Feeding Other Seafood
By Mia Lund
We often get questions about what other kinds of seafood apart from fish can be fed to our dogs and cats. So here is a short description of the most common ones that may be included raw in our pets’ diets.
As most seafood, like crustaceans and shellfish are quite high in natural sodium, it’s best to feed sparingly, mainly as treats or snacks, rather than whole meals of them. Most shellfish generally have more sodium than fish has, ranging from 100 to 500 milligrams per 3oz. Some processed or frozen seafood products may contain significantly higher sodium levels and also other additives, so check carefully before buying.
Since some of these seafoods contain Thiaminase (which affects Thiamine/Vit B1) it would be preferable to feed them separately from vitamin B1 containing food. Also these foods need to be frozen for a minimum of 3 weeks in order to kill any parasites.
Seafood is a low calorie food but has high quality protein which has all the essential amino acids. Animal muscle tissue, particularly marine, contain high taurine concentrations, so that is worth noting.
If you suspect that your pet is allergic to seafood, they are best avoided. When someone has a seafood allergy, their immune system has an abnormal reaction to either fish, crustacean or shellfish proteins.
Histamine poisoning, on the other hand, is caused by ingesting fish that contain high levels of histamine, a chemical that forms when certain types of fish start to decompose. High levels of histamine develop when fish is not properly frozen or refrigerated. Histamine poisoning causes symptoms similar to seafood allergic reactions and can often be mistaken for a fish, crustacean or shellfish allergic reaction. Seek vet advice if your pet seems ill after eating seafood.
Crab, crayfish, lobsters, prawns and shrimp can be fed to dogs/cats, but best not to feed the shells (exoskeletons) as they are made of chitin and carnivores don’t have enough chitinase to digest them properly. The majority of crustaceans are aquatic, living in either marine or freshwater environments. In general these Crustaceans have great nutrients like: taurine, omega 3, vit B12, B3, B6, protein, selenium, phosphorus, choline, copper, iodine, iron, zinc, vit E and A, magnesium and astaxanthin.
Saltwater fish and shellfish contain considerably more iodine than do freshwater species, and saltwater shellfish are the most iodine-rich of all seafood. Fresh, wild shrimp is fine, but best to carefully check sources for farmed. About 55% of global commercial shrimp is currently farmed. Pacific white shrimp is the most widely farmed single species. Other widely farmed species include giant freshwater prawn and black tiger shrimp. Four ounces of shrimp provides about 325 -375 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, including about 50% EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 50% DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
These include bivalve mollusks, which have a hinged two-part shell like oysters, scallops, mussels and clams. The hard shells contain calcium carbonate and are quite sharp, so best not feed. Also beware of toxins like Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and that your shellfish comes from clean waters.
Oysters and mussels, contain between 500 - 1000 mg Omega 3 per 3 oz.
Clams, crab and lobster contain between 200 - 500 mg Omega 3 per 3 oz
Green Lipped Mussels
There has been done a lot of research on New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels and they are sold not only as food but as "supplements." The anti-inflammatory properties of GLM have been attributed to a variety of pharmacologically active components. GLM has been shown to contain a unique omega-3 fatty acid, eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA). Also, studies have suggested that GLM can actually help to reduce gastrointestinal irritation associated with long-term ingestion of some NSAIDs.
GLM have glucosamine, chondroitin, zinc, and magnesium, which are beneficial for joints. As well as ETA, EPA and DHA. (Omega 3), iodine, iron, taurine, manganese, selenium and vitamin B12, B6, C and E. The benefits claimed from Green Lipped Mussel consumption are joint and muscle support (anti-inflammatory) as well as better skin and coat health. All of these nutrients combined are said to be beneficial for pets that suffer from dry, flaky skin, arthritis, mobility problems, cognitive and eye health issues (DHA from Omega-3’s). Since GLM come from high salinity waters, they can contain between 400- 500mg natural sodium/4oz (113g). The weight of a medium mussel is around 16g and of a large mussel around 20g.
They are best fed raw or they can also be dehydrated or given in powder form. (Dosage in our chart below)
Blue mussels are generally smaller, have a stronger taste and different texture from Green Lipped Mussels. Previously, NZ Blue mussels were treated as a pest species in NZ and dumped. Now they are going to be used as protein-rich feeds for aquaculture farms. Blue Mussels most likely also have anti-inflammatory properties but more research is needed. They have similar nutrients to GLM like EPA/DHA, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc. copper, Vit A, C, B6 and B12.
Oysters are also fine to feed. They have nutrients similar to mussels like: Omega-3 fatty acids, taurine, vit A, B12, C and D, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and selenium. Check they are from clean, cool waters and are tested for contamination.
Other shellfish are mollusks like squid and octopus. Squid is low in fat, high in protein and has good micro-nutrients like copper, zinc, vit B2,B3 and B12 plus Omega 3 around 422mg/3oz (85g).
If you choose to feed the whole squid (the head contains eyes and organs) it’s best to remove the pen (the internal shell) and beak, as they contain chitin which isn't well digested by carnivores. Also check for a poison sac and ink sac.