The heavenly aroma of cooked mussels is appetizing. This pretty much explains why most dogs love it. Aside from the inviting smell, the taste of mussels is reminiscent of the sea. They simply can’t help but enjoy the slightly chewy texture and taste of these mollusks.
If you are interested in adding mussels to your dog’s diet, it is important to know certain things about them first. What are ways to cook mussels for your pet? How to prepare them properly? And most importantly, what are the certain limitations in giving them to your pooch? Before we answer all these questions, let’s see first how your dog can benefit from eating mussels.
Benefits of Mussels for Dogs
For us humans, mussels are ideal as appetizers. But there is more to these bivalve mollusks than their extraordinary flavor. They are also nutrient-dense. Just like for us, mussels offer tremendous health benefits for animals as well. Here are the ways your dog can benefit by consuming these mollusks:
1.Mussels can prevent joint problems and mobility issues later in life. Like humans, dogs are also prone to joint problems as they get older, their bones and cartilages are also slowly decaying with old age. The green lipped mussel is said to be the best natural solution for canine joint pain because it contains a great amount of mucopolysaccharides which work by increasing the viscosity of the synovial fluid. These compounds provide a healthy elasticity within your dog’s connective tissues. Because of their efficacy, there is already a wide range of mussel supplements being sold on the market.
2.Mussels can help your pup ward off diseases. Mussels are considered to be a superfood because of their selenium content which helps in producing several antioxidants and regenerates the activity of vitamins E and C. Shellfish products such as mussels are among the foods with the highest selenium content. They can be added to your dog’s diet to give their immune system a boost.
3.Mussels have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Dogs may suffer from inflammatory joint disease, a condition that can be very painful. Just like with humans, a canine’s body responds to foreign substances, leading to inflammations. Mussels contain glucosamine and chondroitin that can reduce inflammation.
4.Mussels are an excellent source of omega-3. Mussels contain omega-3 fatty acids that are best known for their ability to reduce pain so they can be a wholesome addition to your pup’s diet because they contain these heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
5.Mussels are rich in protein. A 3-ounce serving of mussels will give your dog as much as 20 grams of protein. The rule of thumb is that they should have two grams of high quality protein for every kilogram of their body weight. Given that, you should take extra caution in giving mussels to them. Dogs need protein but too much of it can damage their liver. Sustainably farmed New Zealand green-lipped mussels are said to be the best source of unprocessed protein.
6.Mussels support your dog’s circulatory system. Like us, they may also suffer from cardiac diseases. The only difference between humans and dogs is the fact that canines are not normally afflicted with coronary artery disease but rather, their cardiac problems can lead to congestive heart failure. Heart-healthy foods can help your dog have a better circulatory system and that includes his heart.
7.Mussels help strengthen your dog’s teeth and bones. The good thing about mussel treats is that even though they are seafood they will not give your dog a fishy breath. Because mussels are also good for the bones, you may offer them to your pooch after a tiring physical activity. New Zealand green-lipped mussels are good at preventing sore muscles after exercise for both humans and canines.
How to Select and Prepare Fresh Mussels
Although they have resemblance to clams, mussels are longer in size and have a milder taste. When you are at the seafood section of your local supermarket, check for the following signs that indicate your mussels are fresh:
- Like any other type of shellfish, mussels have to be firmly closed when you buy them. Their shells must remain alive until they are ready for cooking.
- If they are open, they should close once you tap them. This is another indication that the mussels are still alive. Dead mussels are not safe to eat by neither humans or animals.
- Soak them in water and discard the ones that float. This is an easy way to tell which ones are alive and which ones need to go to the trash as sometimes it can be tricky to know if the mussels are alive just by tapping them. Mussels can be partially open even if they are still alive. If you don’t feel like squeezing the mussels to see if they would shut, it’s better to put them in a bowl of water.
- Since it is impossible to tell if the mussels have red tide just using your senses, be informed about the red tide status in your area or the area the mussels have been fished from. This is crucial when you live by the sea and you also have a dog that enjoys walking by the shore. Every state has a fish and wildlife conservation commission that reports if there is a red tide alert in a certain area.
- Don’t wait too long before you cook the mussels. They can only last up to two days in the fridge. In fact, it is advisable that you cook the mussels the day you buy them to ensure their freshness.
- When buying dehydrated raw mussels, make sure they were packed air-dried. This ensures that the nutrients remain intact.
- The mussels are supposed to open by themselves when they are ready. They tend to be chewy when overcooked. Fresh mussels ought to be fairly smooth when you bite them.
- Regarding the smell, they should not have any rancid smell after you cook them.
- Check for open shells while cooking. Discard those mussels that have opened shells after just steaming.
Ways to Serve Mussels to Dogs
1.Give dogs raw mussels. In general, they have stronger pH acid than humans, meaning they find it easier to digest raw food. But in case you have doubts in feeding your dog raw mussels, you may steam them for a few minutes. Raw food diets for them are a bit controversial, with most vets, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, not recommending it for canines. There are potential benefits in a raw dog food diet but there are also risks involved.
2.Offer them frozen. The frozen mussels you see in supermarkets have already been pasteurized so you don’t have to worry about feeding them to your dog. Fresh mussels are still a better option but the frozen ones will also do because they are completely safe for both humans and pets. Just make sure you thaw them before serving them to your puppy. If you are about to cook them, light steaming should be enough to get their natural taste. Many pet owners cook any seafood before serving them to their dogs in order to kill any disease-causing microorganisms that can cause pets gastrointestinal issues.
3.Add powdered mussels into your dog’s food. Green lipped mussel powder has been getting raves from the health community because of its ability to support healthy joints in humans. Propitiously, your dog can also gain from powdered mussels the same way you can. You can buy powdered mussels from raw food co-ops in your area or online, if you cannot find a co-op nearby. Most stores offer free shipping and discounts.
4.Offer mussels as a freeze-dried treat. Freeze-drying is a way to preserve food by rapidly chilling it and subliming it to high vacuum to remove the ice. The low temperatures involved in freeze drying help keep the bio-active ingredients of mussels at the highest levels possible. This process retains the natural goodness of food. Nowadays, you can already buy freeze-dried mussels from your local supermarket and specialty stores for dogs.
5.Offer them to your dog in the form of oil. Green lipped mussels can be used as a supplement for canines for arthritis and inflammations. The oil is more potent than the powdered form of mussels. Dogs with severe cases of arthritis are usually advised to take cortisone for the rest of their lives but because this drug may have bad side effects, some dog owners resort to giving their dogs green lipped mussels instead. If you are interested in the green-lipped mussel assisted relief for arthritis, consult your vet first. Dr. Michael Petty, said small dogs can take 500mg of green lipped mussel capsules a day. Medium dogs can be given 750mg while large hounds can take as much as 1000mg on a daily basis.
Take note that the use of green lipped mussels as a supplement is relatively new so you might want to consult your vet before trying it for your dog. This is to verify the safety of any supplement you are planning to give your puppy.
It is also important to check the labels before giving your dog any supplement. There were issues about manufacturers adding other types of oil to green lipped mussel oil. Remember that not all kinds of oils are safe for canines. For dogs with sensitive stomachs, the green lipped mussels supplement should be given before a full meal.
Safety and Precautions in Giving Mussels to Dogs
Remember that every dog is different and may have varying allergic reactions to certain foods. If you noticed anything strange in your dog after eating mussels, better stop giving it. In case this is the first time you are giving mussels to your dog, observe if he actually likes them or not. Some dogs simply don’t like the taste or smell of seafood.
Some dogs are allergic to shellfish, mainly because of the protein found in them. If your dog suffered from an upset stomach and itchy skin after consuming mussels, it is possible that he is allergic to seafood. The good news here is that seafood allergies in canines are rare.
Don’t add any salt or additives when offering mussels to them. Mussels with garlic cream sauce or wine taste exquisitely but better keep those for your own consumption. Although fish allergy is one of the least common types of allergy among canines, it is still better to keep an eye on your dog.
Never give your dog leftover mussels because they might already have bacteria. Consider seafood such as mussels, as an occasional treat for them. Experts do not recommend giving too much seafood to canines.
What To Do If Your Dog Ate Mussel Shells
Odd as it sounds, they can accidentally ingest a shell as big as a mussel one. If your dog started showing warning signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea, seek a vet’s help.
When you are sure he ate the shells, keep an eye on his bowel movement for a day. Normally, dogs release what they ate within 24 hours. If you haven’t seen any shells in his stool, it is best to look for other warning signs.
When prepared accordingly, mussels are a great staple for dogs. The green lipped mussels can help canines suffering from arthritis. If you feel like giving mussels to your puppy, give it only twice or thrice a week. Skip the seasoning when offering mussels to your pooch. When giving freeze-dried mussel treats, limit them to only two pieces for every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight.