Border Collie staring at some smoked salmon on a fork.

Can Dogs Eat Smoked Salmon?
Fact Checked By Our Vet

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 9th January 2024

Breakfast toasts are even better when a little salmon is added… but is smoked salmon good for dogs? Check out what the experts say before going ahead and giving your pup a taste.

Can Dogs Eat Smoked Salmon?

Short answer: No.

If you’re wondering whether dogs can eat smoked salmon, stop before sharing with your pup – if in doubt, go without! As we’ve mentioned before, plain cooked salmon is healthy for dogs. Salmon is full of micronutrients that are hard to find elsewhere, like Omega-3.

However, dogs should not eat smoked salmon. While not instantly toxic, smoked salmon is too salty for dogs and is also a risk for salmon poisoning. If you want to give salmon to your pup, stick to plain cooked salmon.

Why Is Smoked Salmon Bad For Dogs?

It might sound weird that plain salmon is OK, while smoked salmon is a no go. What are the specific risks of feeding smoked salmon to your pup? Here’s what you should know:

  • Smoked salmon could cause salt poisoning: Smoked salmon contains more than 750 mg of sodium per 100 grams [1]. For reference, plain uncooked salmon has around 58 mg per 100 grams and American bacon has (at least) 1700 mg of sodium per 100 grams [2]. Dogs need around 0.3% salt in their food in order to reach their minimum requirements. If they ingest more, it can lead to salt poisoning (also known as salt toxicosis). This is a relatively rare condition, but it’s dangerous and can be deadly if left untreated [3]. Puppies and senior dogs are at a higher risk because of their size and age, so make sure they have permanent access to water.
  • Risk of “salmon poisoning”: Caused by a parasite that lives in salmon flesh and skin, so-called salmon poisoning can be very dangerous. This condition causes small micro-haemorrhages in the small intestine that can quickly get out of control [4]. Only cooked salmon is exempt from risk: smoked fish isn’t heated enough to kill off all parasites, so your dog can still get sick. Unfortunately, the first symptoms can appear up to 7 days after consumption of the infected food, making the condition difficult to diagnose. If your dog is vomiting, has diarrhoea and refuses to eat a few days after eating salmon, take them to the vet ASAP.
  • Smoked salmon is high in nitrites and nitrates: Nitrites and nitrates are natural by-products of the smoking process. However, these compounds are somewhat controversial in dog food. In 1997 three cats in New Zealand died of anaemia caused by nitrate poisoning [5]. Further studies have shown continued nitrate and nitrite intake, also used as preservatives, can lead to acute anaemia. Even if you see no immediate effects, consistent nitrite intake has been linked with a higher risk of cancer [6].
  • Excess salt can lead to dehydration: Even if the excess salt in smoked salmon doesn’t lead to poisoning, it can have some nasty side effects for your pup. A high-sodium treat such as smoked salmon can disturb the natural balance in your dog’s physiology, and lead to cellular dehydration. If your dog doesn’t have access to water, they can quickly dehydrate. This can lead to lethargy, confusion and even cramps and seizures. As with most conditions, puppies and senior dogs have a higher risk or complications due to dehydration.
  • Smoked salmon might worsen high blood pressure: Although it’s a minor worry for most dogs, if your pup has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, smoked salmon should be avoided. The excess salt in smoked salmon can aggravate pre-existing heart conditions [7]. Salty foods can also worsen kidney disease, common among dogs diagnosed with heart issues. As a rule of thumb, dogs that have been diagnosed with heart or kidney disease should stay away from foods high in sodium, including smoked salmon.
Smoked salmon.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Smoked Salmon

Even if you know something is not exactly healthy for them, dogs have a way of doing whatever they want. Their fast reflexes can have them ingesting your dropped food faster than you can say ‘No’. So, what can you do if you think your dog ate smoked salmon?

Step 1. Stay calm

Breathe. There’s nothing in smoked salmon that will cause an immediate veterinary emergency, especially if they just had a bite. Staying calm will also keep your pup calm and make the whole process easier. Don’t panic and just do what needs to be done.

Step 2. Figure out when and how much

Most problems with smoked salmon arise if your dog ate a large amount. So before calling your vet, figure out how much smoked salmon they had and when they ate it.

Unless your dog has a pre-existing medical condition, one or two bites of smoked salmon won’t cause more than light gastrointestinal distress or a short vomiting episode. However, if you have an older dog or a puppy, your vet will probably have to assess them, to be on the safe side.

Step 3. Call your vet

Once you know the extent of the problem, call your vet and explain the situation. They’ll probably need to know your dog’s age, weight and symptoms, if any. Make sure to mention any abnormal behaviours: thirst, changes in appetite or energy, etc.

Depending on your dog’s symptoms, you might have to get them to the clinic or just keep an eye on them at home.

Step 4. Keep an eye on your dog

If your dog seems normal and your vet gave you the green light, there’s probably nothing to worry about. However, make sure to keep an eye on your pup in case they develop new symptoms linked to smoked salmon consumption.

If your dog starts behaving in unusual ways or shows GI symptoms, don’t be afraid to call your vet again and let them know. Sometimes health problems take a few hours or days to show!

Final Thoughts

Has your dog ever sneaked smoked salmon? If you’re curious about the safety of other common foods, check out our food safety series.

Check out our full list below:


  1. “Health benefits of smoked salmon.” November 10, 2021. WebMD. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  2. “Astonishing amounts of salt in bacon exposed.” January 31, 2020. Blood Pressure UK. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  3. Thompson, L. May 2022. “Salt Toxicosis in Animals”. MSD Manual Veterinary Manual Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  4. Rikihisa. Y. July 2020. “Salmon Poisoning Disease and Elokomin Fluke Fever in Animals”. MSD Manual Veterinary Manual. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  5. “Nitrates and Nitrites in Pet Food”. November 4, 2019. Hemopet. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  6. Gagne. M. November 16, 2021. “5 Reasons Hot Dogs Aren’t Cool For Your Dog”. Dogs Naturally. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  7. “The Risks of Excessive Salt Intake”. Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Retrieved March 10, 2023.

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.

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