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Shrimp, Clams & Oysters

Can Seafood (other than fish) be Fed to Our Pets?

By: Mia Lund

Can Seafood (other than Fish) be Fed to Our Pets?​

Many pet owners wonder whether they can feed other seafood apart from fish.
Here is a short description of the most common ones that can be included raw in our dogs’ and cats’ diets:

Most seafood, like crustaceans and shellfish are quite high in natural sodium, so it’s best to feed sparingly, mainly as treats or snacks, rather than whole meals of them. Shellfish generally have more sodium than fish, ranging from 100 to 500 milligrams per 3oz (85g). Some processed or frozen seafood products may contain significantly higher sodium levels and also other additives, so check carefully before buying.

Seafood is a low calorie food but has high quality protein containing all the essential amino acids. Animal muscle tissue, particularly marine, contain high taurine concentrations as well as iodine, so that is good to note!

Because 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.

If you suspect that your pet is allergic to seafood, it is best avoided. When someone has a seafood allergy, their immune system has an abnormal reaction to either fish, crustacean or shellfish proteins. --- Don’t confuse an allergy to seafood with Histamine Poisoning though, as the latter is caused by ingesting fish that contain high levels of histamine, a chemical that forms when certain types of fish start to decompose. When seafood is not properly frozen, stored or refrigerated, high levels of histamine may develop. Histamine poisoning causes symptoms similar to seafood allergic reactions and can often be mistaken for a fish, crustacean or shellfish allergic reaction. Consult your vet if your pet seems ill after eating seafood.

Crayfish, crab, lobsters, prawns and shrimp can be fed to dogs/cats, but not recommended 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.

Shellfish and saltwater fish 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 shrimp. About 55% of global commercial shrimp is currently farmed. Pacific white shrimp is the most widely farmed single species. Other widely farmed species include black tiger shrimp and giant freshwater prawn.

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).

Shellfish include bivalve mollusks, which have a hinged two-part shell like oysters, scallops, mussels and clams. The shells contain calcium carbonate and are quite hard and sharp, so best not to feed. Also beware of toxins like Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and that your shellfish come 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 (GLM)
A lot of research has been done on New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels and they are sold not only as food but also 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 great 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 their 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 for raw GLM by weight of dog/cat:

Less than 5kg(10lbs): 3-6g/day

5-10kg(10-20lbs): 5-10g/day

10-30kg(20-60lbs): 10-20g/day

Over 30kg(65lbs): 20-40g/day

Powdered GLM Dosage: 15mg of powder per 0.5kg/1lb of body weight

Capsule Dosage

Small Dogs/ Cats: 500mg

Medium Dogs: 750mg

Large Dogs: 1000mg

Blue Mussels

Blue Mussels are generally smaller, have a stronger taste and different texture from Green Lipped Mussels. Previously, Blue Mussels were seen as a pest species in NZ and dumped. Now they are 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

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.


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