Ask some people if they would like to try sushi and you will probably get a look of horror. Other people love sushi and might be willing to eat it any place, any time. As for your dog, many dogs are fairly adventurous when it comes to trying new things, especially if they have a pungent, fishy odor. Should your dog eat sushi? Can they eat sushi safely? Let’s find out in our brief look at sushi nutrition.
Sushi can mean different things to different people. Sushi is actually a traditional Japanese dish of vinegared rice. It usually has some sugar and salt along with seafood and vegetables. The seafood may be raw but it’s not always. Many kinds of sushi are vegetarian.
Some people confuse sushi with sashimi. Sashimi is a related Japanese cuisine that features thinly sliced raw fish and occasionally raw meat. It leaves the rice out.
We’ll focus on dishes that feature raw seafood since most people have this in mind when they think of sushi but it’s up to you how you want to eat the food. These foods come in wraps, rolls, with and without rice, with wasabi and without, and with and without soy sauce. If you are giving seafood to your dog, rice is good (especially brown rice which can often be substituted for white rice), but leave the sauces out. Dogs don’t usually like hot and spicy flavors.
Both sushi and sashimi can use different kinds of seafood. In order to get an idea of the nutrition in the sushi you might be eating, you would need to specify the kind of fish or seafood on your plate.
We looked at Sushifaq.com to find information about calories, protein, fats, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutritional factors for different items.
Some of the foods you can find on a sushi or sashimi menu include King crab legs, fake crab legs, Skipjack, Bonito, Whiting, shrimp, eel, different kinds of tuna, flounder, clams, squid, scallops, salmon roe (eggs), salmon, sardines, mackerel, sea bass, red snapper, octopus, sea urchin. Some of these kinds of seafood are more common than others. For example, eel (unagi), abalone, yellowtail, salmon roe, squid, salmon, and crab (or fake crab) are all very common items in sushi restaurants. You will usually find these foods prepared as rolls with cucumber and rice, and prepared other ways. Some other seafood is less common, especially if you live in a smaller town far from shipping ports. But those foods can be obtained if you buy them yourself or order them through a fish dealer.
Seafood alone, such as yellowtail tuna, will have fewer calories and often be more nutrition than seafood used in a roll or wrap. For example, one ounce of yellowtail tuna (no rice) has just 41 calories, 1.5 grams of fat per ounce, and 0 carbohydrates. It has no fiber. However, it does have 6.6 grams of protein per ounce.
On a bed of rice, the same yellowtail will have 51 calories per ounce and 0.8 grams of fat per ounce. It will have 8.2 grams of carbohydrates per ounce and 0.6 grams of fiber per ounce. And, it will have less protein with 3.8 grams of protein per ounce. So, the addition of rice might not seem like a big deal but it does change the nutritional value of the seafood.
There are some other pros and cons about eating sushi or sashimi. Fish is a great source of protein, iodine, and many vitamins and minerals.
Fish can also be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3, especially from cold water fish, are excellent for your heart, skin and hair (or coat, if you’re a dog). They also contain long chain fatty acids such as DHA and EPA which help with brain and eye development in puppies. And, they help with cognitive function in aging animals.
We’ve already mentioned that white rice is an important component of sushi. It often has added sugar and salt as well. This means that sushi can have a large amount of refined carbohydrates that break down quickly in your system, leading to a spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels. This can lead to further overeating.
However, there are studies that suggest that the rice vinegar that is added to sushi can help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and the fats in the blood.
You can ask for your sushi to be made with brown rice instead of white rice. This can increase its fiber content and nutritional value. You can also ask for your sushi rolls to be prepare with less rice and more vegetables. This will further increase the nutritional content.
If you’re trying to lose weight, skip some of the high-fat sauces and the fried tempura. These foods greatly increase the calories in your sushi.
Depending on certain factors, a sushi meal can also be very high in salt. The rice is usually cooked with salt. Smoked fish and pickled vegetables contain more salt. Soy sauce, which generally sits on every table in a restaurant, is very high in salt. Miso soup – a favorite for many – can also be very high in salt.
Too much salt can increase your risk of stomach cancer. It can also increase your blood pressure.
You can help reduce your salt intake when eating sushi by avoiding soy sauce or eating low-sodium soy sauce. You can also reduce your intake of smoked fish such as mackerel and salmon. If you’re in doubt about which fish have been smoked, ask the waiter or kitchen staff.
Sushi with raw fish does pose a risk of infection from bacteria and parasites. Species sometimes found include Salmonella, various Vibrio bacteria, and Anisakis and Diphyllobothrium parasites.
There is a “sushi grade” fish label fur the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t currently regulate it. That means that there is no particular guarantee that the fish you are eating is safe. There is a regulation that requires certain fish should be frozen in order to kill any parasites before being served raw.
Proper food handling and processing can reduce the risk of contamination. Some people, such as pregnant women, young children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems — may need to completely avoid sushi made with raw fish.
If you are concerned about mercury in sushi, large fish at the top of the food chain are more likely to accumulate mercury than smaller fish. Tuna, swordfish, mackerel, marlin, and shark tend to have the greatest amounts of mercury.
Seafood low in mercury include salmon, sardines, eel, sea urchin, trout, crab, and octopus.
Can Dogs Have Sushi?
Yes, most dogs can eat sushi or sashimi. If your dog is diabetic, overweight, or has other chronic health problems, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian first. The carbs in the rice, along with the salt content in the fish could pose problems.
Raw fish isn’t a problem for most dogs but you do need to be careful about possible parasites. If your dog is already sick with any kind of chronic health problem, sushi is probably not a good idea. Talk to your vet. Your dog might benefit from cooked fish such as salmon, tuna, whitefish, or cod.
Most of the vegetables used in making sushi dishes should pose no problem for dogs. Carrots, cucumbers, and various kinds of fruit are all safe for dogs. Avocados are safe for dogs as long as they do not include the pit/stone or the skin of the avocado.
Brown rice is slightly more nutritious than white rice but dogs can safely eat both kinds of rice that are served with sushi. It’s easy to digest and contains some fiber.
Seaweed, which is often used to wrap various sushi rolls, can contain iodine and lots of amino acids. It’s easy to digest. It shouldn’t be a problem for your dog to eat.
Cucumbers and carrots are also used in sushi rolls. They are both good sources of various vitamins and minerals. Most dogs love them for their crunch.
Some of the things that you should NOT give your dog when it comes to sushi include wasabi, soy sauce, spicy mayonnaise, added spices, garlic.
Raw Fish That Is Not Sushi
If you live in the Pacific Northwest in North America (British Columbia, Washington state, Oregon, northern California), you might have heard that you should not let your dog eat fish from streams in the area. This is true. Salmon poisoning is a real condition in this area thanks to a parasite that’s common to freshwater fish. Some 90 percent of dogs that exhibit symptoms will die unless they are treated. The disease can be diagnosed with a fecal sample or an aspirate of a swollen lymph node. It can be treated with antibiotics.
Common symptoms of salmon poisoning include:
If your dog could have eaten raw fish from this area and is displaying these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
The problem is due to a parasite known as a fluke (Nanophyetus salmincola). The fluke has to be infected with another parasite (rickettsial organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca).
This has very little to do with sushi but it is a health problem that your dog can get from eating raw fish so use care. If you are fishing in this area, cook the fish before you or your dog eat it.
How Much Sushi Can You Give Your Dog?
It’s best to use caution when giving your dog sushi. It’s delicious in small amounts but too much could lead to problems. Too much rice, for example, is high in carbohydrates and adds a lot of calories. Too much raw fish and your dog might get a piece that is contaminated. Too much of anything and your dog can get tired of it.
You can give your dog one or two sushi rolls. When you are first letting your dog try sushi, just give him a small amount to see how he likes it.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Sushi?
It’s best to only let your dog have sushi with raw fish about once per week.
Most dogs love fish and other seafood. There is no particular reason why your dog cannot eat a little sushi or sashimi, especially if you take the same precautions that you take for yourself. Avoid giving your dog hot foods like wasabi or spicy mayonnaise. Don’t give him foods that are very salty such as soy sauce. Avoid extra spices and garlic. Otherwise, fish, seaweed, rice (white or brown), and vegetables such as cucumbers and carrots are all good for your dog as long as the food is fresh and prepared carefully.