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I love a good surf ‘n turf for my dogs, but that's not why I add sardines, mussels, and oysters to my dogs' diet. I add sardines for the Omega-3 fatty acids, I add green-lipped mussels for joint support, and I add oysters for the zinc. But is that all they bring to the bowl?
Benefits of Sardines for Dogs
As I stated, I add sardines to my dogs' diet for the Omega-3 fatty acids, which support joint health, skin and coat health, the immune system, and cognitive health – among other things. Sardines are also a great source of iron, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Where I Purchase Sardines for My Dogs
I get my sardines from Costco, Walmart, and our local raw food co-op.
- Costco offers sardines in olive oil; I buy them buy the case when they are on special.
- Walmart offers sardines in water, no additional salt added. I'm known to clear the shelves every few months.
- Our local raw food co-op offers flash frozen sardines, however, they come in a 50 lb box, and despite having two dedicated freezers for our dogs, I don't have the freezer space. So, instead, I order the Primal Pet Food sardine chubs.
How Often I Feed Sardines to My Dogs (and How Much)
My dogs get sardines at least twice weekly. When feeding the canned sardines, I split one can between two dogs. When feeding whole sardines, I give one to each dog (chopping into thirds to reduce the mess). And when feeding ground sardines (the chubs), I add two tablespoons to the bowl.
Benefits of Green Lipped Mussels for Dogs
If you're a raw feeder, then you've heard of green-lipped mussels and the benefits. Yes, I know that they bring Omega-3 fatty acids to the bowl with all the related benefits. However, I've always added it as a powerful natural supplement that fights inflammation, relieves joint pain, while supporting joint health thanks to the added glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid GLM bring to the bowl.
Green-lipped mussels also boost the immune system, gut health heart health, while adding vitamins C, E, selenium, manganese, iodine, zinc, and copper to our dogs' diet.
Where I Purchase Green Lipped Mussels for My Dogs
I've only fed fresh green-lipped mussels to my dogs once. I received them from Raw Feeding Miami when they were kind enough to send a gift of dog food (best kinds of gifts). Primarily, my dogs get green-lipped mussels in the form of powder, treats, and a mixture in the Mussel Melange from Primal Pet Food.
- Green-lipped mussel powder is sourced through our local raw food co-op and I add it to my dogs' vegetable mix and it's an ingredient in a supplement mix I make for my dogs.
- Freeze-dried green-lipped mussel treats by Northwest Natural are a regular part of my dogs' diet. They get a few of these treats several times a week. I order these by the case through our local raw food co-op.
- Mussel Melange is a product created by Primal Pet Food that I also add to my dogs' diet. This isn't 100% mussels, it's a mussel/vegetable blend. I also order this by the case through our local raw food co-op to add some variety to my dogs' diet.
But I'm still searching for a source of fresh mussels that aren't frozen in garlic butter or another sauce. There is a Restaurant Depot in Seattle, however, I don't qualify for a membership so I need to find someone who does – I hear they sell mussels.
How Often I Feed Green Lipped Mussels to My Dogs (and How Much)
My dogs enjoy green-lipped mussels in some form on a daily basis through powder, treats, or the Mussel Melange. I give the dogs 2-3 treats daily, I add a tablespoon of Mussel Melange to the bowl daily when I have a thawed container, and, as I stated above, I mix GLM powder into my dogs' vegetable mix and they get that daily when I have a thawed jar.
Benefits of Oysters for Dogs
I began adding oysters to my dogs' diet several years after I started feeding raw after seeing a recipe video where canned oysters were added as a source of zinc. Oysters are a low-calorie food that adds healthy fats, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium to the bowl.
Where I Purchase Oysters for My Dogs
I'm not keen on feeding raw oysters to my dogs because of red tide warnings here in the Pacific Northwest. I don't know enough about raw oysters to figure out what is and isn't safe for my dogs. So I either buy cooked oysters by the can or I buy raw oysters and bake them (this is rare).
- Walmart carries two brands of canned oysters – Pacific Pearl and Geisha. We have three Walmarts in our town (yep, you read that correctly) and I hit up each one every few months and clear out their shelves.
- My local grocery store and Costco carry raw oysters. I don't bake oysters for my dogs very often because raw oysters are expensive. When I catch them on sale, buy every jar.
I wonder what people think when I'm buying all of the oysters. Once, someone asked me if I was making a chowder. Ugggg, oyster chowder?
How Often I Feed Canned Oysters to My Dogs (and How Much)
Although I do feed oysters to my dogs, oysters aren't a HUGE part of their diet. I do meal prep twice monthly and in one of those meal preps, I add an 8 ounce can of oysters to each 8-quart bowl of raw. Sometimes I split a can between our four dogs, but this is usually when I'm running low on thawed food – I don't have enough raw for all the dogs, so I add an egg, some sardines, and oysters to the bowl. This is usually once a month.
I feed oysters for the zinc, but that doesn't mean that they're a requirement for a raw food diet. Oysters are just another source of zinc (and other nutrients). And while the level of zinc is higher in oysters, we can also find zinc in red meat and poultry.
Isn't Shellfish Bad for Dogs?
People, including respected veterinarians, will tell us that we shouldn't feed sardines, mussels, or oysters to our dogs because they soak up all the toxins that are floating around our oceans, including radioactive crap from the Fukushima disaster.
Personally, I don't buy it. I dine on sardines, mussels, and raw oysters regularly without issue. I've been feeding sardines, mussels, and cooked oysters to my dogs with no issues. Of course, this isn't proof that these foods are safe for dogs; just anecdotal evidence. Proof may be found on the FDA website; they've tested many foods and have found no evidence that US foods have been contaminated by the Fukushima disaster. Of course, this is also the same organization that has spent time trying to convince us that raw feeding is dangerous.
Scratching my head.
What About Sardines in Olive Oil?
Feeding dogs sardines in olive oil is adding more fat and calories to the diet. If a dog is sensitive to fat, then the sardines in olive oil may not be the best option. I'm not concerned about the fat and calories because I split a can of sardines between two large dogs; that's less than a tablespoon of olive oil per dog.
What About Sardines in Tomato Sauce?
Feeding dogs sardines in tomato sauce is an easy way to add lycopene to the diet. Lycopene supports strong bones and cardiac health. Tomatoes are high in antioxidants and vitamins A and C. The only downside to sardines in tomato sauce is we have to question the other ingredients in the tomato sauce. Is it just pureed tomatoes? Or is it more like a pasta sauce?
Can Dogs Eat Raw Oysters?
Dogs can eat raw oysters, but the idea of feeding raw oysters makes this raw feeder nervous. Yes, I see the irony. I'd prefer to feed cooked (baked or boiled in the can) oysters to my pups. Of course, there is the question of nutrient degradation due to the cooking process. This is why I looked everything up in the Animal Diet Formulator – it would suck to keep purchasing a case of oysters only to learn that they didn't offer any benefits to my dogs' diet.
Sardines, Mussels, or Oysters? Which is Best for Our Dogs?
Someone recently asked me which they should add to their dog's diet, and my thought was “all three have benefits.” But, to be honest, I wasn't sure if we should be added all three or focusing on one. So I looked up the nutrients to show a comparison.
Nutritional Comparison Between Oysters, Sardines, and Mussels
The following nutrients were taken from Animal Diet Formulator. As you can see, there are some similarities, but you can quickly see that each food brings something unique to the bowl:
- Oysters are a great source of magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and vitamins A and B12.
- Sardines are the go-to food for Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins D, and E.
- Mussels bring manganese and vitamins B9 and B12 to the bowl. I primarily add GLM to my dogs' diet for the anti-inflammatory benefits.
Which is Best for Our Dogs?
I think it's a mistake to focus on which one is best because all three bring something beneficial to the bowl, so I will continue to add all three to my dogs' diet.