Part of being a pet parent means making sure our canine companions get the very best in dog nutrition. Many of us trust commercial dog food to provide all the vitamins and minerals our dogs need; however, some pet parents choose to feed dogs a different diet. These diets may be raw food diets, or pet parents may prepare what we typically view as human food for our dogs.
When a pet parent decides to provide a “human food” diet for dogs, one must ensure that a dog is getting all the nutrition the dog needs to be healthy. This often takes a lot of time researching and preparing the best dog food for Fido. We often wonder, what can dogs not eat? One question that pops up often from pet-parents has to do with a meat that is high in protein—crab meat.
Can dogs eat crab meat—the real one? Yes, crab meat is actually not toxic to dogs, and it can provide a great deal of protein to our furry pals. However, there is a question of whether dogs can eat imitation crab meat.
Can Dogs Eat Imitation Crab Meat?
The short answer is no.
Imitation crab meat is exactly that—an imitation. It is not real meat, and it should never be provided to dogs. Imitation crab meat is actually a mix of processed white fish and a host of food additives that are not healthy for dogs at all.
First, let’s look at the ingredients that go into making imitation crab meat. Fishermen even call imitation crab meat “the hot dog of the sea.” There may be some crab meat in imitation crab meat, but it is still packed full of unhealthy ingredients.
Usually, a white fish by the name of wild Alaska Pollack is the chief ingredient in imitation crab meat. Often, this ingredient is referred to as “surimi.” This is a paste-like substance made out of the Alaskan Pollack, preservatives, and other additives. Many times, food coloring is also added to the imitation crab meat in order to make it more appealing to human consumers.
Next, we’ve already mentioned the preservatives in the surimi or in the overall imitation crab meat itself. One of the primary preservatives is salt. Of course, salt is something we all need in our diets, including in a canine diet. However, there is such a high amount of sodium in imitation crab meat that it can adversely affect your dog’s health. In fact, after eating imitation crab meat in medium to large serving amounts, a dog may develop high blood pressure just as we humans would. This can lead to your dog developing heart disease if he is allowed to consume a great deal of imitation crab meat regularly.
Some dogs may develop digestive issues after ingesting regularly fed portions of imitation crab meat. The additives and food coloring used in making surimi and imitation crab meat can affect your dog’s digestive system. Plus, it can cause your dog to develop allergies. Keep in mind that dogs are mammals just as humans are. This means that when exposed to unhealthy ingredients in food, they can develop allergies. For dogs, allergies can be a great source of misery. They can manifest in many ways, including digestive upset. Your dog may vomit or experience irregular bowel movements in response to eating large portions of imitation crab meat.
Speaking of allergies, your dog may have outward symptoms of an allergic reaction when allowed to eat a great deal of imitation crab meat on the regular. This results in dry, itchy skin. The dog may even nibble at his own skin, creating hot spots. This is perhaps the most annoying result of developing an allergy for a dog. Plus, when a pet parent realizes that the dog is developing allergies, there is a great deal of “trial and error” involved in determining what has caused the allergic reaction. Your vet will also have to assist in carrying out the guesswork. It may be weeks or months before the both of you determine what exactly is causing the allergy. All the while, Fido is miserable.
There may be a great deal of “bad” fats in imitation crab meat. We know that fish typically contains “healthy” fats, such as omega fatty acids that are actually beneficial to both humans and dogs. This is how the best fish oil for dogs started. However, imitation crab meat may contain other types of fats (plus it may be stored in unhealthy oils) which can cause weight gain in your dog.
So, what exactly is in an imitation crab meat? What makes this so unhealthy?
Keep in mind that imitation crab meat is crafted to be more appealing to consumers, typically humans. There may be food coloring or flavoring or other ingredients that dogs should never ingest.
Sodium Pyrophosphate is a preservative that is found in canned tuna and chicken nuggets. In fact, there is so much sodium pyrophosphate in imitation crab meat that it holds almost as much sodium as the salt one keeps in the kitchen for cooking. Of course, we’ve already discussed that this can cause high blood pressure in your dog. It can also cause him to develop heart disease that can have multiple negative effects on your dog’s health.
Carmine is an artificial food coloring; it is also the chief reason one cannot recommend feeding one’s dog a great deal of imitation crab meat. It is a cherry red color that’s actually made from dead bugs , and is also found in yogurt and flavored milk. Carmine has been linked to respiratory issues as well as asthma in dogs.
Potassium chloride is another preservative found in imitation crab meat. It provides a savory flavor that humans have become accustomed to in imitation crab meat. In dogs, however, potassium chloride provides a number of digestive issues. A dog that has ingested a great deal of potassium chloride may experience darker and smellier poop. Potassium chloride is known to have a dehydrating effect on the body, particularly in dogs. Not only will it cause poop to be darker and possess a stronger odor, but it can cause some very dangerous ingestion issues in your pooch, namely bloat. A dog bloated stomach is a condition that can be fatal, particularly larger dog breeds such as the German Shepherd or the Golden Retriever. When a dog eats a great deal of potassium chloride, serious digestive issues can ensue.
Disodium Inosinate and Guanylate are considered “food enhancers.” These are additives found in many canned foods, particularly in canned meats. Disodium Inosinate and Guanylate are absolutely toxic to dogs. In fact, it can have many detrimental and painful effects on your beloved pooch. The dog may begin to feel tightness and a burning sensation around her mouth and chest.
The tightness and burning sensation in the mouth area and the chest area are not the only negative effects of consuming disodium inosinate and guanylate. Your dog may also sweat and pant in addition to becoming swollen in different spots across the body. The skin and fur can be affected as well. We’ve already discussed the itchy skin and allergic reaction that can happen; your dog may gnaw at her skin or lick “hot spots” until she begins to lose fur in those areas. The dog’s fur may become brittle and lack sheen. Again, you may be faced with going through weeks or months of trial and error guesswork figuring out why your dog is experiencing this irritation. This is truly a miserable experience for your dog, and it can be distressing for you as well.
Now, of course, you’re likely wondering what you might do if your dog has ingested a small portion of imitation crab meat. Perhaps you dropped a spoonful while preparing your own meal, or Fido happened to get into the garbage. These things can happen from time to time, and it’s likely not going to provide a large number of side effects for your fur baby.
IF your dog does eat a small amount, the likelihood he will develop high blood pressure, skin irritation, the digestive issues described above are very small. Most of the negative effects of eating imitation crab meat come when pet parents provide several fairly large portions on a regular basis and the “bad” ingredients in imitation crab meat tend to build up in a dog’s digestive system.
1. Can dogs and cats eat imitation crab meat?
Dogs and cats CAN eat imitation crab meat; keep in mind a dog will eat almost anything he can get to chew on. However, it is important to know that a dog should never be given imitation crab meat on a regular basis. Imitation crab meat contains many harmful additives and preservatives (particularly a large amount of sodium) that can build up in your dog’s system and cause some digestive issues as well as possible heart health issues.
2. How bad is imitation crab meat for you?
We’ve seen how bad regular ingestion of imitation crab meat can be for dogs; however, imitation crab meat can have some detrimental effects on human health as well. Eating a lot of additives and food coloring can be harmful to our human bodies just as it can for dogs. The high amounts of sodium present in imitation crab meat can be just as harmful to our hearts as it can be for dogs. Humans can also develop heart disease when regularly consuming a great deal of sodium, including sodium pyrophosphate in imitation crab meat.
3. Will crab meat hurt a dog?
True, authentic crab meat contains a lot of protein. It is also found to contain a lot of healthy fats such as one would find in other seafood. So, real crab meat can be a great, healthy treat for your furry pal.
However, imitation crab meat is not really crab meat at all. In fact, most imitation crab meat is really a mix of various white fish (wild Alaskan Pollack is the chief ingredient in something called surimi) with a host of preservatives and additives in addition to food coloring that is harmful to dogs.
Yes, dogs can easily eat real crab meat, and it is good for them. However, imitation crab meat should never be purposely served to your dog.
4. Can my 8-month-old have imitation crab meat?
It is never a good idea to provide a dog of any age with imitation crab meat. Even though it is tasty and seems like a protein-packed treat, regularly feeding your dog this “impostor” can lead to some terrible—even painful—health issues for your dog.
Refrain from feeding a dog of any age imitation crab meat.