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Can Dogs Eat Cod Fish? 7 Health Benefits + 3 Dangers

Can Dogs Eat Cod Fish

Fish is a common ingredient in dog food. 

It’s also a great alternative for dogs allergic to beef or chicken. 

You always hear that salmon is good for doggos. 

But does the cod fish also offer the same benefits?

Keep reading to discover:

  • Why you shouldn’t give them raw cod.
  • 7 benefits of giving cod fish to your dog.
  • 3 dangers of giving cod fish to your dog.
  • 3 simple ways to cook cod fish for your pooch.
  • And many, many more…

Can dogs eat cod fish?

Dogs can eat cod fish. It’s a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. It helps with weight management, supports brain function, and lowers heart disease risk. But it can contain mercury and parasites. And too much of it can cause nutrient excess.

Is cod skin good for dogs?

Cod skin is good for dogs. But it has to go through the cooking process. Raw cod skin can carry parasite eggs or bacteria. 

You can process it like jerky. And give it to your dog as a treat. 

Just make sure the cod skin is clean. And remember to remove the scales before cooking it. 

Can dogs eat cod fish fingers?

Dogs shouldn’t eat cod fish fingers. They won’t get much nutritional value from this food. Giving this every day might increase the risk of cancer.

That’s because fish fingers are usually fried in high heat. The process may turn the food carcinogenic, as this study suggests.

It won’t hurt your dog to have it once in a while. But don’t make it a part of their daily diet.

How much cod can dogs eat?

PetMD tells us that it depends on their nutritional needs. And their general health condition.

According to NAP, they need this much protein:

  • Puppies 1.97 oz (56 g).
  • Adult dogs 0.88 oz (25 g).
  • Nursing dogs 5.57 oz (158 g).
  • Pregnant dogs 2.43 oz (69 g).

But if the cod is is just a little treat you add to their dog food, that’s a different story. It should only take up 10% of your dog’s calorie needs. 

And most adult dogs need 404 to 2100 kcal per day. 

Consult with your vet just how much cod your dog can eat. Every dog is different. 

A lot of factors influence their diet.

Such as:

  • Age.
  • Breed. 
  • Weight. 
  • Exercise rate.
  • Energy levels.
  • Overall health. 

Feeding your dog more or less than what they require can lead to serious health issues.

The correct amount in the right feeding schedule will be best for your pooch.

How to cook cod fish for dogs?

You can cook cod fish for dogs by following these steps:

Step 1: Make sure that you’re getting it from a trusted source. And that it’s fresh. 

Step 2: Select fish that’s already deboned. Bones are a choking hazard. The sharp points can damage your dog’s intestines. And cause an impaction. 

Step 3: Cook it by boiling, steaming, or grilling it. Don’t add any seasonings. This can cause toxicity in your dog. 

Warning: Don’t give your dog raw fish. This can give your dog salmonellosis. Cooking it will kill parasites and bacteria that may be inside.

7 benefits of giving cod fish to your dog

#1: Great protein source

Dogs Can Eat Cod Fish Because It's A Great Protein Source

Protein is vital for dogs. 

In fact, they need a protein-based diet in order to live.

Cods have up to 0.70 oz (20 g) of protein per 3 oz (85 g). 

So this fish can provide your dog’s daily protein needs. 

And aside from that, it’s also a novel food ingredient. 

Which means that dogs with food sensitivities and allergies won’t have reactions to cod. 

This is why you’ll see fish as an alternative protein in hypoallergenic dog food.

“What do proteins do?”

In dogs, proteins help their body perform and function normally. 

According to PetMD, proteins provide amino acids to your dog’s body. 

They’re able to produce 12 of the 22 amino acids required. So the remaining 10 have to come from their food. 

Protein supports body functions, such as:

  • Hair growth.
  • Providing energy.
  • Forming new skin cells.
  • Tissue building and repair.
  • Creating hormones & enzymes.
  • Maintaining the immune system.

#2: Provides omega-3 fatty acids

Cod fish is considered a lean meat. This means that there’s not much fat to it. 

But what little fat it has, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

What are these, you ask.

These are essential fats that their body needs. It doesn’t produce them. So they need to be present in a dog’s diet.

There are 2 classifications: omega-3 and omega-6. 

Most commercial dog food contains omega-6 fatty acids. 

Omega-3s are very unstable. Which is why dog food manufacturers don’t include them. 

It’s best to have it straight from a fresh source. Such as cod fish. 

“What do omega fatty acids do for my dog?”

Dogs need to have a balanced combination of omega-3s and omega-6s. 

Because these 2 strengthen their body’s response to injury and infection.

And aside from that, they help in:

  • Providing energy.
  • Treating skin problems.
  • Keeping a healthy coat.

#3: Helps to combat vitamin deficiency

Cod is rich in many vitamins. 

It contains Vitamins E, A, C, and some of the B-complex. 

Now, what do these do? 

AKC describes the roles these vitamins have in dogs.

Vitamin E

First, Vitamin E. This is an antioxidant that fights against free radical damage. 

The latter is what causes cells to age and deteriorate. It’s caused by the oxidation process and it’s quite normal for all living things to go through. 

But it does contribute to:

  • Cancer.
  • Arthritis.
  • Heart disease.

Vitamin E is important because it stops the production of free radicals. Without becoming a free radical itself. 

It’s part of a lot of body processes. Including forming cell membranes. 

And according to PetMD, a deficiency can result in:

  • Poor vision.
  • Neurologic abnormalities.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Reproductive system defects.

Vitamin C

Next, Vitamin C. 

Often, dogs don’t need it. Because their liver already produces this vitamin. 

It’s a very active antioxidant. But an excess supply of it can cause the opposite, says Tufts.

Instead of fighting the free radicals, it will promote oxidation. And result in a lot of cell damage.

It can also result in the formation of calcium oxalate stones. These can form in the urinary tract. 


Your dog’s body will get rid of the excess Vitamin C through their pee. And if there’s a constant overdose, stones will form.

Vitamin A

This is essential for your dogs. 

But dog parents also need to be careful how much they give their doggos.

According to this study, it supports:

  • Vision. 
  • Bone growth.
  • Reproduction.
  • Immune response.
  • Cellular differentiation.

But VCA states that an overdose results in poisoning.

It needs to happen over a course of weeks to months before the following signs appear:

  • Lethargy.
  • Weight loss.
  • Constipation.
  • Poor hair coat.
  • Limited mobility.
  • Dry and rough skin.
  • Abnormal bone growth.

Vitamin B-complex

This is a group of vitamins responsible for many functions in your dog’s body.

And cod fish is rich in:

  • Niacin.
  • Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin B12.

Niacin supports cell respiration and healthy skin. It also helps with enzyme function. 

Vitamin B6 is a pretty important one. It takes care of:

  • Gene activation.
  • Niacin synthesis.
  • Glucose generation.
  • Hormone regulation.
  • Immune system response.
  • RBC and nervous system function.

While Vitamin B12 helps in protein processing and red blood cell production.

#4: Supplies essential minerals

Supplies Essential Minerals

Dogs also need minerals as their body doesn’t produce all that it needs to function. 

So they need to get it from their food.

Minerals help to maintain:

  • Fluid balance.
  • Cellular function.
  • Skeletal structure.
  • Nerve conduction.
  • Acid-base balance. 
  • Muscle contraction.

There are 2 essential minerals abundant in codfish: Phosphorus and Selenium.

Phosphorus helps to maintain organ and tissue function. It’s also part of bone formation.

And this study says it’s needed to help with renal health and urinary tract disease.

While Selenium is an essential trace mineral. This means that your dog’s body doesn’t need a lot of it. 

In fact, it’s recommended that dogs only have 3.1747e-6 oz (90 μg) of it every day. 

But don’t let the small amount fool you. This mineral is responsible for very important body functions. 

This study tells us that it helps in:

  • Immune function.
  • Antioxidant protection.
  • Thyroid hormone metabolism.

But there needs to be a careful balance. As there are serious effects to having too much or too little Selenium.

A deficiency causes:

  • Coma.
  • Anorexia. 
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Muscle degeneration.

If you overdose dogs on this mineral they can have chronic selenium poisoning. 

This study informs us that it results in:

  • Death.
  • Anemia.
  • Anorexia. 
  • Growth retardation.
  • Severe weight loss.
  • Coarse and loose hair.
  • Ascites (collection of abdominal fluid).

#5: May help with weight loss/management

Cod is a great addition to dogs on a weight loss program. 

3 oz (85 g) of cod only has:

  • 85 – 90 calories. 
  • Less than .035 oz (1g) of fat.

This means that your pooch gets a whole lot of nutrients without too many calories or fats. 

Note: If your dog needs to lose weight, always consult your vet before changing their diet.

Feeding cod to your dog will also them to keep their weight at an optimal level. 

“Why is weight management important for dogs?”

Dogs need to be at their recommended weight. Vets base this on their:

  • Age.
  • Breed.
  • Activity level.

VCA tells us that being even 5 lbs. over their ideal weight is enough to put your dog at risk for:

  • Cancer.
  • Arthritis.
  • Joint injuries.
  • Heart disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.

Getting their protein from lean meat sources will help to maintain your dog’s ideal weight.

You might also want to know: Dog Constantly Begging For Food: 7 Reasons + 3 Tips

#6: Lowers risk of heart disease

Yes, eating fish can help lower heart disease in dogs. 

This is because of the omega-3 fatty acids they provide. 

2 of these are effective on dogs with heart disease:

  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EHA).
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

This study tells us there’s a lot of evidence. That these fatty acids prevent arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). 

Omega-3s also have positive effects on:

  • Heart rate.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Immune function.
  • Endothelial function.
  • Myocardial energy metabolism. 

Watch this video for more information on how vets treat heart diseases:

#7: Supports brain function

Eating fish helps to keep the human brain healthy. 

This is because of the omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

The AKCCHF informs us that the brains of old dogs show a decrease in DHA.

Omega-3 has the potential to combat this. As supplements help to improve brain development and learning ability in puppies.

The vet science community needs more research on DHA’s effect on a dog’s aging brain.

But in human studies, the researchers suggest giving DHA-rich foods. As early as possible in life. 

Doing this with dogs may help to fortify their brain from future degradation. Especially when they get old. 

Note: Cod supplies omega fatty acids. But the levels aren’t as high as other fatty fish like salmon. It might be best to feed cod to your dog along with some salmon.

But of course, consult with your vet on the best combination for your dog. 

3 dangers of giving cod fish to your dog

#1: May contain mercury

This is one danger of feeding fish to your dog. 

All fish have mercury in them. They also get it from consuming other fish.

Generally, the older the fish, the higher the mercury level. 

Fishermen catch dog-safe fish while they’re still young. Which means that they’re less likely to have high levels of mercury in their bodies.  

It’s the reason why vets recommend these as safe for dogs:

  • Cod. 
  • Catfish.
  • Herring.
  • Whiting.
  • Salmon.
  • Flounder.
  • Whitefish.
  • Light tuna fish (canned). 

AKC warns dog parents that feeding fish with high mercury levels will result in:

  • Tremors.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Hair loss. 
  • Blindness.
  • Nervousness.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Loss of feeling in paws.

Here’s a list of fish not safe for dogs from PetMD:

  • Shark.
  • Tilefish.
  • Swordfish.
  • King mackerel.
  • Albacore tune (canned).

#2: Possibility of parasites & bacteria

There’s always a risk of this infecting your pooch. 

And this is why it’s very important to give cooked cod to your dog. 

Cooking kills bacteria and parasites in the fish. 

If you don’t there’s a large risk of the fish causing infections and illness. 

And it’s not just your dog at risk here. You and your family are too. 

As you handle the raw meat or you treat a dog with salmonellosis from an undercooked cod.

These situations put you straight into the line of infection. 

The AVMA recommends these steps for reducing the risk of infection:

  1. Avoid feeding undercooked or raw meat to your dog.
  2. Don’t let your dog eat dead animals while on walks.
  3. Don’t let uneaten food remain in their bowls for more than a day.
  4. Practice personal hygiene. Wash your hands before and after handling their food.
  5. Wash your dog’s food and water bowls with soap, every day.

#3: Giving too much can result in toxicity

Yes, cod provides a lot of nutrients for your pooch. 

But as with all food, there needs to be a balance. 

For example, this study says many omega -3 fatty acids can cause:

  • Weight gain.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Toxin exposure.
  • Nutrient excess.
  • Insulin sensitivity.
  • Weak immune system.
  • Altered platelet function. 
  • High blood sugar levels.

So make sure to always consult with your vet for the right amount of cod to put in your dog’s food. 

You might also want to check out: Can Dogs Eat Amaranth (Flour)? 5 Benefits + 5 Dangers