Can Dogs Eat Seafood? [What Fish Can I Feed My Dog?]
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Can Dogs Eat Seafood? (What Fish Can I Feed My Dog?)

  • Last Updated On: June 27, 2019
  • / Dog Care Tips
  • / By Drew & Gunnar

Can Dogs Eat Seafood?

Can Dogs Eat Seafood?

Seafood is famous food that’s better suited for cats, but have you ever wondered if can dogs eat seafood? Today we’re going to answer that question Seafood Dogs Can Eat and see what benefits seafood can have for dogs.

Seafood for dog is actually very healthy, and it can easily be a part of a healthy diet for your dog. All you need is more information about it. Seafood, just like any type of food, can either add benefits or do a bit of harm.

So, it’s necessary to know exactly what type of seafood your dogs can eat if you’re thinking about incorporating it into their diets.

As you may know by now, dogs can develop quite a few allergies and they can have a lot of issues with food. Seafood is a very wide and varied category, so you really do have to be careful with the kind of things you introduce to your dog.

To get started, we’ll be taking a look at seafood and we’ve divided it into three categories: seafood that’s good to go, seafood with which you should be cautious, and seafood you have to avoid at all costs.

Before we get started, I want to say that every change to your dog’s diet should be discussed with your veterinarian. Before you do anything that can have an effect on your dog’s health, you should make sure it’s all as beneficial as you think.

Allowed Seafood for Dogs

Can a dog eat Phytoplankton?

Phytoplankton is tiny algae that are basically food for everything that lives in the ocean. If a single food is good enough for the entire ocean, it’s definitely good for your dog. These tiny algae are full of nutrients like essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants, essential amino acids, carotenoids, and chlorophyll.

They also contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that are amazing for your dog’s immune system, heart, skin, joints, and cognitive function. Actually, fun fact: fish get a lot of their Omega-3s from the phytoplankton they eat.

Phytoplankton contains superoxide dismutase (SOD) as well, and this is an amazing antioxidant that helps prevent cancer, eye problems, heart disease and immune system problems.

If your dog has digestive problems, phytoplankton can be quite helpful. Plus, they’re made of nanoparticles which are tiny, and they actually nurture your dog without being digested first because they are fully absorbed by the mucous membranes.

When it comes to introducing phytoplankton into your dog’s diet, you have to look for a source that doesn’t contain fillers because then you’ll only need 1/16 tablespoon per day for dogs of any size.

Green-lipped mussels

The green lipped mussels originate in New Zealand and they’re very rich in Omega fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes.

Green-lipped mussels promote a strengthening of joints, joint mobility, and cartilage maintenance. In fact, they’re known for being able to relieve pain and inflammation in dogs that suffer from arthritis. What’s more, these mussels promote cardiovascular health and healthy skin.

If you want to introduce green lipped mussels into your dog’s diet, you can buy them powdered and follow the instructions on the package or give your dog about 15mg per lb. Make sure there’s no heat processing involved because that destroys all the nutrients of the mussels and we don’t want that. You can also buy freeze-dried green lipped mussels treats and give 2 of them for every 10 lbs. per day.

Can dogs eat Kelp?

This is a type of seaweed that is commonly dried and sold as a powdered supplement. Kelp is an amazing source of vitamin B-12, vitamin C, and others. It’s also rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, amino acids, trace minerals, and phosphorous. Kelp is also high in iodine, which supports thyroid health,

Kelp has incredible effects on the skin and coat of dogs and it also increases circulation, it improves oral health and it strengthens the immune system. If your dog suffers from arthritis, kelp will help deal with pain and inflammation.

If you want to introduce kelp into your dog’s diet, you can buy products made for dogs and follow the instruction. An overall good dose would be ¼ tablespoon per 25 lbs. of your dog’s body weight per day.

Sardines, smelts, herring, anchovies, and other small oily fish

Fish, as we all know, is one of the biggest sources of protein, selenium, Omega-3 fats, calcium, and niacin. Giving your dogs fish is better than opting for fish oil which can be unstable.

The only problem with fish is that large fish is more likely to be contaminated with mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) which are dangerous toxins and carcinogenic chemicals. These, of course, should be avoided at all times.

If you want to give your dog the benefits of fish without the risks of toxins, then the solution is to give your dog small fatty fish instead of large fish. Small fatty fish are sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring, and smelts. Before introducing them to your dog’s diet, you should freeze them for two weeks to get rid of any parasites. You can feed these small fatty fish to your dog two or three times a week and they can be eaten whole and raw.

If you can’t buy fresh small fatty fish at the moment, you can go with the canned version and make sure there’s no added salt and that they’re preferably packed in water. A way to measure the amount of small fatty fish is giving your 40-50 lbs. dog a quarter of a 3.75 oz can per day. This, of course, should be accompanied by other foods.

Can dog eat Seaweed

Seaweed can be easily found in the Japanese section of the supermarket and there are different kinds of it, so you’ll have a few options. They come in the form of dried sheets, which is what people use to make sushi and they’re perfect for your dog.

Seaweed is a great source of minerals, protein, fiber, vitamins, and amino acids, so there’s plenty of benefits for your dog. A few of the choices you should consider are dulse (sea parsley), nori, wakame, kombu, and Irish moss.

Seaweed can support thyroid health, lungs, glands, liver and kidney function, and they’re great to soothe the gastrointestinal system if your dog has stomach issues. In order to introduce seaweed into your dog’s diet, you can toast or bake the seaweed sheets you got at the supermarket, crumble them, and add them to your dog’s meal.

Seafood to Address with Caution

Can dogs eat spirulina?

Spirulina is a biomass of blue-green algae that can be consumed by humans and animals, and it’s actually used as a whole food. A spirulina contains high levels of chlorophyll and protein. It’s also a great source of vitamins, minerals, Omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, trace minerals, and enzymes.

Among the benefits  can provide we have that it aids inflammation, bacterial and yeast overgrowth, radiation exposure and it’s also very useful when it comes to preventing cancer, supporting the immune system and improving gastrointestinal health.

The spirulina is considered a superfood thanks to its high content of vitamins, minerals, fat, and protein. But you really have to be careful when it comes to the quality of the spirulina because it can contain contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals that are nothing but trouble for your dog’s health.

That being said, be careful when you pick your brand and research your options. Always look for a certification seal from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or the US Pharmacopeial Conventions (USP), look for the company’s Certificate of Analysis (COA) which describes the quality and origin of their Spirulina. Also look for organic Spirulina free of additives, preservatives, fillers, and colorants.

Can dogs eat shellfish?

Technically, your dog can eat all kinds of shellfish like shrimp, mussels, clams, and oysters. Shellfish are full of nutrients thanks to the environment they grow up in which is mineral-rich waters.

The only problem is that your dog can easily be allergic to shellfish without your knowledge. Before you consider incorporating shellfish into the list, consult it with your veterinarian.

Is shrimp ok for dogs?

Talking about shellfish, shrimp is probably the most common one. Shrimp is low calorie and full of protein. Most shrimp, the kind you can easily find in the supermarket, is farm-raised. Fresh, wild shrimp is the best choice to share with your dog.

Farm-raised shrimp pose a bit of a problem because farmers use disinfectants, antibiotics, and pesticides. Those chemicals serve the purpose of preventing shrimp disease, but they can be very harmful. So, when it comes to introducing shrimp into your dog’s diet, make sure you get your shrimp from a source you can trust.

Can dogs eat bivalves?

Clams, oysters, and mussels, among other things, are bivalves and they are rich in vitamin B12, protein, minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium, selenium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and Omega-3 fats.

Bivalves are found towards the bottom of the food chain so there’s not as much risk of metal contamination as there is with large fish. Bivalves are filter feeders which means they can absorb toxins from microalgae. These toxins can affect muscle function and they can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

If you want to incorporate bivalves into your dog’s diet, you’ll have to make sure that they come from cooler waters and choose suppliers that test their product for contamination, so you can make sure that your bivalves are toxin-free.

Can dogs eat Squid Oil?

Squid oil is getting more and more popular as an alternative to fish oil, and it’s a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA which is great for your dog’s skin and coat as well as their nervous system and cognitive function, and DHA which has amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

Because squids don’t have bones, they’re found near to the bottom of the food chain. They’re commonly free of contaminants, but this greatly depends on the source.

When it comes to squid oil, the problem is that oils are unstable, and they can turn rancid really quick. This applies to all kinds of fish oil. If you want to incorporate squid oil into your dog’s diet, make sure it’s micro-filtered to make sure there are no heavy metals or toxins. After you open it, refrigerate and use it within 90 days. You can give your dog ¼ tablespoon per 20 lbs. of body weight every day.

Can dogs eat Salmon?

Fresh salmon is an amazing source of Omega-3 and vitamin D, and it’s also a great source of protein and minerals such as iron, potassium, and magnesium. Salmon is very popular among dogs, so you can feed it to them raw and you can also find a lot of dog food options with the flavor and the benefits of salmon.

Salmon can be very beneficial for your dog’s skin, coat, cognitive function and immune system. As you can see, there are a lot of benefits that fish share.

If you want to incorporate salmon into your dog’s diet, don’t choose farmed salmon because they contain a lot of antibiotics and high levels of Polychlorinated biphenyls which we already discussed can be cancerous. Buy your salmon wild and fresh to get the benefits you’re looking for, but be cautious nonetheless. Salmon poisoning is a great risk because it’s caused by a common parasite found in salmon called Neorickettsia helminthoeca.

Freeze your salmon for a couple of weeks to get rid of these parasites before you feed it to your dog.

Seafood to Avoid

Can dogs eat fish oil?

Even though fish oil of any kind is a popular supplement for dogs because it provides DHA and EPA which are Omega-3 essential fatty acids that are great for the skin, the immune system, cognitive function and to treat inflammation.

However, the charm ends the moment you open the bottle and sometimes even before then. Fish oil is vulnerable to oxidative damage, so when the Omega-3 fat particles are exposed to air, they break down and create other compounds that can damage proteins, DNA, and other cellular structures. This can lead to chronic health problems such as cancer and gene mutation.

Fish oil can also contain heavy metals that can be damaging to the nervous system, lover, and kidney damage. There are other contaminants that can be found in fish oil, such as PCBs and dioxins that can cause a lot of problems in the immune and nervous system, skin problems, cancer, reproductive disorders and endocrine disorders.

The safest thing is to forget all about fish oil, but if you still want to use it, make sure the one you use has a Certificate of Analysis. Use it quickly, keep it refrigerated and don’t buy clear bottles. Keep in mind that every time you open the bottle, there’s more and more oxidation and the risks health are greater.

Can dogs eat Krill Oil?

Krill oil is considered a safe alternative to fish oils, but that’s far from the truth. It’s true that krill oil is a bit more stable than other fish oils, but it’s still subject to oxidation once you open the bottle.

Krill oil contains a natural antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is responsible for krill oil’s shelf life. But this antioxidant degrades very fast itself, so it won’t protect the oil for long.

Can dogs eat Tilapia?

Tilapia is quite a popular fish thanks to its mild flavor and cheapness. That’s what makes it the fourth most consumed seafood in the US, right after shrimp, tuna, and salmon. For this reason, it’s one of the most farmed fishes in the world.

The fact that tilapia is farmed, means that its nutrient profile is not as high-quality as one may think. Long story short, the food that they get is not enough to produce Omega-3s because they are missing the phytoplankton from their diets and in most cases, the food that they get is low quality. They’re also raised in overcrowded muddy ponds, which means that there are a lot of pesticides involved. Tilapia is also said to be worse than bacon because it’s rich in Omega-6s.

Can dog eat large fish?

When we talked about small fatty fish earlier, we mentioned that large fish are to be avoided because they have a higher chance of mercury contamination.

We can’t actually escape mercury because it’s all over our waters courtesy of industrial waste. This means that it’s present on higher levels in larger fish that can be found high up on the food chain.

Because they’re predators and they eat so many other smaller creatures, there’s an accumulation of mercury in their system which makes large fish a big no-no for our dogs as they can cause major health issues such as nervous system disorders, endocrine issues, accelerated aging, and reproductive problems.

Benefits of Feeding Seafood to Dogs

Can dogs eat seafood? As we’ve been able to see so far, fish offer many benefits for dogs. The only problem is that you have to pay close attention to the kind of seafood you choose for your dogs. Above all, we want them to be safe. If you don’t want to integrate seafood into your dog’s diet in a permanent manner, it’s still wise to include seafood in your dog’s meals from time to time.

  • Seafood provides:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamins A, B12, D, B1, B3, E, biotin, etc.
  • Minerals such as potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, etc.
  • Anti-oxidants.
  • Fiber.
  • Protein.

Healthy carbohydrates and fats.

All of these things combined promote heart health, skin and coat health, digestive health, joint health, energy, among many other things.

Fish is also an amazing alternative for dogs that are allergic to other sources of protein. There’s only so many bases that vegetables alone can cover, so fish is a great way to provide your dog with the animal protein they need so much.

Risks of Feeding Seafood to Dogs

Can dogs eat seafood? If we are not careful with the kind of seafood we provide to our dogs, the risks can easily outweigh the benefits. Not all seafood is positive and full of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and healthy carbs and fats. Some types of seafood can even be harmful, so it’s necessary to choose the right seafood for our dogs and also keep an eye out every time we introduce something new into their seafood diet.

As mentioned before in the review of different seafood, there’s a high risk of ingesting toxins, heavy metals, and other pollutants. There are ways to avoid these harmful things, such as investigating our providers, choosing wild fish instead of farm bred, going for small fish and preferring those that are found at the bottom of the food chain, etc.

When it comes to commercial pet food with fish, you have to be careful and make sure they don’t contain harmful preservatives. This is one of the main points you should discuss with your veterinarian when you talk to them about introducing seafood into your dog’s diet. They will tell you what things you should avoid, how often and how much seafood you should give your dogs, and what to do in case of an unexpected allergic reaction.

When it comes to all kinds of food that are ingested raw, you have to be careful and cook them properly. Raw food means there’s a high risk of contracting bacteria such as salmonella and listeria.

How to Prepare Seafood for Dogs

Seafood is quite delicate even for humans, so the cooking method is very important. You have to make sure that your seafood is cooked properly before you feed it to your dog because it can be contaminated with salmonella, listeria, Vibrio, and E. coli. 

These bacteria are very common and dangerous, but we get rid of them by cooking our food properly. The same applies to the food we feed to our dogs because they can cause severe infections that can even be lethal to your dog.

When cooking seafood for your dog’s diet, don’t season it because seasoning can easily upset their stomach and try to go for steaming as your cooking method. That way you kill the bacteria and you keep the meal low calories.

Seafood Allergies on Dogs

Can dogs eat seafood or is causing allergies to dogs? In theory, it’s completely possible for dogs to become allergic to seafood because food allergies are almost always caused by the protein source. It can be unlikely just because very few dogs actually have a seafood-rich diet, but if you’re starting to introduce seafood to your dogs, you should never discard the possibility of seafood allergies.

Food allergies are caused because the immune system labels the protein as foreign and reacts to it. In dogs, food allergies manifest itself with itchy skin or an upset stomach. To avoid or minimize the risk of an allergic reaction to seafood, you can’t introduce this new protein without measure or caution.

How to Introduce Seafood into Your Dog’s Diet

Because the risk of seafood allergies is real not all dogs can eat seafood, you have to be cautious when it comes to introducing this new protein. The smartest way to do this is to go slow. Abrupt changes to your dog’s diet are never a good idea because you can easily upset their stomach.

Another reason to introduce seafood in a progressive way is that fish has a very particular flavor and it’s likely that your dog won’t like it if it’s present all of a sudden in their meals. The best way to go about it is to experiment at first with small portions and see if it’s something your dog enjoys.

Use cheap fish at first because you don’t want to spend too much money on something your dog probably won’t like. Start with canned sardines, tilapia, and even canned salmon or tuna (remember that these last two are large fish and that they should be approached with caution and care).

Once your dog gets used to seafood, you’ll be able to use it a lot more frequently and you’ll be able to play a round with it a bit more.

I can’t stress this enough: consult with a veterinary nutritionist in order to make sure that the fish-based diet that you’re preparing for your dog is nutritionally sound. If you don’t do this, you might be taking the risk of creating deficiencies of all the key nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.

Remember that commercial pet food is created by scientists who understand what your dog needs to have a balanced and healthy diet, so you might want to consider opting for a commercial, fish-based dog food.

Seafood Commercial Dog Food to Consider

Nutri Source Grain Free Seafood Select Dry Dog Food (via Amazon)

The first choice we have is Nutri Source’s grain free seafood dry dog food. This grain free recipe reduces the risk of food allergies, so it might be a great choice for your dog’s first time. You can easily mix it with the food you already serve your dog and see if they like it!

Salmon is the main ingredient of this Nutri Source Seafood recipe and the good thing is that it’s all made from natural ingredients. It contains no animal by-products or whole corn and it provides a ton of essential nutrients your dog needs to keep their health at its best.

Nutri Source Grain-Free Canned Seafood Dog Food (via Amazon)

If your dog likes wet food better, then Nutri Source also has a canned version of the grain free seafood recipe you can try. The case comes with 12 cans of around 13 oz each.

As mentioned above, Nutri Source recipes only use natural ingredients to ensure that your four-legged friends get all of the vitamins and minerals they need to keep up their health. The same technique applies for the wet food; instead of giving them a whole can at once, try to mix in a bit of this Nutri Source seafood recipe into their usual meal and see how it goes.

Alaskan Salmon Jerky Dog Treats (via Amazon)

These salmon jerky dog treats are a perfect way to introduce your dog to the flavor of seafood, more specifically salmon. These jerky salmon treats are made with wild salmon from Alaska Waters. As I mentioned before, wild salmon is the best choice for your dog, so this is a safe treat.

These Alaskan salmon jerky treats are made with all natural and organic ingredients. There are no antibiotics, coloring or growth hormones involved, so you can be confident that your dog is getting nothing but the best.

Tender & True Sustainable Seafood Ocean Whitefish & Potato Recipe (via Amazon)

Tender & True offers you a seafood white fish and potato recipe that’s also a good choice to get your dog started on seafood. The main ingredient of this recipe is wild whitefish.

Some of the ingredients include: whitefish, chicken meal, whitefish meal, dried potato, tapioca starch, chicken fat, dried beet pulp, chicken liver meal, chicken liver, salt, choline chloride, taurine, potassium chloride, ascorbic acid, vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, inositol, ferrous sulphate, niacin, vitamin B12 supplement, zinc oxide iron proteinate, biotin, among many other beneficial things.

Holistic Select Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food (via Amazon)

This Holistic Select natural grain free dry food is also a great choice for your dog. It provides a balance, grain-free nutrition for your dog and the recipe is made from real salmon, anchovies, and sardines. Apart from the benefits inherent in these fish, we have that the recipe is completed with all-natural ingredients. That means there’s no artificial colors, flavors or fillers, and no wheat or meat by-products.

Holistic Select recipes are well-known for their natural fiber, digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics that support digestive health. This seafood dry food is nothing but the best quality for your dog, so don’t hesitate to give it a try.

Pure Paw Nutrition Grain Free Dog Treats (via Amazon)

These Pure Paw grain free treats are another great choice to get your dog started on a seafood diet. This recipe is also made with all-natural ingredients that include lobster and kelp. This recipe will provide a great number of vitamins and minerals for your dog to keep growing healthy. Give your dog nothing but the best!

Polka Dog Bakery Single Ingredient Salmon Chips (via Amazon)

These Polka Dog salmon chips make one of the best treats on this list. It’s pure 100% wild Alaskan salmon so you can be confident about the quality and the beneficial properties of these treats. This is a single source protein recipe and it’s rich in Omega fatty acids.

Yummy Chummies Dog Biscuits Treats Real Alaskan Seafood (via Amazon)

Yummy Chummies biscuits are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that promote a healthy heart, skin, and coat. This recipe is grain free, corn free, and soy free, so you won’t have to worry about anything. These biscuits are soft and chewie and I’m pretty confident they’ll become one of your dog’s favorites.

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About the Author Drew & Gunnar

As you can see, Gunnar makes Drew do all the work but heading outdoors with your best friend is never really work! Drew buys the products and Gunnar does the testing so you can rest assured you are reading the most up to date information to make the best decision for your dog's health and well-being! Make sure to visit our YouTube channel :)

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