- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Imagine, you’re having a great time at a backyard crab boil, enjoying all kinds of seafood. You glance over at your usually polite dog and see your great aunt tossing them a chunk of something delicious. Should you worry? It depends on what sea dwelling creature Aunt Mildred just fed your dog.
While seafood is high in protein and contains the healthy omega 3 fatty acids that we humans benefit from, not all seafood is great for dogs. The same risks of toxins and mercury content apply, and while humans can consume seafood both cooked and raw, dogs need to enjoy seafood cooked. Like most treats outside of your dog’s usual diet, it’s always a good idea to be careful and test out small portions first.
Can my dog eat fish?
Yes, your dog may have fish so long as it is properly deboned, cleaned, cooked, and unseasoned. Wild caught cooked salmon fillets are a great choice for a special meal because they contain healthy amounts of protein and essential fatty acids. On the other hand, raw salmon can contain a parasite that is deadly to dogs, so care is necessary when feeding your dog salmon.
Other fish can also serve as a healthy treat, including ocean whitefish, flounder, herring, and walleye, to name a few. But remember, moderation is key when it comes to foods that are out of your pet’s usual diet. Too much fish can cause weight gain, and fish such as tuna or swordfish can contain heavy metals such as mercury.
Can my dog eat crab, lobster, and other shellfish?
When shellfish is properly cooked and removed from its shell, it is generally safe for dogs. Crustaceans and mollusks are an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium. The real danger lies in uncooked shellfish, as many can contain parasites that can damage your dog’s health. The shells are also a danger, as they can damage your dog’s digestive tract if crunched up with the meat.
Crab, in particular, is a controversial treat, as some dogs have been reported having an allergic reaction to it. It’s best to only serve your dog a small amount, and see if they show any signs of an allergic reaction. The sodium content of shellfish is also something to watch out for, so this should really only be a taste, not a substantial diet choice.
If the shellfish is from something like the crab boil mentioned above, the big danger is seasoning. Onion and garlic are toxic to dogs, and the salt content in seasoning such as Old Bay® could put your dog in danger of sodium poisoning.
Can my dog eat raw seafood?
The answer is, no, unfortunately. The risk for parasitic infection is high with raw fish and shellfish, despite the stronger stomach acids dogs possess. As mentioned above, raw salmon is especially dangerous for dogs as it contains a unique parasite called Neorickettsia helminthoeca which can cause salmon poisoning, a fatal condition.
So, be sure to cook any seafood you want to feed your dog and keep an eye on them on beaches or along waterways that may contain raw sealife. (Or, if you live near a salmon run during spawning season, you may want to avoid the river to keep your dog from helping themselves to a smelly snack.)
So, my dog got into the crab bucket…
Check to see if there are any signs of splintered shells or signs that your dog may have swallowed something smaller whole. If it looks like your dog only ate a small amount of cooked seafood, then they should be in the clear. You should, however, keep an eye out for the following signs:
Some signs to look out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in vomiting/stool
- Distended abdomen
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, it’s time to see the vet. They could be an indication of something serious, such as a parasitic infection, perforation of the bowel from shells or bones, or even an allergy that needs attention.
For more information
We have many different articles on which types of food may or may not be safe for your dog to indulge in. Browse through our directory page with all the “Can My Dog Eat” articles here.
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