There is no doubt about it. Dogs are food oriented and look for every opportunity to have a taste of variety and a little change from their daily kibble. While feeding your canine pal table scraps is not encouraged, sometimes a treat for good behavior is in order.
Can I Feed My Dog Seafood?
A common question that pet nutritionists and veterinarians hear is how can I vary my dog’s diet? For a change from the norm, seafood is a nutritious choice to give to your dog, but only in small or moderate amounts. If you are giving fish or other types of seafood to your dog for the first time, start by adding a very small quantity to their meal so that you can gauge their tolerance to it. While most dogs tolerate seafood well, some types may not sit well with them.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Fish?
Yes, dogs can eat cooked fish. In fact, any fish or seafood that you plan to serve your pet must be fully cooked. Raw fish of any kind is not good for dogs. Fish that is raw or undercooked can be harmful. Salmon, for example, is the most common fish given to our pets. While cats are not susceptible to harm from eating raw salmon, it can be potentially fatal to dogs.
Raw salmon can contain Nanophyetus salmincola, a parasite that often carries a rickettsial organism that causes salmon poisoning. Dogs can die within 14 days of eating the infected fish if not treated in time. Symptoms like vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea appear within six days of consumption. Never feed raw salmon to your dog.
Other types of cooked fish that are healthy for our furry buddies to consume are walleye, ocean whitefish, herring, and cod. Make sure that it is always fresh, cooked fish and not canned. When preparing the fish, make sure that all bones are removed. Bones can puncture your dog’s intestine or cause them to choke. Avoid adding any seasoning, and grill or steam the portion.
What About Shrimp, Crab and Lobster?
You may wonder, can dogs eat seafood of any kind? Seafood can be a nutritional way to give your pooch a healthy treat. Shrimp is full of nutrients that are good for your pup. Niacin helps blood circulation, phosphorous aids in strong bones, and Vitamin B12 promotes gut health. Like with fish, shrimp must be fully cooked. Try steaming a shrimp or two as a low calorie, low fat treat after a training session. Remove the shell before allowing your pup to give it a try.
Lobster and crab are typically avoided due to the problem with digestibility. Described as too rich for a dog’s stomach, many pet parents choose to avoid these types of seafood. While lobster and crab do contain Omega 3, the risk of your pup not tolerating the food may be too great. Stick with salmon (which has much higher amounts of the nutrient per serving) or shrimp, or ask your veterinarian about supplementing with Omega 3 capsules or even chews as a fun treat.
The Benefits of Seafood for Dogs
Fish, such as salmon, arctic char, walleye, and flounder are high in protein. This is why they are often used in commercially prepared dog food. As well, there is the Omega 3 we’ve talked about, and the additional vitamins that they provide. Mixing a bit of fish in with a dog’s food also increases palatability, thereby encouraging an underweight dog to eat. Keep in mind that larger fish, like swordfish and tuna, may contain mercury (because of the long feeding time they had in the ocean) and are best served in moderation.
Signs Your Dog Might be Sick from Eating Seafood
Giving your best buddy a small serving of fish or a tidbit of seafood is safe in moderate amounts. However, if your dog shows signs of sickness after eating seafood, observe them carefully and don’t delay consulting the vet if the illness persists. It’s possible that a missed bone or shell caused an intestinal perforation. If your dog ate fish that was undercooked, they could have a parasite. If your pup has diarrhea, or is vomiting or passing blood in their stool see the vet. Other signs of a problem may be a distended abdomen, fever, or lack of appetite. An allergy to fish or seafood could result in hives, itchy skin, obsessive chewing of the feet, and running of the eyes and nose. Any symptoms of discomfort and distress will need the attention of your vet.