Border Collie smelling raw salmon.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Salmon? Fact Checked By Out Vet

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

Raw dog food not only treats our pups with added health benefits, but they can also enjoy a variety of meals that they just love to eat.

However, is raw salmon healthy for your dog? Before adding it into your rotation, check out the following food safety guide.

Is Salmon Good For Dogs?

Yes! Salmon is a great protein source for dogs, if they’re not allergic, of course. Here’s what researchers have found:

  • Salmon is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids: These essential amino acids are hard to find in their natural form as they breakdown and denature quickly, in particular Omega-3. They are a powerful anti-inflammatory which can help with overall skin health and strengthen your dog’s immune system [3].
  • Great for dogs with food allergies: Food allergies tend to appear from the result of an unvaried diet. Therefore, chicken and beef are common food allergies among dogs [4]. Many “hypoallergenic” dog foods use salmon as the main protein, since it’s often an uncommon meat and can help relieve some skin issues, making it a great option for your scratching pooch.

PRO TIP: Is your dog suddenly itching, scratching and biting its skin? It might be allergies. Make a note of the food your dog ate in the last 24 to 48 hours. By keeping a food diary, you will be more successful in pinpointing the source of the allergies and can work with your vet to determine the right kind of treatment.

  • It could help prevent heart disease: Salmon is rich in astaxanthin, an antioxidant part of the carotene family (the compound found in carrots). Laboratory testing has shown that astaxanthin demonstrates a beneficial action against bad cholesterol, with an increase in good cholesterol levels in rats. Over time, this can help to lower your pup’s risk of heart disease, particularly if they have a moderately active lifestyle [5].

Considering these health benefits, it could be easy to jump into the salmon trend. But should you give salmon to your dog when following a raw diet?

Related: Can Dogs Eat Salmon Skin?

Dog staring at raw salmon fillets.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Salmon? Pros And Cons of Raw Fish For Dogs

Technically, dogs can eat raw fish as they would any other raw protein. However, feeding a raw diet to dogs is somewhat controversial. There is nothing inherently harmful in offering a raw diet to your dog, if you follow careful sanitary measures and make sure all food is fresh.

The raw food diet for dogs features both benefits and risks.

The possible benefits of feeding a raw diet to your pup include better oral health, a shinier coat, improved skin health and an overall increase in energy. Raw fish could potentially have more micronutrients, as the cooking process can denature proteins and break down essential compounds, reducing their efficacy.

On the flip side, raw diets have two main drawbacks: they require more time and/or monetary investment on the owner’s part, and there’s an increased risk of disease.

The risk of bacterial contamination is increased through a raw food diet, particularly E. coli and Ssalmonella, which can cause gastrointestinal distress. If left untreated, these can lead to dehydration and further health complications. Raw fish has a shorter lifespan than other proteins and needs to be handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination as it tends to have more parasites than other raw meat sources. Veterinarians stress that fish parasites are one of the most important concerns when introducing raw fish into your dog’s diet [1].

Salmon Poisoning: The Dangers of Raw Salmon For Dogs

Salmon poisoning is the common name for a Neorickettsia infection, which can occur in dogs as a direct result of eating contaminated freshwater fish. According to Merck’s Veterinary manual, the term “salmon poisoning” is misleading, since there isn’t a salmon-specific toxin involved [2]. However, any dog owner will prick their ears up to this condition when considering adding raw salmon to their dogs bowl.

The correct term for this condition is a Neorickettsia infection. It’s caused by a parasite called Neorickettsia, which is found in salmon but also other fish.

As the parasite reproduces, it inserts itself in the tissues of the small intestines and can cause haemorrhages that can be life-threatening if left untreated.

In spite of the dangers, some raw dog foods do include salmon. Owners might also choose to take the risk and offer plain raw salmon as a topper. The choice is ultimately up to you, but if you’d rather be safe than sorry, cooking salmon will kill any parasites and prevent infection.

What Are The Symptoms of Salmon Poisoning in Dogs?

The worrying characteristic of salmon poisoning is that symptoms may take a while to appear. For most dogs, the first symptoms appear up to 5 to 7 days after ingestion, but might be delayed up to 30 days. Unfortunately, once affected, the infection can lead to death in up to 90% of cases [2] if left untreated.

Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting: General gastrointestinal distress is the most common sign of salmon poisoning. These symptoms can cause your dog to dehydrate quickly, which can be very dangerous. Take your pup to the vet if they have vomited more than 2 times in an hour, if you see blood or if they can’t keep water down.
  • Lethargy and lack of appetite: Usually caused by dehydration, it can also be due to internal haemorrhaging caused by the parasite. An active dog that suddenly refuses to get up needs to be taken to the vet ASAP.
  • Inflamed lymph nodes: Most dog owners have a difficult time spotting this one, but it’s one of the main signs your dog is fighting some kind of infection. The lymph nodes are swollen because of an accelerated white cell production.
  • Nasal or ocular discharge: Might appear, but is not present in all cases.

If your dog presents any of these signs, take them to the vet as soon as possible. While it might not be salmon poisoning, these symptoms indicate a systemic disease that should be urgently treated.

Can Puppies Have Raw Salmon?

They can, but it’s not recommended.

Generally speaking, salmon doesn’t have any toxic compounds that could harm puppies. However, young dogs are at a higher risk of infection, and their bodies have less tolerance for disease and parasites, as they haven’t finished their initial vaccinations and can be more reactive to infections.

In the long-term, it’s better to avoid putting your puppy at risk. If you want to give salmon to a young dog, cook it through to kill any parasites to be on the safe side. Once your pup is older (12 to 18 months at least), their immune system and body will be strong enough and you can start to introduce raw salmon in their diet.

Final Thoughts

Offering raw salmon to your dog comes with a few risks with the increase chance of developing salmon poisoning, Salmonella and E. coli infections. However, there are safe and hygienic practices that will severely lower these risks.

It is always recommended consult with your vet before offering any type of raw fish to your dog as they will be able to offer advice tailored to your dog’s health status and needs.

If you’re curious about what other types of foods your dog can eat, check out our other guides:

Check out our full list below:


  1. Scott, Dana. 2022. “Can dogs eat raw fish?”. Dogs Naturally Magazine. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  2. Rikihisa, Yasuko. 2022. “Salmon Poisoning Disease and Elokomin Fluke Fever in Animals”. MSD Manual, Veterinary Manual. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  3. Gollakner, Rania. 2023. “Fish Oil”. VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved March 2nd, 2023. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  4. Verlinden et al. 2006. “Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats: A Review”. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 46:3, 259-273.
  5. Kato et al. 2020. “Effects of 3-Month Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiac Function in Heart Failure Patients with Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction – A Pilot Study”. Nutrients, 12(6), 1896.

Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}