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Can Dogs Eat Eel? Vet-Approved Feeding Facts

Written by: Kit Copson

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Dogster Team

korean style eel cooking on grill

Can Dogs Eat Eel? Vet-Approved Feeding Facts


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

Many dogs love fish, whether a fishy food formula or home-prepared salmon or herring. However, when it comes to less conventional types of fish, like eel, it can be hard to know what’s safe and what isn’t. In brief, common eels are okay for dogs to eat but only if they’ve been prepared correctly and cooked thoroughly.

Eels can pose serious health risks if not prepared appropriately. Read on for all the facts.

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Is Eel Safe for Dogs?

Eel is only safe for dogs if it’s been cleaned, skinned, deboned, and cooked. Not doing this can be dangerous for your dog for a number of reasons.

For one thing, eel blood is toxic, so if your dog eats it raw, it could cause them to become seriously sick as a result of nervous system damage. It could even prove fatal in serious cases. The only way to prevent the risk of your dog consuming these toxins is to thoroughly cook any eel you offer to them.

Secondly, eel bones are a choking hazard. These can end up lodged in your dog’s throat, or if they make it to the gastrointestinal tract, they could get stuck there too. This can result in an obstruction that requires surgery to remove. So, in addition to being cooked, eels must be deboned before dogs can eat them.

Furthermore, the skin is potentially dangerous due to its tough texture. This is a choking hazard, which is why eels need to be skinned.

japanese chef preparing eel for cooking or grilling
Image By: Avirut S, Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Eels for Dogs

Cooked eel as an occasional treat may provide health benefits, as it’s rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, D, and E. Eels are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart, coat, and skin, and for reducing inflammation.

Eel should only be fed to dogs in moderation, as a once-in-a-while treat. A dog’s main diet should be a complete and balanced formula suitable for their age group and any health issues they may be experiencing—anything else you offer is supplementary to this diet.

Which Types of Fish Can Dogs Eat?

If your dog has a love of all things fishy, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many types of fish that dogs can safely eat as long as they’ve been properly prepared and are fed in moderation. The safest kinds of fish are those that are small and harvested young, which reduces the risk of dangerous mercury levels building up.

Any fish you offer to your dog should be cooked (raw fish comes with the added risk of harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria) without any seasonings, unhealthy oils, or sauces. They should also be deboned.

Dog-safe types of fish include:
  • Salmon
  • Whitefish
  • Light canned tuna
  • Herring
  • Cod
  • Whiting
  • Flounder
  • Catfish
  • Sprats

Unsafe Fish for Dogs

Although several kinds of fish are safe for dogs, some aren’t safe at all due to high levels of mercury. In addition, fish harvested at a late stage are more likely to contain parasites that can then be passed on to dogs.

Unsafe fish include:
  • King mackerel
  • Albacore tuna
  • Tilefish
  • Shark
  • Swordfish

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Final Thoughts

To recap, eel is safe for dogs as long as it’s well-prepared and they don’t eat too much of it. However, it does take a fair bit of preparation to ensure that it’s safe, so as an alternative, you might consider looking out for fishy dog treats or chews to make your life easier!

Featured Image Credit: photohwan, Shutterstock

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