Surf's Up: Can Dogs Have Seafood Safely in Their Diet?

Surf's Up: Can Dogs Have Seafood Safely in Their Diet?

Posted by volhard dog nutrition on Mar 20th 2024

Seafood, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and proteins, offers numerous health benefits to our four-legged friends, such as boosting skin, coat, and joint health.

However, not all seafood is created equal, and some types pose health risks to your canine companion.

This article aims to guide dog parents through the safe inclusion of seafood in their dog's diet, highlighting which types are beneficial and which must be avoided.

Can Dogs Eat Seafood Safely?

Dogs can indeed eat seafood, but it's essential to approach this aspect of their diet with caution and knowledge.

Seafood offers dogs a variety of health benefits, including being a great source of lean protein and essential fatty acids, adding to a shiny coat and healthy skin.

However, not all seafood is suitable for dogs; some varieties contain harmful bacteria or high levels of heavy metals, like mercury, known to cause toxicity in dogs.

It's generally recommended to abstain from feeding raw seafood to dogs because of the risk of food poisoning caused by parasites and bacteria. Cooking seafood kills these harmful organisms, making it safer for your dog to eat.

Another important consideration is to remove all bones from the seafood before offering it to your dog, as they pose a choking hazard and may cause internal blockages.

5 Health Benefits of Feeding Seafood to Dogs

Health benefits of feeding seafood to dogs

Feeding seafood to dogs, when done correctly, brings a variety of health benefits contributing to their overall well-being:

  • Rich Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are crucial for maintaining your dog's skin and coat healthy, reducing inflammation, and supporting brain health. These fatty acids also improve joint health, which is particularly beneficial for dogs with arthritis or other joint issues.
  • High-Quality Protein: Seafood provides high-quality, easily digestible protein. This nutrient is essential for muscle growth and repair, making it especially beneficial for active dogs or those in recovery from injuries or illnesses.
  • Supports Heart Health: The omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood contribute to superior heart health by regulating blood pressure and improving cardiovascular function.
  • Enhances Immune System: The vitamins and minerals present in seafood, such as vitamins A, D, and B-complex vitamins, play a significant role in strengthening the immune system, helping your dog fend off illnesses more effectively.
  • Beneficial for Dogs with Cooling Insufficiencies: Salmon specifically is ideal for dogs struggling to maintain a balanced internal temperature or who are prone to overheating.

6 Health Hazards of Seafood for Dogs

6 health hazards of seafood for dogs

While seafood is a nutritious addition to a dog's diet, there are several health hazards associated with feeding seafood dog parents should be aware of:

  • Salmon Poisoning: This severe and potentially fatal condition occurs when dogs consume certain types of raw fish, including salmon. It is caused by a parasite that salmon may carry, with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Cooking salmon prevents salmon poisoning. Avoid feeding your pup farmed salmon, as these fish are often treated with many antibiotics to ward off disease.
  • Mercury Poisoning: Larger fish like tuna and swordfish accumulate high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to dogs if consumed in large quantities.
  • Harmful Toxins: Some seafood may contain toxins that cause food poisoning or allergic reactions in dogs. Shellfish, in particular, are risky because of toxins such as saxitoxin, which may lead to shellfish poisoning.
  • Stomach Upset: Seafood, especially when it's not fresh or overly rich or fatty, can cause tummy troubles in dogs. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

It's important to note that kibble containing fish ingredients can go rancid quickly, typically within 1 to 2 weeks after opening the bag. Salmon oil spoils within 30 days if not refrigerated and within 90 days even when stored in the fridge. To avoid this outcome, we suggest using our krill oil as a healthier, more stable alternative.

  • Seafood Sensitivity: Some dogs may have an allergy or sensitivity to seafood. This can be particularly concerning with seafood ingredients in kibble, which may go rancid and exacerbate the issue.
  • Concerns with Fatty Fish and Shrimp: Salmon and shrimp from stress-causing sources, such as those in captivity without a natural life cycle and potentially treated with various substances, may not be as healthy as their wild-caught counterparts.

6 Types of Seafood Your Pup Can Eat

6 types of seafood your pup can eat

Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve your dog's coat health and reduce inflammation. Cook salmon thoroughly to kill any harmful parasites that can cause salmon poisoning in dogs. Refrain from feeding your dog raw or undercooked salmon.

Salmon is a 'warming' protein, which isn't suitable for all dogs. For those with sensitive stomachs, whitefish, mackerel, and sardines are often better options, as they are easier on the digestive system.

Whitefish

Whitefish refers to several different types of light, mild-flavored fish. This seafood is typically low in fat and easy to digest, making it a healthy option for dogs. As with all seafood, ensure it is cooked well without any added oils or seasonings.

Sardines

Sardines are small, oily fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that will benefit your dog's health. They are usually sold canned in water, which is the healthiest option for dogs. Ensure that you choose sardines without added salt or sauces.

Anchovies

Anchovies are another excellent addition to your dog's diet. They are particularly beneficial as part of the Volhard diet, which promotes optimal health through natural and nutritious foods. Anchovies can be added to your dog's meals to boost essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Shrimp

Shrimp serves as a healthy, low-calorie, protein-rich snack treat for dogs when prepared correctly.Wild-caught shrimp from a reliable supplier is a tasty treat to share with your dog, including the heads and tails.Shrimp is high in antioxidants, vitamin B12, and phosphorus but should be fed moderately due to its high cholesterol content.

Crab

Crab meat is another seafood option that can be safe for dogs if properly cooked and offered in small amounts. Ensure that the crab is plain and free from any seasonings or butter. Crab provides protein and vitamin B12, supporting your dog's energy levels and overall health.

5 Seafood Options to Avoid

While many types of seafood can be healthy additions to your dog's diet, certain types must be avoided due to potential health risks:

Raw Fish

Raw fish, especially salmon, trout, and sturgeon, contain parasites that cause salmon poisoning disease, which is potentially fatal to dogs. This disease may lead to fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Always cook fish thoroughly to kill any dangerous parasites before feeding it to your dog.

Fresh raw fish that is sushi-grade, like salmon, trout, and sturgeon, benefits dogs with robust immune systems. If you are concerned about parasites, freeze your fish a week before feeding. Most fish are frozen, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about parasites.

Raw fish offers various health benefits, like essential fatty acids and important vitamins and minerals.

Cook the fish thoroughly if your dog has a compromised immune system or if there are ongoing worm issues in any dog in your household.

Fish High in Mercury

Certain types of fish, such as tuna, swordfish, and king mackerel, are known to have high levels of mercury.

Mercury poisoning can lead to serious health issues in dogs, including kidney damage. To help dogs detox from mercury exposure, incorporate supplements like probiotics, bentonite clay, spirulina, or chlorella.It's best to avoid feeding these types of fish to your dog or only feed them in small, infrequent amounts.

Smoked or Cured Seafood

Smoked or cured seafood often contains high levels of salt and other preservatives unsuitable for dogs.

Consuming too much salt can lead to excessive thirst, urination, and even sodium ion poisoning in dogs.

Fried Seafood

Fried seafood, whether fish, shrimp, or any other type, is unhealthy for dogs.

The oils and fats used in frying can lead to pancreatitis, a severe and painful condition in dogs.

The batter or breading often contains spices and ingredients that can harm your dog.

Bivalves

Oysters, clams, and mussels, which are categorized as bivalves due to their hinged shells, boast a rich nutritional profile, including vitamin B12, protein, iron, zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Since they're low on the food chain, bivalves pose minimal risk of heavy metal contamination.

However, exercise caution with bivalves as these filter feeders can absorb toxins from harmful microalgae such as dinoflagellates. These microorganisms proliferate during summer "blooms," producing neurotoxins leading to paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Factors like water temperature, seasons (late spring to early fall), and weather conditions can influence toxin levels in seafood.

If you plan to incorporate bivalves into your dog's diet for their nutritional benefits, ensure they are sourced from clean, cooler waters and reputable suppliers who rigorously test their products for contamination.

Dog eating fish

Sailing to Health: The Final Word on Dogs and Seafood

As we've explored the world of seafood for dogs, it's clear that while certain types can be a healthy addition to their diet, caution is vital.

Seafood offers a variety of nutrients that are beneficial for your furry friend. Still, dog parents must stay informed about which types are safe and how much to feed.

If unsure, consult a veterinary nutritionist to ensure you provide your furry buddy with the healthiest of sea-sourced ingredients.

Remember, when introduced correctly and in moderation, seafood can be a valuable part of keeping your dog happy and healthy.

For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods!

Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind.

If you want to contact one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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