Can Dogs Eat Oysters? Are Oysters Safe for Dogs?

You’ve got a fresh plate of oysters and you’re about to dig in when your pup looks at you with expectant eyes. What do you do? Can you share this popular seafood snack with your furry friend?

It is safe to feed oysters to your dog, albeit in moderation. But are they good for your pooch? How many should they eat, and are there any health benefits that your dog can reap?

Oysters are a very beneficial source of protein. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids and are loaded with minerals including iron and selenium. They are an especially good source of zinc, which is vital for dogs and can be difficult for some breeds, especially Huskies, to absorb from food. These benefits mean that oysters can help ease joint pain. They can maintain energy levels and muscle mass. They even improve thyroid and immune system health.

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Can Dogs Eat Seafood?

As a general rule, dogs can eat most fresh seafood. Allergies are rare, although they do exist. Also, you may want to avoid feeding too much tuna to your pup because it has a high mercury level, which can be toxic to dogs as well as humans.

However, you should always exercise some degree of caution when feeding your dog something new. If he has never eaten seafood, start with only a moderate amount. You can always feed him a little more next time. But if you offer too much, you run the risk that the food is too rich for his stomach, and you could both end up suffering the consequences of canine diarrhea.

dog eating at table
Image credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Should You Cook the Oysters?

Raw fish and seafood can carry harmful bacteria, including Salmonella. This means that you will need to cook the oysters before feeding. Avoid frying seafood because this can greatly increase the fat content.

Whatever method of cooking you choose, whether you steam, roast, or grill them, the important thing is to ensure that they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill any microorganisms that could make your pet ill.

Avoid adding any oils or other seasoning, and if you don’t buy your oysters fresh, ensure that they are not processed. Many of the ingredients used in the commercial preparation of oysters can be harmful, or even toxic (we’re looking at you, garlic, and onion powder) for your dog.

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How Many Oysters Can You Feed A Dog?

Cost may well dictate the number of oysters you feed a dog. They tend to be on the more expensive side when bought fresh. However, you should also consider your dog’s stomach. Oysters can provide a good source of protein and other ingredients, especially zinc, but too many of them can also make your dog ill. This is mainly because oysters are rich.

Ideally, you should consult a veterinarian to determine the right number of oysters to give your dog. Generally, though, you should start with just one or two and ensure that they do not disagree with your pooch. If all goes well, you can try increasing the number a little. Factors such as the size of your dog and his tolerance to seafood and rich foods will determine how many oysters to feed.

grilled oysters
Image: Pikrepo

A Great Source of Protein

Dogs get a lot of their daily protein from animal sources. This includes chicken and beef, but if your dog has an intolerance or allergy to these ingredients, fish, and seafood represent a great alternative. Oysters are an especially good source of dietary protein. You can also include salmon, cod, haddock, and other varieties of fish. Protein helps your dog feel fuller for longer, without packing in unnecessary calories and ensures that their muscles remain healthy.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Oysters can contain anywhere from 500mg to 1,000mg of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving, which makes them a beneficial source of this fatty acid.

Omega-3 maintains healthy skin and prevents itchy and flaking scalp. It also helps reduce joint pain caused by inflammation, and it strengthens their immune system.

Dogs are incapable of producing omega-3 themselves, which means that it must come from diet. Some dog foods contain omega-3 additives and fish oils for this reason, but oysters are a great natural source and your dog will likely love the flavor, too.

Other Minerals in Oysters

Oysters are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain ion, selenium, and zinc. All of these are beneficial to your dog, but zinc is especially useful for maintaining skin and coat health. It helps maintain a healthy immune system. It can also help govern your dog’s mood and, therefore, its behavior.

This is another ingredient that some food manufacturers add to meals after production, and it can be found in green vegetables like:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
And other ingredients, such as:
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Eggs

Zinc is important for all dogs, but the dog’s body does not absorb this mineral well. Breeds like the Malamute and the Husky have even greater problems absorbing this chemical, so owners should ensure a higher level of zinc in their diets.

Zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss and scaly skin. It can have a detrimental effect on paw pads, too. As long as your dog has a good diet, is on a well-balanced kibble, and you haven’t been told by your veterinarian that your dog has a zinc deficiency, you may not need to worry about additional zinc content. On the other hand, if you own a Husky or Malamute, your dog is allergic to chicken, or your vet has told you that your dog has a deficiency, oysters can provide a good additional source of this important mineral.

dog eating oysters
Image: Wonderlane, Flickr CC 2.0

Feeding Your Dog Oysters

A dog’s diet is very important to their wellbeing. They need the right mix of protein, vitamins, and minerals. While some commercially manufactured foods contain these ingredients, there’s no harm in adding cooked but unfried oysters, to their diet every now and again.

Do ensure that they are cooked, avoid fried oysters, and do not feed processed foods with ingredients like powdered onion or garlic. Start with a small serving, look for signs that oysters do not agree with your dog, and only consider increasing their intake if they cope with the food well.


Featured Image: Pxfuel