Trout fishing is a popular hobby, and the multiple species of trout make a tasty addition to your dinner table. Farmed or wild-caught trout is commonly available from the grocery store as well. If you’re curious whether your dog can also eat trout, the answer is yes, as long as it is thoroughly cooked.
Raw or undercooked trout should never be fed to your dog, and we’ll tell you why in this article. We’ll also talk about whether trout is healthy for your dog and what parts of the fish are safe to feed.
Trout: A Healthy Option for Your Dog
One of the biggest concerns with eating fish is potential mercury exposure. Mercury, a heavy metal linked to birth defects and other health concerns, is found naturally in the environment, but human pollution has led to abnormally high mercury concentrations in many bodies of water. Over time, fish can build up dangerous levels of mercury in their body tissue, potentially endangering the humans or dogs who eat them.
Trout is considered a low-mercury fish option, making it a good choice for dogs and humans. This fish is high in beneficial nutrients like protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Protein is an essential nutrient for dogs, used to build lean muscle, among other tasks.
Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation and improve your dog’s skin and coat health. They’re often suggested for dogs with arthritis and other chronic conditions, including cancer. Trout are low in fat and contain other essential vitamins and minerals that may benefit your dog.
Never Feed Raw Trout: Here’s Why
Feeding raw food of any type poses a risk due to the dangerous bacteria in many uncooked foods. However, fish species in the salmon family, including trout, are especially treacherous for dogs. Eating raw trout puts your dog at risk for a medical condition called salmon poisoning.
Salmon poisoning is a bacterial infection. Trout and salmon, mainly those from the Pacific Northwest, may be infected with a specific fluke (parasitic intestinal worm) that contains a bacterial species. Dogs can catch the parasites from eating raw fish and be infected with the bacteria when the flukes attach themselves to their intestines to feed.
As bacteria spread through the dog’s body via the bloodstream, they may suffer signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, tremors, and increased respiratory rate. Treatment includes anti-parasite drugs to kill the flukes and antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection, in addition to supportive care and often hospitalization. Without treatment, salmon poisoning can be fatal, but most dogs recover with the correct care.
Feeding Trout to Your Dog
When cooking trout for your dog, avoid frying it or adding a lot of fat and seasonings. Trout can be fed as a treat or as a primary protein if you’re preparing a home-cooked diet for your dog. Fish, including trout, is often used as a novel (new) protein source for dogs with suspected food allergies.
If you want to feed trout as part of a custom homemade diet, ask your veterinarian for help formulating nutritionally balanced meals. Commercial dog food is required to contain the right level of nutrition for your dog, but many homemade diets fall short. Play it safe and work with your vet or a board-certified veterinary nutrition expert.
Don’t feed your dog the trout’s skin, bones, head, or tail. Raw fish skin and scales can also contain dangerous bacteria, and fish bones can become lodged in your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract. They can even work their way out of your dog’s intestines and into other nearby vital organs, causing damage.
Before adding new food to your dog’s diet, including safe and healthy options like cooked trout, check with your veterinarian. They can offer guidance about how much trout to feed based on your dog’s nutritional needs. In addition, remember that all new foods should be introduced slowly to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach. When adequately prepared, trout offers many health benefits for your dog, but feeding this food raw can be life-threatening and thus should be avoided.