What are the best fish treats for my dog?

Words By Gemma Sheehy

May 14, 2020

We know fish treats are all the rage right now. They’re dominating the dog treat market with their sun-fished sized variety and aromatic taste. But the benefits don’t stop there. Treats from the deep blue sea are fully loaded with healthy perks targeting skin, coat, digestion and essential oils in one sweet and salty package.

Despite their booming popularity, we understand that some dog owners are concerned about the sourcing of treats from the big blue. In an age where eco-friendly practices and sustainability have never been more important, it’s more than natural to ask all the right questions.

What are the benefits of fish treats?

Queen Fish Tails are tasty Fish Treats.
Queen Fish Tails 🎣 are 100% sustainably sourced and come straight from the sea 📷 Photographer: Amy Whitfield

There’s something close to magical about the benefits of ocean treats. The unique protein offers perks that you just can’t get in more commonly marketed meaty treats.

Fish is a crucial protein, including bountiful nutrients and benefits to your best friend. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that promotes better health, lessening dry skin and boosting coat quality. This means your dog’s shiny fur and hydrated skin come without any dry, dandruff-y conditions.

On the inside, Omega-3 can also do a lot more. It’s a big proponent in boosting dog immune systems, particularly those of senior age. Omega-3 aids in common and debilitating conditions like arthritis and autoimmune diseases by decreasing inflammation and diminishing the occurrence of blood clots.

What’s the catch? Your dog is not capable of manufacturing Omega-3 themself, and instead relies on outside sources – aka, their diet – to fulfil their nutritional needs. This is where fishy, salty, smelly ocean treats come in. A dose of Omega-3 as a delicious treat is like a vitamin pill your doggo would eat all day, every day.

But what about mercury, some of you might ask?

All our WAG treats are sourced as by-products (more about that later) from suppliers who sell fish for human consumption. This testing is done by Symbio Laboratories, Australia’s leading laboratory for food agriculture and environmental testing. These tests are made on the meat of the shark or fish, which generally has the largest levels of mercury, while the skin and tail products used for dog treats have lower mercury levels. So, if the fish is tested safe from mercury for human consumption, you can rest assured it’s safe for your doggo as well.

Are fish treats good for dogs with sensitive stomachs?

When talking about fish treats, the good news just keeps on swimming. Not only are they nutritionally beneficial (and necessary) for all dogs, they’re also adept at satisfying the taste-buds of sensitive dogs without the side effects.

Low fat, less dense and bursting with nutrients, fishy foods ease and aid digestion in the more sensitive stomached pets. They are less likely to trigger food-based allergies and are often one of the first suggested proteins for doggos undergoing an elimination diet.

Essentially, unless your dog is one of the very few allergic to seafood, you can feed fishy treats without fear, whether they’re prone to diet-based sensitives or not.

Why is there such a strong smell for a healthy fish treat? Is this smell normal?

Dehydrated fish dog treats
📷 Photographer: Amy Whitfield

Whilst we might peg our nose to tear open a fresh bag of Tripe or Blue Whiting, most dogs are immediately drawn to the salty, savoury, addictive smell. And this is no coincidence. Compared to our measly sense of smell, canine smell receptors are practically super-powered.

While scientists are yet to confirm exactly how useful their sniffing capabilities are, they estimate dog noses are somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 more acute than human noses.

Why does smell matter so much? Compared to their enormous sensory range dogs only have very few taste buds, meaning they are mostly limited to discerning sour, bitter, sweet and salty and not much else. Rather than their taste buds, your dog’s sense of smell provides the most information on exactly what they’re chowing down on.

That salty, fishy, tangy smell that makes us scrunch our nose up? It drives them dog-gone wild!

What fish treats will be best for my dog?

Like any treat, before you choose what is best for your pup you want to look at what you want to achieve with that treat. Is it something you want to help with training? Are you looking for a long-lasting chew to boost their dental health and stimulation? Or are you just looking for something to tell your dog they’ve been a good boy or girl?

Your dog will be sitting pretty in no time with a strong-smelling and satisfied fishy treat. Try mixing up your training routine with Green Lipped Mussels or ripped up pieces of Fish Jerky for the occasional high-value reward.

Dogs that want something to chow down on will also love the soft but tough chew of a Shark Tail or Queen Fish Tail.

Whatever treat takes your doggo’s fancy, remember that natural single-ingredient treats are going to be the healthiest option for your pet.

Are fish treats ethical?

Being environmentally conscious means being compassionate about sea-dwelling populations just as much as those on land. Within the last 50 years overfishing has become a global concern, with companies employing unsustainable fishing habits that are pushing ocean populations of creatures to the brink of extinction.

But fishing and sustainability don’t have to be mutually exclusive. To put your eco-friendly mind at ease, ensure the manufacturers of your fishy snacks are supporting sustainable fisheries: a process of fishing that respects the marine environment with little impact on wild fish populations.

Some manufacturers don’t just purchase highly sought-after products, but they also focus on purchasing fish that is considered low value. Fish can be considered as a ‘low value’ product when it’s in an oversaturated market, for example if you’re fishing for Barramundi and all you catch is Queenfish. Rather than letting the overflow of fish be diverted from human food and into something like liquid fertiliser, the fish is reclaimed and given a greater value. This means that less fish is wasted, and the fishers get more for a low value catch. Which means they don’t have to fish as often and can leave more in the sea for next time.

It’s also important to look at what sort of fish or shark your products are coming from. Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide hosts a traffic light system to rate our seafood, where it comes from, and whether it’s from a threatened species. Fish species listed as green are a better choice for choosing species which are not overfished; those in amber can often be related to fish that are caught with some environmental impact; and those in red are generally overfished or threatened species that we should avoid

Using by-products for fish treats

On its own, the term by-product can sometimes feel like a bit of a dirty word when it comes to pet food. This is because some lower-grade commercial pet foods opt for low quality by-products in their feed that don’t add any nutritional value to your pet. But, when it comes to 100% natural treats, this isn’t always the case. Particularly when it comes to fish treats.

By-products in the fishing industry refers to the raw materials that are used to produce fishmeal and fish oil. But when it comes to dog treats, these can also refer to using the skin or tail of fish or shark.

Fish and shark that are harvested for human consumption now mean that 100% of the shark is being used with products like tail and skin. While previously, these high-value snacks would have been left to waste.

If your doggo has a hankering for that salty, fish treat taste, look to fish treats that are 100% natural and sourced as by-products from human consumption.

How we source fish treats at WAG

Here at WAG we feel strongly about ethical consumption, ensuring that each and every ocean treat is fished and farmed responsibility.

We ensure the manufacturers of our fishy snacks are supporting sustainable fisheries, or are fisherman employing sustainable practices themselves. Our shark products are ethically sourced in Queensland and our shark fins are from black tip whaler sharks, a prolific species of shark that meet the sustainable category.

In our bigger bites from the deep blue, like Shark Tail and Shark Skin Rolls, our motto holds true: we never let a good thing go to waste. We piggy-back off ethical companies who fish for human consumption and take away the by-products they don’t want – but your doggo definitely will.

We believe that meeting your dog’s nutritional needs should be eco-friendly, environmentally responsible and above all sustainable.

So don’t flounder – dive in to ocean treats, and reap the benefits. We promise you won’t look back.

Shop for our ethically sourced fish treats for your dog.

Author

Gemma Sheehy

If there's one thing Gemma's passionate about in life, it's dogs. When she's not writing about them at WAG she's living, breathing, walking and snuggling with her own. Besides dog shows and sporting events on the weekends, Gemma is partial to cooking (sometimes) healthy meals, watching horror movies and making records for time spent in pyjamas.