Can Dogs Eat Tilapia? Is Tilapia Safe for Dogs?

Tilapia is safe for dogs to eat. In fact, tilapia can be a healthy treat for your canine pal.

However, there are several factors governing how you should feed this tasty white fish to your pup. For example, allowing your dog to eat raw fish or fish with the bones still intact is actually quite dangerous.

In this article, we will go over how small portions of tilapia may benefit your dog’s health, in addition to how you can safely feed fish to your dog.

Divider 8

Health Benefits of Tilapia for Dogs

Lean Protein

Fish in general is an excellent source of lean protein for dogs. For many pups, the fattier meats bother their stomachs or contribute to weight gain, but with tilapia, you don’t have to worry. Clean, quality fish will help your dog grow up strong and capable and fuel their active lives.

Fatty Acids

Tilapia is packed with healthy fatty acids, especially omega-3s. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and can support canine cardiovascular systems, joints, brains, skin, and fur. Fatty acids are a highly beneficial supplement that keep dogs running, playing, and looking great!

dog in water eating fish
Image credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

Vitamin D and Folate

Vitamin D is required for nerve and muscle function, and also works to regulate phosphorous and calcium absorption. The right amount of this essential vitamin will help your pup stay active and grow a strong skeletal system.

Too much vitamin D can be toxic, so be sure to check with your vet about proper portion sizes.

Folate, or vitamin B9, works with other vitamins to form red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells carry oxygen to the body and support the immune system.

Phosphorous and Potassium

Phosphorous works alongside calcium and is an important component for building and maintaining strong bones, cartilage, and joints.

Potassium is another key support mineral that works with other nutrients to maintain kidney and neural functioning, bone health, muscle growth, and a healthy metabolism.

Can Tilapia Be Bad for Dogs?

While there are a host of health benefits to feeding your dog a little tilapia occasionally, take some time to familiarize yourself with how it can be harmful before adding it to their diet.

Parasites and Bacteria

Raw fish can be host to many dangerous parasites and bacteria. Listeria, Salmonella, and anisakid nematodes are just a few.

Ingesting bacteria from raw fish is, at best, uncomfortable for a dog. Many respond to these foreign germs like food poisoning and experience intense bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

Parasites can be particularly nasty because dogs can transfer them between pets and family members.

Clean, sushi-grade fish is unlikely to cause your pup any harm, but even grocery store fish can be of suspect cleanliness. In the case of tilapia, if you would not trust it to eat raw then don’t let your dog either!

cooked tilapia
Image credit: stockcreations, Shutterstock

Bones

Never feed your dog tilapia that still has the bones inside. Though cow and big bones can make a great chew toy, fish bones are dangerously brittle. They can easily become lodged in throats or gastrointestinal tracts and cause serious internal damage.

Stuck fish bones are incredibly painful and can even be fatal. The surgical procedures required to remove them are invasive, sometimes dangerous, and incredibly expensive.

Fried and Seasoned Food

Even though your pup may beg for your mouthwatering fried tilapia, you shouldn’t give in to those puppy dog eyes.

Excessive oils, spices, and seasonings can give your dog an upset tummy or uncomfortable digestive issues. Many dogs may throw up or experience diarrhea when they’ve eaten food seasoned to a human’s tastes.

And don’t forget, alliums like garlic and onions are toxic to dogs! Any fish that has been cooked with toxic ingredients should obviously be off-limits as well.

fried tilapia
Image: Wikimedia Commons

How to Feed Tilapia to Your Dogs

Tilapia is a tasty, healthy treat that you can give to your pup in small amounts. Some vets advise keeping treats at or below 10% of your dog’s food for the day. Moderation is the key to any healthy diet, and you should chat with your vet to make sure you are giving them the right portion size.

If you want to serve up some tilapia for your pup, first you should make sure that it is skinned, deboned, and cleaned. Cook it at least long enough to kill any lingering bacteria or parasites and serve without further preparation.

Don’t bother seasoning or frying fish for your dog. Dogs have a low tolerance for oils, salt, sugars, and spices. If you give your pup heavily seasoned fish, curry, or a super buttery dish you may have some emergency bathroom situations and carpet cleaning in your future!

Divider 3

Final Thoughts on Feeding Tilapia to Your Dog

In short, yes, tilapia is safe and non-toxic for dogs. In proper portions, it can even be a healthy supplement to a well-balanced diet.

However, as the Greek poet Hesiod said, “moderation is best in all things.” A bit of cooked, unseasoned tilapia on occasion? Yes. Your dog will be delighted? We can almost guarantee it. But raw, poorly cleaned tilapia or excessive amounts of fish? No thanks!

It’s best to talk to a veterinarian if you have concerns or questions regarding your dog’s dietary health, but we hope this quick read has put your heart at ease.


Featured Image: Pikist