Calamari is the Italian word for squid. In countries where English is spoken, it usually refers to a battered, deep-fried appetizer. If you’re a fan of calamari you might wonder if this is a food you can share with your dog. Can dogs eat calamari? Keep reading!
There are over 300 kinds of squid in the world but fewer than a dozen of them find their way onto menus. Squid is related to both octopus and cuttlefish. It’s a member of the mollusk family. Fresh squid is often marketed as “calamari” to make it sound more deluxe (and worth paying more) though calamari is actually the fried appetizer. Most of the squid used for cooking is less than twelve inches in length though some squid can grow up to 80 feet long.
Once a specialty item, many large grocery stores carry squid now. Check the freezer section if it’s not in the fish counter. Squid meat is firm and white with a taste that is mild, slightly sweet and almost nutty. When cooked, squid should be firm and a little chewy but it shouldn’t be rubbery.
Calamari is a good source of protein with 15.6 grams per 100 gram serving. It’s also a complete protein meaning that it has all of the essential amino acids.
A 100-gram serving of squid contains 92 calories (not fried). It has 3.08 grams of carbohydrates and 1.38 grams of fat. Squid is a good source of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, choline, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Calamari is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. It provides 0.50 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per 100 gram serving. Omega-3 is good for inflammation, heart health, and may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. Plus, calamari contains almost no omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are not “bad” for you but they tend to dominate in our foods. Eating a food such as calamari can help restore the proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6.
Many people are concerned about mercury in seafood but calamari is low in mercury. A comparison of mercury levels in seafood between 1990 and 2012 found that squid had less mercury than albacore tuna, lobster, and herring.
Squid is also a good source of choline. Choline often goes unnoticed in foods but it’s necessary to help other vitamins and minerals do their work. It’s especially important for brain and liver health. Many people are deficient in choline. Squid is also a good source of selenium and copper.
There are some possible problems with eating squid or calamari. If you are allergic to oysters, clams, or mussels, there’s a good chance that you could be allergic to squid as well. There can also be a cross-reactive allergy if you are allergic to crustaceans such as lobsters, shrimp, or crab. If you have a shellfish allergy, use caution.
Calamari is also very high in dietary cholesterol if this is a concern for you. A 100-gram serving contains 233 mg of cholesterol.
Recently, dietary guidelines have loosened their concerns about cholesterol in the diet. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines For Americans, “ … available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol.” For most people, eating food with more dietary cholesterol shouldn’t impact blood cholesterol levels. This means that the cholesterol in squid should not be a problem.
However, eating fried foods, such as calamari, can still be problematic. Frying in oil and adding extra calories are not as healthy as some other ways of preparing squid.
Should Dogs Have Calamari?
Dogs can eat squid, as long as it’s prepared in a healthy way. Calamari – breaded, fried squid – is not recommended for dogs.
Healthy ways to prepare squid for your dog include steaming or boiling for a few minutes. Grilling is also a good way to cook squid as long as it’s unbreaded. Squid is usually best if it’s cooked quickly so it doesn’t become rubbery. Grilling it quickly on a barbecue grill works nicely as long as you don’t add spices or sauces to it. You could also broil the squid in the oven for a few minutes.
As for raw squid, if you already feed your dog a raw diet, there are some benefits to giving your dog raw squid. It contains micronutrients that are usually cooked away once the squid is on the stove. However, if your dog is not used to eating a raw diet, it’s best not to give him raw squid. It can lead to digestive upset including vomiting and diarrhea.
The breaded, fried calamari that so many people love, however, is not very good for dogs. Anything that is fried is not very healthy for dogs because of the added calories and fats. These foods usually come with extra salt, too, which isn’t good for your dog.
How Much Calamari Can You Give Your Dog?
Squid is high in protein and low in fat, carbs, and calories as long as it’s not breaded and fried. You can give your dog a couple of pieces at first to see how he likes it. Most dogs enjoy squid but some don’t.
As long as your dog doesn’t have any kind of negative reaction to the squid, you could let him have few pieces with his regular food or give them as a treat.
If your dog has an allergic reaction to the squid, contact your veterinarian.
Signs of a food allergy in dogs include:
- Red, inflamed skin
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eye lids
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Constant licking
These symptoms would likely appear shortly after your dog eats the squid. If your dog has an acute reaction, call your veterinarian.
Symptoms of a food sensitivity, which is slightly different, usually manifest as gastrointestinal problems:
These problems should disappear after your dog expels the offending food.
Most dogs can eat squid without a problem. In fact, there are several dog food companies that use squid as a source of protein in their foods.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Calamari?
If your dog really likes squid, you could include it in his meals several times per week. Use plain squid that is steamed, boiled, or cooked in a way that is healthy for your dog. Calamari that is breaded and fried is not recommended because of the fats, calories, and salt.
Most dogs are big fans of seafood such as squid. Squid is a good source of protein and it’s low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories. Calamari, on the other hand, which is squid that has been breaded and fried, is not so good for dogs. It’s fine to add some squid, prepared in a healthy way, to your dog’s meals or to share as a treat. Save the fried calamari for yourself.