Chicken and beef are probably the two most common proteins used in commercial dog foods, but they aren’t the only options on the market.
There are a number of other proteins used in dog foods, and some – such as whitefish – are becoming more popular among owners and their dogs.
We’ll review six of the best whitefish-based dog foods below, but first, we’ll explain what whitefish is and talk about why it may be a great choice for your pooch.
Quick Picks: Best Whitefish Dog Foods
- Wellness Core Grain-Free Ocean Formula [Most Fish Protein] This grain-free fish-packed recipe includes whitefish, herring meal, salmon meal, and menhaden fish meal at the top of the ingredient list for an unbeatable protein composition.
- Blue Buffalo BLUE Life Protection [Best for Large Breeds]. This large breed dog food features deboned whitefish as the first listed ingredient along with menhaden fish meal. Plus, this recipe includes chondroitin and glucosamine to help prevent joint problems common in larger dogs.
- Halo Holistic Dog Food [Best Eco-Friendly Recipe]. Halo offers a heart whitefish-based grain-inclusive recipe that’s GMO-free, made in the USA, and contains no meat meals, hormones, antibiotics, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
What Is “Whitefish,” Exactly?
The term “whitefish” is used in several different ways by the fisheries industry. It doesn’t usually refer to a given species; rather, it refers to any number of bottom-dwelling fish with white flesh. It is often used to distinguish the fish in question from salmon and other oily fish.
Some of the most common species that fall under the whitefish umbrella include Atlantic cod, whiting, and haddock. However, the term can also be applied to halibut, hake, and pollock, among others.
In human cuisine, whitefish is often smoked or processed into fish sticks. It is also the primary type of fish used to make “fish and chips” and imitation crab meat.
Why Feed Your Dog Whitefish?
There are a number of reasons to feed your dog a whitefish-based diet, but the following three are among the most important.
1. Whitefish Is a Healthy Protein
Because the term whitefish is applied to several different species, the nutritional content of different whitefish-based foods differs. However, most types of whitefish are quite nutritious.
Lake whitefish, for example, is not only relatively low in saturated fat (each 150-calorie filet contains only 1 gram of saturated fat) but high in niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and selenium too.
Cod, another common species that goes by the “whitefish” label, is also full of niacin and Vitamin B12, and it contains 15 to 20 grams of protein for every 90-calorie portion.
2. Whitefish May Be Useful for Dogs with Food Allergies
Many dogs are allergic to chicken, beef, and other common proteins, so they require foods comprised of other meats.
Whitefish is a great choice for such dogs, as it is not only healthy, but it rarely triggers allergies. However, it is important to note that many whitefish-based recipes also contain chicken or salmon products, so be sure to scrutinize ingredient lists carefully when making your choice.
3. Many Dogs Love the Taste of Whitefish
Some dogs find whitefish to be particularly tasty, so recipes featuring this protein can be very helpful for feeding finicky dogs.
However, once again, it is important to point out that many whitefish-based recipes also contain other fish species, which may affect the food’s flavor.
Things to Consider Before Buying Any Food
No matter what type of protein you’d like to give your pet, there are a few key things you’ll need to look for when choosing a food for your dog. Some of the most important criteria to consider include:
Was the Food Manufactured in a Country with High Safety and Quality Standards?
You don’t want to take chances with your dog’s health, so it is important to select a food made in a country that takes safety and quality seriously. This essentially means looking for foods made in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe.
Is There a Whole Protein at the Top of the Ingredient List?
It is always important to select a recipe that begins with a whole protein – whitefish in this particular case. Things like whitefish meal are also valuable ingredients, but they should appear further down the ingredient list.
Are there Any Artificial Additives?
Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives may trigger allergies or cause digestive problems in some dogs, so they’re best avoided. Fortunately, these types of additives are completely unnecessary if high-quality ingredients are used, so most premium dog foods are now made without them.
Does the Food Include Probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help your dog digest his food more effectively. They may also help prevent upset stomach and help facilitate your dog’s transition from one diet to another. Ideally, you’ll want to look for a dog food that has probiotics included, or use a probiotic supplement to fortify your dog’s standard diet.
Does the Food Contain Any Unlabeled Meat Meals?
While meat meals and meat byproducts are perfectly acceptable ingredients, it is imperative that you avoid any foods that do not indicate the source of all the proteins included.
This means that ingredients like “whitefish meal” or “salmon meal” are fine, but “fish meal,” “meat meal,” and other vaguely labeled ingredients should be avoided.
Best Whitefish Dog Foods
An increasing number of dog food manufacturers are incorporating whitefish into their recipes, but that doesn’t mean they’re all created equally – some are clearly superior to others. Below, you can learn about six of the best options on the market.
1. Zignature Whitefish Dog Food
Limited-ingredient fish-based recipe
This grain-free, limited ingredient formula has whitefish as the #1 ingredient and whitefish meal to boost the protein content of the food.
Zignature isn’t one of the best-known brands on the market, but their foods are very well-rated by owners and each one features all of the things you’d expect of a high-quality dog food.
Features: Zignature Whitefish Formula is a grain-free, US-made food that is formulated with a relatively small number of ingredients.
This makes it a good option for dogs who are allergic to beef, chicken, or grains, and it is also appealing to many owners who prefer giving their dog a food that doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary ingredients or additives.
Whitefish is the very first item on Zignature’s ingredient list, and whitefish meal is also included to boost the protein content of the food.
Peas and chickpeas are used in lieu of corn, wheat, or rice, and it is made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Zignature Whitefish Formula meets the AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines for dogs of all ages – including puppies.
Most owners who’ve tried Zignature Whitefish Formula rave about the recipe. Many report improved skin and coat health after feeding it to their dog, while others mentioned that it calmed their dog’s digestive system. Dogs, for their part, seem to find the recipe quite tasty.
Zignature Whitefish Formula has an impressive ingredient list, but it doesn’t include probiotics, so owners who choose this food should consider supplementing with probiotic supplements or treats. Additionally, while it isn’t the most expensive food around, it may be too pricey for some owners.
Whitefish, Whitefish Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour...,
Sunflower Oil (preserved with Citric Acid), Flaxseed, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavors, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate), Potassium Chloride, Chonine Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12), Lactic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite. Naturally preserved with Mixed Tocopherols
2. Wellness Core Grain-Free Ocean
Protein-rich, fish-based recipe
Features whitefish, herring meal, salmon meal, and menhaden fish meal as the first 5 ingredients for an incredibly protein-packed composition.
About: Wellness Core is one of the most well-respected brands in the dog-food business, and they’ve earned this reputation by producing high-quality recipes like their Ocean Formula.
Made with a combination of fish-based proteins, this grain-free recipe is an excellent choice for many owners whose dogs need or like fish-based foods.
Features: Like most other Wellness Core Recipes, their Ocean Formula is made in the USA and packed with nutritious and delicious ingredients.
Whitefish leads the ingredient list, but herring meal, salmon meal, and menhaden fish meal follow it and serve as supplemental protein sources. Due to the large number of animal proteins topping the ingredient list, it’s no surprise that this recipe’s protein composition is very impressive, clocking in at 37% protein!
Peas and potatoes provide the bulk of the carbohydrate content, but this recipe also includes a variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables too.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are included to help support your dog’s joint health, and four different probiotic supplements are mixed in to help promote proper digestion.
Wellness Core’s Ocean Formula is designed for adult dogs, and it contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Wellness Core Ocean Formula easily ranks among the best foods on the market, and a quick perusal of the ingredient list will show you why. This food contains high-quality proteins and a number of valuable supplements, and it is made without grains or artificial additives. And importantly, dogs seem to find it delicious.
The only real shortcoming of Wellness Core’s Ocean Formula is its price tag, which may put it out of reach for some owners.
Whitefish, Herring Meal, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal...,
Peas, Potatoes, Dried Ground Potatoes, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber, Tomato Pomace, Natural Fish Flavor, Flaxseed, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Biotin, Folic Acid], Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Taurine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract. This is a naturally preserved product.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Fish & Oatmeal
Budget-friendly fish-based kibble for large breed dogs
This grain-inclusive large-breed dog food features deboned whitefish and menhaden fish meal as the first ingredients, providing omega 3 fatty acids.
About: Blue Buffalo is another celebrated manufacturer that has a well-earned reputation for producing really good dog foods. Most Blue Buffalo recipes bear all of the hallmarks of quality, and their Fish and Oatmeal Recipe is no exception.
Features: Blue Buffalo’s Fish and Oatmeal Recipe has an impressive ingredient list. Deboned whitefish is the first listed ingredient, and menhaden fish meal–which not only provides supplemental protein but omega-3 fatty acids — appears a little further down.
Oatmeal, brown rice, and barley are the primary carbohydrates included in the recipe, while also containing peas and pea protein.
Like most other Blue Buffalo products, the Fish and Oatmeal Recipe is packed with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including pomegranate, blackberries, and pumpkin.
It’s also fortified with chondroitin and glucosamine to help prevent joint problems, and three probiotic strains are included to help avoid digestive problems.
Like most other Blue Buffalo products, the Fish and Oatmeal Recipe is made in the USA and contains no corn, artificial flavors, or artificial colors. This recipe is intended for large-breed adults, but it will probably work well for most adult dogs, regardless of their size.
Blue Buffalo Fish & Oatmeal is a nutritious food that contains most of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a premium product. Most dogs appear to love the taste of this recipe, and owners rave about the quality and health benefits it provides (particularly improved coat and skin condition). Additionally, Blue Buffalo Fish & Oatmeal is priced much lower than many comparable options.
There aren’t many significant drawbacks to this recipe. It isn’t a grain-free formula, which may be a problem for certain dogs and their owners, but grain-inclusive is what many owners may prefer.
Whitefish, Menhaden Fish Meal (Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Oatmeal, Barley, Brown Rice...,
Pea Starch, Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (Source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Potato Starch, Pea Protein, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil (Source of Epa-Eicosapentaenoic Acid), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Taurine, Salt, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Dl-Methionine, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Chondroitin Sulfate, Garlic, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice For Color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Kelp, Turmeric, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
4. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free
Grain-free dog food that’s USA-made
This salmon and whitefish-based recipe uses non-China ingredients and is cooked in the USA.
About: Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Recipe with Salmon and Whitefish is an all-natural, American-made dog food that is formulated for all life stages.
Whole Earth Farms may not be an especially well-known brand, but most of the recipes sold under the label appear to be of the highest quality, and they have received glowing reviews by owners.
Features: Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Recipe with Salmon and Whitefish is, like most other foods produced by the brand, made with only the highest-quality ingredients available.
In fact, none of the food’s ingredients are sourced from China, which appeals to many owners, who worry about contaminated ingredients in their pet’s food.
Whole Earth Farms uses a variety of different proteins in their recipe, including not only salmon and whitefish but salmon meal and chicken meal too.
As for carbohydrates, primarily dried potatoes, peas, and chickpeas are used to create this grain-free recipe. Dried blueberries and ground flaxseed also appear on the ingredient list and provide antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, respectively.
Like most other Whole Earth Farms foods, the Grain-Free Recipe with Salmon and Whitefish is made without artificial additives, corn, or soy.
This fish-based food provides the nutrition owners demand and – according to most owners who’ve tried it – a taste that dogs seem to like. It features a number of ingredients (such as flaxseed, dried sweet potatoes, and blueberries) that provide specific health benefits and it’s surprisingly affordable for a premium dog food.
While salmon meal is the first ingredient, additional salmon and whitefish don’t appear until the 10th and 11th spots, which is disappointing. Owners who are looking to avoid chicken may feel frustrated by the inclusion of chicken meal. Also, this formula contains only moderate protein levels.
Salmon Meal, Dried Potatoes, Peas, Dried Chickpeas, Chicken Meal...,
Tapioca Starch, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon, Whitefish, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Dried Yeast Culture, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex), Salmon Oil, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate), Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative), Yucca schidigera Extract, Cinnamon, Dried Blueberries, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.
5. Fromm Four-Star Dog Food
Packed with nutritious ingredients
This dog food features a very impressive ingredient list with whitefish as the primary protein along with potatoes, sweet potatoes and brown rice for carbohydrates.
About: Fromm is a boutique pet food manufacturer which produces a variety of super-premium dog foods. Fromm may not be as well-known as some of the larger brands, but most owners who try their foods – including their Whitefish & Potato Formula – become instant fans.
Features: Fromm Four-Star Whitefish & Potato Formula features a very impressive ingredient list, which is packed with nutritious ingredients from beginning to end.
Whitefish is the primary protein used, but menhaden fish meal and herring meal are also included as supplemental protein sources. Cheese even makes an appearance on the ingredient list and supplies additional protein and flavor.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and brown rice provide most of the carbohydrate content, but pearled barley, oatmeal, and white rice also appear in this recipe.
Flaxseed and salmon oil are included for their omega fatty acids, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, including carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and more, provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for your four-footer.
Fromm’s Whitefish & Potato Formula is manufactured in small batches at one of two Wisconsin-based facilities to ensure the highest quality possible. This recipe is appropriate for dogs of all ages and life stages.
Most dogs appear to find Fromm’s Whitefish & Potato Formula very tasty, and owners love knowing that they’re giving their dog a supremely nutritious food, made with some of the finest ingredients around. And while it includes plenty of common ingredients, like whitefish, sweet potatoes, and brown rice, it also features a number of uncommon (but valuable) ingredients, such as cheese, safflower oil, chicken cartilage, and broccoli.
The only significant problems associated with Fromm Four-Star Dog Food Whitefish & Potato Formula are its high price (you will have to dig deep for a bag of this food) and the fact that they don’t identify the specific probiotics used in the recipe.
Whitefish, Menhaden Fish Meal, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice...,
Pearled Barley, Oatmeal, White Rice, Herring Meal, Dried Whole Egg, Millet, Dried Tomato Pomace, Safflower Oil, Cheese, Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Apples, Green Beans, Chicken Cartilage, Potassium Chloride, Monosodium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Cranberries, Blueberries, Salt, Monocalcium Phosphate, Chicory Root Extract, Alfalfa Sprouts, Yucca schidigera Extract, Sodium Selenite, Folic Acid, Taurine, Parsley, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics.
If you would like to learn more about Fromm foods, check out our in-depth review of the brand here.
6. Halo Holistic Dog Food
Holistic GMO-free formula
This eco-friendly brand offers salmon and whitefish as the first two ingredients, along with hearty grains like oatmeal and pearled barley. Plus it’s made in the USA and is meat-meal free.
About: Halo is a pet food manufacturer that stays true to their mission of changing “the way companion animals are fed and farm animals are raised.”
They do so, in part, by producing a variety of holistic recipes made with non-GMO ingredients.
They aren’t the biggest manufacturer in the dog food game, but most of their foods have received excellent reviews and their eco-friendly ethos has made them popular among environmentally-conscious pet owners.
Features: Halo’s Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe has most of the things you’d want in a dog food, and its ingredient list is quite solid.
Salmon and whitefish are the first two items listed and provide most of the protein content (dried egg product, pea protein, and soy protein concentrate also provide additional protein).
Oatmeal, pearled barley, peas, and chickpeas serve as the carbohydrates, while blueberries, cranberries, and carrots provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep your dog’s immune system operating as it should.
A single probiotic strain is included to help ensure proper digestion, and flaxseed is included to provide additional omega-3 fatty acids. Halo also contains a proprietary “DreamCoat” supplement that adds essential fatty acids and nutrients for healthier canine skin.
Halo sources their ingredients from the U.S., New Zealand, and Canada, and their foods are all manufactured in the U.S. This particular diet is designed to meet the nutritional needs of adult dogs.
Salmon, Whitefish, Dried Egg Product, Oatmeal Barley, Dried Peas, Dried Chickpeas...,
Pea Protein, Soy Protein Concentrate, Flaxseed, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Blueberries, Dried Cranberries, Dried Carrot, Dried Sweet Potato, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Inulin, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), L-Carnitine.
Most owners who’ve tried Halo rate it highly and reported that their dog loved the taste. The lack of GMO ingredients (as well as meat meals of any kind) appeals to many owners, and Halo’s charitable work with the Humane Society is also a selling point among some.
Halo’s Wild Salmon & Whitefish recipe is one of the most expensive options on the market, and it may exceed the budget of many owners. Additionally, we’d prefer to see more than one probiotic strain included in the recipe, but this isn’t a deal-breaker; you can always add aftermarket probiotics if you like.
Always Switch Dog Foods Carefully
No matter what kind of food you decide to give to your dog, be sure to discuss the issue with your vet and make the change slowly. This will help prevent the digestive issues that commonly occur when a dog’s food is switched suddenly.
Typically, it’ll take you about a week (give or take) to make the transition from your dog’s current food to his new one.
- Day 1 – Fill your dog’s bowl about 90% of the way with his old food and 10% of the way with his new food.
- Day 2 – Fill your dog’s bowl about 75% of the way with his old food and 25% of the way with his new food.
- Day 3 – Fill your dog’s bowl about 50% of the way with his old food and 50% of the way with his new food.
- Day 4 – Fill your dog’s bowl about 25% of the way with his old food and 75% of the way with his new food.
- Day 5 – Fill your dog’s bowl about 10% of the way with his old food and 90% of the way with his new food.
- Day 6 – From this point forward, you can give your dog the new food exclusively.
Feel free to tweak this schedule as necessary to suit your dog’s needs. If your dog exhibits any signs of digestive distress, slow down the transition process to give his body more time to adjust to the new food. If the problems do not resolve quickly, stop feeding the new food and contact your vet.
Any of the six foods listed above may be a good choice for your pet. Just make sure that you select the one that will best serve your pet’s specific needs.
Do you feed your dog a whitefish-based dog food? Tell us all about it! We’d love to hear about the things you like and dislike about it, and any health benefits you’ve seen your dog enjoy since making the switch.