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Can My Dog Eat This?

Your Dog Will Love This Mackerel Meal Topper

Give your pup their daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids and other crucial nutrients with this fresh, easy-to-make recipe.

by Rick Woodford
July 15, 2021
A dog with a toy fish in its mouth
Chendongshan / Shutterstock

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Greyhounds are known to reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest breeds around. But as soon as the race is over, they’re ready to take a nap. The Alaskan Husky can achieve speeds about half that of the Greyhound, but can sustain the speed for much longer — all while pulling a sled. Both breeds are remarkable, but each needs special nutrients to keep them fueled and ready to race.

An essential part of their diet? Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be sourced from either plants or animals; each source has different purposes and benefits. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain the fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can help fight cancer and enhance brain function. But what your dog’s body really runs on are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fatty acids that come from meat.

Although dogs can convert some of the ALA into EPA and DHA, it’s not enough to support the body’s entire requirement, which is why feeding your pup omega 3-rich fish like mackerel (or other meat from grass-fed animals) two to three times per week is a good idea. Not only does it keep them sustained, but it also helps reduce inflammation and furthers cognitive development. 

Whenever possible, it’s best to purchase mackerel without additives like sugar and monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer that overstimulates neurotransmitters in the brain. Mackerel packed in water or tomato sauce is preferable over mackerel packed in oil, because the fish itself contains enough healthy fats. 

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A Guide to Mackerel Feeding

1 cup of canned mackerel has about 300 calories; equivalent to about ¾ cup of commercial dry food. You can replace 10% of your dog’s regular meal with the following amounts:

  • 10-pound dog: 2 tablespoons

  • 20-pound dog: 3 tablespoons

  • 40-pound dog: ¼ cup

  • 60-pound dog: ⅓ cup

  • 80-pound dog: ½ cup

  • 100-pound dog: ½ cup

Key Nutrients

  • Calories 6%

  • Protein 30%

  • Total fats 15%

  • Omega-3 (DHA) 225%

  • Omega-3 (EPA) 123%

  • B3 (niacin) 46% 

  • B12 (cyanocobalamin) 26%

  • D3 69%

How to Make a Mackerel Meal Topper For Your Dog

With a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this meal topper is a must for any dog. Using canned mackerel (or canned salmon) and chopping the vegetables in a food processor enhances digestibility, and there’s no need to cook anything. Don’t worry about those tiny mackerel bones, either. They’re really soft and will break down even further in the blend.

INGREDIENTS

1 (15.5-ounce) can mackerel or salmon

1 garlic clove

1 medium-sized carrot

1 medium-sized red bell pepper, seeded

½ cup frozen spinach, thawed

1 medium-sized red apple, stemmed and cored

½ cup blueberries

DIRECTIONS

1. Drain and rinse the mackerel.

2. Place the mackerel and garlic in a food processor and process until chopped finely.

3. Roughly chop the vegetables and apple, then add to the food processor.

4. Add the blueberries and pulse five or six times to chop all vegetables finely.

Yield: 5½ cups

Serve the following amount once per day, replacing one-fifth of your dog’s normal meal: 

10-pound dog: 1 to 3 tablespoons

20-pound dog: ¼ cup

40-pound dog: ⅓ cup 

60-pound dog:  ⅓ cup to ½ cup

80-pound dog: ⅓ cup to ¾ cup

100-pound dog: ½ cup to ¾ cup

Nutritional Information

133 calories per cup

Protein 42%

Carbohydrate-to-protein ratio 0.4 to 1

Total fats 40%

Antioxidants 38%

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Rick Woodford

Rick Woodford, the man behind dogfooddude.com, operated Dog Stew, a company that produced nutritional, homemade dog food for dogs in the Pacific Northwest. He is the author of Chow: Simple Ways to Share the Foods You Love with the Dogs You Love and Feed Your Best Friend Better.