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, like most other fish, 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 can provide a range of health benefits. These include the improvement of a dog’s skin and coat, improved brain function, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
While these effects are often overstated or exaggerated, there is indisputable evidence that the Omega Fatty Acids can provide a noticeable benefit.
Vitamins & Minerals
Salmon contains a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
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 Potassium and Selenium. While the level of these minerals is high in wild Salmon, it is still notable in farmed Salmon, which is the variety that is likely present in dog food.
Selenium can help a dog maintain healthy Bones. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure and prevent strokes.
Salmon Vs. Salmon Meal
To many dog owners, meat meal or fish meal is an offputting ingredient. However, it should not be. Fish Meal is merely fish that has undergone a process to remove the majority of its moisture. Most fish ingredients contain up to 80% moisture, so once this 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. 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.
While Salmon Meal is not uncommon, there are two types of fish meals that are more common. These are Menhaden Fish meal and Ocean Fish Meal. These ingredients are lower cost than Salmon Meal but are still very nutritious. Find out more about both of these in our articles Menhaden Fish Meal in Dog Food and Ocean Fish Meal In Dog Food.
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 other fish.
However, there are some other fish with high levels of the Omega Fatty Acids, such as Mackerel and Herring.
It is worth noting that fish meals such as Menhaden Fish Meal often have most of their oils removed. This lack of oils is unfortunate and may mean that you should look towards whole fish ingredients if you wish to maximize the Omega Fatty Acid content 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.
When small amounts of mercury are consumed for a prolonged period, mercury levels in a dog’s body can build up.
This build-up can cause some adverse health effects, which can be seriously harmful or damaging. The results can vary in severity but can include cognitive issues, difficulties walking or balancing, and kidney failure.
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 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 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 noting that the Salmon found in dog food 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 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.
The original range offers a variety of different meat and fish ingredients, one of which is a Salmon Recipe.
While Salmon is the primary ingredient, it 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. They sell a variety of dog food formulas, including some that are grain-free and some that use grains. One of Victor’s most significant trait is that they are very cost-effective. This cost-effectiveness is in part thanks to the large volume they sell their products in which can be as large as forty pounds.
Yukon River is one of the best of 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 also featured in other Salmon based formulas discussed in this article.
The carbohydrates of Yukon River are 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 ranges best. 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.
While not revolutionary, their 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 ingredients form a reliable template. While not quite as nutritious as some of the ranges other formulas, the Salmon recipe is still very satisfactory.
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 brand owned and sold by Chewy. Chewy is one of the largest online retailers of pet food and one which 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.
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 is typical of modern dry dog food.
Sadly, this formula makes use of Pea Protein. Pea Protein inflates the overall level of protein in a dog food formula and is inferior to animal or fish-based protein. Find out more about Pea Protein in our article Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Flour, and Pea Fiber in Dog Food.
Zignature is a market leader in the Limited Ingredient space and produces several formulas that could be classified as novel meat formulas. The most well known of these is their Kangaroo Formula, which was the first Kangaroo based dog food recipe to become popular.
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 include Pork, Lamb, Turkey, and Salmon.
The Salmon formula 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.
These fish ingredients are combined with a mix of legumes, including Chickpeas and Peas. Sadly the formula also uses Pea Flour, which is a vegetable by-product. Pea Flour is considered inferior to whole Peas.
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.
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 dry dog food recipes make use of the grain Millet. Millet is not considered to be quite as advantageous as other grains like Brown Rice and Oats, but believe it to be far superior to the other lower-quality grains such as Wheat and Corn. Find out more about Millet in our article Millet In Dog Food.
The Duck & Salmon Meal Formula featured above 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. 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.
Nature’s Logic has a number of other formulas, including but sadly does not produce one that only uses Salmon. However, there is a formula that utilizes Sardines, which is an unusual fish ingredient in dog food.
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, who own 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.
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.
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. Both of these fish ingredients are less commonly found in dog food, but they are 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 by-products. These vegetables also offer 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 many 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 and are often split between their sub-brands freestyle and medal series.
The formula shown above is the freestyle recipe that features Salmon. It also contains 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 their health and energy.
The regulars of Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Chickpeas are present in reasonable proportions. These provide a fair proportion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
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 the others mentioned in this article. However, they do produce a few select formulas that we rate highly.
Solid Gold recipes and products 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 Ocean Fish meal. 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. Find out more about Chicken Fat in our article, Chicken Fat In Dog Food.
The formula 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 it’s only nutritional value is fiber.