Adding a koi pond to your backyard can add an attractive and soothing feature to your landscape. Unfortunately, some dogs eat fish and may enjoy playing in the pond and dining on your new residents. In most cases, this won't harm your dog, but there are some risks if your pup eats a koi fish.
Do dogs eat fish?
Fish are not a natural part of your dog's diet, but they are carnivores, and most dogs enjoy the taste of fish. That doesn't mean that every dog will fish koi out of your home pond. Dogs aren't the only koi fish predator, so don't assume that your pup is responsible for missing koi. Some other animals that eat koi include raccoons and birds.
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Watch your dog and monitor his behavior around the koi pond. Some water-loving dogs may simply want to swim in the water, while others may enjoy the view of the moving fish. However, if you notice your pup is getting focused and appears ready to hunt, it may be a good idea to take steps to protect your fish from your dog.
Risks of eating koi fish
Pet experts have not come to a consensus about whether or not it is safe and healthy for dogs to eat fish. After all, fish are a good source of vitamins and omega-3s. In general, it is best to feed your dog high-quality commercial dog food, and if your dog eats fish on occasion, this is unlikely to cause problems.
However, there are some risks to consider. Fishbones can cause problems for dogs. Not only are they a choking hazard, but they can splinter and injure your dog's digestive tract.
Salmon poisoning in dogs
Koi fish may be hosts to parasites and bacteria that can infect your dog. For example, flukes are a common problem for koi fish. While flukes themselves aren't a problem for dogs, some of these parasites carry the bacteria Neorickettsia helminthoeca. In dogs, this infection is commonly called salmon poisoning, and it is most common in the Pacific Northwest.
Symptoms of salmon poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weakness, eye and nasal discharge, and muscle tremors. It can be treated with antibiotics, although in severe cases, dogs may need supportive care, including intravenous fluids and anti-nausea and diarrhea medication.
Pond water safety
Even if your dog doesn't successfully hunt koi fish, drinking pond water can be dangerous. Maintain your koi pond to keep it clean and safe for both your koi and your dog. Watch out for algae bloom that can be toxic to your animals. Avoid using chlorine and copper sulfate cleaners in the pond and make sure that yard care products, such as herbicides and fertilizers, don't run off into the pond.
Keep dogs away from ponds
There are some steps you can take to stop your dog from eating koi fish. If you want to keep your pup out of the pond completely and aren't able to supervise her regularly, consider adding fencing around the pond. You can also teach your dog obedience commands, such as "leave it," to call your dog away from the pond when she gets too focused on the koi fish. Make sure to provide toys and bones and exercise your dog regularly to prevent boredom that may cause her to direct her focus to the fish.
You can also add netting on top of the pond to protect your fish from your dog and other predators. Make sure the pond habitat offers hiding spots for your koi fish so that they can escape your dog should she jump in the pond.