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This blog post was originally published in March 2015. It has been updated with new information and republished. Enjoy!
Why is it that the things that offer the most benefit to our dogs have such a strong smell:
- Green beef tripe
- Turmeric (which I kind of like)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Green-lipped mussel (I like this one too)
Now add to the list (to the top of the list) Answer’s Fermented Fish Stock. A potent dog supplement with only 2 ingredients: fish stock and ground, fermented sardines.
It’s Fermented, So Of Course it Smells Bad
Every person I’ve mentioned this supplement too scrunches up their nose in disgust. I didn’t have that reaction initially. All I heard was how amazing this supplement is for dogs (it’s a great substitute for bone broth if you don’t have any on hand) and I picked up four pints at a local pet store and turned around and ordered 10 more pints through our local raw feeding co-op. I was warned about the smell, but I figured that if I could handle green tripe without retching, then fermented fish stock wouldn't be a problem.
I was wrong.
I made the mistake of opening the container, putting my nose to the opening and taking a whiff. Big mistake. Huge!
It smells awful. Worse than green tripe. Over the years, I've gotten used to the smell of both fermented fish stock and green tripe and neither bothers me, which is great because they're both a regular part of my dogs' diet.
Benefits of Fermented Food for Dogs
I began feeding fermented foods to my dogs a few years ago when I was speaking to other raw feeders about the benefits of adding vegetables to a dog's raw food diet. A friend of mine was questioning if vegetables offer enough nutrients to make a difference in a dog's life and while I think they do, I also believe that vegetables provide fiber and food for gut bacteria. Basically, vegetables are great for the gut.
You know what's even better for the gut?
Benefits of Fermented Fish Stock for Dogs
In 2015, each of our dogs had a health assessment by Pet Beastro and we learned that fermented fish stock would be great for each of them, because this whole food supports…
- Joint health – fermented fish stock is high in glycosaminoglycans (chondroitin) and promotes an anti-inflammatory response in the body
- Thyroid health – fermented fish stock is a great source of iodine
- Digestive health – fermented fish stock adds beneficial bacteria to the gut while protecting the gut and easing symptoms of gut disorders
- Helps with liver detox – fermented fish stock helps the body remove unwanted toxins and may improve liver health
- Skin and coat health – fermented fish stock is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids which boosts skin and coat health
- Brain and cognitive health – those Omega 3 fatty acids also support brain health, making this a great supplement for growing puppies and senior dogs
- Immune system boost – because fermented fish stock boosts gut health, it also boosts immune system health (healthy gut, healthy dog)
- Great for dogs with kidney disease – fermented fish stock offsets the low protein diet and helps to reduce stress on kidneys
- Supports heart health – fermented fish stock is rich in CoQ10
Fermented fish stock is also a great food for dogs with diabetes and seizures.
How Much Fermented Fish Stock Do I Give Our Dogs?
When I was first introduced to fermented fish stock, I gave it to my dogs 3-4x a week. Today, in 2020, my dogs get fermented fish stock at least five days a week and I order it by the case. I do a free pour (approximately 5 tbsp) over each of my dogs' meals once daily, however, there are serving recommendations:
- Up to 20 pounds: 4 tablespoons or ¼ cup per day
- 20 – 50 pounds: 8 tablespoons or ½ cup per day
- 50 pounds and up: 12 tablespoons or ¾ cup per day*
* All of our dogs weigh more than 50 pounds, which makes this amount too much for my budget.
How Do We Store Fermented Fish Stock?
I order fermented fish stock by the case and store it on my dog's freezer. And I have two pints in the fridge at a time. I used to transfer the fish stock to a separate container because of the smell, but now our dogs have their own fridge (along with two freezers) in the garage.
How Much Does Fermented Fish Stock Cost?
Fermented fish stock is a little more than $6 per pint retail and you can save a small amount if you order it by the case. I shop through my local raw food co-op, but I have placed an order with a local pet store for a case of 12 pints and it didn't cost much more. What I love about fermented fish stock is that it replaces the salmon oil and digestive supplements I used to buy for my dogs because the fish stock covers joint health, skin and coat health, digestive health, and more.
Can Humans Drink Fermented Fish Stock?
Ummm, yes. But do you want to? I tried it once and I'm not a fan.
Can't Get Fermented Fish Stock? Try Making It
When I originally wrote this blog post, there were no recipes for fermented fish stock online. There were recipes for fish stock, but not how to ferment it. Things have changed and I've found several recipes for fermenting fish. Combine them with a fish stock recipe and we have a version of fermented fish stock that can be made at home.
If you have the stomach for the smell, you can make fermented fish stock in your own kitchen. Check out DIY Fermented Fish Stock Recipe for Dogs (blog post coming soon).
Read More About Raw Feeding
- The Pros and Cons of Raw Feeding for Dogs
- Alternative Proteins for a Dogs Allergic to Chicken and Beef
- Health Benefits of Sardines for Dogs
- Are Raw Fed Dogs at Risk for Hyperthyroidism?
- 10 Simple Raw Food Recipes for Dogs