Can Dogs Eat Tilapia?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

As long as you choose the right type of fish low in fat and mercury-free (or as free as possible) fish can be very healthy for dogs. They love tilapia for its flavor and safety. The bones in tilapia pose a serious choking hazard to your dog so only serve the fillets. You can serve the skin too.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Can Dogs Eat Tilapia?“.

You may be thinking about adding fish to your dogs menu if you want to spice things up.

We humans are supposed to benefit from it but what about dogs? What kind of fish can you give your pet?

Is it possible for dogs to eat tilapia for instance? As it is a fairly popular type of fish can you also serve your pet tilapia when you cook it for the family?

Generally speaking tilapia is safe for dogs but you should take some precautions and only feed it in moderation.

Here are some tips on why tilapia might be good for your dog what risks you need to keep in mind and how to cook fish for your pet.

What exactly is tilapia?

Since tilapia has a mild taste and is affordable it is popular in the United States and many European countries. Most people however have no idea where this fish comes from.

Native to Africa and the Middle East tilapia is a type of fish. You can probably buy tilapia at your local supermarket from a fish farm in China or Taiwan.

The high profits of Tilapia can be attributed to its ease of farming.

As a result it is able to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions and thrives even in polluted waters contaminated with many pathogens. Is that something you would want to eat? 

For the safety of your dog (and your family) you should look for tilapia raised on farms that are certified by the Global Aquaculture Alliance or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council to use green fish farming methods and provide good quality fish. 

What are the nutritional values of tilapia?

This fish provides only 129 calories per 100g serving making it a good choice if your dog is at risk of becoming overweight. USDA estimates that a regular serving of tuna contains 25 grams of protein which makes up about 52% of a normal persons daily recommended protein intake. In one day one serving of dog food provides more than 100% of the protein a dog needs. 

Tilapia is better than much other fish when it comes to fat. It has only 4% fat or 2.7 grams of fat per serving. 

Although it lacks dietary fiber it does not contain carbohydrates either.

What are the benefits of eating tilapia for dogs?

In addition to providing much-needed protein tilapia also contains vitamins minerals and other essential nutrients.

Tilapia for instance is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial to the heart. These unsaturated fats are also known for lowering cholesterol levels and keeping blood pressure in check.

Furthermore this type of fish is rich in vitamin B12 which supports red blood cell formation and protects the nervous system.

In addition dogs can get a good amount of vitamin D (37% of the RDA for humans) which also strengthens the immune system. You probably know that only a few foods contain vitamin D so you should take advantage of this widely available and low-cost source.

As well as calcium phosphorus and magnesium tilapia contains calcium which is essential for strong bones. In addition to protecting against cognitive decline selenium also protects against heart disease thyroid problems and even cancer. 

Why might tilapia be bad for your dog?

It is impossible to know where the fish comes from and under what conditions it was raised as described above.

Since it might be contaminated with salmonella and other types of parasites you should never give your dog raw tilapia. When its thoroughly cooked all pathogens that might be present will be destroyed.

When you present your pet with the fish you should ensure that it is thoroughly deboned. The size of tilapia can vary between 37 cm (Mozambique tilapia) and 60 cm (Nile tilapia).

The fish can have very long and sharp bones which means their bones can be pretty long. Since you cannot expect your dog to pick out bones from his bowl and leave them there you should make sure there are no bones in his fillet.

Getting a fishbone stuck in his throat will cause him a lot of pain and it is a major choking hazard. If the bone reaches the stomach it can puncture the internal lining and you’ll need to take your pet to the vet right away.

The best way to avoid such risks would be to buy deboned fillets but you should still check them for any bones. 

In terms of the skin if its well cooked first its okay for your dog. 

How should I cook tilapia for my dog?

If you want your dog to benefit from this type of food you should steam or bake a tilapia fillet for him. In addition to frying it you can also bake it but remember that too much fat is unhealthy.

Forget about the seasoning you normally use on the family meal when you cook tilapia or any other fish for that matter. Garlic and onions are downright toxic for dogs while they do not need additional salt. 

Alternatively you can add some vegetables. These vegetables are all high in fiber and would make a delicious side dish with the tilapia fillet. If your dog has a sensitive stomach give him steamed tilapia and plain cooked rice. 

In case your dog does not like the new dog food you just bought you can cut a tilapia fillet into small pieces and mix it with his kibble. 

Tilapia is a favorite treat for many dogs so you can give it to them as a special treat. As a reward for good behavior or to hide medications your pet needs to take you can use fish during training sessions. 

How much tilapia can my dog eat?

There is no reason why your dog should not have tilapia every day as long as its well-cooked. He would not suffer any harm from it.

However you should keep your dogs nutritional requirements in mind. Since this type of fish does not contain fiber his digestive system might be adversely affected.

Furthermore a dogs diet must contain some carbohydrates to keep him energetic. 

You should not only offer one type of food to your dog no matter how healthy it is to make sure your pet gets all the vitamins and minerals he needs. 

You should aim for moderation so serving him tilapia fillets twice a week will be just fine. 

Make sure to give your dog a small bite of tilapia when you feed it for the first time.

There is a small chance of a dog being allergic to fish but you need to make sure tilapia agrees with his stomach.

Double the serving the next time if your dog does not get a tummy ache.  

What fish is best for dogs?

As a treat or a full meal experts recommend giving your dog fish several times a week.

Dogs are best fed the following fish:

  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Whitefish
  • Flounder
  • Catfish
  • Herring
  • Tuna (light tuna canned in water)

So your dog does not contract parasites debone the fish and cook it well. Another thing to remember is that many types of fish have high mercury levels in their meat and bones. Mercury levels are generally lower in small fish with a short life span than in large fish. 

As far as tilapia is concerned it probably comes from a farm rather than the heavily polluted ocean. Mercury probably wasnot as prevalent in the fish as it was in wild-caught fish. Alternatively farmed fish may contain high levels of antibiotics in their meat bones and skin.

What fish are bad for dogs?

The main concern with fish is what contaminants it might contain. Experts say that the following types of fish are not recommended for dogs due to mercury content:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Albacore tuna
  • King mackerel

It has been shown that these contain high levels of mercury so stay away from them. 


As long as you choose the right type of fish low in fat and mercury-free (or as free as possible) fish can be very healthy for dogs. They love tilapia for its flavor and safety. The bones in tilapia pose a serious choking hazard to your dog so only serve the fillets. You can serve the skin too. 

Also make sure the fish is well cooked. It can either be steamed or baked and you can also add a few vegetables if you want. You can track your dog into eating vegetables by mixing them with fish such as tilapia if he does not like them.

If you want to read more about dog food tips read here: Dog Food Tips and Tricks.

Can Dogs Eat Tilapia? (Watch Video)

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