Open Farm whitefish dog food ingredients with seafood

December 8, 2022

Seafood can be a healthy addition to a dog's diet, or it can be a source of dangerous toxins and heavy metals.

Seafood for dogs can be divided into 3 groups:

  1. The green group – food containers that are healthy and safe;
  2. The orange group – foods that should be given to your dog with caution;
  3. The red group – dangerous food.

The green group contains healthy seafood that can be given to your dog on a regular basis.


Phytoplankton are tiny microalgae that serve as food for all forms of ocean life. They contain many nutrients: chlorophyll, essential fatty acids and amino acids, trace elements, antioxidants, protein, carotenoids and vitamins.

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Phytoplankton is high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both are omega-3 class polyunsaturated fatty acids that support the dog's immune and cognitive functions and are good for the animal's heart, skin and joints. Fish contain omega-3s precisely because they eat phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton can help dogs with digestive problems: microalgae are made up of tiny nanoparticles that are absorbed by mucous membranes (like gums), so they nourish cells directly, without the animal having to digest them first to get the nutrients.

Phytoplankton contains superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant that can prevent cancer, heart disease, eye and immune system problems.

Signs of quality phytoplankton:

  • Is grown on land where there is plenty of sunlight and no radiation or heavy metals;
  • does not contain GMOs, fertilizers or additives;
  • Watered with filtered ocean water.

Phytoplankton dosage without food fillers for dogs of any weight is 1/16 teaspoon per day.

Green Mussels.

Green (New Zealand) mussels are another source of omega-3s, minerals, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants.

New Zealand mussels are a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are major components of cartilage and synovial fluid that acts as an intra-articular lubricant. Studies have shown that GAGs relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation in dogs (and humans!) suffering from arthritis. They maintain joint mobility and protect cartilage and the cardiovascular system.

For dogs, buy green mussel extract in powder form, just make sure it's made from clams that have not been heat-treated, which destroys the nutrients.

Follow the dosage instructions on the package or give about 15 mg of powder per 450 g dog weight per day. If the pet has serious inflammation, double the dose, and after two weeks, reduce the dose to the recommended level.

Another way to introduce green mussels to your pet's diet is to buy lyophilized mussels (not in capsule form!) and give 2 mussels for every 5 kg of body weight per day. Again, make sure that the product you purchase has not been heat treated.

Brown kelp algae

Kelp is a seaweed that is extracted from cold waters (e.g., near Iceland or Norway) and then dried to a green powdery additive.

Kelp is a source of vitamins B12 and C, 17 amino acids and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.

These algae are good for skin, coat, teeth and gums, they improve circulation and support immunity. They also relieve arthritis pain. Kelp contains sodium alginate, which helps rid the body of heavy metals and radioactive elements.

Buy the product made for dogs and follow the dosage listed on the package. The guideline is a teaspoon per 11 kilograms of body weight per day.

Small fatty fish – sardines, smelt, mackerel, herring, anchovies

Fish is a source of protein, calcium, selenium, niacin and omega-3 for the dog. The best way to provide your pet with omega-3 is to give fish, not fish oil, which is unstable and can easily become rancid. Why small saltwater fish? Large fatty fish, which are higher up the food chain, can contain toxins: mercury and PCBs (carcinogenic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls).

The solution is to give your dog smaller, fatty fish. To prevent your pet from contracting parasites, freeze the fish for two weeks and then feed it to your dog. This fish can be given 2-3 times a week. Depending on your pet's preference (some dogs like their fish crispy), you can give both defrosted and frozen food.

Dogs can be given canned sardines packed in water with no added salt. Give a dog weighing 18-23 pounds along with other foods a 100-gram can of sardines a day.


In health food stores, you can find different kinds of seaweed in the form of flat dried sheets. These seaweeds are high in minerals, protein, fiber, vitamins and amino acids. Look for red algae (dulse), seaweed, or Japanese kelp (combu), nori, wakame, and Irish moss.

The seaweed leaves can be toasted or baked and then crumbled on top of your dog's food. Such a supplement soothes the GI tract and supports thyroid, liver and kidney health.

Yellow group – be careful with these seaChewy food


Spirulina is rich in nutrients and high in chlorophyll, as well as more than 50% protein. Like many seafood, it is a source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, omega-3's, enzymes and trace elements. Spirulina can help manage inflammation, prevent cancer, support the immune system, improve GI health and cure excess bacterial growth.

It's a wonderful superfood, but a substandard product contains toxic impurities and heavy metals. One study found lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic in more than 25 items of spirulina.

Before choosing a brand that makes spirulina, do your research. Find out if the product has a Certificate of Quality. Make sure you are buying a 100% organic product with no additives, preservatives, food fillers or dyes. It is better to buy a product of a foreign brand, as control over the production of dietary supplements is lower in USA than in Europe or North America.

Shellfish – crabs, shrimp, lobster

If the shellfish are carefully cleaned and boiled, the dog can eat them. However, there are many pitfalls:

  1. Only clam meat is suitable: it must be fresh and properly cooked. It should not be scraps, shells or tails! A few pieces won't harm your dog, but it is not advisable to give shellfish to dogs regularly.
  2. Shellfish can be dangerous: crayfish are high in sodium and fat; shrimp often contain harmful toxins; and crab meat has too much iodine.
  3. The risk of an allergic reaction is high.

Squid oil

Squid oil is a possible alternative to fish oil in terms of an omega-3 source. Squid oil is high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is great for skin and coat as well as nervous system and cognitive function, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which has excellent anti-inflammatory effects.

Squid populations are increasing and they adapt well to changing ocean conditions, so there is no danger of extermination. The squid has no bones that can absorb radioactive elements such as strontium, and it is not high on the food chain. Tests show that squid caught in Scandinavian waters contain no contaminants.

Open Farm whitefish dog food ingredients with seafood Make sure the squid oil

open farm whitefish dog food ingredients with seafood

However, oils are unstable and can oxidize quickly and become rancid after opening. Make sure the squid oil you buy has been microfiltrated to remove heavy metals and toxins, tested for contaminants, and comes in a dark glass bottle. Once opened, store the oil in the refrigerator and use within 90 days.

Give your dog daily a teaspoon of squid oil per 9 pounds of body weight.


Salmon is another controversial seafood for dogs. This fatty fish is rich in omega-3, vitamin D, protein, magnesium, potassium and iron. Salmon has anti-inflammatory properties and can benefit the skin, coat, and immune system.

Above all, do not give your dog farm-raised fish. This rule applies to all seafood, not just salmon. A huge amount of antibiotics are used in raising salmon. Such fish contains PCBs, which cause cancer. GMO salmon is also produced, and there are no studies confirming that such a product is safe for long-term consumption. So before you buy, make sure that the salmon was caught in the ocean and not farm-raised.

Raw salmon may contain the parasite Neorickettsia helminthoeca. This parasite does not cause poisoning in bears and raccoons, but it is deadly to dogs. To kill the parasite, freeze the salmon for two weeks. To be on the safe side, do not give your dog fish that has not been heat-treated.

Do not feed your pet smoked salmon.


A tasty fish that dogs love, but fresh tuna is high in mercury. Mercury poisoning can be fatal, and regularly feeding your dog tuna will lead to unfortunate consequences. If your dog accidentally eats some tuna, nothing will happen to him. Just don't give your pet this seafood on a regular basis.

Be careful with other large predatory fish as well: pikeperch, marlin, swordfish, and sturgeon. The larger the predatory fish, the more mercury "bioaccumulates" in it.

Avoid canned tuna. In addition to preservatives and additives that can harm your dog, white tuna, which is often used to make canned fish, has 2-3 times more mercury. Any canned fish is a terrible choice for dogs.

Red group – avoid these seafoods

Fish oil.

Fish oil has long been popular as a supplement for dogs. It contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which support the immune system, reduce inflammation, improve skin and coat health, and have a positive effect on cognitive function.

The good news ends there.

Fish oil is extremely vulnerable to oxidative damage. When exposed to air, omega-3 particles break down into smaller components such as MDA (low-bearing aldehyde) and create oxygen-containing molecules called free radicals. Both low-bearing aldehyde and free radicals cause premature aging and disease because they damage proteins, DNA and other cellular structures. This is called oxidative stress. The consequences: inflammation in the body and chronic health problems, including gene mutations and cancer.

Fish oil can contain heavy metals: arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead. They negatively affect the nervous system and cause certain cancers, and damage the liver and kidneys. PCBs and dioxins, which may also be present in fish oil, cause cancer and lead to endocrine and reproductive disorders and skin problems.


Tilapia is a popular fish with a mild taste and relatively low cost. It ranks second only to carp in terms of farmed production. This means that tilapia is not highly nutritious because farmed fish are usually fed GMO corn and soybean meal. Because farm tilapia does not eat phytoplankton and other aquatic plants, it is low in omega-3. It does, however, contain a lot of omega-6, which is why there is the expression "tilapia is worse than bacon."

The main supplier of farmed tilapia is China, where low-quality feed is often used and the fish are raised in overcrowded, dirty ponds. This means that farmed fish often contain pesticides and antibiotics that are used to prevent disease.

Fish Bones.

Brittle, sharp and barely visible fish bones are extremely dangerous to dogs. There will always be a friend of your uncle's wife whose dog ate fish bones and nothing happened, but that's no reason to risk the health and life of a four-legged friend.


Because of increasing ocean pollution and the increasing production of farmed fish, not all seafood is good for dogs.

Regardless of your views on your dog's diet – whether you follow the RAW diet, BARF diet, or only use prepared foods – you must prepare seafood properly:

  • Freeze fish that may contain parasites for 2 weeks (another option is heat treatment);
  • clean fish, remove bones and remove shells and tails from shellfish;
  • Do not use salt, spices, cooking oil or butter, onions;
  • Disinfect work surfaces and bowls thoroughly after feeding, and wash your hands if you feed your dog raw fish.

And don't forget: when introducing something new into your dog's diet, start with small portions to rule out possible allergies or side effects.

Shanna Derrick About Author

Author of dog food articles with a deep understanding of healthy dog nutrition.

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