Can Dogs Eat Seafood?
It’s no secret that cats delight at the sight and smell of seafood. Many commercially-produced cat foods count aquatic proteins among their primary ingredients, and countless cat owners have opened a can of tuna only to hear paws suddenly make their way across the floor.
What about dogs? Are fish and other types of seafood a suitable part of the canine diet?
Yes! If they’re prepared and portioned correctly, certain types of seafood can make for a high-protein, health-promoting snack.
Can Dogs Eat Fish?
Conventional wisdom holds that fish is “brain food,” a building block for a healthy mind as well as a strong body. Some types have similarly-widespread benefits when added to canine diets.
Can Dogs Eat Salmon?
Yes. This pink, fatty fish is a common ingredient in high-quality pet foods for a reason. Salmon is positively packed with protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Those acids are important for supporting a healthy immune system, reducing inflammation throughout the body, and promoting a shiny, silky coat.
Never feed your dog raw or undercooked salmon. Portions of the fish that aren’t cooked through could harbor a dangerous parasite known as Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which can fatally poison a dog. If you’re scooping canned salmon into your pup’s bowl, keep an eye on the sodium and fat content. Too much of either can lead to short-term intestinal symptoms and more serious health concerns over time.
Can Dogs Eat Sardines?
Yes. Despite the fact that sardines contain tiny bones, it’s generally safe for dogs to eat them whole. The Omega-3s in sardines promote healthy cognitive function, silky coats, and mobile joints. Just make sure to look for brands without added salt or oil. A seal from the Marine Stewardship Council can provide more peace of mind, indicating that the fish inside were harvested sustainably. Other small, canned fish like anchovies are suitable for dogs too, if you follow the same guidelines.
Can Dogs Eat Tilapia?
Yes. If it’s properly cleaned, skinned, deboned, and cooked, tilapia is a safe dish for dogs. Because tilapia is a farm-raised fish, it’s important to browse the shelves carefully to find an accredited brand. Dog lovers should look for certifications from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Global Aquaculture Alliance.
Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
No. Though tuna boasts plenty of protein, the relatively high levels of mercury found in many packaged varieties make it an unsuitable choice for regular canine consumption. A few (mayo-free) bites won’t kill your dog or send their diet into a tailspin, but watch out for signs of mercury poisoning if they’ve taken to habitually snacking on tuna.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Bloody diarrhea and vomiting
- Difficulty urinating
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of vision
- Numbness of the paws
Can Dogs Eat Sushi?
No. The fact that sushi includes raw ingredients is just one of the reasons it’s a poor choice for a puppy’s palate. In addition to contracting parasites, your puppy may inadvertently ingest high-sodium soy sauce or dangerous avocado when they steal a bite. Don’t include the family dog in your next take-out order!
More Safe and Unsafe Fish for Dogs
As a general rule of thumb, smaller, wild-caught fish are the safest to share with dogs. The following types are generally considered suitable:
Swordfish, mackerel, shark, and tilefish are all typically on the larger and older side when they’re harvested for food. As a result, they’ve had more time to accumulate mercury within their bodies than the safe fish listed above.
PetMD generally discourages dog owners from purchasing farm-raised fish of any sort for their pets. Regulations vary from region to region and fish could expose dogs to potentially toxic additives.
Can Dogs Eat Shellfish?
“Shellfish” is less of an official designation than a term of convenience, used to refer to a number of crustaceans and mollusks. Many of the types enjoyed by pet owners are perfectly safe for dogs in small amounts — just watch out for those namesake shells.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Yes. Next time you’re grilling or steaming shrimp, feel free to share a few small pieces with your pup. Shrimp are a low-carb, high-protein snack with plenty of B vitamins and brain-healthy phosphorus. Never feed your dog raw shrimp and take care to remove tails and shells to prevent injuries and choking.
Can Dogs Eat Crab?
Yes. Small, cooked portions of crab can help add more zinc, phosphorus, and Omega-3s to your pet’s diet. Imitation crab meat may be a more economical choice, but the additives in some brands could cause intestinal symptoms or allergic reactions in dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Lobster?
Yes. From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, small amounts of cooked lobster meat are a tasty, protein and nutrient-rich treat. Skip the added butter, which can cause digestive issues after dinner and more serious health concerns if it becomes a regular treat.
Are Bivalves Safe for Dogs?
Yes. Clams, mussels, scallops, and oysters are among the most familiar members of the Bivalvia class of mollusks. Cooked, shelled, and in moderation, they’re all safe for hungry canines. The high levels of zinc in oysters support joint health, scallops pack magnesium to promote nutrient absorption, mussels boast a hefty dose of metabolism-boosting manganese, and clams help dogs get more Omega-3s for their overall health.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Shellfish?
Like their owners, dogs can develop allergic reactions to certain foods and environmental factors. Watch out for common signs of an allergy like coughing, sneezing, excessive biting and licking, and swelling. Reducing exposure to allergens may be enough to alleviate mild symptoms like these, but more severe reactions like shortness of breath and excessive vomiting or diarrhea will require immediate attention to avoid fatalities.
The Safest Way to Serve Your Dog Seafood
Whatever type of protein you’re serving up, the safest way to feed your dog is to opt for small amounts of cooked, unseasoned food cut into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking. Make sure to clean fish and shellfish thoroughly before cooking and remove all bones, tails, shells, and other potential choking and injury hazards.
As with all table foods, fish and shellfish should never make up more than a small portion of your dog’s daily caloric intake. If your pet is especially fond of fishy tastes, your veterinarian may be able to suggest some commercially-produced foods with seafood protein. Never attempt to supplement your dog’s diet or replace their usual food on your own.
Don’t forget that any food can potentially cause unpleasant symptoms in dogs and that your dog’s tolerance for certain foods may change as they age. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any reason to believe that something in your dog’s diet is causing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, sluggishness, or behavioral changes.