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Can Dogs Eat Eel? Vet-Reviewed Risks & Dangers

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

grilled eel on white plate

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Eel is a scaleless, worm-like fish used in some types of sushi. Hundreds of species swim freely all over the world in saltwater and freshwater. Regardless of whether an eel is a freshwater or saltwater dweller, the blood can be toxic for humans and potentially dogs, making it a risky snack.

Eel has other drawbacks that can make or break your decision to offer this fish to your dog, so keep reading to learn more.

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Eel Blood and Ciguatera Poisoning

The biggest flaw in eating eel is that it can be poisonous when eaten raw and may contain other toxins. Since there hasn’t been a lot of scientific research dealing with dogs and eels, the majority of this information is being extrapolated from human medicine. Just know that feeding eel that is prepared properly may carry a low risk of issues, while improperly prepared eel may be more likely to result in problems.

Eel blood contains a toxic protein 1, potentially causing muscle cramping (including the heart). That’s why when you go to a sushi restaurant, eel is always cooked and never served raw. The toxin within the blood can be broken down by cooking, so it’s important to prepare it correctly.

In addition, you or your dog can get ciguatera poisoning from eating certain types of eel. To avoid ciguatera poisoning, limit how much fresh reef fish you include in your diet.

raw eel cut into pieces in a black tray
Image By: Photoking83, Shutterstock

Signs of Ciguatera Poisoning

Signs of ciguatera poisoning typically begin to show between 3 to 6 hours after eating the fish. In some cases, signs can show up 30 hours after consumption.

Here’s what you should look out for:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Licking the lips and teeth
  • Itching

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Eel for Dogs: Nutritional Pros and Cons

Like most fish, eel is high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein and is void of any sugar and carbohydrates. It’s also low in sodium and packed with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A and manganese.

However, it’s important to know that dogs fed a good quality diet will get all the nutrients they need. They don’t need eel as a dietary staple to supply nutrition. Since it can be a risky food to feed, you may be better off to stick with known snacks such as lean cooked chicken or safe vegetables and fruits. Talk to your veterinarian to be sure.

pug beside dog bowl kitchen floor
Image By: Katya Naumova, Shutterstock

How to Properly Prepare Eel for Your Dog (and You)

To properly prepare the eel, place the deboned eel with all internal organs removed in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 375°F. The meat should be tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. The center of the fish should be a minimum of 145°F.

Is Fish Good for Dogs?

In general, fish is great for dogs. It’s high in omega fatty acids and protein, all while being low in fat, carbs, and sugar. Fish is also low-calorie, making it a great protein source for dogs on a diet.

However, there’s a catch. Some types of fish can contain mercury, a potentially hazardous toxin.

Signs of mercury poisoning in dogs include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inappetence
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Trouble walking

Different types of fish have different levels of mercury, so be sure to consult your vet before adding fish to your dog’s diet. They can help you decide which fish to feed and how much is considered safe and healthy.

To avoid mercury poisoning, focus on offering your dog a well-balanced diet rich in several protein sources, like beef and chicken, in addition to fish. This way, your dog can reap the benefits of various protein sources at the same time.

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What Types of Fish Are Good for Dogs? Which Are Toxic?

If you love fish and want to offer your dog fresher food, check that the fish is acceptable for dogs before offering a taste. Also, make sure to feed it deboned, without seasonings, and baked without additional butter or oil. Here’s a list of safe and toxic fish for dogs.

Fish Safe for Dogs
  • Whitefish
  • Sardines (packed in water)
  • Flounder
  • Tilapia (small amounts)
  • Salmon
  • Lobster
  • Herring
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Whiting
  • Canned tuna (small amounts)
Fish that are Potentially Harmful
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • King mackerel

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Conclusion

Eel is a common fish used in different types of sushi. However, it has the potential to be harmful to your pup if it isn’t prepared properly. With proper preparation and in feeding small amounts, eel can make a low-fat, high-protein treat for your dog. Consult your veterinarian before giving your dog an eel or any other type of fish to make sure it is safe and healthy.


Featured Image Credit: Chiristsumo, Shutterstock

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