Can dogs eat seafood? What you need to know

There seems to be doubt among many fur parents about the safety of feeding seafood to your dogs. The consensus is that it is only safe under specific circumstances. Although some seafood, like salmon, is full of nutrients that are good for dogs, you must keep in mind that even if something is considered a delicacy for humans, it could mean a trip to the vet for your pup. But don’t worry, we will boil down everything you need to know to keep your four-legged friend safe and full of healthy and nutritious seafood.

Beagle eating out of a metal bowl

Benefits of feeding seafood to your dog

Seafood is a great and safe addition to your pooch’s diet when prepared correctly. Seafood can complement their existing diet and can help cover some nutritional deficiencies. The main benefits of seafood for your dog are:

  • A great source of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • High levels of quality protein
  • Low levels of fat for weight control
  • Flavor variety for picky eaters

Risks of feeding fish to your dog

When making the choice to add seafood to your four-legged friend’s regular menu, keep in mind that there are risks you must manage and avoid in order to prevent problems. Look out for the following:

  • Introducing toxins, heavy metals, and pollutants
  • Increased risk for bacteria like salmonella and listeria, as well as other parasites
  • Canned fish contains preservatives that are harmful to dogs

Types of seafood that are safe for dogs

The most common types of seafood that you are likely to feed your dog divide into two main groups: Shellfish and finfish. They are both safe for your pet, but there are specific ways to clean, prepare, and cook them to make a good meal for your dog. Brittle bones, shells, and crustacean heads and feet can damage your dog’s digestive system.

Shellfish: In this group, we include marine animals like shrimp, crab, oyster, scallops, and lobster. Mollusks are also in this group.

Finfish: This group includes many species like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and other big fish that have a fin and are not a marine mammal.

lobsters displayed with lobster sign
Louis Hansel/Unsplash

Feeding your dog shellfish

For the most part, your dog can eat shrimp, crab, and even lobster. The seafood needs to be thoroughly cooked — without any spices or seasoning — and must have the legs, shell, and tail completely removed. You want to start feeding them just a small portion since shellfish can cause an allergic reaction. Take it slow until you make sure your dog is not getting any ill reaction to the food.

Avoid any type of raw food, especially clams and oysters. They contain high levels of bacteria, viruses, and algae that can make your dog sick. You are better off steering completely away from feeding your pet this type of seafood.

Two pieces of salmon on wax paper
Caroline Attwood/Unsplash

Feeding your dog fish

There are a lot more types of fish you can feed your dog. Like with shellfish, cleaning and deboning are the first critical steps. This way, you can avoid a fish bone piercing your dog while feeding. Then, you must fully cook the fish to kill all bacteria and parasites.

Never feed your dog raw fish. The risk of infection is just too high and can be fatal in some cases. Some people recommend freezing raw fish for a few days to kill parasites, but we believe the risks outweigh the benefits.

The following types of fish are great to feed your dog when properly handled and prepared:

  • Wild-caught salmon: When cooked, this is a luxury meal for your dog that is full of nutrients and healthy oils. Make sure you don’t serve it raw, since it can transmit a fatal parasite that can kill your dog in a very short time.
  • Sardines: This small fish is a very healthy supplement for dogs that is easy to debone and can even be bought canned in water. Avoid seasoned varieties and oil.
  • Flounder: This is a great treat when served as a filet. It’s full of protein and essential fatty oils.

Fish you shouldn’t give your dog

Avoid tuna, swordfish, and any other big species with a long lifespan. They collect great amounts of heavy metal in their meat, which can have a negative effect on your dog. Also, moderation is key, since too much seafood in the canine diet can cause weight gain and nutritional imbalances.

Another thing to remember is that seafood prepared for humans is always a big no-no. These dishes are normally very seasoned with spices that are harmful to dogs. Play it safe, and avoid feeding your dog food that might be tasty but harmful.

British Bull Dog Eating from Dog Bowl
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

As with every decision you make about your beloved pet, feeding them a new food should be something that you do carefully to let your dog adjust slowly. This way, you can make sure that there are no allergic reactions. Start finding your dog’s favorite seafood!

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