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Can Dogs Eat Mackerel? Vet-Verified Nutrition Facts

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Dogs Eat Mackerel

Can Dogs Eat Mackerel? Vet-Verified Nutrition Facts


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Mackerel is a term that applies to various species of swift-moving fish that are mainly part of the Scombridae family. These oily fish are rich in nutrients, provide an excellent source of protein, and are loaded with omega fatty acids.1

You can find mackerel on the menu in many restaurants, and this particular species of fish has tremendous flavor. With all the health benefits, you may wonder if dogs can eat mackerel and if it’s safe. Fortunately, yes, dogs can eat mackerel.


Are All Types of Mackerel Safe to Feed My Dog?

While many types of mackerel are safe for your dog to consume, king mackerel is not one of them. King mackerel has high mercury content, and if that’s not enough, this fish can even hide parasites in the skin, internal organs, and muscle tissue.

Farm-raised fish should also be avoided due to the lack of industry regulations, meaning these types of fish can have harmful levels of toxins, dyes, and antibiotic levels. Other fish that should be avoided are shark, canned albacore tuna, swordfish, and tilefish.

Also, avoid feeding raw fish to your dog, as raw fish may be contaminated with bacteria, such as salmonella or listeria.

raw mackerels close up
Image Credit: Jumpstory

What Are the Benefits of Feeding Mackerel to My Dog?

Most fish, including mackerel, are high in protein and rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, dogs love the smell of fish and will probably devour it.

Fish can be found in some commercial dog foods, and some experts believe fish has excellent anti-inflammatory properties for dogs. Fish also makes an excellent alternative for doggies with protein allergies to chicken or other protein sources.

How Do I Safely Give My Dog Fish?

While we’ve determined that fish has health benefits, you should be aware of the potential dangers of feeding fish to your canine kiddo. When cooking fish at home to give to your dog, don’t use too much oil, as this can cause an upset tummy or even pancreatitis. You should also avoid seasoning the fish with harmful ingredients, such as garlic or onion, and avoid frying the mackerel.

However, the biggest risk of feeding fish to your dog is the bones. Fish bones are brittle, small, and dangerous, and the bones can get lodged in your dog’s throat, creating a choking hazard. Fish bones can also cause perforation in your dog’s organ wall, which is painful. These small, brittle bones can also get stuck in the stomach and intestines.

How Often Can I Feed Mackerel to My Dog?

Ideally, mackerel should only be given to your dog in moderation as a special treat. Dogs get all the nutrients they need from their regular dog food, so giving an extra amount of fish can pack on the pounds.

Treats should make up only 10% of your dog’s daily food intake, so feeding mackerel in moderation is key. If you want to feed your dog mackerel on occasion, consult your veterinarian for the appropriate amounts to provide.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet for Your Dog

For optimal health, always feed your dog a complete and balanced diet full of the necessary nutrients your dog needs. Your dog requires a mix of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water to thrive, and if you’re ever in doubt about what food to feed your dog, your veterinarian can help guide you in the right direction.

Ensure you provide fresh water for your dog 24/7, and limit treats to 10% of your dog’s daily food intake.



Mackerel can provide health benefits for your dog, but ideally, moderation is key. Too much mackerel can cause obesity or constipation, so it’s best to only give it as a special treat.

Remember that your dog should be getting all the nutrients he needs through his regular diet, thus making feeding mackerel ideal on occasion. Also, remember to avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish, albacore canned tuna, and tilefish.

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Featured Image Credit: JumpStory

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