Shellfish, including freshwater clams, are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. So, it could somewhat be disappointing if our canine companions can’t benefit from their health and nutritional benefits. But, can dogs eat clams? Is feeding clams safe for dogs?
What Are Clams?
Oftentimes, we associate clams with the common shellfish, such as oysters and mussels. So, we instantly think of them as seafood. However, the truth is, clams are circular mollusks that reside under the sands of freshwater they live in.
And because of their habitat, they are also safer to eat compared with their saltwater cousins that are exposed to higher levels of heavy metals, such as mercury.
Clams also come in thousands of different species and vary widely in size, but one feature that distinguishes them the most from other shellfish is that they have internal organs. These mollusks have a beating heart, basic digestive system, and circulatory system.
When it comes to their gastronomic appeal, clams have a fishy flavor and rubbery texture that dogs may or may not love. What’s more, they can also be eaten cooked or raw depending on what appeals to you. However, for your canine companion, it’s best to stick with cooked clams only.
Can You Let Your Dog Eat Clams?
Yes, dogs can safely eat clams (cooked) or even steamed clams as long as they don’t have shellfish allergies.
Clam is highly nutritious and is an excellent source of protein. And we know for a fact that protein is a critical part of your dog's diet. It will keep your pup's weight under control and help him develop muscle strength.
Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids in clams can help promote healthy lifestyles, reduce inflammation, as well as reduce your dog's risk of getting ill.
Clams also contain zinc that can support healthy joint function, iron for the metabolism, and magnesium that helps facilitate the absorption of vitamins and minerals present in the food that your dog eats.
However, if you are going to feed clams to your dog, make sure to have the clams cooked and shelled first. And as always, never add seasonings or other toxic ingredients, such as garlic and onions.
Your dog can also enjoy fresh clams as an ingredient in his canned foods, or you can feed small portions of clam to him as a snack or as an occasional treat.
Health Benefits of Clams in Dogs
Dogs are often attracted to what their dog owners eat. And it’s not new for pet parents to see their canine companions staring eagerly at them with their pleading eyes hoping that they would give in and let them enjoy even a single bite from their tasty human food.
Good thing, when it comes to clams, sharing a few bites won’t be a problem, but it should be kept at a minimum – think one or two pieces of small clams at the most. As mentioned earlier, clams are packed with proteins, fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals.
So, as an occasional treat to your pup, clams can offer several health benefits, such as the following:
Clams are low in saturated fat and high in lean proteins
This may help reduce oxidative stress, build healthy muscles, and maintain healthy body weight. They are also a great source of essential amino acids, such as alanine, glycine, and glutamic acid, that can only be derived from dietary sources.
Clams are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids
This helps promote healthy skin and coat and supports heart health. These essential fatty acids also support proper brain and eye development in puppies and improve cognitive function in adult dogs experiencing cognitive delays and/or dysfunctions.
What’s more, omega-3 fatty acids also help in decreasing inflammation, treating arthritis, kidney disease, and a lot more diseases.
Rich in Zinc
This is beneficial for healthy joints and mobility in dogs.
Packed with Magnesium
This is helpful in strengthening the absorption of other essential minerals and vitamins from your dog’s diet.
Rich in Vitamin B12
This is crucial for your dog’s nervous system and brain function. And it also helps in supporting your dog’s digestive system.
Rich in Iron
Next to vitamin B12, iron is the second most abundant nutrient found in clams, which definitely comes with several advantages. Iron helps in the synthesis of blood in the circulatory system, and it helps with the transport of oxygen, as well as other nutrients throughout the body.
Clams are also rich in Vitamin C
This is great in strengthening your dog’s immune system, keeping his skin and hair healthy, and supporting his bones and cartilage.
Health Concerns in Feeding Clams to Your Dogs
Our dog’s safety always comes first whenever we are thinking of adding nutritious food to his diet. So, while dogs can eat fully cooked clams (clam meat to be specific), it's still crucial to understand their health risks and potential dangers to your canine companions.
While it is not that common in dogs, shellfish allergies can still occur in dogs. In humans, seafood allergies are often caused by eating shrimp meat, and crab.
Hence, we should always be mindful of the symptoms which include itchy skin, bald spots, and frequent licking. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to stop feeding clams to your dog and seek veterinary advice immediately.
Heavy Metal Contamination
It’s also a rare occurrence, but heavy metal contamination can also happen in clams. As such, there’s a slight possibility that your dog would be eating clams that contain mercury. In particular, clams that are sourced from Asian waters have been found to contain mercury, which is toxic for dogs.
Food poisoning is another health concern when feeding clams to dogs. As part of the bivalve mollusks family, clams filter the water that they live in and consequently, the toxins end up in their tissue. So, once your dog ate clams, it’s possible that they also consumed some of these toxins.
Ingestion of a small amount of toxins would not cause serious problems. However, poisoning from clams is primarily caused by dinoflagellates, which can’t be destroyed even after cooking.
Again, this is a rare occurrence, but it can happen. To be safe, make sure to only buy clams from reputable sources in your local grocery stores or wet market.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can dogs eat seafood?
Yes, dogs can eat fish, small shells, and other seafood as long as your dog is not allergic and they are properly cooked and unseasoned.
As always, if you are going to add seafood or any human food to your dog’s foods, make sure to avoid adding toxic ingredients such as garlic, and onions.
Can dogs drink/eat clam juice?
While cooked clams are safe for dogs to eat in moderation, we could not say the same with bottled clam juice since it often comes with other ingredients such as salt.
However, the plain extract from clams without seasoning can be safely added to your pup’s dog food or dry food to add flavor and moisture. But again, you should only do it occasionally.
Can dogs eat river clams?
Yes, your dog can definitely eat clams. They contain essential fatty acid omega-3, iron, protein, and vitamin C which are highly nutritious for your beloved pet. Not only that, but clams are also a great source of nutrient-dense food to add to your pet's regular food intake.