Nutrition plays an essential part in every pet’s life. Whether you care for a rambunctious puppy or a mature pooch, all dogs need to eat complete and balanced diets to help them function at their best. Aside from his specially formulated dry or wet kibble, dog parents can offer homemade treats or incorporate other energy-packed options. These include seafood products that have been approved by his veterinarian.
Through this Waldo’s Friends blog post, curious dog parents can find answers to the questions:
- What kind of food can dogs eat in general?
- Do dogs need seafood in their diet?
- Which seafood products can dogs eat?
- What should you remember when giving seafood to dogs?
What kind of food can dogs eat in general?
Dogs are omnivores that can eat a mixture of meat and plant-based produce to meet their daily nutritional needs. Thanks to their strong teeth and intestine size, they are physically capable of chewing and digesting various types of food. These include grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in fiber.
Do dogs need seafood in their diet?
Animal-derived protein is a major component in a dog’s diet. The essential amino acids needed by dogs—namely arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine—can be derived from high-quality protein sources. Amino acids aid in tissue growth and repair, keeping your dog’s body in tip-top shape.
By definition, seafood is considered as protein since it comes from the edible flesh of aquatic animals. Amino acids are also found in seafood, but the amount ranges depending on each type. Fish can contain about seven to eight grams of protein per ounce, while crustaceans can have about six grams of protein per ounce. Aside from being a great source of protein, seafood is also packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
More than just being a good source of nutrients, seafood can be beneficial for dogs with certain food allergies and intolerances. Beef, chicken, and eggs are the most common protein allergens for dogs.
Which seafood products can dogs eat?
Seafood is commonly divided into fish and shellfish, the latter of which includes crustaceans, mollusks, and echinoderms. Before adding seafood to your dog’s meals, it’s always best to speak with your veterinarian. Remember, seafood has varying levels of mercury content, toxins, pollutants, and parasites that may harm your pet.
Packed with vitamin B12 and zinc, a crab is a type of crustacean whose soft meat can be eaten by dogs in moderation. The crab should be fully cooked without seasoning. Before serving, the flesh must be taken from the hard shell as the thick exoskeleton may cause choking, mouth or throat injury, and/or intestinal blockages. Note that some dogs are allergic to crab due to its high iodine content.
Dogs that enjoy eating fish should only be given small, younger, wild-caught fish. Safe options include salmon, tilapia, halibut, herring, whitefish, flounder, char, catfish, cod, and whiting. Salmon, including its skin, should be given in limited amounts since too much of it may cause weight gain. A type of small oily fish, sardines can also be given to dogs as they are packed in water and do not contain salt.
On the other hand, it is best to steer clear of tuna (especially longfin tuna), tilefish, swordfish, shark, and King mackerel. These fish have higher levels of mercury and parasites because of their size and age.
Similar to crab, lobster should be cooked thoroughly and plainly. The hard shell should also be completely removed to prevent accidents. When served right, your dog can derive minerals such as zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium from its tender flesh. However, dogs should only eat limited amounts of lobster as it is packed with sodium and fat.
When prepared and given correctly, mussels can provide your dog with amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes. They are also packed with minerals such as iron, manganese, and zinc. These help with your dog’s energy, metabolism, and joints.
Dogs can only eat oysters that are shucked and cooked without seasonings. Oyster dishes prepared with butter, lemon, garlic, and wine should be avoided as these ingredients are toxic for dogs.
Low-calorie shrimp can be shared with your dog as it contains protein, selenium, and vitamin B12. Just remember to cook it plainly, and discard the head, shell, and tail before serving. Also, choose trusted suppliers when buying shrimp. Farm-raised shrimp may contain harmful chemicals such as antibiotics, disinfectants, and pesticides.
What should you remember when giving seafood to dogs?
Before adding anything new to your dog’s diet, discuss things with your veterinarian as your dog may have allergies or intolerances to seafood. Introduce one kind of cooked seafood in a very small amount. Then, observe him for any changes in the next few hours. Watch for any of the following symptoms: itchy skin, paws, or ears, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, lack of energy, aggression, and even weight loss.
Be sure to purchase fresh seafood from trusted suppliers. Opt for wild-caught instead of farmed ones as the latter may have been raised in poor conditions and given low-quality food and/or harmful chemicals. If you’re keen on buying farmed seafood, buy ones with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) seal. From abalone and bivalve to shrimp and tilapia, the ASC guarantees that the seafood was grown following environmentally and socially responsible standards.
When preparing fish for dogs, be sure to clean it properly by skinning and deboning it. Aside from the skin and bones, remove the head, fins, and tail before giving it to your pet. Similarly, the tough shells of shellfish should never be given to dogs. These may cause obstructions or tears in your dog’s mouth, airway, intestines, and other internal organs.
When cooking seafood for dogs, boil, steam, bake, or grill it plainly. Never give your dog raw seafood (even if it’s just a slice of sushi) as well as smoked seafood. Raw seafood can contain listeria, salmonella, and other dangerous bacteria and parasites. Meanwhile, smoked seafood contains high amounts of salt and sugar, which can cause health complications.
If your pet accidentally ate cooked seafood that isn’t meant for him, check for pieces of brittle bones or sharp shells in his mouth. Carefully remove and discard them. Observe him for symptoms of intestinal blockage such as vomiting, weakness, fever, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. He may also have blood in his stool or vomit, a swollen abdomen, or display difficulty in defecating. Moreover, find out which ingredients were used to flavour the seafood as these may be toxic for him. Contact your vet immediately to inform him of your findings.
Check out other dog feeding guides for puppies and seniors in our blog. Or look through our suggestions of slow feeder bowls to improve the way your dog consumes his food.
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