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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Eat Eel? Vet-Approved Feeding Facts

Can Dogs Eat Eel? Vet-Approved Feeding Facts

korean style eel cooking on grill

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

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

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Many dogs love fish, whether that’s a fishy food formula or some 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 only if they’ve been prepared correctly and cooked thoroughly.

This is important because eels can pose some 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 very 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. Eel blood could even prove fatal to dogs 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 another potential choking hazard, which is why eels need to be skinned.

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

Health Benefits of Eels for Dogs

Cooked eel as an occasional treat may provide some health benefits, being rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, D, and E. Eels are 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.

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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 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

Though 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 some fishy dog treats or chews to make your life easier!


Featured Image Credit: photohwan, Shutterstock

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