Can Dogs Eat Fish Sticks? Are They Healthy?

Introduction

Fish sticks are a staple on many families’ dinner tables, and that’s because they are easy to prepare and quite delicious, too. But can dogs eat fish sticks?

Are there any risks? Are they healthy for them in any way? We’re answering these questions and more in today’s post, so keep on reading!

Are Fish Sticks Good for Dogs?

Perfect for weight gain

Because fish sticks almost always have breading on them, they are quite rich in calories

This means that they can help some dogs pack on a few pounds if they’ve recently gone through traumatic events or if they’ve undergone surgery. Dogs recovering from convalescence might experience the same issue, so fish sticks could make a good snack for them. 

fish sticks

Omega 3

Depending on the exact type of fish present in the fish stick variety that you purchase, your dog could benefit from this nutrient. 

Omega 3 fatty acids are excellent at keeping your dog’s heart health up to par. They also have a few other effects, such as making sure that your dog’s brain functions normally. 

Some studies have shown that small doses of omega 3 fatty acids now and then can prevent eye health pathologies, and they can also lower the triglyceride level in your pet’s blood. 

However, the fish sticks that you buy should be made with one of the following species if you’d like your pooch to benefit from this nutrient:

  • Herring
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines 

Minerals

The most common ingredient in fish sticks is whitefish, which is a generic denomination for a number of different fish species. 

For example, whitefish can refer to anything from snapper and flounder to haddock, halibut, or cod. 

These fish are rich in a variety of nutrients, but also minerals like selenium, magnesium, as well as phosphorus

The number of minerals that your dog is likely to get from fish sticks is not very high, though. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also found in whitefish, and it can help your dog’s genetic material remain in perfect shape. This means that to some extent or the other, this nutrient could prevent your dog from getting cancer. 

It is also capable of preventing some types of anemia and it is an important vitamin, particularly for pregnant dogs. Vitamin B12 effectively ensures that the fetuses/embryos develop normally and that the puppies are not born with any development deficiencies. 

Are Fish Sticks Bad for Dogs?

Fish sticks do have some ingredients in them that don’t make them the safest snack for dogs. Find out more about them in the sections below. 

Salt and seasonings

While the main ingredients, meaning the crab meat and whitefish meat present in fish sticks, are usually unseasoned, the breading is a whole different business. 

It can contain a wide variety of ingredients that dogs are not supposed to have, including salt and other seasonings. It’s actually not uncommon for the breading to even contain sugar, which is another ingredient that’s not good for dogs. 

Continuous exposure to salt in animals can lead to the development of cardiovascular pathologies. So, if you don’t want your dog to end up suffering from health problems, steer clear of store-bought fish sticks. 

Additives

This is a generic name for various substances that can also be commonly found in fish stick breading. But sometimes, it can even be discovered in the main ingredients, because they have to somehow stick together. 

If you’ve ever cooked a fish before, you probably know that fish flesh tends to separate from the bone very easily, especially whitefish. 

As such, fish sticks manufacturers have to somehow get the fish meat to remain in the right shape, without using any solid structure like a bone. This means that they use binders and other artificial substances

Other such additives that can be found in fish sticks are preservatives and artificial colors. Both of these categories are usually linked to cancer cases, and they can make fish sticks an unhealthy snack for dogs (and people too, if you’re wondering!). 

Onion and garlic

If you see these two ingredients listed on the label of the fish sticks you purchase from the supermarket, think again before serving any to your dog. 

Onion and garlic can cause severe poisoning in this animal species, so we strongly advise you to avoid them at all costs. 

Also, if you feed your dog a homemade diet, in general, these two are best avoided. Do not give your pet any table scraps as they could contain traces of onion and garlic

How Many Fish Sticks Can My Dog Eat?

A clear answer to this question does not exist. Since most vets recommend against feeding fish sticks to your dog since we’d say that the correct amount would be “as little as possible”. 

One fish stick per week is generally safe for all dogs, regardless of weight, breed, gender, or any health conditions. 

On the other hand, if you know that your dog has various diseases for which they might receive treatment or if they are experiencing chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, pancreatitis, or hepatitis, do not give them fish sticks in any way, shape, or form. 

How to Prepare and Serve Fish Sticks to Your Dog

The best way to make fish sticks for your dog is to use real fish that you have either bought or fished yourself. 

Instead of the all-purpose flour, egg, and breadcrumbs that are typically found in the breading, you can use a replacement such as almond flour. Dogs aren’t usually allergic to eggs, but they can be quite sensitive to wheat. 

Fish sticks are usually deep-fried in oil, but we advise against cooking them in this way if you want to make them safe for your dog. 

Instead, bake them in the oven. If you want to give them to your dog a little later in the week or month, just freeze them and bake them again to get them thawed. 

Refrain from using any salt or other seasonings or condiments such as onion or garlic. Also, most dogs don’t like chilli pepper powders or other such ingredients, so avoid adding those to the recipe, too. 

Although your dog might be willing to eat a fish stick or two raw, straight out of the freezer, we advise against allowing them to do so. Raw fish can be dangerous and can carry risky bacteria. 

girl feeding her dog

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs eat breaded fish sticks?

No. Commercial fish sticks usually contain several unsafe ingredients in their breading, such as salt or condiments.

Can dogs eat fried fish sticks?

While one single deep-fried fish stick is not going to hurt their health, dogs are not supposed to have fried foods, in general. They make them predisposed to developing obesity and other conditions such as liver steatosis or pancreatitis.

Can dogs eat pollock fish sticks?

Yes. Safely baked and even homemade fish sticks, of which the primary ingredient is pollock are good for dogs, but they should also be considered snacks, not a main source of food.

Summary

While dogs can indeed eat fish sticks, they do not make the healthiest treats for them. If you want to prepare them at home, steer clear of unsafe ingredients such as spices or condiments. 

Ask your vet any questions you have regarding your dog’s diet and follow their advice as best as possible. Vet-recommended diets are usually the best ones you can opt for as your veterinarian is the person who knows what your dog is supposed to eat depending on their specifics (health or age). 

Sources

1. Allium species poisoning in dogs and cats, Salgado B.S., Monteiro L.N, Rocha N.S., 2011

2. Additives in pet food: are they safe?, J.M. Craig, 2021 

3. Associations between dietary factors and pancreatitis in dogs, Kristina Y. Lem et al, 2008

Leave a Comment

2 comments
Cristina Vulpe

Cristina Vulpe

As a veterinarian and a cat guardian, Cristina Vulpe holds a Ph.D. in veterinary oncology. She loves writing about feline pathology, parasitology, and infectious diseases, but she also cares deeply about animal nutrition and welfare. When she isn't writing, you can always find her in the company of her cat and a good book.
Iasi, Romania