What is Fish Meal in Dog Food?

pile of fish

When shopping for dog food, you will find many types of protein in the ingredients such as beef, pork and chicken. In some cases, however, you will find an ingredient called “fish meal” or “ocean fish meal”.

It’s no secret that fish are tasty and healthy for dogs. But what exactly is fish meal? And why is it used in dog food?

What is Fish Meal?

Fish meal is a powder or cake made from fish. It may consist of whole fish, fish byproducts, and bycatch (fish or other marine life caught unintentionally).

To make fish meal, the fish products are delivered to a factory. They are first cooked and then pressed to extract water and oil. Next, the resulting “press cake” is dried as it tumbles in a heated cylindrical drum. Finally, the dry fish meal is ground into powder.

This fish meal powder is then added to some varieties of dog food to enhance taste and nutrition.

Is Fish Meal Good for Dogs?

Adding fish meal is a convenient way to make dog food delicious and healthy. But there are many other options for delivering protein to your hungry dog. So what makes fish meal a good choice?


Animals have loved the taste of fish meal for a long time, perhaps as early as the 13th century when Marco Polo observed livestock enjoying dried fish.

Dogs seem to have a special love for fishy tastes and smells. Remember that a dog’s nose is significantly more sensitive than ours, and they often associate strong smells with great-tasting food. So it’s no surprise that the strong odor of fish is appealing to dogs.

There is some debate over which protein is tastiest for dogs. Would your pup really prefer a bowl of fish over a nice meaty bone?

It may depend on breed and individual preference, but if you’ve ever seen your dog tear into a trash bag containing fish dinner leftovers, you know they consider fish to be pretty tasty.


Protein is a huge health benefit of fish meal in dog food. Dogs crave protein. It’s essential for the development of bones, muscles, skin, and hair.

Fish deliver plenty of vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation, support neural development, and maintain healthy skin and coat. Dog food that contains fish meal is often fortified with these essential fatty acids.

If your dog is allergic to another protein-rich ingredient such as chicken, switching to a food containing fish meal may be the best way to keep your dog energetic and healthy

pile of fish

The Environmental Impact of Fish Meal

Some dog owners choose fish meal for their dog food because they believe it’s better for the environment.

It’s true that other protein sources like beef and chicken require the feeding and slaughtering of land animals. These are resource-intensive activities with obvious environmental impacts and ethical considerations. Opting for a dog food with fish meal reduces reliance on cows and poultry.

However, the impact on oceans should also be considered. Over-fishing is a big problem throughout the world. Fish meal production has rapidly increased in some regions such as Western Africa. This is causing pollution and making life difficult for the local people who rely on fish as a food source.

Not all fish meal production is equally harmful, however. We encourage you to reach out to your preferred dog food brands to learn how they source and manufacture their ingredients.

Which Dog Food has Fish Meal?

Fish meal is typically used in dry dog food. There are many tasty and healthy varieties of fishy food for dogs. Here are a few of our favorites.

Taste of the Wild – Wetlands – Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Check Price
VICTOR Select Ocean Fish Formula Dry Dog Food Check Price
Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food Check Price

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of fish is in fish meal in dog food?

Many kinds of fish are used to make fish meal.

In South America, anchovies and horse mackerel are the primary species used in fish meal. Nordic countries typically use herring, pout, sprat, blue whiting, sand eel, and capelin. In the United States, fish meal manufacturers prefer menhaden and pollock.

Check with your preferred dog food brand if you are concerned about the type of fish used in the fish meal. Remember that fish meal often contains bycatch, so unless specified otherwise, assume that the fish meal in your dog food may contain non-fish marine species as well.

What is salmon meal in dog food?

Salmon meal is a powder created by cooking, pressing, drying and grinding salmon. It is a specific type of fish meal. Some dog food manufacturers add it to their product to provide protein and nutrients.

What does fish meal contain?

Fish meal may contain whole fish and fish byproducts. The fish meal in your dog food can include fish heads, viscera, bones, and other parts that are not typically eaten by humans. Fish meal can also contain other marine species caught accidentally, also known as “bycatch”.

Is fish-based dog food healthier than other types of dog food?

Fish-based dog food provides your dog with plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. It also delivers vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, iodine, potassium, iron, and magnesium. This makes fish-based dog food a healthy choice for your pup.

However, many of these same health benefits can be found in dog food that is not fish-based. Chicken and beef are great protein sources. Many dog foods are fortified with the same fatty acids and vitamins found in fish-based dog foods.

What is whitefish meal in dog food?

Whitefish meal is a type of fish meal made primarily from whitefish. The fish are first cooked and pressed, then dried and ground into powder. After processing at the fish meal factory, the whitefish meal is added to dog food.

Is whitefish meal good for dogs?

Whitefish meal is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals for dogs. If your dog is allergic to other meats such as beef and chicken, dog foods made with whitefish meal can be a great alternative.

Does fish meal taste better than other types of dog food?

Dog foods made with fish meal often have a strong fishy taste and smell that dogs love. Each breed and individual pup is different, of course, but if your dog is reluctant to eat other meats like beef and chicken, fish-based dog food could be worth a try.

man holding fish


There are many ways to feed vitamins, minerals and proteins to your dog. Fish meal, a key ingredient in many varieties of dog food, is a great source of nutrients for your pooch. It may not be as appetizing or nutritious as a bowl of fresh fish, but your dog might just love its smell and taste, and you will enjoy the satisfaction of keeping your dog happy and healthy.