By Dr Daisy A. May MRCVS BVSc, Veterinary Surgeon
Before we jump into answering the question of “can dogs eat squid?”, I’d like to take a moment to briefly explain why I am giving up a perfectly lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon (whilst traveling in Spain) to write such a detailed blog post on such a random (and specific) seafood related topic.
You can skip the pre-amble using the contents table below, if you wish.
But you’ll regret it...it’s an interesting story, especially towards the end.
- Nutritional Values Of Squid
- Benefits And Risks Of Feeding Your Dog Squid
- Omega Fatty Acids
- Vitamins And Minerals
- Bacteria And Food Poisoning Risk
- Mercury Levels In Squid
- Squid Allergies In Dogs
- How Can I Safely Source And Prepare Squid For My Dog?
- Sustainability And Morality
- Can My Dog Eat Calamari?
- TLDR: Can Dogs Eat Squid?
For those who haven’t skipped (yay! Thanks for being here!):
I’m aware that researching whether dogs can eat squid is an odd choice of leisure activity.
But when I started this veterinary blog, I wanted my main focus to be providing accurate, vet-written, and trustworthy information for dog and cat owners to access online free of charge.
I was frankly getting frustrated with the lack of credible sources that seemed to be available online for pet parents.
Half of the sources out there appear to have been AI-generated (AI software is now very commonly used to generate blog posts and website content, since it’s vastly cheaper than hiring an actual freelance content writer).
This is a problem, because AIs have not been to vet school.
Nor are they able to differentiate between factual, accurate information and pure bullshit.
I’m no software expert, but my understanding is that these “machines” work by scanning all the available information currently online, and compiling it into seemingly novel content.
So…if there’s a lack of accurate online resources relating to a topic (for example, “can dogs eat squid?”), then the AI generated article will contain information that is factually incorrect, even if the article appears coherent and credible.
Therefore, even though honestly I can think of a tonne of things I’d rather be doing, I have spent the last several hours applying my ten years of veterinary education and experience to (I can’t believe I’m saying this) squid.
You’re so welcome.
Rant over; why squid specifically?
Well: to help me understand exactly what topics pet owners need information on, I use SEO software which basically tells me what pet-related questions people are googling; how many people are googling it; and – broadly speaking – how good the currently available results are in terms of their quality and reliability.
Don’t ask me why, but it turns out a lot of you are googling “can dogs eat squid?”
500 of you a month in the USA alone, in fact.
Y’all are pretty weird that side of the pond, if you don’t mind me saying 🙂
So – as much as I’d rather be at the beach (or ironically, drinking sangria and enjoying a plate of calamari), here I am. Sat at my laptop. About to embark on a journey into “can dogs eat squid?”
It’s also partially a revenge post, because an exceptionally rude freelance writing client tried to commission me recently to write a blog post on this exact topic (which to be fair, I was already planning on covering for VeryRealVet).
Initially, I was open to writing the post for him instead, and leaving it off VRV...but needless to say, after he first subtly insulted my blog and then bluntly questioned my ability to read, I declined to work for him.
Allen, if you’re reading this, I hope you have a chance encounter with a Humboldt squid off the coast of British Columbia.
So please, feel free to join me on this revenge quest to outrank Allen on Google / deep dive into crustaceans and canine nutrition.
Nutritional Values Of Squid
100g / 3.5oz of steamed or boiled (ie, boring) squid contains the following (approximately):
- Calories: 183
- Total Fat: 2.8g
- (Saturated: 0.7g)
- Cholesterol: 464mg
- Sodium: 428mg
- Carbohydrate: 6.1g
- (Sugars: trace)
- Protein: 31g
- Vitamin C: 7.5mg
- Iron: 1.2mg
- Calcium: 64mg
- Potassium: 441mg
- Sodium: 44mg
- Phosphorus: 330mg
- Thiamin (vit B1): 0.038mg
- Riboflavin (vit B2): 0.779mg
- Niacin (vit B3): 3.898mg
- Pyridoxine (vit B6): 0.1mg
- Folate (vit B9): 0.007mg
As an overview then: squid is pretty low in fat (especially low in saturated fat), practically sugar-free, and high in protein.
It’s also pretty dense in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals); especially B vitamins, which are water-soluble vitamins that you (and your dog) can only store in your body for a short period of time, and therefore need a regular supply of.
Sounding good for far.
But don’t reach for your spearfishing gun and flippers yet…there’s more.
Benefits And Risks Of Feeding Your Dog Squid
As mentioned, squid is a low fat, high protein food, so no concerns in this respect.
What little fat squid does contain, is pretty healthy fat. You might already have noticed other online sources touting the potential benefits of the omega fatty acids which squid contains.
Such sources are partially right (let me explain).
Omega Fatty Acids
100g of squid contains up to 0.6g (600mg) of omega 3 fatty acids, which can be particularly beneficial for dogs with arthritis, allergies or skin issues.
HOWEVER; for reference, the recommended dose of omega 3 for an arthritic dog who is around 10kg / 20lb, would be 1600mg (1.6g) /day.
So – you’d need to give a 20lb dog more than 250g of squid to meet a single day’s recommended intake.
This is not an approach I would recommend. Consider instead a targeted joint or skin support supplement containing omega 3 fatty acids, such as YuMove Skin and Coat Care (Itching) Oil for allergic dogs or those suffering with their skin, or YuMove Joint Care Supplement to support healthy joints and help manage arthritis.
It’s safer, easier, cheaper and less stinky than purchasing a vast quantity of squid daily.
Now let’s talk micronutrients.
Vitamins And Minerals
Squid is swimming in B vitamins (even after it’s no longer swimming).
Now, realistically if 90% (or more) of your dog’s diet is made up of a high quality, complete commercial dog food (rather than something ridiculous and dangerous like raw chicken carcasses), then they may well be getting their requirements for B vitamins, potassium, calcium etc. met already…so although squid is relatively rich in vitamins and minerals, you certainly don’t need to include it in your dog’s daily menu.
However, fun fact: you can’t overdose on water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and the B vitamins.
This is because any excess you take in, will be pee’d out.
So there isn’t really any harm in providing a B vitamin complex supplement (I like this one from Purina, mostly because (unlike a squid-based fad diet) it doesn’t contain a whole bunch of other crap that your dog doesn’t need and which may do more harm than good).
B vitamin supplements may improve energy levels, skin and coat health for some dogs, especially those with high metabolic requirements (such as very athletic or working dogs).
Back to squid, though – you (and you dog) can certainly overdose on the potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus that squid also contains, if these things are eaten in very excessive amounts, and especially if this is continued over a prolonged period of time.
As such, no vet is going to be recommending that you feed your dog a squid-based diet.
Be aware too, that because of the high levels of potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium, dogs and cats with kidney disease should not eat squid; they should stick solely to their prescription renal (kidney support) diet.
A kidney that isn’t functioning at max capacity is going to struggle to get rid of excess electrolytes, which can in turn build up to potentially risky blood levels.
Bacteria And Food Poisoning Risk
Additionally, in terms of risks, raw squid can harbour potentially dangerous bacterial populations, including (but not limited to) Salmonella and Listeria.
Feeding dogs raw meat is a bad idea, period. Squid is no exception. If you choose to feed your dog raw meat or seafood, you’re rolling the dice with regards to food poisoning.
If you’re interested in more information, then I invite you to check out this post…unless you’re the type of raw feeding fanatic who prefers snorting bonemeal and bathing in chicken blood, over science.
Honestly, if you believe your French Bulldog is a wolf, I’m afraid this post will probably just offend you. Probably best to stick to reading about squid, on this blog.
Anybody who has been keenly googling squid, might also have come across something called “vibrio poisoning” or “vibriosis”.
Humans who are unlucky enough to have consumed dodgy seafood containing the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus may experience watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramping.
Those oysters will absolutely ruin a romantic getaway.
It would appear that only primates (such as humans) can get vibrio poisoning. Dogs appear to be pretty immune, however this cheeky bacterium can also gain entry to your body through skin wounds. So, you should absolutely be careful handling raw squid to prepare it for your dog, especially if you have a paper cut.
Consider wearing gloves if you’re ever handling raw seafood, to be on the safe side, especially if you are in any way immunocompromised.
Mercury Levels In Squid
Many of you will already be aware that seafood tends to contain mercury, and that mercury poisoning (usually a result of ingesting excessive levels of mercury over a long period of time) can result in a variety of unpleasant and/or dangerous effects.
Compared to many types of fish and seafood, squid contains relatively little mercury; 0.024 parts per million, or thereabouts. For comparisons sake, fresh tuna contains 0.144 parts per million. So, tuna contains six times more mercury than squid, on average.
This means that your dog (or perhaps more likely, your cat) is much more likely to suffer from mercury poisoning as a result of regularly being fed tuna, than squid. So really, mercury is more of a consideration than a risk, when it comes to feeding squid, unless you’re being super excessive with it.
For those who are interested, you can see the relative mercury levels of all commonly eaten fish and crustaceans here:
Squid Allergies In Dogs
Finally, a word on seafood allergies in dogs.
Dogs can be allergic to the proteins in seafood, just like they can (far more commonly) be allergic to the proteins in chicken, beef, lamb…any protein, really.
Typically, allergic reactions will result in some combination of itchy skin, vomiting and/or diarrhea, or breaking out in hives.
In very rare instances, anaphylaxis may result.
But honestly, I’ve never met a dog who’s had such a severe seafood allergy that it caused anaphylaxis. It would seem that this sort of very serious seafood allergy is significantly more common in humans than in dogs.
How Can I Safely Source And Prepare Squid For My Dog?
If you’re going to feed your dog squid as a conscious choice (and aren’t just googling this because you gave him or her a calamari ring and panicked), then I would recommend you sourcing human quality, fresh squid from a supermarket or reputable fishmonger.
Then simply treat it as you would if you were planning to serve it to yourself or your family. I.e., keep it refrigerated at an appropriate temperature at all times, and cook it within a day or two.
In terms of cooking method, I would suggest that you boil it or steam it. Or air fry it, if you want to get really fancy with it (side note: air fryers are also a fantastic addition to the kitchen of anybody who, like me, lusts after the salty succulence and crunch of junk food, but prefers not to outgrow their trousers).
If you were instead to fry it in a little oil, this wouldn’t harm your dog (again, assuming they aren’t pancreatitis-prone), but this method is obviously less healthy.
And finally, if you’re cooking squid for your dog, don’t add salt or any other seasonings (fight me, Gordon Ramsey). You can always add these afterwards, to your own portion.
Sustainability And Morality
I’m going to blow your mind now: squid are as intelligent as dogs. Possibly more intelligent, depending upon the specifics of your definition of intelligence.
Your average dog has about 530 million neurons in their brain. Some types of squid also have around 500 million brain neurons. For comparison’s sake, rats (also a highly intelligent species) have about 200 million.
Science has proven that squid can count. They can solve problems. They can recognize patterns, and they engage in complex communication with one another.
Many squid communicate within their social groups by rapidly changing the color of their skin, flashing pulses of different colors, in patterns believed to be similar to that of humans arranging words in a sentence.
It is believed that squid will use different colour patterns to communicate anything from “I’m going to catch this fish now” to “I love you” to their companions (insert teary-eyed emoji here)!
Can your dog do that?
In terms of sustainability, this is such a complex area that it is simply impossible for me to combine all the available information and produce a concise version summing up both sides of the squid-and-sustainability argument for you.
As a short version, my research around this topic leads me to believe that squid fishing is relatively sustainable compared to other forms of fishing, but that frankly large-scale fishing in general is anything but sustainable and is wrecking absolute havoc on our oceans.
Honestly, since watching Seaspiracy on Netflix (highly recommend), I’ve realized the situation is a lot more complicated than I initially thought.
But yeah…a little too deep, and a little too complex really, for this particular blog post.
Can My Dog Eat Calamari?
Added as an afterthought, since most of you are probably googling this because you shared your calamari then panicked.
Realistically if you give your dog a few calamari rings, unless the chef literally doused it in garlic, or it happens to be a dodgy calamari ring (with the eater – human or canine – destined for food poisoning), then your dog is going to be fine.
A little bit of calamari batter isn’t going to be dangerous for a dog, although it is high fat; calamari is deep-fried, after all (hence why it’s so delicious).
This is certainly a concern for any dogs who have had previous bouts of pancreatitis, as we know that high fat foods can set off future pancreatic attacks.
Try and finish the calamari yourself, next time?
If you can’t, I have a cat who is willing to help.
TLDR: Can Dogs Eat Squid?
Yes. Dogs can have fresh, carefully sourced and plainly cooked, unseasoned squid as an occasional addition to their menu.
The odd calamari ring is also not going to hurt your dog (see “can my dog eat calamari?” section, above)
On it’s own, it’s simply not a balanced food. But the odd small portion (prepared appropriately) is not going to harm your dog.
Overall, my counter question would be this: yes, dogs can eat squid.
But given everything we’ve discussed, why would you bother feeding it to them?
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