Is seafood toxic to dogs? The Ultimate Guide

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
  • Which Types of Fish Can Dogs Eat?

    Smaller, younger, wild-caught fish are generally safe options when considering adding fresh or processed fish to your dog’s diet.

    Types of fish that are safe for dogs include:

  • Whitefish
  • Flounder
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Whiting
  • Light tuna fish (canned)
  • These fish are generally less likely to have high tissue mercury levels or significant parasite burdens.

    Sardines seem to be generally accepted as a fish that is safe for dogs to consume due to their small size. They can be consumed skin-on and with the bones. However, you should look for brands that are packed in water and contain no added salt. Also for brands that carry the MSC Certified (Marine Stewardship Council) blue fish labels, which indicate that these fish are harvested from wild-caught fisheries with sustainable populations that work to minimize any negative impact on local marine habitats.

    Tilapia can be fed to dogs if it is cleaned properly (skinned, deboned, and only the boneless fillets offered as food) and cooked thoroughly. Since tilapia is a farm-raised, hybridized aquaculture product, it would be advisable to look for brands whose labels carry the certification of either the Global Aquaculture Alliance or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program has also recommended tilapia harvested from Ecuador and Peru, which tend to be “greener” raised and therefore healthier options.

    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.

    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.

    Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? All You Need to Know!

    Can dogs eat shrimp? For the most part, theres no harm in switching up your dogs diet by adding some fish and seafood to their daily meals.

    However, depending on how its prepared as well as which type of fish or seafood it is, both foods can be toxic—or in some rare cases, deadly—for your pooch.

    Speaking to Newsweek, veterinarian Tina Wismer, the senior director of toxicology at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, said: “Fish and seafood can both be part of a balanced diet.25 Human Foods Dogs Should Never EatRead more

    “While poisoning [in fish and seafood] is uncommon, there can be issues with bones or shells causing irritation or potentially obstructions,” Wismer said.

    Shrimp can be great for your dogs diet, as they are low in fat, calories as well as carbohydrates, but rich in nutrients that are beneficial for dogs.

    The nutrients in shrimp include vitamin B12, niacin (also known as vitamin B3, phosphorus and antioxidants, according to an article at the American Kennel Club (AKC) website.

    However, dogs should not be fed raw, uncooked shrimp, as they contain harmful pathogens. The shell should be removed entirely before giving shrimp to your dog, as shells pose a choking hazard and can cause an obstruction, especially for smaller dog breeds, the AKC explains.

    Steamed shrimp is the best option for dogs, as the fried or breaded kind contains unnecessary fats and oils that can also be harmful for your pooch.

    Tuna is not toxic for dogs but should be avoided due to the risk of mercury poisoning, which occurs when fish ingest food sources that contain “bioaccumulated [concentrated inside the bodies of living things] heavy metals,” Dr. Renee Schmid, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline, told Newsweek.

    The larger the fish and the longer it lives and therefore it will have a higher concentration of mercury in its tissues. Mercury levels are quite high in tuna since they are large, long-living fish.

    However, its not the end of the world if your dog manages to steal a tiny piece of tuna off your plate when youre not looking, as a tiny amount will not cause mercury poisoning, the AKC says.

    The risk of mercury poisoning also applies for sharks, swordfish, marlin and king mackerel, Schmid added.