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Can Dogs Eat Herring? Vet Reviewed Health Concerns

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

Fresh herring in a big basin

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Herring is a fish common to diets around the world. The prevalence and popularity of herring in certain areas have caused people to wonder if dogs can eat herring. If you find your dog chowing down on a piece of herring, should you be worried? The good news is that dogs can eat herring. In general, dogs can eat most fish, as long as the fish is served properly. Incorrectly prepared fish does have some health risks that need to be addressed before feeding, but most of the time, plain fish is acceptable for dogs to eat.


Can Dogs Eat Herring?

Yes. Dogs can eat herring. Herring is a white fish that is found in cold ocean waters. Herring is an important part of many diets around the world, which puts herring and dogs in close proximity in many places.

Herring is safe for dogs to eat as long as you prepare and serve it properly. There is nothing toxic or dangerous about herring meat. Herring can actually be a solid part of a dog’s diet. Many formulated dog foods contain fish or are bolstered with fish oils to improve coat quality and may help with certain diseases. However, there are some things that you need to be aware of before feeding your dog herring. Keep reading to learn about the nutritional content, health benefits, and health risks of herring for your dog.

Black dog eating herring in the yard
Photo Credit: Phil Stev, Shutterstock

Herring Nutritional Facts

Serving Size: 100g of plain baked herring
  • Calories: 203kcal
  • Fat: 11.6 grams
  • Cholesterol: 77 milligrams
  • Sodium: 115 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 23 grams

How to Feed Your Dog Herring

The best way to feed your dog herring is baked. The herring should be plain, meaning unseasoned and not marinated. Make sure that you remove any bones and skin from the herring before feeding it to your dog. Cooking properly ensures that parasites and bacteria are killed before eating.

You can feed herring to your dog as a snack or a healthy treat. It is still recommended that dogs get most of their nutrition from formulated dog foods that are properly balanced. Herring can be an additive or a treat for dogs, but you should feed your dog more than just plain herring for optimal dietary nutrition.

Baked herring with carrots in a pan
Photo Credit: Fanfo, Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Herring

Herring is a light meat that is high in protein and relatively low in fat. The omega 3 fatty acids in herring may be beneficial to your dog as they help with maintaining healthy skin and joints and act as anti-inflammatories. The amount present in one fish is not likely to make a clinical difference so speak to your veterinarian if you think your dog would benefit from a fish oil supplement.

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Health Risks of Herring

Fish can have a number of small and sharp bones that can be dangerous for your dog. Small bones can lacerate the throat, get stuck in the throat, or even puncture the intestines. If your dog eats a fish full of small, sharp bones, it can pose a serious risk. When preparing your herring, it is important to remove the skin and debone the fish. You only want your dog to eat the herring meat, not the bones and the skin.

Raw fish may carry bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria and Clostridium that can make your dog sick. Some fish also carry parasites. Fish should always be cooked before serving to your dog as it kills any nasty pathogens that could make them sick.

labrador dog at the clinic being checked by a vet
Photo Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

Types of Herring to Avoid

As we mentioned, you should only feed plain herring to your dog. Dogs can eat cooked herring, however, and herring can be prepared in a variety of different ways. Dogs should not eat any herring that has been prepared beyond plain. Dogs should not eat pickled herring, marinated herring, or smoked herring. These types of processed fish can have additional ingredients that might not be safe for your dog or at least cause a stomach upset.

For example, some pickled herring can include spices and additives such as peppercorn, bay leaves, raw onion, mustard, dill, and sherry. These ingredients can cause an upset stomach, and things like onion and garlic can even be toxic. For these reasons, prepared herring should be avoided in favor of plain-baked herring.

Avoid fish that has been fried in any oils or fats as a fatty meal can lead to pancreatitis, a severe illness that can cause signs including vomiting and abdominal pain in dogs.

Herring to Avoid:
  • Pickled herring
  • Smoked herring
  • Marinated herring
  • Spiced or seasoned herring
  • Fried or oily herring

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Dogs can eat herring. The best way to feed herring to your dog is to serve it plain and baked. Make sure that the fish is deboned and does not include any seasonings that could upset your dog’s digestive system. When given the right way, herring can be a lean, light and healthy snack.

Featured Image Credit: khoistudio, Shutterstock

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