are pros and cons when using fish as a protein source. So let’s clear up the dos and don’ts of feeding a fish diet to your pet.
Whole fish can provide adequate nutrition for dogs and cats, whether they are fresh or frozen. If you happen to live in an area that has access to fish, it is a great opportunity to include this in your pets diet. It is also good as it provides a source of variety for your pet and gives another type of meat to their diet. If you are going to give your pet fish it is important to include all of the fish, in that the whole fish should be given. The blood, guts, bones, internal organs, eyes, and of course, skin should be offered, as whole fish provides high levels of taurine which is a valuable component for cats and it is also an excellent source of omega 3 essential fatty acids.
It is not considered safe however, to feed your pets canned fish products. This is because canned fish are generally not whole, and certainly not raw. Canned fish have been highly heat processed and contain excessive levels of salt, which is unhealthy for pets. It is always preferable to feed a raw meat source rather than heat processed one. If you want to give your pets the bones from fish them you have to make sure they are raw and have not been cooked. This is because the bones will be softer and the animals can crush them easier. They must be supplied raw rather than cooked because the heat makes the bones brittle. This can cause them to splinter, and that bone shard can cause puncture the esophagus or GI track. The same philosophy applies to feeding bones from other animal sources, such as beef or lamb.
There have been concerns regarding the heavy metal content in fish and the possible pollution factors. A lot of fish contain high levels of mercury and other heavy metals, and the continuous ingestion of these metals can be a significant health hazard. People that are lucky enough to have access to fresh whole fish in non-polluted lakes don’t have to worry about this concern. If you are buying frozen fish and thawing it out on a regular basis, be careful that you do not lose too much of the blood, as this is a valuable and nutritious part of the protein source. Soaking in normal temperature water is a good way to preserve the blood loss. Generally speaking, it is also a good idea to feed your dog a fish of proportionate size. In other words, feed a small fish to small dogs, and larger fish to big dogs. Others feel that as predators, dogs did not evolve by eating fish protein. While it may not have been the main meal source, many wild animals did have access to lakes, rivers, and streams that were home to several varieties of fish.
A caution regarding feeding the same fish all the time- don’t. Feeding the same fish for every meal may lead to a vitamin deficiency. This is because some fish species have enzymes that destroy certain vitamins – so feeding a variety may eliminate this concern. By feeding your dog a variety of fish and meat, you can ensure that your pet is getting all the nutrition and vitamins it requires to maintain a healthy life-style.