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Can Dogs Eat Tilapia? Everything You Need To Know

Yes, dogs can eat tilapia in moderation. Tilapia is a good source of vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals. However, you must feed tilapia, which is only certified by the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, and Aquaculture Stewardship Council. As a devoted pet parent, you must check the product package before offering it to your dog. 

Image source: Taste of home

What Is Tilapia?

Tilapia is the generic term for almost 100 varieties of cichlid fish belonging to the clan coelotilapine, coptodonine, heterotilapine, oreochromine, pelmatolapiine, and tilapia, with the Coptodonini and Oreochromini being the most commercially significant species. Tilapia is basically freshwater fish that live in shallow streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes, with seawater being less prevalent. They have long been important in African artisanal fishing, and they are becoming increasingly important in aquaculture and hydroponics. However, because of their incapacity to survive in cold water, tilapia can become a troublesome invasive species in new warm-water ecosystems such as Australia, intentionally or accidentally introduced.

Is Tilapia Safe For Dogs?

Yes, tilapia is safe for dogs to eat. However, things you must keep in mind before offering tilapia to your dog:

  • Bones: The bones of tilapia fish can lodge into your dog’s throat or intestines, making it difficult for his overall mobility. Therefore, remove the fish bones before offering tilapia fish.
  • Scale: Scales of fish can turn life-threatening for your dog. The scales are hard to digest and can choke your dog. 
  • Raw fish: Raw fish carries salmonella and other harmful bacteria and parasites. Therefore, your dog should not consume raw fish. 
  • Seasoned fish: Dogs should not consume anything seasoned due to spices, garlic, onion, salt, oil, etc. 

Why Is Tilapia Good For Dogs?

Yes, tilapia is suitable for dogs in moderation. It provides essential nutrients to your dog. Cooked tilapia without bones, scales, and seasonings is the best dietary addition for your dog. Let us see how tilapia helps your dog:

Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3, also known as Niacin, is an immunomodulator and nutritional supplement used with other drugs to treat inflammatory skin disorders in dogs, such as lupus or pemphigoid.

Vitamin B9 ensures fast cell proliferation in puppies, adults, and pregnant dogs. In addition, it aids in regulating homocysteine levels in the blood and the use of amino acids to form new proteins. It is required for regular blood production, immunological function, cell division, and tissue development.

Vitamin B12: Beginning with the neural system, vitamin B12 aids in the formation and improvement of protective tissues that cover the nerves in the brain, giving the dog greater control over all physiological activities. Additionally, your dog’s spinal health benefits from a healthy neural system.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in the regulation, retention, and balance of calcium and phosphorus in dogs.

Protein: Protein is necessary for the normal functioning of your dog’s body. Protein provides your dog with vital amino acids that help hair and skin health, muscle development, and tissue repair.

Phosphorus: In dogs, phosphorus is necessary for maintaining healthy kidney function. Your puppy’s kidneys must be beneficial to drain toxins from his body through pee efficiently. As a result, he can stay in the most significant physical form possible. In addition, phosphorus aids motor function by assisting muscle contractions. This allows your dog to conduct typical duties such as walking, chewing, and following you on your morning runs. Phosphorus also aids your dog in maintaining a regular heart rate, which is especially important during activity.

Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte essential for your dog’s health. It helps electrical charges in the heart and the proper functioning of nerves and muscles. If your dog lacks this vital mineral, you may notice that they are constantly fatigued, which is abnormal, or have no desire to eat.

Selenium: Selenium is a microelement necessary for the proper functioning of the metabolism. It is crucial in a dog’s body for various functions, including antioxidant activity, thyroid metabolism, DNA synthesis, and reproduction.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega 3 helps in the metabolic system. It is suitable for skin and bones, reduces brain aging, and prevents inflammatory issues.

Omega-6 fatty acids: Reproduction, growth, immunological responses, and skin and coat health necessitate omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid, an Omega-6 fatty acid, is also required in the diet of dogs, making it an essential fatty acid for them.

Why Is Tilapia Bad For Dogs?

Even though tilapia is suitable for dogs to consume, the fish’s downsides must be kept in mind before sharing it with your dog. So first, let us look at why and how tilapia is bad for dogs:

Bones

Bones, cooked or uncooked, are hazardous for dogs. Bones can choke your dog and cause:

  • Throat injuries
  • Bleeding gums
  • Intestinal puncture
  • Esophagus injuries
  • Pain while eliminating waste
  • Bloody diarrhea

Raw Tilapia

Bacteria and parasites: Raw tilapia fish can carry bacteria and parasites like salmonella, listeria, and anisakid nematodes. Ingesting these can trigger:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal issues
  • GI tract infections
  • Worms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rashes
  • Degradation of coat and skin

Scales: Scales are present in tilapia if not removed. The scales can cause choking in dogs leading to:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Intestinal puncture
  • Throat injury
  • Neck irritation

Fried and seasoned tilapia

Garlic and onion: Garlic and onion are from the allium family and are harmful to dogs. If consumed, your dog will face:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Coma
  • Death

Oil/butter: Fried tilapia has oil or butter, making the fish toxic for dogs. Oil or butter content causes fat-related issues in dogs, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Weight gain
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Pancreatitis

How Much Tilapia To Feed My Dog?

Moderation is the key to your dog’s well-being. Never add tilapia to your dog’s regular diet. Further, remember the 10% rule and occasionally serve it as a treat. Once a week, skinned and deboned tilapia as a topping on your dog’s regular diet is beneficial for your dog’s health. 

How To Serve Tilapia To My Dog?

Serving tilapia to your dog is as manageable as you think.

  • Skin the tilapia fish
  • Clean the fish perfectly to get rid of residues and bacteria
  • Boil, steam, or bake the tilapia fish
  • Debone the fish
  • Serve it as a topping to your dog’s regular diet.

What If My Dog Ate Tilapia?

If your dog ate tilapia, the concern must be whether he ate seasoned tilapia, tilapia bones, and raw tilapia. In any of the cases, do not wait for the symptoms. Instead, visit the vet and follow as the vet prescribes. 

However, for the reference, here are the symptoms your dog will display:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Esophagus injuries
  • Bleeding gum
  • Rashes
  • Inflammation
  • Increased heart rate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can puppies eat tilapia?

No puppies cannot eat tilapia or any human food as long as they are grown up. Human food is restricted to puppies because they have a vulnerable stomach. 

Can dogs eat cooked tilapia?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked tilapia if it is not seasoned or fried. However, the fish also needs to be skinned and deboned. Therefore, dogs can only consume cooked, skinned, deboned, and unseasoned tilapia fish. 

Can dogs eat baked tilapia?

Yes, dogs can eat baked tilapia fish. The only condition is it has to be skinned, deboned, and unseasoned. 

Final Thoughts

We would like to wrap up the article by saying that cooked/baked/boiled, skinned, deboned, and unseasoned tilapia in moderation is safe for dogs once a week. You must not provide your dog tilapia if it is cooked with spices. Consult with the vet before introducing tilapia to your dog. Ensure a healthy and happy life for your dog.

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