What are the best fish treats for my dog?

Words By Gemma Sheehy

May 14, 2020

Fish treats are all the rage right now. They’re dominating the dog treat market with their sun-fished sized variety and aromatic taste. 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.

Modern dog owners, concerned about where and how fish are sourced, might raise a brow at giving their dog fish treats. And in an age where eco-friendly practices and sustainability have never been more important, we need dog owners to ask the right questions to make sustainable efforts.

What are the benefits of fish treats?

The unique protein perks that come with fish can’t be found in 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.

Whether fresh or dehydrated, adding fish to your dog’s diet is a good idea. It’s nutritious, hypoallergenic and very palatable for dogs.

Queen Fish Tails are tasty Fish Treats.

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

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.

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.

Can dogs get mercury poisoning from dog treats?

Unless you feed your dog a lot of fish, you don’t worry about mercury poisoning from your dog’s food or treats. Fish – like every protein or food you feed your dog – needs to make up a balanced diet. Don’t feed your dog in excess of anything.

All WAG treats are sourced as byproducts (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. 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. Fish is often one of the first suggested proteins for dogs 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?

Whilst we might peg our nose to tear open a fresh bag of fish, most dogs are immediately drawn to its salty, savoury, addictive smell. And this is no coincidence. Compared to our measly sense of smell, canine smell receptors are practically super-powered. Scientists estimate dog noses are somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 more acute than human noses.

Dehydrated fish dog treats

Forage Fish make for an excellent dog training tool, too! 📷 Photographer: Amy Whitfield

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

So 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, consider 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? Something to tell your dog they’ve been a good boy or girl?

Your dog will be sitting pretty in no time with strong-smelling and satisfied fishy treats. Try mixing up your training routine with Green Lipped Mussels, 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.

Always remember that natural dog 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. You should ensure the manufacturers of your fishy snacks are supporting sustainable fisheries. Because there are fishing processes that respect the marine environment and fish with little impact on wild fish populations.

How can be fishing be ethical?

Some manufacturers don’t just purchase highly sought-after products. They focus on purchasing fish that is considered low value. Some fish are considered a ‘low-value’ product in an oversaturated market. Key examples being when you’re fishing for Barramundi and all you catch is Queenfish.

The alternate option is to let the overflow of fish be diverted from human food and into something like liquid fertiliser. Instead, we can reclaim fish and give it a greater value. Meaning, less fish gets wasted and the fishers get more for a low-value catch. They don’t have to fish as often and can leave more in the sea for next time.

How can I find out if fish are ethically sourced?

It’s 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.

Staying educated and informed is key. Using the GoodFish Guide, you can find out where your fish comes from.

Their guide works as followed:

  • If listed in green, these fish are a good choice – they’re not overfished
  • If in amber, the methods these fish are caught with posing some environmental risk that is not considered serious
  • and if in red (like the Southern Bluefin Tuna above), these fish are generally overfished or threatened species that we should avoid consuming.

Using byproducts for fish treats

On its own, the term byproduct can sometimes feel like a bit of a dirty word when it comes to dog food. This is because some lower-grade commercial pet foods opt for low quality byproducts 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. Byproducts in the fishing industry refers to the raw materials that are used to produce fishmeal and fish oil. In the case of dog treats, these can also refer to using the skin or tail of fish or shark.

Meeting your dog’s nutritional needs should be eco-friendly, environmentally responsible and above all sustainable. 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 WAG sources their fish products

WAG feel strongly about ethical consumption, ensuring that each and every ocean treat is fished and farmed responsibility. WAG ensure the manufacturers of our fishy snacks are supporting sustainable fisheries, or are fisherman employing sustainable practices themselves.

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 byproducts they don’t want – but your dog definitely will. WAG shark products are ethically sourced in Queensland, and shark fins are from black tip whaler sharks (a prolific species of shark that meet the sustainable category).

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

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.