Can Dogs Eat Seafood? 27 Safe Snacks From the Sea

You may be wondering if it’s safe for your furry friend to enjoy some seafood. You’re not alone. 

The answer is yes, but you need to be careful. You can give your dog some seafood, and it can even be a beneficial addition to their diet. 

Seafood provides essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein.

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll learn today:

Which types of seafood are safe for your dog to eat.
Important safety precautions for serving seafood for your dog.
The great health benefits your pup can get from eating seafood. 
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can dogs have seafood

Can Dogs Eat Seafood?

Yes, dogs can eat seafood if it’s cooked properly. When cooked and served safely, seafood offers great taste and nutrition for dogs. 

Skip raw fish though, which often contains nasty bacteria or parasites that can make your dog sick. Instead, stick to cooked fresh or frozen fish.

Prioritize little fish for less mercury worries – think wild salmon, tilapia or cod. Their shorter life cycles mean lower heavy metal buildup. 

Bigger marine predators like tuna have more mercury from gobbling smaller fish for years, so ease up on the bigger catches.

Watch out for tiny fish bones too, as those brittle bits can lodge or poke inside your dog’s tummy. Stick to boneless filets, or ensure fish is thoroughly de-boned before serving.

When cooking, nix seasoning or oils to avoid upset doggy digestive systems. Plain preparation brings out that natural fish flavor dogs love. 

A simple dog-safe baked or steamed fish lets your pup enjoy both a tasty and a healthy fish dish.

Let’s look at all the seafood your dog can eat.

What Seafood is Safe for Dogs to Eat?

What Seafood is Safe for Dogs

FISH

1. Anchovies
2. Arctic Char
3. Carp
4. Catfish
5. Cod
6. Flounder
7. Haddock
8. Halibut
9. Herring
10. Mackerel
11. Perch
12. Pollock
13. Salmon
14. Sardines
15. Sprats
16. Tilapia
17. Trout
18. Whitefish

SHELLFISH

19. Calamari
20. Clams
21. Cuttlefish
22. Crab
23. Lobster
24. Mussels
25. Oysters
26. Scallops
27. Shrimp

What Seafood is NOT SAFE for Dogs to Eat? 

DO NOT give your dog any of these:

  • Raw seafood – the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advises to avoid feeding pets raw or undercooked animal proteins, including seafood, due to pathogen risk. They can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites that can cause illness.
  • Seafood bones – are a choking hazard and can cause digestive blockage or injury.
  • Seasoned seafood – including garlic, onions, excess salt, butter, oils, and fats. These can be toxic for dogs and also cause gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, and other health issues.
  • Breaded seafood – breaded, crumbed, or battered fish or shrimp, fish sticks, imitation crab sticks, or fish and crab cakes should not be fed to dogs. The added batter, breading, or crumbs contain toxic seasonings and hard-to-digest clumps that can obstruct the intestines or lead to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Fried seafood – usually cooked in fatty oil which can upset your dog’s stomach and contribute to obesity.
  • High mercury fish – high levels of mercury pose a health risk to dogs if consumed regularly or in large quantities. Mercury is a heavy metal that can damage your dog’s nervous syst

High Mercury Fish

Tuna
Shark
Swordfish
Tilefish
Marlin
Sturgeon
Bluefish

You should also consider the source of the seafood you’re feeding your dog. Farmed fish may contain antibiotics, while wild-caught fish can have more toxins and heavy metals. 

Choose seafood low in mercury, such as herring, and make sure it is properly cooked and free of bones.

As with anything, you already know that too much of any food can be bad for your pup; the same can be said with seafood. 

If you are unsure, always talk to your veterinarian for guidance on what’s best for your furry friend.

If you do get the go-signal from your vet to feed “raw” fish for your pup, watch this video for some essential guidelines and safe options.

The Health Benefits of Seafood for Dogs 

Including seafood in your dog’s diet, in moderation, can offer a variety of health benefits like high-quality protein, Omega-3s, and essential vitamins.

Here are some key benefits your dog can gain from eating seafood:

  • High-Quality Protein – Seafood is an excellent source of protein that supports muscle growth and overall health. It’s great for active dogs or those recovering from illness.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids These are great for maintaining healthy skin and a shiny coat. They also support joint health, which is good for older dogs or breeds prone to joint issues.
  • Essential Vitamins and Minerals – Seafood is rich in vital nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and various B vitamins. These contribute to a stronger immune system and your pup’s overall well-being.
  • Reduced Inflammation – The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, such as salmon and sardines, are known to reduce inflammation in your dog’s body. Dogs with chronic conditions like arthritis can benefit from this. Learn more about how to treat dogs with arthritis at home.
  • Great for Dogs with Allergies – Seafood offers a nutritious alternative if your dog is allergic to more common protein sources like chicken or beef. It’s less likely to trigger allergic reactions and is often recommended for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

When it comes to including seafood in your dog’s diet, it’s not a necessity, but it can be a healthy addition. 

Start with small amounts and watch for any signs of allergies or digestive issues. 

Every dog is different, so what works well for one may not suit another. 

A little goes a long way when it comes to seafood. I learned this when adding fish to my dog’s diet. I was hesitant at first, but after seeing the improvements in her coat and energy levels, I knew it was the right choice.

How Much Seafood Can Dogs Eat?

When it comes to feeding seafood to your dog, moderation is key. Seafood should be a small part of their overall diet. 

Here’s a simple guide to help you figure out how much and how often you can give seafood to your dog:

  • How Much – A good rule of thumb is that seafood should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s total diet. A couple of tablespoons of cooked fish per week is enough for a small dog. For larger dogs, you can increase this amount proportionally, but it’s best not to go overboard. Keep portions small and appropriate for their size and dietary needs.
  • How Often – Including seafood in your dog’s diet once or twice a week is a good amount. This way, you can ensure they reap the health benefits without overdoing it.
  • Variety is Important – Mix seafood with other protein sources throughout the week instead of at every meal. This variety ensures your dog gets a more balanced diet.
  • Watch for Allergies – Some dogs might be allergic to certain types of seafood. If you’re introducing seafood, start with a small amount and watch for adverse reactions like itching or gastrointestinal upset.

Which Seafood is the Best for Dogs?

When picking the best seafood for your dog, think about safety, nutritional value, and sustainability. The ideal choice is wild-caught, low-mercury fish that’s also sustainable. 

Here’s a quick guide to help you make the best choice for your furry friend:

Wild-Caught Fish

Wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines, and herring are excellent choices for dogs. These types of fish are typically richer in nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your dog’s skin, coat, and joint health. 

Wild-caught fish are often less exposed to antibiotics and pesticides compared to their farmed counterparts, making them a healthier option.

Low Mercury Fish

It’s important to choose seafood with low mercury levels for your dog’s safety. Smaller fish like sardines and herring are safer options. 

Larger predatory fish, such as sharks, swordfish, and some types of tuna, tend to accumulate higher levels of mercury and should be avoided or given only in small amounts occasionally.

Sustainability

Opting for sustainably sourced seafood is beneficial for the environment and often healthier for your dog. Sustainable fishing practices help ensure that fish populations and the ecosystems they live in are maintained and protected. 

Sustainability means choosing seafood sourced from wild fisheries or farms that use responsible practices to protect species and habitats for the future. 

Checking for sustainability certifications when shopping can help identify wild caught or raised seafood to feed your dog that protects the health of oceans and fish populations at the same time.

Look for certifications like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label on seafood packaging for a clear sign of these sustainable practices.

Canned Options

Canned fish can be a convenient and healthy option for your dog, especially if fresh fish is unavailable or too expensive. Canned salmon or sardines packed in water, without added oil, salt, or seasonings are good choices. 

Check the labels for any added ingredients that might not be suitable for your dog.

Learn more about canned salmon for dogs.

Fresh Options from a Local Fishmonger

For those with access to fresh seafood, buying from a local fishmonger can be an excellent choice. Fresh, locally caught fish like cod or flounder can be a great addition to your dog’s diet.

When buying fresh, you can often get information about where and how the fish was caught, ensuring you make a safe and healthy choice for your pup.

How to Cook/Prep Wild-Caught Fish for Dogs

Cooking seafood for your dog is not much different from cooking it for yourself, minus the seasonings and spices. 

Let’s start with the best method, steaming, for wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines, and herring.

Personally, I find steaming easier because I can just leave it until it’s done without worrying about burning. 

Steaming Fish for Dogs

  1. Clean the Fish: Remove any scales, guts, and bones. Bones can be particularly dangerous for dogs. Or better yet, buy it already fileted so you can avoid this messy job.
  2. Cut into Appropriate Sizes: Depending on your dog’s size, cut the fish into manageable pieces.
  3. Steam: Place the fish in a steamer or a colander over a pot of boiling water. Cover and let it steam until the fish is cooked through. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  4. Cool Down: Let the fish cool completely before serving it to your dog.

Other Cooking Methods

While steaming is a great, simple way to cook fish for dogs, there are other methods you can use:

  • Boiling: Similar to steaming, boiling is straightforward. Just cook the fish in boiling water until it’s done, then let it cool.
  • Baking: Place the cleaned and deboned fish in a baking dish. You can bake it in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the fish pieces.
  • Grilling: If you prefer to grill the fish, ensure it’s thoroughly cooked. Using a grilling basket is best to prevent small pieces from falling through the grates.

Regardless of the method you choose, remember these key points:

  • No Seasonings: Don’t add any salt, oil, butter, spices, garlic, or onions, as these can be harmful to dogs.
  • Check for Bones: Always ensure the fish is completely bone-free before serving.

Preparing seafood for your dog can be a healthy way to diversify their diet.

Keep it plain and simple, and always ensure it’s fully cooked and cooled before serving.

What Commercial Seafood Options Are Good for My Dog to Eat?

Safe Commercial Seafood for Dogs

The best commercial seafood products are those specifically formulated for dogs, ensuring they are safe and nutritious. 

Here are some good choices:

  • Canned Fish: Look for canned fish like salmon or sardines in water, not oil, with no added salt or spices. These are simple and healthy options for adding fish to your dog’s diet.
  • Pre-Made Fish-Based Dog Food: Quality dog foods are available that use fish as their primary protein source. These are formulated to provide complete nutrition and are a convenient way to include fish in your dog’s diet. I’ll include some of the best dog foods made from seafood below.
  • Fish-Based Dog Treats: Many dog treats are made with fish, offering a healthy, high-protein snack. Ensure they don’t contain harmful additives or excessive salt.
  • Freeze-Dried Fish Treats: These are a great option as they typically contain just one ingredient – fish. They are a simple and pure way to give your dog the benefits of fish.
  • Fish Oil Supplements: For an easy way to add the benefits of fish to any diet, consider fish oil supplements designed for dogs. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support skin, coat, and joint health.

When choosing any commercial seafood product for your dog, always check the label for ingredients and nutritional information. 

Avoid anything with added salt, garlic, onions, or artificial preservatives. As always, even with commercial products, seafood should only be a part of your dog’s balanced diet.

Best Dog Food With Seafood

ORIJEN High-Protein Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Six Fish Dry Dog Food, Grain Free and Chicken Free Dog Food, Fresh or Raw Ingredients, 4.5lb

Crafted with quality ingredients, ORIJEN’s high-protein, grain-free formula keeps your pup healthy and energized. 

My dog, Max, used to struggle with digestion until we switched to this food—he’s been more active, and his coat is shinier than ever. 

This is why it’s at the top of my list for the best dog food made with seafood.

Pros

  • Includes 6 whole fish – herring, salmon, monkfish, Acadian redfish, flounder, and hake
  • Grain-free, suitable for sensitive stomachs
  • Nutrient-dense formula supports immune health, skin and coat health, and digestive health.

Cons:

  • High-quality ingredients might reflect in the price
  • May not be ideal for dogs with certain dietary restrictions

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Dog Food, Life Protection Formula, Natural Fish & Brown Rice Flavor, Adult Dry Dog Food, 30 lb Bag

Blue Buffalo’s formula provides essential nutrients, supporting your dog’s immune system and overall health. It’s been a go-to for many dog owners seeking balanced nutrition for their furry friends.

Pros:

  • High-quality protein from whitefish
  • Real fruits and veggies, and wholesome whole grains
  • Essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for a healthy immune system

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for dogs with specific dietary requirements
  • Some dogs may need an adjustment period to switch to this food

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food Salmon and Rice Formula - 30 lb. Bag

Purina’s sensitive skin and stomach formula aids digestion and promotes healthy skin for dogs with specific dietary needs. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a tummy-friendly diet for your pups.

Pros:

  • Specifically crafted for sensitive stomachs
  • Supports healthy skin and digestion
  • Nutrient-rich salmon is the first ingredient

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for dogs without sensitivities
  • Transitioning to this food may require a gradual process

Zignature Whitefish Formula Dog Food

Zignature Whitefish Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food 25lb

Zignature’s limited-ingredient diet offers quality protein for dogs with sensitivities, ensuring they get the nutrition they need without the extras. 

Many dog owners have found it beneficial for their furbabies.

Pros:

  • Limited ingredient diet, suitable for sensitive dogs
  • High-quality whitefish as the main ingredient
  • Nutrient-rich formula for overall health

Cons:

  • Limited ingredient diets might not suit all dogs
  • Higher price point due to quality ingredients

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food with Smoke-Flavored Salmon 28lb

The Taste of the Wild’s grain-free formula supports muscle growth and a lustrous coat for your pup. Plus, it’s made with real salmon, too. It’s a good choice if you want a natural and healthy dog diet.

Pros:

  • Real salmon for lean muscle development
  • Grain-free for sensitive stomachs
  • Promotes a healthy coat and overall health

Cons:

  • Might not be suitable for dogs with certain dietary restrictions
  • Price might be higher due to quality ingredients

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Seafood?

Absolutely, dogs can be allergic to seafood. If your dog eats seafood and then shows symptoms like itching, vomiting, diarrhea, or swelling, these could be signs of an allergy. 

Each dog is unique, and just like people, they can react differently to the same foods. When you first give your dog seafood, watch them closely for unusual behavior or symptoms. 

If you notice something is off, they are scratching more than usual or have an upset stomach, it’s important to talk to your vet. They can help you determine if it’s an allergy and what steps to take next. 

Can Dogs Eat Shellfish?

Yes, dogs can eat shellfish, but it’s important to be cautious. While shellfish like shrimp and lobster can be a healthy treat, they must be prepared properly. 

Always cook shellfish thoroughly and remove any shells, as these can be a choking hazard or cause digestive issues.

Shellfish should be an occasional treat, not a regular part of your dog’s diet. When given correctly, shellfish can be a tasty, protein-rich snack for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Shrimp and Crab?

Yes, dogs can eat shrimp and crab, but there are some important preparation steps to follow. Both shrimp and crab must be fully cooked. 

Raw shellfish can contain harmful bacteria that could make your dog sick. 

Make sure to remove all the shells, too. Shells from shrimp and crab can be a choking hazard and might cause digestive blockages.

When cooking shrimp and crab for your dog, keep it plain. Avoid adding seasoning, butter, or oil, as these can upset your dog’s stomach and, in some cases, could harm their health. 

Serving these shellfish plain ensures they’re a safe and healthy treat.

Is Fried Fish Okay For Dogs?

No, it’s best not to give your dog fried fish. The oils and fats used in frying together with the breading and seasonings are not safe for dogs.

Stick to plain, cooked fish without any added seasonings or coatings. This way, your dog can enjoy the health benefits of fish without the risks of fried foods. 

Simpler is often better and healthier for your dog’s diet.

Can Dogs Eat Canned Salmon?

Yes, dogs can eat canned salmon. When choosing canned salmon for your dog, pick the kind that’s packed in water, not oil, and make sure it has no added salt. 

Also, it’s really important to check that there are no bones in the salmon. Bones can be a choking hazard and might harm your dog’s digestive tract. 

Canned salmon can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids for your dog, but like all treats, it should be given in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Now you probably want to know if you can give smoked salmon to your dog as well.