Contradictory information abounds regarding dogs and seafood. Most dogs would be happy to explain that you’re spelling it wrong — it’s not SEAfood, it’s SEEfood. Just hide and watch and see if they won’t eat it.
Most of the time that’s not a problem. Common sense and awareness, as they do in all things, have a paramount role; fish bones, even raw, can cause problems for dogs (or cats, for that matter), and cooked ones are definitely not a good idea. They’re needle sharp and can puncture and lacerate all the way down, starting with the gums.
Another matter that requires both common sense and awareness is to first test your dog with a small amount of seafood, especially shellfish, to see if he has any allergies. Feed the test amount alone, without other foods so you will know, if there is a reaction, exactly what caused it.
If you’re preparing fish as a part of your dog’s raw diet, removing most of the small, sharp bones and then putting some of the larger, more blunt ones, like the spine, through a meat grinder can add beneficial nutrients.
Some of the information out there regarding dogs and raw fish is confusing. There are those who maintain the old school line that raw fish can cause cause a thiamine deficiency when fed in significant amounts; the other side of the nutritional fence says that raw fish is an excellent addition to a dog’s diet, in balance with the rest of the feeding regimen. Common sense says to tailor the amount of raw fish in your dog’s diet
to your dog’s specific needs. Most owners who are going to put in the considerable time and effort required to learn how best to feed their animals on a raw diet are going to be aware of changes in the health of those animals and adjust the diet accordingly, and if you have questions or doubts there are reputable sources of nutritional information available, even knowledgeable nutritionists who will work with you to design an optimal, practical diet for your pet. Some are an e-mail (after diligent research on
your part) away.
Salmon is one seafood that has a great deal of controversial information surrounding it and its place in a dog’s diet. The fact that the omega fatty acids contained in salmon and other cold water fish are an integral part of a healthful diet is irrefutable. What comes into question is amounts of mercury and something called “salmon poisoning,” which involves an organism that infects a parasite that infects the tainted fish. It is rare, and is far more prevalent in farm raised salmon. Both fears can be largely put to rest by avoiding farm raised salmon and only using wild caught sources.
Mercury is always an issue, whether you’re feeding raw or cooked fish to your pets or eating it yourself. Moderation and an awareness of where your food originates is key to reducing the chances of toxic build ups of this heavy metal poison in the body. Cooked seafood brings up other issues.
Bones are bones, and even small fish bones get brittle when exposed to heat, so do your best to thoroughly debone any fish you’re going to give your pet. Those tiny, sharp, needle-like rib and fin bones can get driven deep into the tissues of a pet’s mouth, requiring anesthesia to locate them, if you even know what the problem is before an infection sets up. Farther down the digestive tract the problems can get worse.
Another factor to bear in mind when feeding your dog cooked seafood or leftovers is the method of preparation. Heavily breaded and fried items in excess can cause pancreatitis, a painful and traumatic experience for your dog and potentially traumatic and expensive one for you.
Common sense and awareness. To you, it’s seafood — to your dog, it’s SEEfood and he’s not going to stop until it’s all gone.