Can Dogs Have Fish Sticks?

by Matt Bostic

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Can Dogs Have Fish Sticks Large black labrador dog licking his lips and begging in the kitchen with a bandana around his neck

I love my dog, and I like to feed him different foods from time to time.  While I know about certain human foods that he cannot eat, I am uncertain about others, including fish sticks.

Curious to understand what a dog’s diet should be and what they can eat, I decided to look up the details, and here is what I found out.

Can dogs have fish sticks?

Yes, dogs can have fish sticks.  While not toxic to the dog’s diet, they are also not very healthy due to the ingredients they contain and the fact that those ingredients don’t provide any form of nutrition to their body. 

Dogs can have fish sticks as they are not one of the human foods that are considered toxic to their body.  They may enjoy eating fish sticks for the taste and crunchy texture, but fish sticks contain ingredients that are not healthy for dogs.  These ingredients, including whitefish and starch, don’t offer any nutritional elements that dogs need for a healthy body.  

Fish sticks also contain additives and preservatives, not to mention often a whole lot of salt.  These ingredients provide no nutritional value for the dog but can also be harmful to their overall health.  If fish sticks are supplied in tiny quantities as an occasional treat, they must be cooked thoroughly to reduce food poisoning. 

It is also best that if dogs have fish sticks as a rare treat, they should be of good quality with a small ingredients list on the package and not contain any hidden, toxic ingredients.  While your dog may feel happiest when eating what you are eating, there are much better choices to share than fish sticks.

All dogs love to share our food.  If we are eating it, it must certainly be good, especially if we are smiling and enjoying eating.  This sharing of food with our dog is commonplace in many households as we show our love and share our bounty with our four-legged family members that we hold close to our hearts.

Some foods are toxic for our dogs, and many of us already know what these foods are.  Beyond that list of toxic foods for our dogs, some foods are safe to eat but offer nothing in the way of nutrition and health benefits to our four-legged friends.

Fish sticks are one such food.   Dogs may find it entertaining and appealing to eat such foods if they see us eating it because it seems fun.  They hear the crunch as we bite into it and see our obvious enjoyment of it and they want to share at that moment too.  So, we give them a piece, and of course, the taste will likely be delightful as dogs have to be pretty turned off by something not to eat it.

Now they want more, and this can be a difficult moment for all pet parents.

One of the best ways to address this situation is to provide a dog who can eat fish sticks with a share of the human bounty by offering something else from the table.  Now dogs are brilliant, and if a pet parent thinks that they can place a few dog treats at the table, or something that they are not eating themselves at the table and offer it to the dog, they may be highly mistaken that the dog will eat it.

On that note, sharing other human foods can be better than the fish sticks.  If the fish sticks are being served with cooked carrots that the pet parent is also eating, they can be shared as well, in more significant quantities, provided they don’t contain too many additives or lots of salt.

One of the things that make fish sticks so unhealthy and nutritionally empty for our loveable dog is what is in the ingredients list.  Whitefish, starches, additives, preservatives, and salt are ingredients that dogs don’t need in their diet.

Processed foods, which include frozen fish sticks, contain many unhealthy additives to keep them tasting great and lasting a long time while frozen.  While they are an okay food option in limited quantities for us humans, dogs should eat them even less, and in a much smaller size.

A nibble here, a sample there isn’t going to hurt a dog, but there are many healthy human food options that can delight, entertain and provide nutritional value as well as enhance what should already be a healthy diet.

If a pet parent decides to share a small sampling of the fish sticks, they are eating, it is important to check ingredients lists. Ingredients like onions or garlic can sometimes appear in these frozen processed foods, and while we may not taste them, they can be toxic to our dog’s health.

Always check ingredients lists on any processed, canned, boxed, or frozen food you plan to feed your dog, even a nibble of for hidden and unknown ingredients could cause issues depending on your dog’s health and age.   It is always better to provide fresh foods when sharing human food, but our busy lives sometimes make it harder for us to eat those foods as well, a taste is always an issue.

Fish sticks should always be cooked thoroughly before eating them.  This is true for yourself as well as your dog whom you are offering them to.  Foods that are not cooked thoroughly can cause food poisoning.  Uncooked or improperly cooked fish can contain harmful bacteria like salmonella and parasites that can be harmful to anyone’s health, including a dog.

Are there any fish that are healthy for a dog to eat?

Yes, there are numerous types of fish that are healthy for a dog to eat.   These include:

  • Walleye
  • Hank
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Arctic Char
  • Flounder
  • Whitefish
  • Lake Whitefish

How these fish are prepared is just as important as what type of fish a dog is fed.

Cooking the food that we plan on feeding our dog separate from our own is best to do, unless we like our foods free of salt, spices, and other additives that give them flavor.  Dogs do not need the addition of these ingredients, and many times they are unhealthy, or in some cases even toxic, as in garlic salt.

For this same reason, it is often unhealthy to feed them table scraps unless you know precisely what you’re giving them.  However, this can be beneficial for us humans at times as it can force us to focus on a healthier diet for ourselves.

It is also best to avoid cooking their food in excess oil.  High amounts of fats are not healthy for dogs as they can cause digestive issues and more severe health problems with other organs in their body.

Fish should not have bones, which can also be harmful to the dog, with the possibility of injury or choking.

While this may seem like a bland, tasteless, and boring way of sharing the human food with your dog, it is best for their overall health.  It can cause more work for the pet parent, in food preparation but provides them with a sampling of our food in a way that is healthy for them.

Is fish a good protein choice for dogs?

Yes, fish is a good protein choice for dogs, when appropriately selected and prepared, can provide healthy Omegas, vitamins, and minerals.  Low in fat, fish is often a healthier choice than some other proteins like regular meat.

On top of that, fish is considered a low allergen food for dogs which can be beneficial for dogs that already suffer from other allergies or have sensitive stomachs if the salt and other spices are kept off the menu.

Is there any fish my dog should not eat?

Yes, there are a few types of fish that a dog should not eat that include:

  • Tilapia
  • King Mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Tilefish
  • Canned Albacore Tuna

These fish are generally bigger and more advanced in age when they are caught.  They can have higher levels of mercury as well as contain other harmful things like parasites.

Whenever selecting a fish to feed your dog it is always best to choose wild-caught over farm-raised.   Farm-raised fish are fed a diet that is different from their wild-caught counterparts and it is usually unhealthy for a dog to consume.  Such things as antibiotics and dyes can be present in the fish.

Fish can be a healthy part of any dog’s diet when offered as a health treat that is clean.  Clean on the inside meaning wild caught; as well as clean on the outside meaning no additives like spices and thoroughly cooked.  This is how we ourselves should be eating fish too, so perhaps feeding our dog healthy samples of our table foods can help us be healthier too.

Closing Points

Fish can be healthy for dogs, just not normally the commonplace fish stick.  While a small sampling isn’t going to hurt them, it is always best to check ingredients lists first before sharing.

When in doubt reach for them cooked carrots, they may not be as exciting, but they are a far safer choice to offer!

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