The Scoop on Kippers and Canines

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Kippers, a traditional British breakfast staple, are whole herring that have been split, gutted, salted, and cold-smoked. This process imparts a rich flavour that many find irresistible, including, quite possibly, your four-legged friend. But can dogs partake in this fishy treat?

Nutritional Considerations

Fish, in general, can be a healthy addition to a dog’s diet. It’s a source of high-quality protein, essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. However, kippers are typically high in salt due to the curing process, which can be harmful to dogs in large quantities. Excessive salt intake in dogs can lead to increased thirst, urination, and even sodium ion poisoning.

Moreover, smoked foods can contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be carcinogenic. The smoking process that gives kippers their distinctive taste can also increase the likelihood of these compounds being present.

Portion and Preparation

If you do decide to offer your dog a kipper, it’s essential to do so in moderation. A small portion as an occasional treat may not cause harm, but it’s not advisable to include kippers as a regular part of your dog’s diet.

When preparing kippers for your dog, ensure they are thoroughly cooked and free from any bones that could pose a choking hazard or cause internal damage.

Potential Risks

Some dogs may have a sensitive digestive system or allergies to certain types of fish. Introducing kippers to such dogs could result in gastrointestinal upset or allergic reactions. Signs to watch for include vomiting, diarrhoea, and itching.

The Safer Alternatives

Considering the risks associated with kippers, you might want to explore safer fish options for your dog. Fish that are lower in sodium and not smoked, such as tinned sardines in water (without added salt), can be a healthier choice. Always opt for plain fish, avoiding any added flavourings, oils, or seasonings.

The Professional Perspective

Before introducing any new food to your dog’s diet, especially one that’s not a typical canine fare like kippers, it’s best to consult with a qualified vet or dog nutritional expert. They can provide tailored advice considering your dog’s specific dietary needs, weight, and overall health.


Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional veterinary advice. Always consult with a qualified vet or canine nutritional expert before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.