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Boomer Part 4: How Often Can I Feed Raw Fish Including Salmon

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Since Boomer loves fish so much, I'd like to give it to him once or twice a week — is this okay for him (seems it would be a good alternative to raw beef, but maybe that's just the 'human' view). Does fish give the nutrients dogs need that they get from meat? I'm speaking of white fish, like basa, cod, etc. I've given him a bit of salmon occasionally but I believe it's a bit rich/oily to give too much — is this right?

Jesse's Answer

When it comes to fish, sure it's okay to feed fish. Salmon is okay too. Just provide a variety of fish and/or don't provide the same fish every day. This gives variety because some fish, when fed too often, can block the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients.

I would also just make sure it is wild and not farmed salmon. The farmed salmon have artificial colors added to them along with a host of other problems. But salmon is not too rich. It's good enough for bears! But the secret is, you need to rotate the food. If you fed salmon every day, then yes it would be too rich.

As they say, the difference between poison and medicine is in the dose. So if you fed salmon every day, all year, then there would be a problem. But if you feed salmon every now and then, there won't be a problem. Bears eat salmon to put on weight before winter... and the same would happen to our dogs and cats if they ate salmon every day. But in nature, it would be impossible for our pets to eat salmon every day because salmon is seasonal. This is one of the problems we have now in society... people no longer eat seasonally.... lettuce, a summer crop can be bought in winter... melons, a summer crop, can be found in winter and so on.

So in nature, our pets would never over eat on salmon because nature only provides salmon on a seasonal basis.

But if you do feed salmon, it should be raw and just watch out for the bones. Once bones have been exposed to oxygen, they become oxidized leading to problems. But in a fresh whole prey, the bones are protected from oxygen by the skin and meat. Thus fresh bones are soft. But bones that have been oxidized are brittle and hard which can lead to problems. So if the fish is not whole, then I would always remove the bones.

Many times a dog or cat will just eat around the bones when the bones might cause a problem, but it's better to be safe than sorry and so just remove them.

The fish I feed my cats is fresh... actually, I buy it fresh and then I also freeze some of the fish. But even after freezing and thawing, the bones are not a problem. The cats just chew right through the bones. But I try to buy fish that are smaller for easier eating. However, I have seen kittens, who have just started eating solid food, eat fish no problem. But the kittens ate around the bones. But after 3 days of getting used to the fish, the kittens went ahead and ate the whole fish... bones and all.

One last thought about salmon. If you were a seasonal feeder, then one could also argue that salmon is best fed from August to early October, the natural time of year when salmon is eaten by predators in nature. This naturally provides the body with nutrients that help it prepare for winter.

  1. Boomer: Part 1
  2. Boomer: Part 2
  3. Boomer: Part 3
  4. Boomer: Part 4

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Did you know that... Dr. Pottenger found that during his 10 year cat study with over 900 cats that the cats fed raw meat over their life span showed resistance to infections, to fleas, and to various other parasites, and showed no signs of allergies. They are friendly and predictable in their behavior patterns. When thrown or dropped as much as 6 feet to test co-ordination, they always landed on their feet and came back for more play. Now you know!

source: Pottenger’s Cats: A Study In Nutrition by Francis M. Pottenger, M.D.

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