Can Dogs Eat Catfish? (Unraveling the Fishy Truth)

can dogs eat catfish

Mark Twain once said “The catfish is plenty good enough fish for anyone.”

Maybe there’s a lot more of a deeper meaning to that phrase but I take it that catfish is a type of fish that is worth eating.

Truth be told, catfish taste great fried, grilled and in creole stew but is catfish something that your dog can eat?

Although catfish is high in protein, minerals and vitamins, it should only be fed to your dog as a treat and not regularly. You should only feed your dog cooked catfish as raw catfish can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B in your dog.

In this article, we will be looking at the pros and cons of letting your dog eat catfish and other important aspects of feeding your dog fish.

What Is A Catfish?

“Catfishes are bottom feeders that live in rivers, lakes, mangroves, swamps and even the ocean.”

Just to be sure that we are on the same page, the catfish that I’m talking about here is marine life that lives in the water.

Not a fake profile that you would find on a dating app.

Catfishes are bottom feeders that live in rivers, lakes, mangroves, swamps and even the ocean.

It gets its name from the long barbels or feelers around its mouth that resemble cat whiskers.

They are considered to be omnivores as they feed on both plant and animal matter.

Catfish are known to be affordable and are easily available in the United States. It is also a game fish whereby angles fish them for sport just like bass.

Nutritional Value Of Catfish

This is what you get in 100g of catfish:

Calories: 100

Protein: 17g

Fats: 2.9g

Carbs: 0g

Sodium: 50mg

Catfish is also high in:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B12
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus

Can Dogs Eat Catfish?

catfish swimming

I don’t see any issues when it comes to feeding our dogs catfish. My dog gets some fish from time to time if he wants it.

Catfish is high in omega 3 fatty acids and 100g of catfish contains roughly about 240 mg of omega 3 fatty acids.

That is a decent amount which makes up about 20% of an adult human daily intake.

Giving your dog some omega-3 fatty acids Is good for your dog’s health as it helps to promote healthy skin, fur and immune system.

Furthermore, catfish is high in protein which makes it a much better alternative to other types of unhealthy human food.

That being said, you should be feeding your dog meat 99% of the time as fish meat isn’t part of their normal diet.

How To Prepare Catfish For My Dog?

There are a couple of important things to note when feeding your dog catfish.

Always make sure that the catfish fillet is properly cooked.

Raw fish or undercooked fish can be toxic to your dog which I will explain in greater detail later.

The best way to cook catfish for your dog is to steam or boil it till it’s properly cooked.

There are a lot of bones in catfish as well so many sure to debone the fish thoroughly before feeding your dog.

Never feed your dog cooked bones at all as they can easily break and splinter into small sharp pieces that can cause injury to your dog’s internal organs.

Even though it is safe to feed your dog raw bones, I don’t do it with raw fish bones due to the natural shape of the bones.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Catfish?

“Eating raw catfish can lead to thiamine deficiency…”

Besides not feeding your dog cooked bones, another thing that you shouldn’t do is feed your dog raw fish.

Raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminases and this enzyme interferes with the absorption of thiamine (vitamin B12) in your dog.

Your dog can’t produce vitamin B12 naturally and needs to get it from the food it eats.

Eating raw catfish can lead to thiamine deficiency which can affect your poor dog’s central nervous system and immune system.

The best and most effective way to destroy this enzyme is to apply heat or cook the catfish. Heat will also eliminate any harmful bacteria or parasites in the fish.

The three most common parasites found in fish are:

  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Flatworms

This will ensure that the fish meat is safe for your dog to eat.

This enzyme is not only present in catfish but in the majority of marine life.

If you have a cat as well, please refrain from feeding it any form of raw fish.

Be careful when feeding your dog eel as raw eel blood is toxic and can only be neutralized with heat.

Is Fish Part Of A Dog’s Diet?

First of all, I’m not saying that fish is bad for dogs in general.

There are many health benefits that one can get from fish meat that isn’t present in animal meat.

The point I am trying to bring across is just how appropriate is fish meat in your dog’s NATURAL diet.

The keyword here that makes all the difference is ‘natural’.

Most dogs will eat vegetables too but it isn’t a food type that they crave.

Otherwise, you will see wolves grazing in the open fields and hunting for fish in the stream since your dog is a direct descendant of that species.

That being said, a dog or wolf will have no qualms about eating fish when fed or if food is scarce.

Canines are excellent scavengers which is why you need to guard your bin.

How Often Should I Feed My Dog Catfish?

Even though feeding your dog fish has some benefits, it should not replace the commercial dog food that you feed your canine companion daily.

I usually limit my dog’s treats to just 5%-10% of its daily calories. But for fish, it is fine to go up to 20% regularly.

Your dog’s diet should still consist of primarily animal meat but cooked fish can provide some health benefits too.

One concern I have about catfish is that they are also bottom feeders which means that they feed on marine life that has died.

Pollutants also tend to lie at the bottom of lake and river beds.

When catfish feed at the bottom, they will simultaneously pick up the pollutants in their food.

I might be too paranoid about this point but better to be safe than sorry.

Can Dogs Eat Catfish Skin?

“Dangerous chemicals like PCB and DDT are more concentrated in the skin than in the meat.”

I would not recommend that you feed your dog catfish skin. It is best to cut off the skin and only feed the catfish fillet.

A notice released by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment mentioned that dangerous chemicals like PCB and DDT are more concentrated in the skin than in the meat.

Although this was referenced to a certain water area, it could happen to any fish that is caught in polluted waters.

To err on the side of caution, it is best to not feed your dog catfish skin unless it is farm raised.

Is Fried Catfish Safe For Dogs?

My mother used to tell me if I want to make anything taste great in the kitchen, just fry it.

There’s some truth in that but it definitely does not apply to our dogs.

Fried food in general isn’t healthy for dogs due to the high-fat content in them. That is why we don’t have fried chicken on the menu every day.

Too much fat in your dog’s diet can lead to health problems such as:

  • Canine obesity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

When cooking catfish for your dog, you can either boil or steam it.

What Fish Can Dogs Not Eat?

I tend to avoid feeding my dog fish that are large as they tend to contain higher levels of mercury.

Big fishes are higher up in the food chain and have longer life spans. This leads to a stronger accumulation of mercury in its meat.

Such fishes include:

  • Sharks
  • Swordfish
  • Bluefin tuna
  • King mackerel

I prefer feeding fishes that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury such as salmon and sardines.

Fishes that are safe for dogs to consume include:

  • Whitefish
  • Herring
  • Walleye
  • Flounder
  • Cod

The rule of thumb is to stick to fishes that are short-lived and have good amounts of omega 3.

Can Dogs Eat Fish Heads?

I have a few friends that feed their dogs an occasional fish head as a treat. I tried giving one to my dog but he just took one sniff and walked away.

The same rules apply when feeding your dog a fish head or any type of fish in particular.

It needs to be cooked and small enough for your dog to eat.

Salmon heads work best in this instance as it’s small enough for most dogs and very high in omega-3 fatty acids.

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