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8 benefits of feeding your dog salmon

Salmon is a crowning jewel of the Canadian food supply. Not only because it’s a tasty and versatile ingredient but also because it is a nutrition powerhouse. Salmon is one of those premium ingredients that is excellent for dogs and can really help them live longer, healthier lives. Here are 8 reasons why you should consider feeding your dog salmon.

1. Packed with protein

Dogs require more protein in their diet than humans do. They use this protein for growth, healing and metabolic processes, and is arguably the most important nutrient for dogs. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AFFCO), adult dogs need a minimum of 18% crude protein in their diet, while puppies need a minimum of 22.5% crude protein. This is one of the reasons why salmon is such a great ingredient. It is very high in protein while also having a balance of healthy fats.

On average salmon contains 22-25g/100g of high quality protein, which is comparable to other high protein foods such as poultry and beef. However, it is also much lower in total fat than other protein sources, with only 13g/100g of fat. This makes salmon a great ingredient option for weight loss and weight maintenance.

2. Perfect for picky eaters

If you struggle with a picky eater, a salmon recipe may be the solution for you. The smell and texture is very appealing to dogs and will persuade even the pickiest of eaters to gobble down their food. One 2017 study even found that when dogs were fed a kibble diet containing either chicken or salmon, the dogs preferred the salmon and showed higher palatability scores.

3. Highly digestible

Salmon is easy on the tummy as it’s so highly digestible.Digestibility is the proportion of ingested food that is broken down in the digestive tract and absorbed into the body. Salmon is one of those ingredients that is very easy for dogs to break down and digest, especially when it comes to protein.

A study by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana found that salmon had a higher digestibility than chicken. The salmon meat used in the study had a total essential amino acid digestibility of 87.8% for dogs! This means that if your dog has a sensitive stomach, salmon may be the solution to calm their turbulent tummy.

4. Rich in omega 3s

Chances are you’ve probably heard of omega 3s and their many health benefits. Salmon is one of the only meat ingredients used in dog food that has high natural levels of omega 3s, up to 4g/100g! 

Omega 3 fatty acids come from a class of polyunsaturated lipids that are extremely important for metabolism and daily physiological processes. There are 3 different types of omega 3 fatty acids; alpha linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Salmon specifically is rich in EPA and DHA. These omega 3s are most notably involved with lowering inflammation and playing a role in the structure of cell membranes. EPA and DHA have been shown to improve cognitive function, especially in association with conditions like Alzhimers and depression. These fatty acids are also involved in maintaining general cardiovascular function and are also important for proper fetal development, including neuronal, retinal, and immune function. 

5. Source of B vitamins, potassium and selenium

Micronutrients matter! Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that a lot of owners overlook, however they play a variety of important roles throughout the body. B vitamins are one of the nutrients that salmon is abundant, specifically:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Folic acid

These vitamins are involved in several important processes in your dog’s body. This includes energy production, DNA synthesis and repair, and reducing inflammation.

Salmon is also rich in the minerals selenium and potassium. Salmon contains an average of 50mcg/100g and 363mcg/100g for selenium and potassium respectively. Selenium is an essential component of several enzymes and proteins that help synthesize DNA and protect against cell damage and infections. Studies have also shown that selenium may also protect bone health and even reduce the risk of cancer.

In contrast, potassium is the mineral that helps to maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. It also plays a role in muscle contraction and one 2016 study even found that in humans, dietary potassium may help reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure.

6. Shiny coats and healthy skin

Omega 3s are the key to a healthy looking coat and soft skin. Omega 3 fatty acids have the ability to protect against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and reduce photosensitivity. Furthermore, omega 3s may also help treat skin diseases like dermatitis and psoriasis. According to Healthline, “Omega-3s moisturize the skin and fight red, dry, or itchy skin caused by skin disorders. That’s because omega-3s appear to improve skin barrier function, sealing in moisture and keeping out irritants.”

7. Helps with allergies

If your dog suffers from food allergies, it may be beneficial to try a salmon diet. It comes as a surprise to a lot of owners that the most common allergens to dogs are actually common proteins like chicken, beef and turkey. Swapping out these proteins for salmon may be the solution to your pup’s allergies. Furthermore, with the extra omega 3s from the salmon, it will help to reduce inflammation, redness and dry, itchy skin!

8. Improves mobility

At some point in their lives, almost all dogs will experience some form of joint pain. Whether it's due to aging or injury, joint pain is usually the result of inflammation of the joint tissue. Salmon is a great ingredient for reducing inflammation as it contains trace amounts of astaxanthin, an effective antiinflammatory compound. Astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoid family of antioxidants, and is actually the compound that gives salmon its pink color. In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, astaxanthin may also be used to reduce the severity of joint disease by preventing damage done by oxidative stress.

Kabo recipes that include salmon

At Kabo, we believe the food is medicine. That’s why we include fresh salmon in a number of our recipes. And the best news is that whether your pup loves kibble or fresh cooked food, we have options for both!

Kabo Hypoallergenic Salmon Recipe

Our newest recipe! We’ve designed our salmon fresh recipe with antioxidants to suit dogs with food allergies and sensitivities. This recipe is also grain, soy and dairy free and boasts fresh Alaskan salmon as the primary ingredient! We're currently working in our kitchen on to perfect our recipe. Stay tuned for the Launch of our hypoallergenic recipe - expected spring of 2022!

Ingredients: Salmon, Potatoes, Sweet potato, Butternut squash, Green beans, Blueberries, Spinach, Kabo vitamin and mineral mix, Rosemary, Dicalcium phosphate, Flaxseed, Sunflower oil, Sea salt


Kabo Hearty Turkey & Salmon Kibble

A kibble formulated with easily digestible ingredients and sources of omega 3. Great for senior dogs and dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Ingredients: Turkey meal, Red lentils, Green peas, Chickpeas, Pea starch, Faba beans, Salmon meal, Sunflower oil, Flax seed Chicken liver, Monosodium phosphate, Salt, DL methionine, Calcium propionate, Taurine, Glucosamine hydrochloride, Chondroitin sulfate, Choline chloride, Potassium chloride, Yucca Schidigera, Carnitine, L-lysine hydrochloride, Inactivated yeast, Zinc sulfate, Ferrous sulfate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Biotin, Vitamin A, Zinc methionine, Manganese sulfate, Copper sulfate, Selenium yeast, Manganese methionine, Vitamin B-12, Riboflavin, Calcium iodate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Cobalt sulfate, Vitamin D3, Folic acid, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus subtilis, Blueberries, Cranberries, Kale, Chicory root, Pumpkin, Spinach, Ginger, Peppermint, Turmeric, Dried rosemary

Terrier asking for plate of salmon
Terrier asking for plate of salmon

View Sources

Health Line. “11 impressive benefits of salmon”. (2021). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-salmon#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3 

Tjernsbekk, M. T., A‐H. Tauson, O. F. Kraugerud, and Ø. Ahlstrøm. "Raw mechanically separated chicken meat and salmon protein hydrolysate as protein sources in extruded dog food: effect on protein and amino acid digestibility." Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 101, no. 5 (2017): e323-e331.

Faber, T. A., P. J. Bechtel, D. C. Hernot, C. M. Parsons, K. S. Swanson, S. Smiley, and G. C. Fahey Jr. "Protein digestibility evaluations of meat and fish substrates using laboratory, avian, and ileally cannulated dog assays." Journal of animal science 88, no. 4 (2010): 1421-1432.

Bhatt DL, Steg PG, Miller M, Brinton EA, Jacobson TA, Ketchum SB, Doyle RT, Juliano RA, Jiao L, Granowitz C, Tardif JC, Ballantyne CM (January 3, 2019). "Cardiovascular Risk Reduction with Icosapent Ethyl for Hypertriglyceridemia". New England Journal of Medicine. 380: 11–22. 

Grey A, Bolland M (March 2014). "Clinical trial evidence and use of fish oil supplements". JAMA Internal Medicine. 174 (3): 460–2.

Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, Summerbell CD, Ness AR, Moore HJ, et al. (April 2006). "Risks and benefits of omega 3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review". BMJ. 332 (7544): 752–60.

Pan A, Chen M, Chowdhury R, et al. (December 2012). "α-Linolenic acid and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (Systematic review). 96 (6): 1262–73. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.044040. PMC 3497923. PMID 23076616.

Swanson, Danielle, Robert Block, and Shaker A. Mousa. "Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life." Advances in nutrition 3, no. 1 (2012): 1-7.

Barrett CW, Short SP, Williams CS. Selenoproteins and oxidative stress-induced inflammatory tumorigenesis in the gut. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2017 Feb;74(4):607-616. doi: 10.1007/s00018-016-2339-2. Epub 2016 Aug 25. PMID: 27563706; PMCID: PMC5274549.

Filippini T, Violi F, D'Amico R, Vinceti M. The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2017 Mar 1;230:127-135. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.12.048. Epub 2016 Dec 21. PMID: 28024910.

Healthline. “6 Benefits and Uses of Omega-3s for Skin and Hair” (2021). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-benefits-on-skin-and-hair

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