Dogs would always want to take a bite out of their owner’s food, even if it’s plain old bread or a fish stick. In general, there is no problem in sharing bread items with your pooch. But what about highly flavorful fish sticks that often get covered with trans fat?
When done right, fish sticks can be one of the best fish dishes someone can have. It is a staple in some households due to the convenience of preparation and serving. But before adding fish sticks to your dog’s diet, let’s know more about their nutritional content.
Fish sticks are non-toxic treats but definitely not a healthy snack or treat for dogs. The fish breading often has too much salt and powdered spices, which can be harmful. Steamed and grilled fishes are the best options if you want to give fish meat to your pet.
What Are Fish Sticks Made Of?
Fish sticks are usually made with fish meat in the whitefish category (cod, hake, haddock, pollock, tilapia, and snappers). Homemade versions use panko breadcrumbs, flour, salt, egg, and other spices for the breading.
Frozen fish sticks have even more things on their breading portion, such as vegetable oil, onion powder, milk, and other things that make the product last longer. These dishes are often paired with ketchup or a mayonnaise-based dip to accentuate the deep-friend flavor and crispy texture.
Homemade Vs. Frozen: Which Fish Stick Is Safe For My Dog?
There is no doubt that fish sticks are a delight to eat, but they might not be good for your dog’s heart, arteries, and gastrointestinal tracks.
Whether homemade or store-bought, fish sticks contain excess fat from cooking the fish in oil, which can cause stomach upset in the short term and obesity in the long run.
Homemade fish sticks are safer and healthier options due to their lack of additives, preservatives, and flavorings. A piece or two of homemade fish sticks with adjusted salt content would be a great alternative snack for pets when they’re becoming bored of dog biscuits.
Frozen fish sticks from brands like Gortons usually use onion powder and other spices, which might be toxic for dogs. These products are often made for shelf life, not for healthy eating. It’s better to avoid feeding frozen fish sticks if you don’t want to risk your dog’s health.
And lastly, you should also be wary of fishbones when feeding fish sticks or any kind of fish meat to canines. According to American Kennel Club, small fishbones can lodge anywhere in the digestive tract and would often cause discomfort or intestinal damage. Make sure there are no fishbone pieces in the fish meat before giving them to your pets.
What side effects do Fish Sticks have on my dog?
Fish sticks are not recommended for your dog’s daily consumption due to the adverse effects that might happen on both a long-term and short-term basis. Most of the reasons listed below are usually acquired when an unusually large amount of fish sticks is consumed. But dogs with sensitive GI tract often have difficulty avoiding these adverse effects.
- Lodged fish bone
- Excessive salt consumption
- Stomach discomfort
- Onion poisoning
- Heart diseases
Of course, there are also cases wherein dogs get pushed into a detrimental situation because of fish allergies. Fish allergies in dogs are rare and are often characterized by an ear infection, obsessive chewing of feet, vomiting, diarrhea, and hives. Contact your vet immediately to prevent symptoms from worsening.
Another case that requires immediate veterinary attention is fishbone lodging inside any parts of the GI tract. There is a bit of a problem when fishbone lodging: your dog can either be in discomfort but fine or just a few steps away from imminent danger. Get your dog to the vet clinic or a nearby animal center so professionals can immediately remove the fishbone.
Fish meat is an enticing food item for our canine companions, and there is a good reason behind this phenomenon. According to the American Kennel Club, fish meat is an outstanding source of omega-3 fatty acids, which improves the dog’s skin and coat.Omega-3 can also help in controlling inflammation and assisting in wound healing.
In addition, fish meat is another protein source that is low in saturated fat. Fish meat is easily digestible for your dog, but ensure that your pup doesn’t have allergic reactions to fish meat before feeding them a considerable amount.
However, fish meat is better incorporated into a dog’s diet via a rotational schedule. Excessive omega-3 consumption can cause high blood sugar, increased itchiness, weight gain, immune system problems, and lower GI tract upsets.
The recommended Omega-3 dose is 75mg/kg. Owners with smaller-breed pets should be more careful in their dog’s fish consumption.
How To Prepare Fish For Dog Consumption?
According to AKC, there are only three recommended ways to prepare fish for dog consumption: grilling, steaming, and plain cooking (boiled or other methods without any seasoning).
Fish skins are also easily digestible due to their low-fat content, unlike chicken skins. You don’t have to worry about removing the skin to aid your dog in eating fish. Cook the skin and remove the scales to avoid parasite and bacteria transmission.
The portioning for a fish meal depends on your dog’s current diet and size. Smaller dog breeds usually have smaller portions to minimize obesity and other unnecessary side effects. Consult your vet first if you want to incorporate fish into your dog’s diet.
Can you deliberately prepare breaded fish sticks for your dog’s consumption? Unfortunately, that’s not a great idea due to the apparent health risks and reasons listed above. Always remember that making your dog happy means maintaining a healthy and purpose-led diet to avoid obesity.
Five Best Fish Meat For Your Dog
Fish meat that has been deboned and prepared properly can be one of the most delightful snacks you can give your fur babies. Here are some fish meat types that are proven safe for dog consumption.
1. Tuna (Canned)
Canned tuna is a great starting point if you don’t have the time to prepare fish meat or if you plan to feed puppies/pregnant dogs. Note that the tuna should be canned in water, not oil, to avoid excessive fat content.
Salmon often serves as an alternative for dogs allergic to chicken and other protein sources. Take note: don’t feed raw salmon to your pup to avoid salmon poisoning, which is fatal and has a high mortality rate in canines.
Another great fish meat source is whiting, also known as “hank” or “merling,” which are small fishes characterized for their silvery color. It belongs to the category of fishes called the “White Fish” family, together with pollacks, pikes, flounders, and the next item on the list.
Since cod is a lean fish, it doesn’t have as much fat content compared to the other species listed above, but it is rich in B vitamins. However, the rule of thumb is limiting treats to 10% of your dog’s daily diet.
Sardines have a relatively small size, soft skin, and brittle bones, so you don’t have to worry about the potential choking hazard of fish bones. If you’re buying sardines from the supermarket, make sure you take the ones with no added salt.