top of page

Can Dogs Eat Seafood?

Updated: Feb 28

Feeding seafood to dogs can be safe, but it depends on the type of seafood and how it's prepared. Fish is generally a good option, while caution is needed with shellfish and other aquatic creatures. When considering fish, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  1. Lifespan: Choose shorter-lived fish species to avoid higher levels of toxins and heavy metals that accumulate in longer-lived fish like tuna or sea bass.

  2. Size: Smaller fish have lower mercury levels than larger ones, which can be harmful to dogs. Opt for fish no longer than 6 inches, such as sardines, anchovies, or herring.

  3. Bones: Beware of fish with many small, brittle bones, as they can pose a choking risk. Ensure the fish is properly cleaned before feeding.

  4. Fat Content: Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like some varieties, can benefit dogs by improving their coat health and reducing the risk of heart disease.

  5. Smell and Freshness: Choose fresh seafood with a mild smell, as a strong fishy or ammonia-like odor may indicate spoilage.

It's crucial to offer seafood to dogs in moderation and not as a primary diet. A well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs is essential. Before introducing new foods, including seafood, consult with Alix (who is qualified in Canine Nutrition) to ensure it aligns with your dog's specific dietary requirements and health conditions.

Benefits of Feeding Seafood to Dogs

While it's essential to be cautious when selecting seafood for dogs, incorporating fish and seafood into their diet can offer various benefits, including:

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Seafood is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can contribute to improved coat health, reduced inflammation, and enhanced cardiovascular function in dogs.

  2. High Protein Levels: Seafood is a protein-rich food source, supporting muscle maintenance and overall growth in dogs.

  3. Nutrient-Rich: Seafood is packed with essential nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, promoting overall health and vitality.

  4. Low Unhealthy Fat: Seafood generally contains lower levels of unhealthy fats, making it a healthier dietary option for dogs.

  5. Antioxidants: Seafood contains a significant amount of antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress and support the immune system in dogs.

  6. Allergy-Friendly: It can be an excellent alternative for dogs with allergies to other protein sources like poultry or beef.

  7. Highly Digestible: Seafood is usually easily digestible, making it suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Risks of Feeding Seafood to Dogs

Despite the benefits, there are potential risks associated with feeding seafood to dogs, including:

  1. Toxins and Heavy Metals: Some seafood may contain toxins, heavy metals, and pollutants that can be harmful to dogs, especially if consumed in large quantities.

  2. Harmful Preservatives: Commercial pet foods containing fish might include harmful preservatives, so it's crucial to read labels carefully.

  3. Bacterial and Parasitic Contamination: Raw or improperly cooked seafood, particularly farmed fish, can carry bacteria like salmonella and listeria or parasites like roundworms and tapeworms, posing health risks to dogs.

  4. Allergic Reactions: Like any food, seafood can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs, leading to skin issues, digestive problems, or respiratory distress.

  5. Thiamine Deficiency: Feeding dogs large amounts of certain fish species can lead to thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, causing neurological problems.

  6. Choking Hazard: Bones, shells, and scales in some seafood can pose a choking risk or cause intestinal blockage in dogs.

To ensure your dog safely benefits from seafood, choose appropriate fish types, cook it thoroughly, and introduce it gradually into their diet. Regularly consult with a veterinarian to address any specific dietary concerns or health conditions your dog may have.

Seafood That Dogs Can Safely Consume

In general, fish that has been carefully deboned, properly cleaned, and thoroughly cooked is safe for canine consumption. However, it's crucial to avoid excessive fish intake, as it may lead to thiamine deficiency, which can have severe consequences for your pet's health and, in extreme cases, even result in death.

Uncooked fish is rich in nutrients and may be enticing to dogs, but it also carries the risk of flukes, tapeworms, or roundworms. To eliminate any potential parasites, it's advisable to freeze raw fish for a few weeks before feeding it to your dog. When serving the meal, make sure to thaw it properly before offering it to your furry friend.

Cooked Salmon

Boneless salmon fillets are considered a premium meal for dogs, but it's essential to ensure they come from a reliable source and aren't farmed. Cooked salmon provides essential fatty acids and proteins without significant long-term side effects. To maintain a balanced diet, limit salmon consumption to once or twice a week, following appropriate portion recommendations.


Known as one of the healthiest fish due to their plankton-based diet and short lifespan, sardines can be fed to dogs either raw or cooked. However, be cautious with canned sardines, as they are typically high in sodium, which can be harmful to your dog's health. Considering their nutritional value, portion control is essential, particularly for overweight dogs.

Herring and Anchovies

Despite their small size, herring and anchovies are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They can be beneficial additions to a dog's diet when served raw or properly cooked. Avoid smoked, pickled, marinated, or canned fish, as they may contain harmful ingredients.

Krill Oil

For those who prefer not to give fish directly to their dogs, supplementing their meals with a tablespoon or two of krill oil can provide the needed omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil is a safe alternative to fish oil since it contains all the nutrients without the risk of toxins and is derived from minuscule crustaceans.


Similar to humans, seaweed is considered a superfood with its rich mineral and vitamin content. Dried seaweed sheets or powder can be sprinkled on your dog's food to offer its numerous benefits.

Seafood to Avoid Giving Dogs


While fresh tuna may be delicious, it contains high levels of mercury, leading to potential mercury poisoning in dogs when consumed regularly. Canned tuna is even worse due to added preservatives and additives, making it a harmful choice for dogs.

Fish Oil

Due to pollution in oceans, fish oil can contain arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead, posing a risk of cancer and damage to a dog's nervous system. As such, fish oil supplementation is not recommended.

Shellfish (Shrimp, Lobster, Crab)

When cooked and properly cleaned, small amounts of shrimp, lobster, or crab meat are acceptable for dogs. However, excessive consumption can lead to health issues, such as high sodium content, toxins, and iodine in crab meat. There is also a risk of allergies to consider.

Bivalve Mollusks (Clams, Scallops, Oysters)

Feeding clams, scallops, or oysters as a meal to dogs can lead to problems, as they filter water and accumulate toxins in their tissues. Consumption may cause issues such as paralytic shellfish poisoning.


Feeding dogs sushi can be problematic due to potential parasite transmission and the presence of ingredients like avocado or rice vinegar that are unsafe for dogs.

Fish Sticks and Imitation Crab Meat

While not inherently harmful, fish sticks and imitation crab meat lack nutritional value for dogs and are made from poor-quality ingredients, making them unsuitable for regular consumption.


bottom of page