What makes fish so valuable in dog food?

There are countless types of fish, but which fish is healthy for my dog?

Fish has a very high-quality, highly digestible muscle meat. In principle, you can feed dogs all types of fish. However, each variety has its own characteristics, especially in terms of fat and vitamin content. Fatty fish such as the herring used in ICEPAW dry food, for example, are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. While seawater fish are rich in iodine, for example, freshwater fish tend to be low in iodine. 

Fish as a source of vitamin D
Unlike us humans, dogs cannot produce vitamin D themselves in sufficient quantities. For this reason alone, it is very important for dogs to get vitamin D from their food. Vitamin D is actually found in very few foods, such as some types of fish, egg yolks and dairy products, and cod liver oil. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored mainly in the liver and fatty tissue. It plays a very important role in regulating bone metabolism, as vitamin D controls that calcium and phosphorus are absorbed and processed by the body as needed. 

Fish varieties with particularly high levels of vitamin D:

  • Herring
  • Anchovy
  • Sardine
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel

Fish as a supplier of omega-3 fatty acids

In addition to vitamin D, fatty fish such as herring in particular provide the valuable omega-3 fatty acids. As a rule of thumb, the more fatty a fish and the colder its habitat, the more omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Omega-3 fatty acids are so-called essential fatty acids. This means that they are vital for the organism, but the body cannot synthesize them itself from other nutrients - the dog must absorb the substances through food. 

A distinction is made between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The dog absorbs the omega-6 fatty acids in sufficient quantities via the meaty components. However, to ensure that the dog also receives enough omega-3 fatty acids, the diet should be supplemented with a high-quality fish oil, such as ICEPAW cod oil, a rather low-fat oil, or ICEPAW salmon oil, a high-fat oil containing the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Very important to know is that the ratio of fatty acids among themselves must be optimal. The higher the proportion of omega-3 fatty acids and the lower the proportion of omega-6 fatty acids, the more optimal the oil. Thus, a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of 5:1 to a maximum of 10:1 should not be exceeded.

Here again is an overview of the omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Linseed oil contains mainly -linolenic acid, while fish oils such as salmon oil or cod oil contain mainly eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the organism and perform vital tasks in the body (anti-inflammatory, brain development, learning ability, etc.).

The most omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) contain:

Tuna, herring, salmon, mackerel and sardine.

Fish as a source of iodine
Fish are a natural source of iodine. As a rule of thumb, you can remember: Marine fish have a significantly higher iodine content than seawater fish because they already consume iodine-rich algae through their diet. Iodine plays an important role in thyroid function and thus energy balance. The daily iodine requirement of an adult dog is about 15 µg per kg body weight. Puppies, young dogs, pregnant or lactating dogs require correspondingly more iodine. 

Iodine-rich fish:
Pollock, haddock and cod.

Be careful when feeding raw fish:
Some types of fish, such as herring, anchovy or sprat, when raw contain thiaminases, an enzyme thiaminase that breaks down and destroys vitamin B1 - thiamine. In fish in cooked state or in dry food this enzyme does not play any role. In fish, especially the exposure of sea fish to mercury is problematic. Predatory fish such as tuna or swordfish can be contaminated with mercury, sometimes to a considerable extent. With fish varieties such as herring, cod, pollock, hake or farmed fish, the heavy metal load is absolutely harmless.