Fish! It is an essential part of a raw-fed dog's diet and it is even reccomended that raw fish can be added to kibble and wet food diets as well (although I have never done this). I always recommend feeding whole foods. So in this case I recommend whole fish be incorporated into your dog's raw diet versus a fish oil that can easily go rancid (but more of that later). Fish can be a tricky thing. Sourcing (where the fish comes from) and type of fish are probably the two most important things to take into consideration when feeding raw fish to your dog. Next, comes the price. Now, this can definitely fluctuate depending on where you live (market price). In this post I will try and highlight what has worked for me and how I source, handle, and budget the fish I provide for my dogs.
Types of Fish/Seafood to Feed
When incorporating fish or other types of seafood into your dog's diet, it is important to know what type of fish/sea food you can feed your dog. I tend to stick to 4 different types (although there are more).
MACKEREL PER 1OZ NUTRITIONAL INFO
Mackerel is probably my favorite fish to feed. It is one of the lowest in mercury content, contains a good amount of fat and a good amount of Omega-3's. I usually feed one mackerel per dog once a week (for my two larger dogs). Sometimes I will cut the mackerel in half (depending on the size), and distribute those pieces throughout their meals for the week.
SMELT PER 1OZ NUTRITIONAL INFO
Smelt can come with the heads on or off. You can feed them either way. I prefer to source smelt with the head on since they are not gutted and the nutritional value is higher in that instance. Smelt are also great for smaller dogs and contain less fat than mackerel. So this is a good fish to feed if you tend to feed fattier portions of meat such as pork.
Salmon is also a good option. I don't like feeding it primarily because of its high chance of being contaminated (if you source properly it shouldn't be a problem). However, I do like feeding frozen salmon heads from time to time as an interactive treat. I source them from my reliable local fish supplier and have never had a problem. I have also gotten ground salmon from rawfeedingmiami.com and have never had a problem with it. For the salmon heads, I do factor this in to their bone and fat content for their meals since salmon heads tend to be fatty and bony. Dot absolutely loves them! Salmon heads can also be added to bone broth!
GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS
New Zealand Green lipped mussels, also known as Green Shelled Mussels are an amazing thing to feed along with fish in your dog's meals! I feed them mostly because of their anti-inflammatory and joint health benefits. "It is a good source of iron, lean protein, Omega-3's, selenium, iodine, vitamin B12, and glycosaminoglycans (CAGs). New Zealand mussels are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet and can promote: brain development/health, muscle growth, healthy metabolism, healthy thyroid, and joint mobility" (source) . I usually incorporate one whole green lipped mussel per meal in my dog's meals. If I don't have whole green lipped mussels on hand I use Super Snouts Green Lipped Mussel Powder.
When people think of fish, I think most (well at least I used to think this) think that fish is expensive. Honestly, raw-feeding can be as expensive as you make it. It is your choice, and depends on what your lifestyle is. However, there are many options and places to source fish. Here are some that have worked for me and the prices that go along with it.
*The most important thing is that you know where your fish is coming from and if it is coming from a reliable source, so do your research!
This goes along with any raw meat you are handling. Fish can be a little different though. Fish should always be frozen before feeding it to your dogs. To prevent any kind of parasitic infection in your dog, caused from fish, it is very important to freeze fish for at least one week before incoporaitng it into your dog's diet. Obviously if you are ordering it from an online supplier, the fish already comes frozen, so you won't have to worry about freezing it for one week. However, in my opinion, I still freeze for a couple of days even when ordering from an online supplier. Freezing your fish should kill any possible parasites that could harm your dog. To learn more about the potential parasites that can live in fish, check out this article by Dogs Naturally Magazine: "Raw Fish & Parasites".
*If you want to learn more about balancing fats/protein rotation (Omega-3's and Omega-6's) in your dog's diets click here!
DISCLAIMER: It is always important to do your own research first in regards to raw feeding or feeding fresh foods for your pet (dog or cat). Every animal is different! What may work great for some may not work great for others. It is important to know that if you are a beginner at raw feeding, there are tons of ways to feed fresh raw foods to your pets (commercially prepared, freeze dried etc.). Starting out can be a little difficult, so if you do your research accordingly, then you'll have more knowledge about EVERY aspect of raw feeding. Remember, if you are not ready to feed a raw diet to your pets, wait to transition and utilize the help of experienced raw feeders, connect with integrative veterinarians, read books geared towards a holistic dog diet and gain knowledge from all of your research so you can effectively give your dog the nutrition it needs to thrive. "The Raw Fed Pet" site is only for informational/educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.
Did you know?
GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS ARE GREAT FOR JOINT HEALTH?
"In addition to their inflammatory healing properties, these mussels are considered a superfood because they contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, enzymes, and many more nutrients" (source).