Caviar is a true delicacy – it is fine-tasting and often associated with luxury. But are you allowed to spoil your dog with an expensive snack such as caviar? Is caviar safe for dogs or not?
Can dogs eat caviar? No, the simple answer is that dogs cannot eat caviar. Caviar is loaded with salt, which can cause toxicity, and is rich in calories, making dogs overweight. Plus, the risk of food poisoning due to caviar contamination is too high. Therefore, it is best to list caviar on the list of not dog-friendly foods.
In this article, we will talk about dogs and caviar. We will explain what caviar is and why it is a bad food choice when it comes to dogs. Then we will give tips on what to do in case of accidental ingestions and talk about other non-dog-friendly seafood.
What Is Caviar (or Fish Roe)?
Caviar is a food delicacy made of salt-cured roe, usually from the Acipenseridae family. Originally the term was used to refer to roe derived from wild sturgeons (Beluga, Ossetra, and Sevruga) from the Black and Caspian Sea.
Today, caviar is more of an umbrella term covering roe from different sturgeon species and other fish like trout, salmon, carp, steelhead, lumpfish, and whitefish.
Caviar is an expensive and luxurious food delicacy, and it can be used as a spread or garnish. During production, the caviar can be pasteurized or fresh (non-pasteurized). Pasteurization decreases its economic value but makes it safer for consumption.
Why Is Caviar Bad for Dogs?
Caviar is not part of the dog’s normal diet. However, that is not the only issue with caviar. To make things more clear, we will thoroughly review the different reasons caviar is bad for dogs – the nutrients and their potential consequences.
Reason number 1: Too much salt
Caviar is cured in salt, which results in the delicacy being loaded with sodium. Just to give you a better idea of the caviar’s salt content – one tablespoon contains roughly 240 milligrams of sodium. A healthy 30-pound dog must not eat more than 100 mg of sodium a day. Therefore, in small dogs, one tablespoon of caviar can be enough to trigger salt poisoning (the chances are even higher for dogs with co-existing kidney disease). Salt poisoning manifests with signs and symptoms like vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, loss of coordination, tremors, seizures. It is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Reason number 2: A caloric food
Believe it or not, caviar is quite caloric. Namely, one tablespoon of caviar (around 16 grams) contains 42 calories. Adult dogs need between 25 and 30 calories per pound of bodyweight for maintenance purposes. The average 30-pound dog would need about 800 calories per day. If the dog is already taking these calories from its regular food, adding caviar on top of them can make the dog gain weight, especially if not particularly active. Weight gain is a serious issue as obesity increases the dog’s risk of acquiring certain diseases like diabetes and heart problems. At the same time, it also aggravates ongoing problems like arthritis.
Reason number 3: Potential food poisoning
If not properly manufactured, stored, and handled, caviar poses a severe risk for food poisoning (not just for dogs but humans too). Namely, caviar can be contaminated with various spoil-age bacteria and harmful pathogens like Clostridium botulinum and Salmonella. Even if not contaminated, caviar may trigger digestive upset in dogs as it is hard to digest and process. The telltale signs and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, dehydration, and lethargy.
Is Black Caviar Ok for Dogs?
Black caviar is not directly toxic to dogs, which is good news. In more practical terms, this means that getting an accidental lick or two of black caviar will not result in an urgent trip to the veterinary clinic and hefty vet bills.
However, feeding your dog black caviar on purpose is highly unadvisable as the delicacy contains potentially harmful ingredients. In a nutshell, to answer the main question – black caviar is not OK for dogs.
What Happens if A Dog Eats Caviar?
What happens after a dog eats caviar depends on various factors, including:
- The type of the caviar (fresh or non-pasteurized caviar poses a more significant danger than pasteurized caviar)
- The amount of consumed caviar (one lick of caviar is unlikely to be harmful while eating a spoon or two will probably result in consequences)
- The dog’s size (small dogs can suffer more severe consequences even if they consumed tiny amounts than large dogs, which would need to eat substantial caviar amount to develop side effects).
- The dog’s overall health (dehydrated dogs and dogs with pre-existing kidney problems are more likely to experience salt poisoning than healthy dogs).
What Do I Do if My Dog Ate Caviar?
If your dog ate caviar, assess the situation and try to determine how much your dog ate. If you cannot establish the consumed amount, it is best to have your dog checked by a veterinarian.
On the other hand, there is nothing to worry about if your dog had a lick or two. Try monitoring your dog in the next few days and be more careful to avoid future accidents.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Eating Caviar?
Feeding caviar on purpose is a no-go, but what about accidental ingestions? Luckily, there are several things you can do to prevent your dog from stealing and eating caviar. Here are the tips.
Tip number 1: Correct caviar storage
Always make sure the caviar is stored in a place that is out of your dog’s reach. Do not forget that dogs are resourceful and can find their way into spots you thought were hard to get.
Tip number 2: Caviar-dog supervision
If there is caviar in the open (countertop or table), do not leave the dog alone with it. In case you need to leave the room, put the caviar away or take the dog with you. Leaving a saucepan with caviar alone with the dog is a recipe for disaster.
Tip number 3: Dog-friendly treats
If you are treating yourself with caviar and your dog watches with its big puppy eyes, you are tempting it. To make sure your dog is happy, too, give it some dog-friendly treats. That way you can both enjoy the tasty meal.
What Other Seafood Is Bad for Dogs?
In addition to caviar, you should not be feeding your dog several other fish and seafood products, including shellfish. Different shellfish pose different risks.
For example, shrimps are a controversial food as they are often loaded with harmful chemicals. On the other hand, Lobsters are rich in fats and sodium, while crab meat contains more iodine than the dog’s body can handle.
Summing Up: Can Dogs Eat Caviar?
No, dogs cannot eat caviar. While it is true that caviar contains some health-boosting nutrients like omega fatty acids, it is also true that it is loaded with salt, high in calories, and prone to bacterial contaminations.
In simpler words, the risks outweigh the benefits. Plus, the nutritionally valuable omega fatty acids can also be found in other dog-friendly foods, so there is no real need to give your dog caviar.
Do not forget that dogs thrive on meat and need nutritionally rich and balanced diets. Certain human foods can be added to the dog’s menu but only as occasional treats.