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What Is Salmon Meal in Dog Food? Is It Safe?

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

dog food with salmon

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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Have you checked your dog’s food ingredient list lately? Odds are, you noticed salmon meal listed. Salmon meal is a popular addition to many dog foods, and dog owners are taking notice. But what is it exactly?

The good news is that salmon meal isn’t just another filler. Salmon meal is 100% safe and full of essential nutrients. Plus, dogs love the flavor. We’ll discuss this in-depth in today’s post, so keep reading to learn more!

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Salmon Meal vs. Salmon: What’s the Difference?

Salmon meal is the ground tissue of the salmon fish. It’s added to salmon pet food recipes because it’s higher in amino acids and fatty acids than whole fish.

Any seafood can become a fish meal, but generally, wild-caught fish are favored over farm-raised fish. Some fish meal can come from fishery by-products, but it primarily comes from fresh fish.

Although salmon meal has a higher percentage of amino and fatty acids, it takes a lot of salmon to create the salmon meal. That’s why we often see it as an added ingredient with fresh salmon.

salmon catch
Image Credit: Pixabay

What Are the Benefits of Salmon Dog Food?

Dog owners love choosing salmon recipes for several reasons. One of the best benefits of salmon is the flavor. Dogs seem to love salmon. Even picky eaters enjoy a good salmon dog food recipe. But there are other benefits as well, such as:

  • Great Protein Source: Salmon is a high-quality source of protein with high levels of amino acids. It’s also low-calorie.
  • Allergies: Many dogs with chicken allergies can eat salmon recipes.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent nutrient for skin, coat, and joint health. It’s also highly beneficial for brain health because of its DHA content.
  • Low Mercury: Most fish have traces of mercury in them. Salmon is considered a low-mercury fish, so the threat of ingesting toxic metals is much lower.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Salmon is rich in other vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, selenium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and others.
dog eating from bowl in kitchen
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

What to Look for in Salmon Dog Food

Although salmon is an excellent ingredient in dog food, you want to ensure that the food is healthy. Many dog food companies include salmon as a flavoring, but the rest of the food lacks nutritious ingredients.

Here are some guidelines to help you choose the best salmon dog food:

The First & Second Ingredients

A high-quality dog food shows its nutritious content in the first two ingredients. Ideally, the first two ingredients should be real meat or a protein meal. In this case, salmon and salmon meal is best. Salmon meal isn’t always listed in the first two ingredients, but some meat-based protein should be listed.

feeding dog
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock


Probiotics are bacteria that can be given to help balance the gut microbiome. This promotes balance within the immune system and digestion. Not all dogs need probiotics, but finding a food with a probiotic listed in the ingredients doesn’t hurt. Probiotic names usually go by either of the following Latin names:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium breve

Fruits and Veggies

Dogs are omnivores, and they benefit from eating a well-balanced diet of fruits, veggies, and meat-based protein. Good dog food will have fruit and vegetable mixtures in the ingredients. Often, you’ll see ingredients like apple, chicory root, spinach, carrot, and kale.

woman buying dog food
Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

You might also see the following terms:

  • Galactooligosaccharides
  • Oligofructose
  • Fructooligosaccharides
  • Chicory fiber
  • Inulin

Plant-fiber prebiotics help fuel the probiotics in dog food, so fresh fruits and vegetables are essential.

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Top 3 Quality Salmon Dog Foods

Here are our favorite salmon dog food recipes to show you what we’re talking about with good dog food.

1. Merrick Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe – Best for Allergies

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet With Healthy Grains Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

The first two ingredients in Merrick’s Salmon and Brown Rice recipe are deboned salmon and salmon meal. You’ll also notice that there isn’t a trace of chicken in this food, making it perfect for dogs with a chicken allergy.

2. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

4American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey’s Salmon and Sweet Potato recipe is cheaper than Merrick’s but is still just as nutritious. The first two ingredients are deboned salmon and chicken meal. However, dogs with chicken allergies should avoid this recipe.

3. Nature’s Recipe Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe – Best Value

Nature's Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Nature’s Recipe is always a good budget-friendly choice. It has salmon and chicken meal listed in the first two ingredients, plus the addition of pumpkin for a healthy amount of fiber. This isn’t a good option for dogs with allergies, but if your dog has digestion issues, Nature’s Recipe could be a winner!

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Finding a dog that doesn’t like salmon is hard since it’s delicious! It’s also one of the healthiest ingredients in dog food, and salmon meal is no different. Salmon meal is a concentrated version of fresh salmon. It lacks moisture, but it certainly doesn’t lack nutritious content. So, don’t be worried when you see salmon meal listed in your dog’s food. It’s a good sign!

Featured Image Credit: Yuriy Golub, Shutterstock

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