• Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN

A Raw Feeder's Guide To Fish

Updated: Aug 31

Fish is an essential part of a raw food diet. But what kind of wish should be fed? And how much should we feed? Here we’ll talk about the what, why, and how of fish in raw diets.


Why Is Fish Added?

Fish is added as it is a rich source of essential nutrients, particularly vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Fish easily meets two common nutrient deficiencies making it a popular nutritional source.


Fish To Feed

It is vital to choose lower-level small fatty fish to avoid biomagnification. Smaller oily fish should be prioritized when feeding.


Best Choices:

∙ Anchovy

∙ Atlantic Mackerel

∙ Herring

∙ Pacific Chub Mackerel

∙ Salmon

∙ Sardines

∙ Smelt


Choice To Avoid:

∙ King Mackerel

∙ Marlin

∙ Shark

∙ Swordfish

∙ Tuna


Fish Not To Feed

Due to biomagnification, fish to avoid are predatory and larger fish such as king mackerel, tuna, swordfish, and shark. Biomagnification is the concentration of toxins in an organism due to consuming other plants or animals where the toxins are more widely distributed. The pollutants or toxins increase in the tissues as it moves up the food chain. And unfortunately, these toxins cannot be excreted, so they get passed onto the next trophic level. Pollutants are absorbed by microscopic phytoplankton at the bottom of the food chain, smaller fish eat the zooplankton, then a bigger fish eats that fish, and finally, the highest trophic level receives the maximum accumulation of the pollutants. Whether natural or human-made, there are many toxins in the world that animals consume daily. Since there is no avoiding them, we can at least avoid feeding these toxins in significant quantities by not feeding predatory animals.



Preparation

All organisms are vulnerable to parasites. And although a nuisance, they are a natural part of life. But it becomes a concern when we want to eat or feed an animal with said so parasite.

Fresh wild-caught fish intended for raw consumption must be frozen before being fed. "Fresh" refers to fish caught from a boat by you/someone else, not the fish labeled ''wild-caught'' in stores. It is recommended to freeze at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days. Most household freezers reach temperatures of 0°F (-18°C). Therefore it's recommended to freeze for 3 weeks to allow the deep freeze to kill off parasites at the recommended extended time. Fish can be fed immediately if purchased from a raw feeding supplier or grocery store.


While fish can generally be fed safely, Pacific Northwest Salmon should be internally frozen at -20°C(-4°F) for 24 hours to avoid salmon poisoning or cooking as a preventative.


How To Feed

As a rough guideline, fish should make up around 1oz (28g) for every 20lb (9kg). If you have a meal plan, the proper amount will be included. When first introduced to fish, many dogs can turn their noses up. To persuade them, you can try grinding the fish, freezing it, and offering the fish first before the rest of the meal. Freeze-dried or dehydrated fish are another great way to change the texture and smell.



Sourcing

Fish can be sourced from raw feeding suppliers, grocery stores, or fishing (wild-caught). Avoid fish in vegetable oils (olive oil is an exception), tomato sauce, smoked, or added sodium. Ideally, find frozen or canned fish in water with no added salt.



Sensitivities & Allergies

Feed the fish that works for them if the dog is only sensitive to a specific fish. If all fish must be avoided, supplements can be used for Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA). A supplement such as NOW Vitamin D3 drops can be used for vitamin D. For EPA & DHA, turn to other foods such as shellfish (if applicable), fish oil (if applicable), and other foods such as brain.


Thiaminase

Thiaminase is an enzyme that breaks down vitamin B1 or thiamine. Many raw feeders know the thiaminase dilemma and have seen the recommendation to feed and store thiaminase fish away from the rest of the meal. While this is a safe rule to follow, it will not leach into the whole meal if you feed whole fish unless a thiaminase-containing fish is completely ground in, which increases the surface exposure. If you'd like to be on the safer side, feed/store all thiaminase-containing fish separately from the meal. Cooking and steaming deactivates thiaminase; therefore, tinned or cooked/steamed fish can be fed without worry. Learn more about thiaminase here and here.


Fish is essential to raw diets to supply essential nutrients. But with anything, it must be fed in moderation and with as much quality and variety as possible. I hope you learned something new today & Always Keep Exploring!

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