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Fish is an integral part of the diet for many people feeding dogs and cats. At my own house, I feed several dogs and cats a raw diet. Over the years my breeds have included borzoi, great danes, toy poodles, boxer, but my specialty breed is Portuguese Water Dogs.

Fish are an excellent "whole food". In an appropriate raw diet, feeding whole carcasses is the best diet to feed your dogs and cats. While this isn't possible for most people all the time, feeding fish does provide the dogs and cats with a "whole carcass". At my house, the dogs get at least one serving a week. The fish on average weigh between 1/2 a kilo to a whole kilo.

Types of fish fed - When we buy fish we buy whichever is cheapest. Depending on the day, this could be blackfish, whiting, red fish, mullet, sardines, mackeral, etc. I sometimes feed eel when I can get it, and on the odd occasion, feed prawns, shark, and crab. If I have raw prawn shells, I will feed these to both the cats and the dogs.

Fish heads - my dogs love the fish heads. Mind you, for many dogs that haven't experienced fish, the whole experience can be a bit overwhelming. But my preference for fish is that it is fresh, whole, with scales and fins intact, and the guts still in. This then provides the dog with the ever so important "whole" food requirements.

Canned fish - When I couldn't get raw fish easily, I did feed my dogs canned fish. While this is better than none, nothing compares with raw whole fish, especially if it is fresh. However, canned fish is a poor substitute, and I would not recommend feeding it regularly.

How often? - I feed the dogs fish at least once a week, sometimes twice. I can usually get fish for around $2 a kilo which makes is a fabulous buy.

Where do you feed it? - The dogs eat their fish out in the back yard, although Judy likes to hide behind the kennel, as she thinks I'm going to take it back off her! At times, my dogs prefer an "aged" fish, so will bury it for 2-4 days before going back to it and eating it.

Which fish shouldn't you feed: I understand in some parts of the world there are some types of fish not recommended to feed. Check with your local fisheries department.

Fish Bones - some people worry about fish bones. As long as the fish is fed raw and preferably in its entire form, bones should not be an issue. I have fed fish to my dogs for over 10 plus years, and I have both top quality show dogs and companion animals. If I didn't think fish was a fabulous food source, I certainly would not feed it.

Puppies - I introduce fish to puppies from 4 weeks of age. I mash whole fish into their dinner, and they learn from an early age to appreciate this food type. I recommend introducing fish as early as possible to dogs.

A word of warning - before you go out and buy fish to feed your dog, remember it does take some dogs some time to get used to it. I'd recommend starting off with a small amount of fish at a time. Cats usually take to fish very easily.

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