Can I Give My Dog Sushi?
Though many of us hated it when we were children, many people grow to love sushi upon reaching adulthood. It also happens to be one of the few foods that feels decadent and celebratory, yet is also considered by many people to be one of the healthier widely available meal options. Since it’s apparently such a healthy treat, and since we know our dogs to be nature’s perfect omnivores, we may be tempted to bring our canine companions a couple sushi rolls as a treat. After all, don’t our dogs have stronger stomachs than we do? If we can handle a little raw fish, why wouldn’t they be able to? Can dogs have sushi?
The answer is yes, but with some considerations and restrictions. Giving your dog a sushi roll or two most likely will not harm their health (and will probably make them very happy!), but if you are not cautious, your dog may wind up suffering some adverse effects. Do not give your dog sushi if there is any chance that it may be spoiled (leftovers are not a good idea in this situation), and remember to monitor your dog’s salt and calorie intake. If your dog is overweight or obese, you may want to stick with kibble and low-calorie vegetables.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Sushi?
Are there any health benefits in sushi? This largely depends on exactly what kind of sushi you feed your dogs, but there are some (small) potential health benefits. The biggest benefits are probably the ones associated with the raw salmon which is often an ingredient in sushi. As it pertains to dog nutrition, salmon is most often praised for its high Omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3s are wonderful for your dog’s skin and coat health—in fact, feeding your dog foods that are naturally high in these fatty acids are great for combatting itchy skin and dandruff, as well as giving your dog a thick, shiny coat.
Omega-3s are also powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, which can prevent and alleviate the symptoms of many diseases. Supplementing your dog’s diet with anti-inflammatory nutrients, like Omega-3 fatty acids, can dull the effects of autoimmune diseases and allergies. It can also have a powerful effect on the pain, swelling, and loss of mobility associated with arthritis in older dogs. They may, too, protect eye health and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Another big benefit of feeding your dog Omega-3 fatty acids is the effect that they have on heart health: research shows that consuming certain fatty acids may lower your dog’s chances of developing cardiovascular problems. By supplementing your furry friend’s diet with these foods (like the fish found in sushi), you may be able to battle arrhythmias and prevent or lower high blood pressure. This is, of course, within the context of an otherwise healthy diet—your dog can’t live on unhealthy table scraps and expect to counter all those negative health effects by eating a piece of sushi every now and then!
What are the risks associated with feeding sushi to dogs? There are several things to watch out for. The first two, which are safe in the short term but may cause damage in the long term, are excess salt and sugar. Sushi rice sometimes contains a lot of simple sugars, which can increase your dog’s chances of weight gain and diabetes.
Things to Keep in Mind
While sushi is not as high in salt as some of our other favorite foods, it can contain quite a bit of hidden sodium both within the rice and in soy sauce. Be aware of the salt content of the sushi that you share with your dog, and avoid adding any extra soy sauce. Your dog is not going to complain about the lack of extra salt.
The last concern is the least unpleasant: parasites. Raw fish, especially obtained from questionable sources, is a great environment for various parasites that can make your dog sick. Symptoms vary from the benign, like nausea and vomiting, all the way to the life-threatening. The three most common parasites in raw fish are tapeworms, roundworms, and flukes. Flukes in particular may result in a condition called salmon poisoning, which can kill dogs if left untreated. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, physical weakness and lethargy, dehydration, diarrhea, and bloody stool. Some pet owners recommend freezing all raw fish before feeding it to pets—this is thought to kill the parasites.
In sum, as long as it is given in moderation, sushi is about as safe for our pets as it is for us. Some of the ingredients, such as salmon and seaweed, may offer health benefits such as reduced inflammation and a lowered risk of heart disease. Other ingredients, including the white rice and added salt content, can be harmful to your dog’s health if they eat them too frequently. In addition, raw fish may be contaminated with parasites. To be safe, feed only fresh sushi to your dogs—in moderation.
Dog Eating Sushi Video: