What Are Salmon?
Salmon is one of the most common breeds of fish and are native to North America and Europe. Salmon can vary in size tremendously and can be as large as 60kg or 150cm in length. However, most Salmon are far smaller than this and are around 120cm and 30kg.
Salmon live most of their lives in the ocean but return to rivers and tributaries to breed. The Salmon have to then swim upriver, often through and over difficult terrain. This upstream swim is a strange phenomenon, and many people gather to witness this spectacle at various locations.
While manufacturers have always tried to make use of cheaper fish ingredients, Salmon has been a common ingredient in dog food for decades. With increased awareness around nutrition for dogs and ingredient quality, the use of Salmon is likely to continue and expand.
Salmon Nutrition For Dogs
Salmon, like most other fish ingredients, contains a very satisfactory proportion of protein. Protein from fish includes the full range of amino acids required, which means dogs will not need to synthesize any of these themselves. Protein is incredibly essential for dogs and is used to grow, maintain, and repair a dog’s muscles and tissues.
Also, protein from fish is far more digestible than protein from plant-based ingredients such as legumes or grains. This increased digestibility means that a dog will need a smaller portion to absorb the required quantity of protein.
Omega Fatty Acids
Salmon contains one of the highest levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids of any common fish ingredient.
As we regularly discuss on this site, the Omega 3 Fatty Acids are believed to provide a range of health benefits to dogs. These benefits include an improvement in the condition of a dog’s skin and coat, improved brain function, and a reduced risk of select diseases and health issues.
While these benefits of the Omega Fatty Acids are often overstated or exaggerated, there is indisputable evidence that the Omega Fatty Acids can provide a noticeable benefit when taken regularly.
While it is not required, many pet food brands display the levels of the Omega Fatty Acids on their Guaranteed Analysis. We’d recommend checking these levels on any Salmon-based recipe you are considering.
Vitamins & Minerals
Salmon contains a number of vitamins and minerals that could be beneficial to a dog’s health and wellbeing.
Salmon contains a noteworthy level of almost all of the B Vitamins, including Vitamin B3, B6, and B12. These B Vitamins can reduce inflammation and improve the function of a dog’s brain and nerves.
Salmon contains high levels of the minerals Potassium and Selenium. The level of these minerals is high in wild Salmon, but it is still notable in farmed Salmon, which is the variety that is likely present in most dog food recipes.
Selenium can help a dog maintain healthy Bones, while Potassium can help regulate blood pressure and prevent strokes.
Salmon Vs. Salmon Meal
To many dog owners, meat meals or fish meals are an offputting ingredient. However, they should not be dismissed so easily. Fish Meal is merely fish that has undergone a process to remove the majority of its moisture (also known as water). Most fish ingredients contain up to 80% moisture, so once this moisture is removed, a very nutrient-dense ingredient is left behind.
Fish Meal will contain significantly more protein and fat on a gram for gram basis than whole fish ingredients. Therefore if a Fish Meal is the first listed ingredient on a dog food recipe, you can be sure there is a significant portion of the fish present.
Whereas if a whole fish ingredient is listed first, there may not be a significant portion remaining once its moisture has been cooked off.
While Salmon Meal is not an uncommon addition to dog food recipes, there are two types of fish meals that are far more common. These are Menhaden Fish meal and Ocean Fish Meal. These fish meal ingredients are lower cost than Salmon Meal but are still very nutritious and not considered to be low-quality additions by most.
Salmon Vs. Other Fish
Most fish ingredients provide very similar nutrition, which makes them hard to compare.
Omega Fatty Acids
As we just discussed above, Salmon contains some of the highest levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids of any fish. This factor can give Salmon a lead over many other fish ingredients.
However, Salmon isn’t the only fish ingredient that contains high levels of these beneficial fats, and there are some other common examples, such as Mackerel and Herring.
It is worth noting that fish meals such as Menhaden Fish Meal often have most of their oils removed before being sold to pet food manufacturers. This lack of fish oils is unfortunate and may mean that you have to look towards whole fish ingredients if you wish to maximize the Omega Fatty Acid levels of a formula.
Low Mercury Content
One advantage of Salmon when compared to other fish is that it contains lower levels of mercury. Mercury is absorbed towards the start of the ocean food chain and is then passed on to predatory fish like Salmon.
When small amounts of mercury are consumed by a dog for a prolonged period, the mercury levels in a dog’s body can build up.
This build-up can cause some adverse health effects, which in rare cases can be seriously harmful or damaging. The results of these extreme examples can vary in severity but can include cognitive issues, difficulties walking or balancing, and kidney failure.
However, it is worth noting that the vast majority of commercial dog food does not contain dangerous levels of mercury, and there is unlikely to be any significant build up after years of eating the food.
Many consumers are used to the high price of Salmon from their local grocery store or fish market. Given these prices, it is hard to understand how dog food manufacturers can produce 25-pound bags of dog food with Salmon as the first listed ingredient.
However, what many consumers do not realize is that only the most aesthetic and visually appealing cuts of Salmon make it to the grocery store shelves. This focus on aesthetics pushes up the price and turns Salmon into a premium product.
The less attractive cuts of Salmon aren’t sent straight for alternative purposes like the production of dog food. Instead, they are used to make processed foods for human consumption where a clean fish fillet isn’t required.
However, some of this excess or undesired Salmon may head the way of dog food manufacturers.
It is also worth pointing out that the Salmon found in dog food recipes is almost certainly from a commercial fish farm and not wild Salmon. This prevalence is as commercially farmed Salmon is significantly cheaper than wild Salmon as they can be grown faster and more consistently.
Raw Salmon – Best To Avoid
Certain types of raw fish, including Salmon, can carry a deadly parasite called Nanophyetus Salmincola. While the parasite itself is somewhat harmless if it is infected with a rickettsial organism called Neorickettsia Helminthoeca, the consequences can be disastrous. This harmful parasite is most common in the Western United States.
Symptoms of this can include vomiting, fever, and weakness. The issue is treatable if caught in time, so we strongly recommend that if your dog has consumed raw fish such as Salmon recently and is showing symptoms to see a veterinary professional as soon as possible.
For more information on this topic, check out this article by Washing State University.
Best Dog Food With Salmon
Nature’s Variety Instinct’s Original range is a safe bet for almost all dogs of any shape and size. While the brand may be better known for its selection of raw and semi-raw formulas, their traditional dry food recipes provide excellent nutrition at an affordable price.
Read more about Nature’s Variety Instinct here.
The original range offers a variety of different meat and fish ingredients, including less common ingredients like Rabbit or Lamb, but lucky for us, they also have a Salmon Recipe.
While Salmon is the primary ingredient, the recipe also contains Menhaden Fish Meal and Herring Meal, which are two other higher-quality fish meals. This combination sums to an imposing total, and it provides a very satisfactory proportion of protein and fat, which would be suitable for dogs of all activity levels.
Given the substantial portion of fish present, it will come as no surprise that this formula can provide a very satisfactory level of the Omega Fatty Acids. This high level is sure to help prevent Heart Disease as well as improve the health of a dog’s skin and coat.
Finally, these fish ingredients are combined with a small portion of vegetables, such as Peas and Tapioca. These provide a portion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber to aid digestion. Tapioca is a starch common to South America.
Find out more about Tapioca in our article Tapioca In Dog Food.
Victor Yukon River Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Review
Victor is a well known and popular dog food brand across the United States. They sell a variety of dog food formulas, including some that are grain-free and some that are grain-inclusive.
One of Victor’s most significant traits is that they are very cost-effective compared to other dog food brands. This cost-effectiveness is in part thanks to the large volume they sell their products in, which can be as large as forty plus pounds.
If you want to read our in-depth Victor review, you can find it here.
Yukon River is one of the best recipes from their grain-free range and provides very satisfactory nutrition. Its nutritional profile includes an above-average proportion of protein and fat and a modest proportion of carbohydrates.
This nutrition is thanks to a variety of fish ingredients. This includes Salmon and Menhaden Fish Meal. This combination is common and has and will be featured in other Salmon based formulas discussed in this article.
The carbohydrate content of the Yukon River recipe is provided by a portion of Sweet Potatoes and Peas. Both of these ingredients are considered to be preferred vegetables and can provide other benefits beyond their carbohydrate content.
Canidae is a well known and easily accessible dog food brand, and they have an extensive selection of products spread among many ranges. The Grain-Free Pure range is one which we have investigated thoroughly, and we have reviewed a number of its formulas in a positive light.
The Sea formula is one of the range’s best recipes, and it contains several fish ingredients, including Salmon and Menhaden Fish. All of these fish ingredients would be considered high-quality and highly digestible sources of protein and fat for a dog.
The formula also includes Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and White Potatoes. These three ingredients are considered to be some of the better carbohydrate-providing ingredients assuming their portion size is modest.
Due to Salmon being the primary ingredient, the formula has a very impressive level of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids that many of the other recipes in the Grain Pure Range do not possess.
Many pet owners will be familiar with Merrick, and it is another brand that produces many highly rated recipes. One of Merrick’s most significant advantages is the sheer size of their product range, with many of their competitor’s paling in comparison to the dozens of recipes on offer.
While not revolutionary, Merrick’s Grain-Free range focuses on a core meat or fish ingredient and a mix of Sweet Potatoes, Legumes, and small amounts of other vegetables.
These core and regular ingredients form a reliable template to ensure all recipes within the range are consistent. While not quite as nutritious as some of the range’s other formulas, the Salmon recipe from Merrick is still very satisfactory.
While Salmon may once again be the primary ingredient, the formula doesn’t just include Salmon and also contains smaller amounts of other fish like Whitefish, which are equally nutritious.
Once again, thanks to Salmon being the first listed ingredient on the recipe, the level of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids is more than satisfactory and is sure to provide benefit.
American Journey is a relatively new brand that is owned and sold by Chewy. Chewy is one of the largest online retailers of pet food and a brand that has exploded in popularity in the last few years.
Chewy offers significant discounts on first-time purchases of their American Journey products as well as very competitive pricing and subscription discounts, which is why the brand has seen such growth.
If you would like to learn more about Chewy’s strengths and its low cost, head on over to our American Journey Review.
It is a convenient coincidence that one of the best adult recipes from American Journey is Salmon & Sweet Potato. As the name might suggest, the formula’s primary ingredient is Salmon, but it also makes use of poultry ingredients like Chicken and Turkey.
This mix of poultry and fish provides a satisfactory proportion of high-quality protein and fat. As with almost all the formulas in this article, the level of the Omega Fatty Acids is well above average and is sufficient to provide a range of health benefits.
Sweet Potatoes are not the only vegetable ingredient present as Peas and Chickpeas are also present. This mix of legumes and starch ingredients is typical of modern dry dog food.
Sadly, this formula makes use of a small portion of the vegetable by-product – Pea Protein. Pea Protein can be used to inflate the overall level of protein in a dog food formula, and some consider it to be inferior to animal or fish-based protein.
However, given American Journey’s low price point, you would struggle to find a similar recipe that doesn’t use ingredients like Pea Protein.
If you’d like to find out more about Pea Protein, head on over to our article Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Flour, and Pea Fiber in Dog Food.
Zignature is a market leader in the Limited Ingredient dog food space and produces several formulas that could be classified as novel meat formulas. The most well known of these novel meat recipes is their Kangaroo Formula, which was the first Kangaroo based dog food recipe to become popular.
If you’d like to learn more about Zignature, we recommend you read our Zignature Brand Review.
While Zignature has some other unusual or uncommon meat or fish ingredients based formulas, such as Goat or Guinea Fowl, they also stock some more common ingredients. Examples of these regular meat and fish ingredients include Pork, Lamb, Turkey, and Salmon.
The Salmon formula from Zignature uses the same mold as its sister recipes. A mix of Salmon and Salmon Meal are the only fish ingredients present and supply the bulk of the formulas protein and fat.
Many consumers are afraid of meat meals like Salmon Meal, but they should not be. This simply means that the ingredient has been processed to remove the bulk of its moisture, leaving behind an extremely nutritionally dense ingredient.
These fish ingredients are combined with a mix of legumes, including Chickpeas and Peas. These legumes provide carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Sadly this formula, along with many others from Zignature, uses Pea Flour, which is another vegetable by-product. Pea Flour is considered inferior to whole Peas by many and is a dense source of carbohydrates.
Nature’s Logic is a brand that many consumers are unfamiliar with, but their popularity is rising, and their recipes plug an essential gap in the premium and hypoallergenic dog food market.
Many in the industry dissuade from suggesting dog food formulas that are high in grains. This adversity is as they believe them to be low-quality ingredients or that they are highly processed.
However, for those dogs who do not react positively to other vegetable and starch ingredients, then they are a necessity. For example, dogs with a severe Pea and Legume allergy may need to consider dog food formulas with grains as there are limited alternatives.
Nature’s Logic’s core dry dog food recipes make use of the grain Millet. Millet is not considered to be quite as advantageous by some as other grains like Brown Rice and Oats, but many believe it to be far superior to the other lower-quality grains such as Wheat and Corn.
Find out why Millet is considered a positive ingredient in our article Millet In Dog Food.
You can also learn more about Nature’s Logic and its growing product range here.
Nature’s Logic doesn’t have a dedicated Salmon recipe in their range, but they do produce a Duck & Salmon formula.
The Duck & Salmon Formula contains a mix of Duck, Turkey, and Salmon ingredients along with Pork Liver. While Salmon is not the primary ingredient, it is still an important one, and this smaller portion of Salmon provides a much-needed dose of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
The Pork Liver can provide many minerals and vitamins that traditional meat cuts can not as well as enhance flavor.
Nature’s Logic has a number of other formulas that are worth considering. In particular, there is a formula that utilizes Sardines, which is an unusual fish ingredient to be seen in dog food.
Health Extension Grain-Free Salmon Recipe Review
Health Extension is a family-owned pet food company based in the United States. What makes Health Extension stand out is that they have very impressive transparency about the source of their ingredients, including an interactive map for visitors of their site to explore.
This level of transparency is unprecedented in the pet food industry and is something that many brands could learn from.
If you’d like to learn more about Health Extension, check out our review of the brand here.
They have a moderate range of dry dog food recipes available, including a Salmon formula, which can be seen above.
Salmon is the recipe’s primary ingredient and provides the bulk of the fish-based protein and fat. However, there is also a smaller portion of Menhaden Fish Meal and Whitefish, which supplement the Salmon.
The plant-based ingredients in this recipe are Chickpeas, Lentils, Tapioca, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Peas. This is a larger range of ingredients than many brands would use, but despite this, it provides a reliable mix of carbohydrates, fiber, and plant-based protein.
Many of you may be unfamiliar with the Crave brand. It is a relative newcomer to the industry and was first launched in 2017 by Mars Petcare, which owns some recognizable pet food brands such as Pedigree and Whiskas.
Crave is the perfect example of dog food manufacturers creating a new brand to appeal to knowledgeable consumers who will only settle for higher-quality ingredients and more appropriate nutrition for their dogs.
While Crave didn’t feature on the shelves of stores like Walmart and PetSmart immediately upon release, it has started to see prominence and is now a staple and likely will be for years to come.
Crave formulas contain a very satisfactory proportion of protein and fat and do not make use of excessive levels of carbohydrates. This type of nutrition could be easily compared to other brands that are far more costly.
This price differential is one of the reasons that Crave is fast becoming popular. The majority of the protein and fat in Crave formulas is provided by high-quality meat ingredients such as Salmon, Chicken, and Lamb.
The formulas offered by Crave are very similar, but there is one with a focus on Salmon and other fish, which we have referenced above.
Sadly, there is one downside to Crave’s dog food in that it contains vegetable by-products such as Potato Protein or Pea Protein.
As we mentioned earlier, ingredients such as these are used to increase the overall proportion of protein in dog foods. Despite this, there isn’t a significant quantity of these ingredients present, and overall the ingredient quality is still high.
If you want to check out some dog food recipes that are similar to Crave’s and are high-quality and affordable, head on over to our Best Cheap Dog Food article for an in-depth run down.
Holistic Select Adult & Puppy Health Salmon, Anchovy & Sardine Meal Recipe Review
Holistic Select used to be part of the Eagle Pack brand, but it is now it’s a stand-alone brand. The WellPet group of pet food brands owns Holistic Select, and they also own other well-known brands such as Wellness and Old Mother Hubbard.
Read more about Holistic Select here.
Holistic Select has two formulas with Salmon, but the above mentioned Adult & Puppy Health recipe is the better of the two. It uses Salmon as its primary ingredient and has a higher proportion of protein and fat than the other formula.
While still satisfactory, the proportion of fat in Holistic Select’s formulas is lower than some of its competitors. This could be advantageous to older dogs who are not as active as they were in their youth or those dogs who are overweight and are attempting weight loss.
Anchovies and Sardines also feature in the recipe as secondary fish ingredients. Both of these fish ingredients are less commonly found in dog food, but they are still very nutritious and palatable.
The formula uses a range of Starches, Legumes, and Pumpkin to provide its carbohydrate content and is free of any grains or vegetable by-products. These vegetable ingredients also offer the recipe an ample portion of fiber to aid digestion.
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Peas Recipe Review
Nulo is an established brand in the pet food world and has product ranges available for dogs of all shapes and sizes. This includes recipes geared toward adult dogs, senior dogs, and puppies.
Nulo produces some formulas that are very similar in nutrition and ingredients and are often split between their sub-brands, freestyle and medal series.
The formula that is shown above that we want to highlight is the freestyle recipe that features Salmon. However, it doesn’t just contain Salmon and also contains smaller portions of Menhaden Fish Meal and Turkey.
As expected, these named meat and fish ingredients are highly nutritious and provide valuable protein and fat to help your dog maintain its health and energy.
The industry regulars of Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Chickpeas are present in reasonable proportions. These vegetables and starches provide a fair proportion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber that is not excessive.
Solid Gold Leaping Waters Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable Recipe Review
Solid Gold is a brand that doesn’t feature as regularly in our articles as some of the others mentioned in this article. However, they do produce a few select formulas that we rate highly and recommend.
Solid Gold recipes and products often have very extravagant and flamboyant names, but nothing is confusing about their Leaping Waters Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable formula.
Salmon is the core ingredient and is accompanied by a portion of Ocean Fish meal. Ocean Fish Meal is a vague sounding ingredient, but it can provide nutrition at a low cost.
Find out more about Ocean Fish Meal in our article Ocean Fish Meal In Dog Food.
The formula also features Chicken Fat, which is becoming a favorite way to add additional fat and flavor to dog food. Chicken Fat is chosen over alternatives as it is much easier to source and is not costly.
Find out more about Chicken Fat in our article, Chicken Fat In Dog Food.
This formula from Solid Gold also makes use of a substantial number of vegetable and starch ingredients of varying quality. This range includes the staples of Peas, Chickpeas, and Tapioca. Lastly, it contains Pea Fiber.
While this is a vegetable by-product, it is considered the least concerning of all the Pea By-products as its only nutritional value is fiber.