My Dog Ate Fish Food: Understanding the Risks and What to Do

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

So, you’re frantically Googling “My dog ate fish food”, and landed here.

Breathe, it’s okay. We’ve been in that panicked mode before too, trust me.

Our bundle of fur, Bella, once ventured into our aquarium supplies and figured the flakes were a 5-star canine feast!

What ensued was a mix of madcap hilarity and nail-biting worry.

If you’re caught in this pickle, don’t fret! This oddly common mishap isn’t as disastrous as it seems.

Let’s understand the why’s of their choices, and how you can address them together, shall we?

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What is Fish Food Made of?

Fish food is carefully formulated to provide a balanced diet for our underwater friends.

It typically contains protein-rich ingredients like fish meal, shrimp, krill, and other aquatic organisms.

Fish meal is made from fishy parts that are not fit for human consumption or are remnants from seafood factories.  

Fish pellets and flakes may also contain wheat, corn, soybean meal, or rice.

Fish oil from salmon or herring may also be present in the ingredients list. 

Some brands may also contain extras like algae, spirulina, brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms to enhance their nutritional value.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Dog ate an ink pen?

Why Would My Dog Eat Fish Food?

Why Would My Dog Eat Fish Food

Your pet may be tempted to indulge in fish food for several reasons.

Being curious creatures, they may find the smell or taste of this new item interesting.

The fishy treat also often contains ingredients that dogs find appealing, such as shrimp or krill.

Smelling this in fish food might make them want to eat a few mouthfuls. 

Another reason could be that your pet is simply hungry and is looking for something convenient to snack on.

If the container of fish food is within their reach, they could see it as a potential food source. 

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: My dog ate an Uncrustable!

What Are the Possible Dangers of Fish Food for Dogs?

What Are the Possible Dangers of Fish Food for Dogs

Fish food is generally not toxic to dogs in small amounts, as none of the ingredients are inherently harmful.

If your pet manages to eat it in large quantities, then that could be a different thing altogether. 

Allergic reactions

Some dogs may be allergic to certain ingredients in fish food. The fish proteins or additives could trigger some pets’ sensitivities. 

It can lead to mild reactions like itchiness, tummy troubles, or skin irritations. Some dogs may experience severe reactions like swelling, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Digestive upset

Fish food isn’t what our pets’ bellies are used to, so it can cause some tummy troubles. 

They may experience an upset stomach, runny poops, or a sudden change in their bowel movements.

Choking hazard

Fish food pellets or flakes can be quite the mouthful for our four-legged pals.

If they try to gobble up big pieces or large amounts, it could lead to some serious choking or blockage issues. 

The dry flakes can also stick to your pet’s throat preventing them from swallowing the food.

Nutritional imbalance

Because fish food is specially formulated to provide the needs of aquatic animals, it may not contain the right nutrients to satisfy that of our furry friends.

This means regular consumption of fish food can lead to an imbalance, resulting in deficiencies or excesses of certain nutrients.

Heavy metal contamination

Fish food can potentially cause harm to dogs due to the presence of heavy metals.

Some ingredients used in making fish pellets and flakes may contain traces of mercury or lead. 

These contaminants are harmful if ingested in large amounts.

Heavy metal contamination can lead to serious health issues like organ damage or neurological problems. 

Bacterial contamination

If you don’t store your fish food properly, it can harbor bacteria that can mess with your pet’s stomach if they manage to chow down on it. 

The same is try for expired fish food. That’s why it’s a good idea to dispose of pet food that has gone bad immediately to prevent any unfortunate accidents. 

Consuming contaminated fish food can potentially lead to bacterial infections in dogs, causing vomiting, fever, or excessive pooping.

Parasite transmission

Fish food, particularly live or frozen varieties, may contain parasites that can be transmitted to dogs if ingested. These parasites can cause gastrointestinal issues or other health problems in dogs.

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Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: Can dogs eat vegetable soup?

Signs of Fish Food Poisoning in Dogs

Signs of fish food poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the specific ingredients and contaminants that affected them.

Some common signs may include stomach problems.

If your dog ate fish food and started to throw up or poop uncontrollably, then it could be food poisoning. 

Other signs may include itching, skin redness, or swelling.

Additionally, if heavy metal contamination is present, dogs may show symptoms of toxicity.

Observe if your pet suddenly appears weak, suffers from tremors, or loses control of its limbs.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Ate Fish Food?

Accidents can happen, even when you’re careful with storing your pet fish’s food. If your furry pal managed to snatch some, here’s what you can do: 

  • First, assess how much fish food they ate. You might not need to rush to the vet if your pet only had a small bite. 
  • Just monitor your pet closely at home to see if they’re going to react adversely to their accidental snack.
  • But if they gobbled up a lot or show concerning symptoms, it’s wise to give the vet a quick call. Keep an eye out for signs of tummy troubles. Let your vet know if your pet suddenly stops eating or refuses to drink water. 
  • And watch for itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing, as these could indicate an allergic reaction.
  • Follow any instructions your pet’s vet might give you. This may include keeping your furry pal hydrated, adjusting their diet, or giving them any necessary medications.
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Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: my dog ate mulch and is throwing up

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Harmful Foods

To keep your furry friend safe from devouring anything they shouldn’t, there are a few hacks you can try! 

First off, stash all the pet and human food in secure containers. Create a special cabinet just for them, away from your pet’s curious paws. 

In my experience, a cabinet that’s lockable and out of reach works best.

Be aware of the food that you need to keep away from your pet.

Some of these no-go items are chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, and artificial sweeteners like xylitol. 

Don’t leave them lying around, and be cautious when you’re munching on these goodies yourself.

Your pet might snatch them while you’re not looking.

Be sure to mind your leftovers and food wrappers!

Our furry pals have a knack for trash-diving adventures, so keep an eye on where you dispose of those scraps. 

During mealtime, make sure they chow down only on their designated food.

It’s especially important if you have other pets or little ones who might mistakenly share their snacks.

Offer them some chew toys. These goodies satisfy their natural chewing instincts and keep them entertained. 

Teaching them commands like “leave it” or “drop it” can be helpful if they manage to get their paws on food they’re not allowed to eat. 

When you venture outside, be on the lookout for potential food scraps or garbage on the ground.

If needed, keep your fur buddy on a leash to deter them from snacking on unknown substances.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Will a small amount of onion hurt my dog?

When Should You Call Your Vet After Your Dog Eats Fish Food?

Is your dog acting strange, throwing up excessively, or experiencing tummy aches?

Are they panting or having difficulty breathing?

If you observe these from your pet, it’s time to get medical help. 

Likewise, if your dog ate a lot of the fish food or you think they got into something toxic, it’s important to reach out for guidance. 

Be extra vigilant if your furry pal has allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients in fish food.

This could mean that your pet will have a higher chance of reacting negatively to its ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is goldfish food or betta food harmful to dogs?

Goldfish food and betta food contains ingredients that may not agree with your dog’s stomach. Goldfish food has brewer’s yeast while betta food contains larvae. These are not intended for dogs to eat. While a small accidental nibble may not be immediately harmful, it’s not a suitable or balanced diet for dogs. 

What if my dog ate live or frozen betta food?

Live or frozen betta food like brine shrimp or bloodworms are meant for fish, not dogs. Your pet may experience digestive issues if they eat these. Monitor your pet for any adverse reaction. Call your pet’s vet immediately if they start experiencing symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting as these can cause dehydration.

What will happen if your dog eats fish food packaging?

It can be risky if your dog accidentally eats fish food packaging. Plastic or foil wrapping is not digestible and can cause gastrointestinal problems, blockages, or choking. Watch out for possible signs of distress or discomfort. 

In Conclusion: My Dog Ate Fish Food

Just remember, while a bit of fish food won’t hurt, our fur-friends still need their regular diet.

Keep your pet’s access to fish food blocked, and keep making wonderful, wacky memories together.

Until next time, happy pet-parenting!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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