Can Dogs Eat Seafood? Is Seafood Safe or Bad for your Dog?

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The short answer to if dogs can eat seafood depends on the type of seafood.

Some types of fish are packed full of protein, nutrients, essential fatty acids, and vitamins to support your pet’s whole body health. 

Various seafood in a bowl
Fresh assorted seafood in a bowl

At the same time, other types of seafood can contain substances that can be dangerous for your pet.

In this article, we will talk about what types of seafood are beneficial for your dog’s overall health, including their skin and coat, muscles, immune system, weight management, and more.

You’ll also learn about what seafood variants you want to avoid adding to your pet’s diet.

What are the Benefits of Seafood for Dogs?

Seafood can be an incredible addition to your canine’s diet.

This nutritious meat can provide your pet with a whole host of health benefits if you prepare it appropriately and feed your pup the correct type of seafood.

Here are some of the advantages of seafood for your dog’s wellbeing.

  1. Seafood can assist dogs in eating better: If your puppy is fussy about what he eats, adding some tasty, smelly seafood to his suppers can help him wolf down his food as most pets love the taste and the enticing smell.
  2. Seafood supplies your canine with protein: 100grams of salmon contains around 22 g of protein that your dog needs to help build solid muscles and for his general wellbeing. The protein in fish is also easily absorbable and is an excellent source of essential amino acids for dogs.
  3. Essential fatty acids in fish keep your dog’s skin supple: Seafood is an incredible source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids assist with keeping your dog’s skin healthy and their coat smooth and sparkling and assist with supporting your pet’s immune system.
  4. Seafood can make training easier: Seafood is a delicious treat that can promptly be given out when training your pet. Most canines love the taste, and little bits of fish can work as an excellent motivator for your dog.

What nutrients in seafood are beneficial for dogs?

A Golden Retriever sticking its tongue out
A hungry Goldie

Seafood is an excellent source of various nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for your furry friend. Here are some things that seafood contains that will benefit your pet.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

The two primary unsaturated fatty acids in seafood are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

These fatty acids keep your dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling great and help boost the immune system, and they will also help with brain and eye development and function.

2. High protein levels

Seafood acts as the main protein in various dog foods as it’s safe for dogs to consume and is highly digestible.

A 100g piece of white fish has 24g of protein and only 8g of fat, making fish an excellent protein source for dogs that need to be on a low-fat diet.

3. Vitamins and minerals 

Seafood is rich in vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. 

All of these nutrients work together to help support your dog’s vision, skin, coat, muscle development, immune, digestive and nervous systems, and brain function.

4. Antioxidants

Seafood contains antioxidants called flavonoids or polyphenols, which can help ward off chronic diseases by fighting harmful free radicals which cause illnesses like cancer.

These antioxidants also help to reduce inflammation while strengthening the immune system. 

What are the Health Risks of Seafood for Dogs?

A Pomeranian sitting on a couch
A sick Pomeranian doggo

Notwithstanding the advantages of seafood, it does contain some health risks. Here are some of the risks seafood poses to canines, especially if it’s not served correctly.

  • Poisoning: You need to be careful not to feed your canine raw fish as it could have bacteria, such as salmonella and listeria, or worms, such as tapeworms or roundworms, that could harm your canine and cause severe disease. Seafood meat can also contain a range of pollutants depending on where it has been sourced.
  • Choking: Giving your canine fish with bones in it is an unsafe practice. Fishbones, regardless of whether raw or cooked, can cause your dog to choke or can get lodged in your dog’s digestive tract. Sharp fish bones could also end up piercing your dog’s mouth, esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
  • Trouble with digestion: Seafood can cause sensitivities in dogs just as it does in humans. Canines that battle to process seafood could have digestive upset or experience an allergic reaction.
  • Thiamine deficiency: Dogs that derive a large portion of their protein from seafood could end up suffering from a thiamine deficiency. This could have severe consequences for your pet.

What’s in seafood that is harmful to dogs?

Dead fish and plastic garbage on the beach
Pollutants on the beach

Before feeding seafood to your dog, you need to be aware of what in seafood could potentially cause a problem for your pet. 

  • Iodine: Certain seafood variants, such as crabsticks, can contain high amounts of iodine. Dogs are susceptible to overdosing on iodine which can cause a toxic reaction.
  • Sodium: Certain seafood products, such as lobster, can have a very high salt content. Salt can be toxic to dogs if consumed in copious quantities and ultimately lead to kidney failure and seizures.
  • Mercury: Long-lived fish species such as tuna, mackerel, or sea bass accumulate high metal levels over their lifetime. The increased mercury levels found in these fish could be dangerous for your dog.
  • Pollutants: Ocean pollutants like arsenic and cadmium can be found in fish oil or seafood products. These pollutants can cause cancer or damage your pet’s nervous system.

Is There Any Dog Breed Allergic to Seafood?

A Golden Retriever scratching itself
A Goldie suffering from allergies

No, no particular dog breed is allergic to seafood; however, certain individual dogs may develop an allergy to shellfish just like humans do.

The protein content in fish can make it a common allergen, but on the other hand, salmon is also often included in hypoallergenic diets for dogs that can’t eat common proteins like chicken and beef.

Canines with an allergic response to seafood can get irritated skin or rashes, may sneeze, hack, or wheeze, and experience acid reflux or an unsettled stomach.

As each canine is unique, have a go at just giving your dog a small measure of fish to start with.

If your furry friend has a negative response, make sure to stop giving him seafood and reach out to your vet. 

What Happens If Dogs Eat Too Much Seafood?

If your dog eats a lot of seafood, he will probably be inclined to putting on weight, which could prompt heart and lung difficulties.

Eating an excessive amount of seafood at one time could cause retching, loose bowels, or gastrointestinal upset to your pet.

Also, dogs that consume an abundance of certain types of fish, such as tuna, could be at risk of mercury poisoning. 

How Should Dogs Eat Seafood?

A Bichon Frise with salmon food
Mochi the Bichon Frise is excited to eat some salmon – Image source

If you want to give your dog some seafood, keep it to small amounts.

Also, it’s advisable to cook any seafood before feeding it to your pet to eliminate any potential bacteria or worms present in raw fish.

Shellfish will also need to be removed from the shell before feeding your pet, and fish will need to be deboned.

Only give seafood to your dog that has been plainly cooked, and don’t add any extra condiments or salt to the meat.

You’ll also want to avoid canned seafood products that contain a lot of salt and sugar, which can upset your dog’s stomach. 

These products sometimes also contain scallions, chives, leeks, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic contain thiosulfate, a chemical that is toxic to dogs.

Is Seafood a Good Treat for Dogs?

A Poodle puppy eating fish
A Poodle pup having some fish – Image source

Yes, seafood can be used as a treat when training your dog. Most dogs love smelly foods, and the odor of fish can be a great motivator when training your pet.

Sardines, krill oil, salmon, and even seaweed can all be given as a treat to your pet.

Just be sure not to overdo it, especially if your pet already suffers from a preexisting health condition such as obesity.

When should dogs eat seafood?

No particular time of day would be better for feeding your dog seafood. Fish or seafood products that have been specifically prepared for your dog are OK to feed your pet.

You can also bake fish into a delicious dog treat for your pet or look for a kibble that includes seafood so that you can offer this protein to your dog every day.

When should dogs not eat seafood?

If your dog struggles with weight issues or obesity, then perhaps it’s best to refrain from feeding him seafood, particularly fatty fish varieties like sardines. 

While canines need protein in their diet, some dogs with kidney and liver disease can’t consume a lot of it.

Too much protein in these dogs’ diets could lead to the development of bladder stones. Dogs with these health problems should not consume a lot of extra seafood.

Also, as mentioned, some pets can develop a seafood allergy. If this is the case, you should never feed seafood to your pet.

Which Kind of Seafood Can and Can’t Dogs Eat?

A Chinese Shar-Pei eating a sardine
Bear, the Shar-Pei, loves sardines – Image source

Still unsure about feeding your dog seafood? Let’s have a look at the different seafood varieties to see which ones might be suitable for your pet and which types of seafood you should avoid.

1. Salmon

Boneless, cooked salmon filets are an excellent seafood variety to feed your pet. Salmon is included as a protein in many premium dog foods.

It’s also an excellent source of essential fatty acids for dogs and doesn’t carry many other risks associated with seafood. However, it is expensive.

2. Sardines 

Sardines are small fish that are also safe to feed your dog. As they don’t live long and don’t consume other fish, they do not have a lot of exposure to mercury and pollutants.

This is one type of seafood that you can feed your dog both raw and cooked. Just go easy on the portion size as sardines are high in fat and sodium content. 

3. Flounder 

Like salmon, flounder is another fish safe for pets to eat.

Flounder is an excellent source of protein and essential fatty acids for your furry friend, and it should be served cooked, deboned, and without the skin. 

4. Herring and Anchovies

Anchovies and herring are two more small fish that pack a punch for nutrient value.

These fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids to boost your pet’s immune system and keep his skin and coat in top condition. 

Just be sure to avoid smoked, canned, pickled, or marinated versions of these fish which can contain ingredients that aren’t safe for your pet to eat.

Anchovy on white background

5. Krill Oil

If you struggle to find fresh seafood to feed your dog, you can get the benefits of seafood by giving your dog krill oil.

This oil is rich in essential fatty acids, and a tablespoon added to your dog’s daily kibble will give your pet the nutrients of seafood without any of the risks.

6. Seaweed

Seaweed is considered a superfood, granted it has been prepared for consumption and not just picked up off the beach.

Dried sheets of seaweed or seaweed powder can be sprinkled over your dog’s food to provide him with a boost of various vitamins and minerals. 

7. Tuna

Many pet owners ask if their dogs can eat tuna, and the answer is both yes and no.

A tiny bit of tuna in oil given to your dog on rare occasions is unlikely to harm him, but that said, canned tuna varieties do contain preservatives and additives that aren’t good for your dog. 

Also, tuna has one of the highest mercury concentrations of all fish varieties. Regularly feeding your dog tuna could have ill effects and lead to mercury poisoning or kidney damage. 

8. Swordfish

Like tuna, swordfish also has a long life span which means that the meat of this fish has been exposed to more metals.

This fish will put your dog at an increased risk of developing mercury poisoning.

9. Fish Oil

Many pet owners turn to fish oil and not krill oil to supplement their dog with omega-3 fatty acids, but this can be a dangerous practice.

Fish oils can contain many pollutants such as arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, which can cause cancer or damage your pet’s nervous system. 

In addition, fish oil can have a very high salt content which is not suitable for your dog.

10. Shellfish (Shrimp, Lobster, Crab)

A Pug puppy eating shrimp
Biko, the Pug pup, eating shrimp – Image source

If deshelled and adequately cooked, dogs can eat lobster, shrimp, and crab meat.

That said, lobsters are pretty high in fat and salt content, while crabs contain high iodine levels, and shrimp tend to carry pollutants, so you’ll want to avoid giving your dog these meats regularly.

Shellfish also pose a greater risk of developing an allergic reaction.

11. Bivalve Molluscs (Clams, Scallops, Oysters)

Again, small amounts of cooked and de-shelled clams, scallops, and oysters are unlikely to harm your pet.

That said, the meat is packed full of toxins that these mollusks filter out toxins from their prey.

If these bivalves have, for example, eating a fish that has dinoflagellates in its flesh, they can, in turn, also cause poisoning or paralysis for your pet.

12. Fish Sticks and Imitation Crab Meat

Fish sticks and imitation crab meat are typically made from white fish and starch.

While they aren’t necessarily toxic for your dog, they contain little nutritional value, and the high levels of salt could lead to your dog getting sick. 

13. Sushi 

Raw fish can contain parasites and worms, and therefore it’s advisable not to feed your dog sushi.

In addition, sushi can contain other ingredients that aren’t good for your dog to eat, such as soy sauce, vinegar, and even avocado.

Is Cooked or Raw Seafood Better for Dogs?

A Maltese dog with salmon food
A Maltese doggo waiting for his salmon meal – Image source

While a few fish varieties are safe to feed your dog raw, such as sardines, raw seafood can also be unsafe due to the potential risk of salmonella poisoning or tapeworm contamination.

In some instances, raw fish can kill your dog. For example, raw salmon can contain Neorickettsia helminthoeca, a parasite that could poison your pet. 

It’s thus advisable to cook any seafood product before feeding it to your dog. Cooked seafood should also be deboned and deshelled to avoid any potential choking hazard.

Also, be sure that your dog doesn’t have access to the trash where he could find fish bones, as these can also be dangerous for your dog.

What Foods Can or Cannot Be Mixed with Seafood for Dogs?

A Coton de Tulear eating a broccoli
Candy, the Coton de Tulear, loves her broccoli snack – Image source

When cooking fish for your canine, you should keep it as plain as possible. A few pet owners choose to add veggies or fruits to seafood to make an intriguing dinner for their pets.

Here are a few things you can and can’t blend in with your pet’s seafood.

1. Vegetables

Versatile vegetables like broccoli and carrots can be served to your dog cooked, raw, or mixed with seafood to form a tasty topper for your dog.

These vegetables yield various benefits for your dog, from improving your dog’s eyesight to boosting the immune and nervous systems.

Kale and Spinach are also excellent vegetables to mix with seafood for your pet.

These vegetables are an excellent source of various nutrients that will boost your dog’s immune system, vision, and metabolism.

This includes vitamins K, C, E, and A, iron, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, calcium, carotenoids, and various B vitamins.

Furthermore, these vegetables are very low in fat content and can be readily added to your dog’s meals daily. 

2. Fruits

Coconut and seafood make an excellent combination.

Coconut will supply your pet with fiber, antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins. Coconut also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and can help your dog fight off any infections. 

Apples and pears are also great fruits to add to your dog’s diet due to the antioxidants they contain, which will help ward off disease.

These fruits are also high in fiber to regulate your dog’s digestive system and are a good source of Vitamins A, C, and K. 

Some other fruits you can mix with seafood for dogs include bananas, which are packed full of fiber, potassium, and magnesium; strawberries and blueberries, which are full of antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin C; and watermelon, which is a great hydrating treat for your pup.

Can Dogs Have Seafood Instead of Meat?

A Golden Retriever with a crab
Huckleberry Finn, the Goldie, gets excited to the sight of a crab – Image source

Yes, dogs can eat certain kinds of seafood instead of meat.

Dog foods made with salmon or whitefish as the primary ingredient are often recommended for pets who develop allergies to more common proteins. 

These dog food brands offer your dog a healthy, nutritious seafood diet that still caters to all your pet’s growing needs and supplies your dog with all the vitamins and minerals necessary for its health and wellbeing. 

Are foods made with seafood safe for dogs?

Watch out when feeding your pet seafood items made for humans to eat, such as canned fish, fish pies, and fish fingers.

These products are full of salt, sugar, and synthetic substances and typically contain loads of additional fats and calories that your pet doesn’t need in his diet.

Are dog foods made with seafood healthier for dogs?

Seafood offers many benefits for your pet and is included in many pet food products.

Be that as it may, assuming your canine is eating a diet that provides plenty of protein and essential fatty acids, there is no obvious explanation for why you need to give him additional seafood treats.

If your dog does not eat plain cooked seafood, you can search for pet food that contains this nutritious element in their recipe, albeit even that isn’t 100 percent vital for your canine to lead a healthy life.

How Much Seafood Can Dogs Eat?

A Miniature Dachshund being served with salmon over its kibble
A little Doxie who likes his kibble sprinkled with salmon – Image source

Ensure to feed any additional seafood treats to your dog with some restraint and keep to the 10% guideline.

This implies that any treats, such as seafood, should only amount to a modest portion of your pet’s daily calories. 

To give you an idea, 100grams of salmon contains around 206 calories which means dogs shouldn’t eat more than a couple of bites of seafood every day in addition to their standard kibble.

The specific measure of seafood you can give your pet will depend upon his size, energy level, and general body condition.

What are the Dog Food Recipes that Contain Seafood?

A Border Collie looking at a fish treat
Milow, the Border Collie, has his eyes on a fish treat – Image source

Want to try making a delicious treat for your dog at home? You can try making him one of these recipes that include seafood as a protein source.

  1. Homemade Fishy Dog Treats – Salmon and Tuna
  2. Easy Fish Dog Treat Recipe
  3. Homemade Dehydrated Fish Chew Dog Treats

What are the dog food products that contain seafood?

Are you looking to add more seafood to your dog’s diet? Here are some commercial dog foods that feature seafood as a primary ingredient.

  1. Crave High Protein White Fish & Salmon Dog Food
  2. ACANA Freshwater Fish Recipe
  3. Solid Gold Holistique Blendz with Oatmeal, Pearled Barley & Ocean Fish Meal

If you’re not quite ready to change over your dog’s regular kibble, you could try adding seafood to his meal through some delicious dog treats that include fish in their recipes.

Here are some commercial dog treats made with seafood.

  1. The Honest Kitchen Ocean Chews Cod Fish Skins Dog Treats
  2. Fish4Dogs Sweet Potato Fish Wraps Dog Treats
  3. Natural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Diets Original Biscuits 

Can Dogs Eat Derivatives of Seafood?

A Labrador Retriever waiting for its food
A Lab waiting to be fed

Unfortunately, our pets have a propensity to eat what they shouldn’t.

Assuming that your dog finds some raw fish, make sure to watch your canine intently for any indications of salmonella poisoning and contact your vet if necessary.

While pups have extremely strong stomachs, these seafood derivatives could give your pooch an upset stomach.

As mentioned, it isn’t appropriate for your dog to eat fish bones because they could lodge in your pet’s stomach or piece his internal digestive system.

What diseases in dogs can seafood help?

You can try giving your dog a little bit of seafood if your dog suffers from allergies to other protein sources.

Additionally, due to the high levels of omega-three and omega-six fatty acids, seafood can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce your pet’s risk of developing heart disease. 

These fatty acids also work to strengthen your dog’s coat condition, so fish supplements or meat are often recommended for dogs with mange. 

What are other Kinds of Seafood Dogs Can Eat?

A Bichon Frise Poodle mix eating a fish treat
Dubu, the Poochon, happily eats his fish treat – Image source

In addition to the seafood varieties mentioned above, dogs can eat most white fish, provided it has been deboned and cooked correctly.

In general, you want to opt for wild-caught fresh or ocean fish over farmed fish which can contain antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones. 

So, Can My Dog Eat Seafood?

As you have read, your dog can safely eat seafood of certain varieties, with whitefish, salmon, and sardines being some of the best options to feed your dog.

You’ll want to ensure that any seafood you give your dog has been deboned, deskinned, and deshelled and that it’s cooked, unseasoned, and served plain to your pet. 

You also want to be sure you don’t overdo it when feeding your dog seafood, as too much could cause a health risk for your dog.

As with humans, dogs can develop an allergy to seafood, so be sure not to overdo it when feeding seafood to your dog.

Does your pet love seafood? We’d love to hear all about your furry family member and how he enjoys his seafood in the comments below.

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