Is Canned Fish a “Superfood” for Dogs?

by admin on April 18, 2011

An article by a “canine nutritionist” hailing the attributes of canned sardines was recently posted on a raw feeders’ buying list I belong to.  It was followed by lots of accolades from other members about how informative and interesting it was.  Considering this list is peopled with mostly veteran raw feeders, I thought a more objective critique was called for.

To be fair, the article does have some interesting facts and info, notably how sardines got their name and how to pick out fresh fish.  But it does a major disservice to dog owners seeking to learn how to properly feed their dogs, because, among other mistakes, it makes no effort to distinguish raw from cooked.

It is typical for nutritionists to get so lost in the information they gather from analyzing and dissecting food down into its tiniest nutrient constituents that they fail to see the obvious damage that is done to it by the processing.  Ms. Jansey, for example, says that “fresh is great” but doesn’t even say the word “raw”, which means people could easily understand this to mean that they should buy the fish fresh and then go home and cook it.

Contrary to what the writer contends, canned fish absolutely cannot be used as a healthy replacement for raw fish.  The only thing canned fish could possibly be good for replacing is fish oils, and that’s only because the latter is even more harmful.  Raw fish is a fine dog food but if owners can’t get fresh or frozen raw fish (sardines or smelt included), then they should not, and need not, feed fish at all.  Everything that a dog needs is available in raw food sources that do not contain the harmful and indigestible substances in canned fish.  Canned fish may not be as overprocessed as fish oils, but if skinning, de-heading, gutting, cooking, disguising (flavoring), oiling, canning, salting and/or otherwise rendering a food “shelf stable” isn’t ‘overprocessing’, I don’t know what is.

Some types of canned fish are less processed and adulterated than others.  Some retain the skin and heads and even internal organs; others have harmful spices and chemical preservatives that have no place in a dog’s body.  They all have extremely high levels of sodium, unless the consumer goes to the trouble and expense of buying low or no-salt versions.  This is particularly true of the types of canned fish mentioned in the article that are packed in tomato sauce or oil.  The worst part, of course, is that all canned fish is cooked at very high temperatures, which fatally damages many nutrients and makes the fats and proteins much less usable by a dog’s body.

This article is the equivalent of saying if you can’t get a fresh orange, orange sherbet would do nicely.  Human nutritionists actually do say such silly things, so it’s no surprise to hear them from canine nutritionists too.

In the best interest of dogs,
Nora Lenz