Dogs and Seafood

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You may remember, from previous posts, this guy. Ike, my dog. Like most dogs, Ike is crazy about food. Hence, he is never far away when seafood is being prepared. I’ve often wondered, however, whether or not I should give in to Ike’s begging for fish. Can dogs safely eat seafood, or is it bad for them? Here’s what I found out.

“Can dogs eat fish? The simple answer: Yes, dogs can eat fish5.” asserts an article by Caitlin Ultimo. In all of my research I did not find a single source that said that dogs should never be given any seafood, ever.  So, it’s okay to feed your dog seafood – but not all types of seafood, not all the time5. It turns out that you need to do your homework before handing your dog that cut of fish fillet off the grill. Some seafood is healthy for dogs, and some should not be given to them under any circumstances2. The seafood also needs to be prepared in certain ways that keep it safe1,3,5, and the frequency with which it is fed also must be taken into account1.

Seafoods’ richness in omega – 3 fatty acids can benefit not only you but your furry friend.

Some seafoods are good enough for dogs’ health that dog foods providing all needed nutrition are composed mostly of them5. Seafood, as mentioned in previous posts, is known to be high in omega – 3 fatty acids which are beneficial to dogs as well as to humans2.  These foods are also high in proteins that dogs need2.

 

Larger fish with longer lifespans such as sea bass are usually among the less advisable of fish to feed to your dog.

Certain seafoods, however, are not so safe to feed to your dog. Fish with longer lifespans tend to be less healthy for canines. Examples are sea bass, tuna, and mackerel. This is due to the fact that a long – lived fish has had a longer time to build up harmful materials like heavy metals in its flesh. Larger fish are also typically more risky to feed than smaller fish. Such fish rely more on other fish for food than do smaller ones, and fish can accumulate mercury. It follows that big fish take in extra mercury from their prey and end up with higher concentrations of the chemical than do their smaller counterparts. Fish with bones that are difficult to remove completely and / or with bones that are brittle are dangerous to feed to dogs – for the obvious reasons that they lead to choking, damage of the dogs’ intestines2, and / or intestinal blockages1. A good practice is to check seafood that you plan to serve to your dog for bones while raw and then again after it is cooked5.

Short – lived fish like herring tend to be the better choices to feed your dog.

The best fish to feed your dog tend to be smaller and to have shorter lives2..Most dog foods composed of fish are now made up of species that have shorter lifespans5. Some of these fish include lake whitefish, ocean whitefish, flounder, walleye, herring, salmon pike, and arctic char5. Salmon is another healthy fish to give to dogs, if not fed in excess1.

If you feed your dog shrimp, be sure to remove the shell first!

There are other types of seafood where sources differ on whether or not you should share them with your dog. Often, there are crucial steps to take in preparing these foods to keep them safe for your pet1. One such seafood is shrimp. The peel of the shrimp must be removed before serving it to the dog, as it is detrimental to his or her stomach health1.Veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus, DVM (as interviewed by Christina Ultimo and by Teresa Traverse) said that it is fine to give (shell – less) shrimp to dogs.  Like most seafoods, shrimp has the virtues of high protein and low fat. If you, like me, have ever been faced with the CHALLENGE of getting your dog to swallow a pill, shrimp can come to the rescue!  Cut the shrimp such that you can slide the pill inside it and keep it hidden3. Canned tuna is okay to feed to dogs, but only in small amounts and only occasionally. This is owing to both high mercury concentrations and saltiness1.

Does your dog have a food allergy? If so, a diet based on fish (of course, approved by your veterinarian first) might be able to help3. Some dogs allergic to other sources of protein can get the protein that they need to thrive from fish2. This is because, not being a typical ingredient of the dog foods that your dog is allergic to, fish can contain different types of protein that your dog’s system will accept5.

Seafood – based dog foods can be a good way to provide your dog with food allergies with crucial protein – just be sure that the food you choose doesn’t also contain small amounts of the very meats with proteins that your dog is allergic to!

Speaking of food allergies, Hohenhaus brought up that it is also possible for a dog to be allergic to seafood. Though she had never seen a dog with a seafood allergy in her practice personally, she raised the point that this could be because many dogs have never been given the seafood that would cause a reaction and show them to be allergic3. Consequently, if you are feeding your dog seafood for the first time, you should feed only a small amount. Be sure to be around him or her afterward so that you’ll notice any allergic reaction1. Physical and behavioral strangeness1 such as itching or nausea3 are among the various signs of an allergic reaction. If your dog appears to be having an allergic reaction, go to the vet1.

Most veterinarians appear to be firmly against serving raw seafood to a dog1. Cooking eliminates harmful microorganisms that could be present in uncooked seafood and cause infections3. Some especially wholesome ways of cooking fish for a dog suggested by Hohenhaus include grilling, baking and steaming5 – which results in a finished food  lower in calories3.

Another benefit of steaming is that it eliminates one of the many things that can be added to seafood to render it less healthy to a dog – in this case, greasing materials. These agents include sprays, butter, and oils. Seasonings such as spices should also be steered clear of.  Ultimo nicely sums up how to serve your dog seafood. “Keep it plain and simple(Ultimo)”5.

Even when seafood is safely prepared, however, it could be bad for your dog if dished out in the wrong manner. If you plan to feed your dog seafood regularly, introducing the food in small amounts initially is important. This is in case your dog is allergic as  mentioned before, but also because the  dog’s digestive system can  be upset by too abrupt a change in diet. Then, of course, it could turn out that your dog simply doesn’t  like seafood3.

Even if your dog loves seafood, and even though a certain amount is healthy, it is also wrong to go  overboard. Despite her encouragement of feeding seafood to dogs, Hohenhaus added that feeding a dog exclusively fish is not healthy5. One article even advises not to feed seafood as the bulk of a dog’s diet2 though others preach the merits of feeding based on it5.

It is best to consult your vet or veterinary nutritionist before incorporating seafood into your dog’s diet.

Make sure to ask your vet or a veterinary nutritionist about which seafoods to feed your specific dog and how often to make sure that you are feeding seafood right. This kind of advice is necessary because dog foods are made to provide what dogs are known to need in terms of nutrition whereas with seafood (other than that in a seafood – based dog food5) there are no guarantees. A dog fed a diet built around seafood risks not getting enough calcium or other crucial nutrients if the diet is set up incorrectly3. If you choose to feed your dog with food allergies a nutritionally balanced dog food made with seafood, be sure to check that it doesn’t contain chicken, turkey, or beef. Some seafood dog foods will have small amounts of these meats and therefore still have the proteins to which your dog is allergic3.

Should you decide to serve your best friend the safe types of seafood, why not give him the very best? You can be sure that the foods from Atlantic Seafood are fresh, top –  quality, and full of enticing flavor.

Works Cited

1. Dog, Napa’ze. “Can Dogs Eat Seafood or Is It Bad For Them?”.
napasdailygrowl.com, 6 July 2015, napasdailygrowl.com/can-dogs-eat-seafood-without-getting-sick/.

2. Vuckovic, Angela. “Can Dogs Eat Seafood? Benefits and Risks”.
Petcube, 14 Dec. 2017, petcube.com/blog/dogs-seafood/.

3. Traverse, Teresa K. “Can Dogs Have Seafood?”.
chewy, www.chewy.com/petcentral/nutrition-food-treats-can-dogs-have-seafood/ .
Retrieved 9 Sept. 2018.

4.”Is Fish Good For Dogs?”.
K9MAGAZINE, 29 May 2017,
www.k9magazine.com/is-fish-good-for-dogs/.

5. Ultimo, Caitlin. “Can Dogs Eat Fish and Tuna Fish?”.
PET MD, www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_can-dogs-eat-fish.
Retrieved 12 Sept. 20

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