My Dog Ate a Dead Fish: What to Do and Prevention Tips

Dogs are curious creatures, often investigating and tasting various items they come across during their daily activities. One such potential item is a dead fish.

These can be found along the shorelines of lakes, rivers, or the ocean, and in many cases, can present potential health risks for your dog if consumed.

When a dog consumes a dead fish, there is a risk for health concerns and potential complications.

It is essential for dog owners to be aware of the potential dangers their pets could face when coming into contact with a dead fish, as well as the signs and symptoms that may indicate a problem.

Proactive measures to prevent, as well as address, any issues are key to ensuring the ongoing health and well-being of your furry friend.

Key Takeaways

  • Be aware of possible health risks when your dog consumes a dead fish
  • Monitor your dog for symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea
  • Take action with prevention strategies and understand treatment options if needed

What Happens When My Dog Eats a Dead Fish?

can dogs eat dead fish

When your dog consumes a dead fish, it’s likely to cause some digestive issues. As the fish decomposes, bacteria and toxins build up, which can lead to a number of symptoms:

  • Vomiting: Your dog may vomit shortly after eating the dead fish. This can be a result of ingesting harmful bacteria or a natural reaction to rid itself of unwanted substances.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is another common consequence of consuming a dead fish. The presence of bacteria or toxins can irritate your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
  • Lethargy: Your dog may appear tired or listless after eating a rotten fish, which can be a sign of feeling unwell due to indigestion or the ingestion of harmful substances.

There are some preventative measures you can take to ensure the safety of your canine companion:

  • Train your dog with the “leave it” or “drop it” command to prevent them from consuming any rotten fish they may encounter.
  • Keep your dog on a leash during walks and supervise them closely in areas where dead fish may be present.
  • Regularly vaccinate your pet and ensure they are up-to-date with their rabies vaccination.

If your dog has ingested a dead fish within the last 60 minutes, it might be beneficial to induce vomiting to remove the fish from their stomach before it causes further issues.

This should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian. If your dog starts displaying severe symptoms, contact your vet immediately for further advice and treatment options.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

dog ate dead fish

If your dog has eaten a dead or rotten fish, there are several symptoms you may want to watch out for. These symptoms could indicate potential health issues and should be addressed promptly to ensure your dog’s well-being.

Rapid Heart Rate

A rapid heart rate is a common sign of distress in dogs. If your dog’s heart is beating faster than usual, this could be an indication that the fish he consumed is causing a problem.

Monitor your dog’s heart rate by placing your hand on his chest and counting the beats per minute. If you notice a consistent increase in heart rate, it would be best to consult with a veterinarian.


Diarrhea is another symptom that you might observe after your dog has eaten a dead fish. This can be a sign that your dog is experiencing some gastrointestinal distress due to the ingestion of rotten fish.

  • Monitor the consistency and frequency of your dog’s diarrhea.
  • Ensure your dog stays hydrated by providing access to clean water.
  • Consider offering a bland diet temporarily to help soothe the digestive system.

If your dog’s diarrhea persists or worsens, it is advised to consult with a veterinarian.


Vomiting is yet another symptom that may occur as a result of your dog consuming a dead fish. Like diarrhea, vomiting can indicate gastrointestinal issues and should be managed with care.

  • Keep an eye on the frequency and contents of your dog’s vomit.
  • Remove any food until the vomiting has subsided.
  • Offer small amounts of water initially, then gradually reintroduce a bland diet.

If vomiting persists or your dog’s overall condition worsens, it is important to seek medical attention from a veterinarian. Remember that timely intervention can help prevent further complications and ensure your dog’s health.

Health Implications

What to do if my dog ate a dead fish

When a dog consumes a dead fish, several health implications may arise, such as parasitic infections, food poisoning, and thiamine deficiency. It is crucial to monitor your dog for any unusual symptoms after ingesting a dead fish and consult a veterinarian if needed.

Parasitic Infections

Dogs can contract parasites, such as the harmful Neorickettsia helminthoeca, by consuming infected fish. This parasite can lead to salmon poisoning disease, which, if left untreated, is fatal in 90% of cases. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration

Diagnosis can be made through a fecal sample or needle sample from a swollen lymph node.

Food Poisoning

Dead fish can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria like salmonella, which can cause food poisoning in dogs.

Consuming rotten fish can lead to gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog shows any signs of food poisoning, consult a veterinarian immediately. Prompt action can help in minimizing the severity of the illness.

Thiamine Deficiency

Fish, particularly raw fish, contains enzymes that can break down thiamine, an essential B vitamin for dogs. If a dog eats a considerable amount of raw or spoiled fish, it could lead to thiamine deficiency. Symptoms of thiamine deficiency include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation

Thiamine deficiency is a serious nutritional concern that requires immediate veterinary care. Treatment generally involves thiamine supplementation and addressing any underlying causes.

Precautionary Measures

dog dead fish

Preventing your dog from consuming dead fish is essential for their health and well-being. In this section, we will discuss important precautionary measures, including training your dog and scheduling regular vet checks.

Training Your Dog

One of the most effective ways to prevent your dog from eating dead fish is by teaching them commands, such as “leave it” or “drop it.” These commands will help your dog understand that they should not consume the fish and risk getting sick. To teach the “leave it” command:

  • Place a treat on the ground and cover it with your hand or foot.
  • When your dog goes to investigate, say “leave it” and reward them with praise or a different treat when they obey.
  • Repeat this process until your dog consistently follows the command.

Remember to practice these commands regularly, as consistency is key in reinforcing behavior. Additionally, consider keeping your dog on a leash when in areas where dead fish may be present to maintain control over their actions.

Regular Vet Checks

To ensure your dog’s health and safety, it is crucial to schedule regular vet check-ups. These visits can help confirm that your dog is free of parasites, such as those potentially found in dead fish, and that their vaccinations are up-to-date. It is generally recommended that dogs receive a check-up at least once a year, but more frequent visits may be necessary depending on your dog’s age and health conditions.

During these check-ups, be sure to discuss any concerns you may have about your dog’s behavior, especially if they have a history of consuming dead fish.

Your veterinarian can offer expert advice on preventive measures and detect potential health issues before they become more serious. By incorporating these precautionary measures into your routine, you can safeguard your dog’s well-being and avoid potential health risks associated with eating dead fish.

Treatment Options

When your dog has eaten a dead fish, it’s important to act quickly to prevent any potential harm. This section discusses treatment options, including home remedies and medical treatments.

Home Remedies

  • Monitor your dog closely: Keep an eye on your dog for any signs of distress or illness, such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.
  • Encourage hydration: Make sure your dog has access to fresh water to help flush out toxins and keep their digestive system functioning properly.
  • “Leave it” command: It’s a good idea to teach your dog the “leave it” command to prevent them from consuming dead animals or dangerous objects in the future.

Medical Treatments

  • Contact a veterinarian: If your dog displays symptoms of illness after eating a dead fish, it is crucial to seek medical assistance. Consuming rotten fish can cause stomach and digestive problems, and expose your dog to harmful bacteria and parasites.
  • Inducing vomiting: If your dog recently consumed the fish (within 1-1.5 hours), a veterinarian may choose to induce vomiting to remove the fish from your dog’s system. This, however, is not recommended to be done at home without professional guidance.
  • Treatment for salmon poisoning: If your dog has eaten a raw fish that carries the parasite Nanophyetus salmincola and the rickettsial bacteria, your dog could develop salmon poisoning. A professional diagnosis is necessary, and the treatment may include anti-parasitic and antibiotic medications.

Remember, it’s essential to act quickly and consult a veterinarian if your dog has consumed a dead fish. Proper care and treatment can help prevent any potential harm to your dog’s health. Encouraging hydration, keeping a close eye on their behavior, and teaching the “leave it” command can help prevent future incidents.

Preventing Future Incidents

To prevent your dog from eating dead fish or other harmful substances in the future, consider implementing these two strategies: creating a safe play environment and implementing a consistent dietary management plan.

Safe Play Environment

A safe play environment is crucial to prevent your dog from accessing dead fish or other hazardous materials. Take the following measures to create a secure space for your pet:

  • Leash your dog: Use a standard, non-retractable leash to supervise your dog and identify potential hazards on your path.
  • Check the area: Before allowing your pet to roam freely, inspect the surroundings for dead animals, remains, or excrement.
  • Teach the “leave it” command: This command helps your dog to avoid eating dead animals. Train your dog using treats at home, and practice regularly to reinforce the behavior.

Dietary Management

Consistent dietary management is essential to discourage your dog from consuming dead fish and other harmful substances. By providing a well-balanced diet and feeding routine, your dog will be less likely to seek out additional food sources. Here are some recommendations:

  • High-quality dog food: Choose a dog food that offers complete and balanced nutrition, ensuring that your pet is nourished and satisfied after each meal.
  • Regular feeding schedule: Establish a consistent feeding routine by offering meals at the same time each day. This helps to regulate your dog’s hunger and reduces the urge to scavenge.
  • Monitor treats and chews: Keep track of the treats and chews you give your dog, ensuring they are not too frequent and don’t interfere with their regular meals.

By implementing these methods, you can help prevent your dog from ingesting dead fish and other harmful substances while keeping them safe, healthy, and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks of dogs eating dead fish?

Dogs eating dead fish can result in various health issues, such as digestive upset, stomach pain, and even bacterial infections. Dead fish could be carrying parasites or harmful bacteria, resulting in gastrointestinal distress or severe illness.

How to handle diarrhea after dog consumes dead animal?

If your dog experiences diarrhea after consuming a dead animal, make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration. You can also feed them a bland diet, such as boiled chicken and rice for a few days to help ease their stomach. If diarrhea persists or worsens, consult your veterinarian.

Can dogs become ill from eating deceased wildlife?

Yes, dogs can become ill from eating deceased wildlife. The carcasses could be contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or toxins that can make your dog sick.

What to do if my dog ate a dead rodent?

If your dog has consumed a dead rodent, it’s best to monitor them closely for any unusual behavior or signs of illness. Also, consider contacting your veterinarian for advice on how to proceed. Depending on the situation, they may recommend inducing vomiting or bringing your dog in for a check-up.

How soon can dogs show symptoms after ingesting rotten food?

Symptoms of ingesting rotten food can appear as quickly as within a few hours to as long as a day or two after consumption. Signs to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Are there dangers in dogs eating dead sea creatures?

Similar to consuming any other dead animal, there are risks involved when dogs eat dead sea creatures. Ingesting these deceased organisms may expose your dog to harmful bacteria, parasites, or toxins. Keep in mind that sea creatures like fish can also have sharp bones, which can cause internal injury if swallowed. Always monitor your dog closely and seek veterinary assistance if you suspect they have consumed a dead sea creature.