Dogs should eat only limited amounts of cooked clams and oysters. In view of the risks, each owner has to decide for himself whether it makes sense for his dog.
Oysters should always be eaten with particular caution because they are eaten raw, carry parasites and contain thiaminase. Thiaminase, which is found in raw fish, destroys the vitamin B1 in your dog’s body
All in all, there are many stories about mussels from dog owners who have the dark calamity of mussel poisoning on the subject.
Nevertheless, many people regularly consume mussels and oysters, even raw, without harming their health. Perhaps you have even given your dog a bit of clam yourself – maybe with a guilty conscience?
The myth of “mussel poisoning” in dogs
Everyone has probably heard a few things about eating mussels – for example, the rule to only eat mussels in months with the letter R in their name.
Even back in grandma’s day, when cooking mussels, everyone made sure to throw only those with the shells closed into the pot. The succinct reason for this was usually that those with an open bowl were “bad”.
In addition, there are warnings about parasites that the mussels are supposed to contain, and dog owners in particular are often warned against giving their dog oysters because they are said to pose an increased risk of allergies.
But is all of this really true?
Can dogs eat oysters – Neurotoxins in mussels
Clams can actually be poisonous. If mussel poisoning is colloquially spoken, it is not about the counterpart to classic food or fish poisoning.
The cause of mussel poisoning in dogs (and humans) is by no means the fact that the mussel meat was spoiled, but the mussel itself was previously the victim of poisoning – mostly through algae toxins.
The occurrence of these toxins in algae, but also in the microorganisms on which mussels feed, is completely natural. The mussel is just an accidental victim.
The toxins mean that a poisoned mussel is no longer able to close its shell. This explains the custom of not preparing opened mussels but disposing of them directly.
The poisonous microalgae, whose neurotoxin accumulates in mussels that are caught for consumption, spread especially in the summer months. The increased water temperature promotes algae growth.
This is why the occurrence of poisoned mussels is particularly high in the months that do not have an R in their name. The custom of only eating mussels in winter makes sense.
All types of mussels can contain natural toxins. The mussels available in grocery stores are randomly tested for nerve toxins across Europe before they end up in the sales counters.
The risk of catching poisonous specimens is therefore low. Nevertheless, constant consumption of extra large portions is not recommended for you or your dog.
Worms or worm eggs in and on mussels
The risk of parasite infestation exists with raw mussels as well as raw fish. Its consumption in the form of sushi has now reached a high level of regularity in this country too, without constantly hearing from people who have become infected with nematodes.
In theory, however, infection with fish tapeworms or their eggs is also possible via mussels.
In practice, however, the likelihood that your dog will get worm eggs is much greater with domestic snails or raspberries that he finds himself on the ground.
There is only a risk of infection with raw mussels. In this respect, the oyster is a special case. Here the risk of parasites is just as high for you as it is for your four-legged friend.
The difference, however, is that your dog will most likely be wormed more often than you. But that doesn’t mean you should dewormer him constantly because you regularly give him raw mussels and oysters.
That would not serve his health.
It is better to watch carefully for any signs of worm infestation after accidentally having raw clams or oysters.
In addition to the usual symptoms, circulatory problems and unclear coughs can also be considered, because the worms can also attack the heart and lungs. There they unfortunately lead to irreversible organ damage undetected.
Can a dog be allergic to oysters and other mussels?
It is quite possible. It is not very likely, however, because very few dogs get enough mussels to develop an allergy at all.
If you have reason to believe that your dog may be allergic to mussels, just don’t give them any. If your dog has already had an allergic reaction to crabs or other crustaceans, it is not unlikely that he will not tolerate shellfish either.
A slight allergic reaction to mussels is not easy to spot on superficial inspection. Mainly it would manifest itself in swelling of the throat.
However, other symptoms are possible and may not be distinguishable from mussel poisoning.
If your dog has eaten a large amount of mussels and shortly after shows diffuse signs of malaise, it is better to consult the vet.
Mussels contain extremely healthy nutrients
The nutritional content of the individual mussels does not differ significantly. Scallops and mussels are arguably the most likely to end up in dog stomachs.
The more expensive clams and oysters also have very similar nutritional values. Differences arise more from the origin and the water quality where a mussel has grown.
What all mussels have in common is a very high protein content and an extremely favorable ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with an extremely low calorific value.
The fact that mussels have hardly any calories is simply because they are low in fat and contain no carbohydrates.
The vitamins it contains are not particularly important for dogs. Mussels bring with them vitamin A, which dogs need for a wide variety of cells to function properly.
The best known is the effect of vitamin A on eyesight.
There are also vitamins B6 and B12. Vitamin B6 is primarily used to supply the brain and nerves. A deficiency in vitamin B12 manifests itself first in anemia, but it is quite rare in dogs because it is abundant in all types of meat.
Magnesium and calcium are the minerals that dogs can hardly get too much of. Magnesium is essential for the nerves and the musculoskeletal system. The dog needs calcium primarily for teeth and bones and also to balance its calcium-phosphorus ratio.
Like any type of meat, mussel meat also contains a lot of iron, but the dog shouldn’t care. Dogs that eat meat regularly do not suffer from iron deficiency.
Mussels are actually very healthy and without the risk of mussel poisoning they would actually be a superfood for humans and dogs.
Mussel extract as a dietary supplement
The preparations, mostly available in powder form, have long been considered true miracle cures in the fight against joint diseases.
In particular, the New Zealand green-lipped mussel was in high demand and traded in various food supplements for humans and animals.
But a healing effect could never actually be proven.
On the contrary, where the mussel is native and has been consumed in large quantities by the New Zealand natives for generations, an increased incidence of rheumatic diseases can be observed.
The European Food Safety Authority has banned the trade in green-lipped mussel extract with reference to a therapeutic benefit against joint problems for humans.
Mussel extracts also carry the risk of toxin pollution, so that overall it is not advisable to feed them to dogs to support the musculoskeletal system, even if many people are convinced of their beneficial effects.
You can also provide your dog with the health-promoting nutrients it contains, using other means – omega-3 fatty acids, for example, through high-quality oils.
How about other marine life?
Dogs who like mussels are also happy to see crabs and other crustaceans. If you’re kind enough to give him something, your dog will probably not disdain a piece of lobster or shrimp.
There is absolutely nothing against this, as long as you keep it in small portions, because these sea creatures can also be contaminated with pollutants or pathogens.
Is there any dog food that contains mussels?
So far, the manufacturers of convenience foods have refrained from including mussels in their product lines. There are certainly economic reasons for this, because mussel meat is known to be anything but cheap.
If your darling loves mussels and you want to please him, just give him something when you eat (cooked!) Mussels.
Clams are not prohibited for dogs
In conclusion, it can be said that mussels are of little use to dogs, but they do carry the risk of poisoning and parasites.
Therefore, it is only useful to a limited extent to feed them.
The fact that mussels also have their price is another reason why dogs are rarely served them. If your dog is happy about mussels, you can treat him to a small ration now and then.