Can Dogs Eat Cuttlefish?

Photo by Indi Samarajiva on Flickr

If you live in a seaside area, you’ve probably seen cuttlefish washed up on the beach.

Your dog, too, and he probably wants to see what they taste like since the smell is kind of intriguing.

Can dogs eat cuttlefish?

The answer is yes, it shouldn’t cause any problems.

On the contrary, cuttlefish make for a healthy and very nutritious snack. 

In this article, we’ll have a look at the health benefits of feeding cuttlefish meat and bone to your dog, but also the risks if he eats too much of this type of snack.

Also, we’ll have a look at what types of cuttlefish are poisonous. 

What is cuttlefish?

Cuttlefish is basically a mollusc, closely related to squids and octopuses.

They all belong to the class Cephalopoda, but cuttlefish stand out for their unique internal structure.

Cuttlefish have an internal shell, also known as cuttlebone.

Well, the term bone is improperly used here as the cuttlebone is made of the same stuff as mollusc shells.

It is hard, but not too hard for a dog to chew and has the consistency of pumice. The cuttlefish uses this internal structure to control buoyancy, or staying afloat. 

Cuttlefish have 8 arms and two long tentacles and vary in size between 4 and 20 inches.

Like calamari or squids, you can find cuttlefish in all the oceans of the earth.

In some countries in East Asia or around the Mediterranean it is considered a delicacy and people enjoy cuttlefish snacks, just as much as Westerners enjoy popcorn or peanuts.

Can dogs eat cuttlefish bone?

If you happen to be walking down the beach and your dog snatches up a cuttlefish bone, don’t panic.

It probably won’t make him sick, although it is preferable that you boil the cuttlefish bone for at least 15 minutes and then let it dry.

This is necessary to avoid bacteria and other pathogens that develop on rotting seafood washed up on the beach.

If the bone doesn’t have any meat left on it, the risk of bacteria contamination is very small. 

A cuttlefish bone has an oblong shape, it’s chalky and lightweight. 

Cuttlefish bone is almost entirely made of aragonite, which is a naturally occurring form of calcium carbonate.

As such, this sort of bone is typically fed to pet birds and tortoises, who need a lot of calcium.

To be specific, cuttlefish bone is 85% calcium. 

It is also very rich in vitamins B2 and B12 and also contains selenium, phosphorus, copper and iron. 

It doesn’t have any calories, which makes it a great snack for overweight pets, plus it’s 100% organic. 

Can a dog choke on cuttlefish bone?

Since it is technically not a bone, the risk of him choking on it is extremely small.

It’s not impossible though if your dog is the type that gobbles his food rather than chewing it.

The cuttlefish bone is brittle and crunchy, and it tends to crumble rather than splinter, so it’s not like a piece of it will get stuck in the dog’s throat.

If you go to the beach and fill a bag with cuttlefish, you can boil them and keep them in the pantry.

The only thing is that you need to let the cuttlefish bones dry first and store them in an airtight container.

Air exposure promotes bacteria growth and mould. If the bones appear to be mouldy, throw them away.

Can a dog eat cuttlefish meat?

All the parts of a cuttlefish are edible, just as you can eat all the parts in squids or calamari. In terms of taste, its flavor is somewhere between squid and octopus. Although not so popular in Western countries, cuttlefish meat is said to be tastier than squid.

It can be eaten raw, if the cuttlefish is freshly caught. If you want to cook cuttlefish meat, you’ll have to be very careful. Experts say you need to cook it either very quickly or very slow. Anything in between will give the meat a rubbery texture and make it tough to chew. At least for humans. Your dog might enjoy a more chewy treat.

You might want to remove the ink sack first. The ink is not toxic and can be used to give a jet black color to a risotto, but you might make a mess in the kitchen if the sack bursts unexpectedly. 

A regular serving of cuttlefish meat, 100g, provides 79 calories and 16 g of protein, which is important for muscle building. 

What are the benefits of feeding cuttlefish bone to the dog?

If your dog has a calcium deficiency, a cuttlefish snack once in a while is a good way to correct that. It’s a natural alternative to calcium supplements for dogs and it doesn’t cost anything if you live by the beach. 

Chewing on cuttlefish bone also helps with dental hygiene. Cuttlefish bone is abrasive and thoroughly cleans a dog’s bone, so you won’t have to bother with brushing. In the past, powdered cuttlefish bone was added to toothpaste, precisely because of its abrasive properties. 

What are the risks of feeding cuttlefish bone to the dog?

Cuttlefish bones are not recommended for dogs with kidney problems. The high amount of calcium in these bones can lead to kidney failure.

There’s also the risk your dog might be allergic to seafood without you knowing about it. If the dog has a mild allergic reaction to cuttlefish, he will probably break out in hives. This will be very unpleasant for him, but fortunately it will go away.

However, whenever you introduce a new type of food you need to monitor the dog closely, to make sure he doesn’t go into anaphylactic shock. This is the worst type of allergic reaction and it can be fatal, as swelling in the mouth and throat will leave the animal unable to breathe. This is quite rare, but it’s something you need to be aware of. 

You can treat a mild allergic reaction with over-the-counter antihistamines, like Benadryl or Claritin, but if he has trouble breathing head to the vet straight away. 

Another side-effect of eating cuttlefish bone is chalky stools. This might be a problem if your dog is prone to constipation. 

What types of cuttlefish are poisonous?

The only type of cuttlefish known to be toxic is the so-called Flamboyant cuttlefish. It gets its name from the fact that it can easily change color. It is a very small type of cuttlefish, 2.4 – 3 inches long, and its flesh contains a dangerous toxin. Fortunately, the Flamboyant cuttlefish only lives in tropical waters and is to be found mostly in the waters around Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. 

Can dogs eat octopus?

Octopus is very healthy and quite appreciated by dogs. Your dog can totally have a bit of octopus, but it should be well-cooked, boiled or steamed.

However, keep in mind that octopus meat has 163 calories for a 100 g serving. At the same time, octopus provides 29.6 g of protein per serving, so it’s an excellent type of meat for your dog. It is also rich in calcium, potassium and iron. Octopus is a great source of Omega-3, which strengthens a dog’s immune system, and helps him have a full and shiny coat. 

Octopus is a very healthy and nutritious treat for a puppy, but you need to be very careful. Small dogs tend to have a sensitive stomach, so only give your dog a tiny bit of octopus and watch him closely to see if he gets an upset tummy or an allergic reaction.

Can dogs eat squid?

Dogs can eat squid, but only in moderation. 100 grams of squid provides only 92 calories. It also has 15,5 g of protein and 3 g of carbs. What you need to consider, though, is the fact that squid has a high cholesterol content, 233 mg for 100 g. This might be a problem for an elderly dog that already has high cholesterol. 

On the plus side, the same serving provides 32 mg of calcium and 33 mg of magnesium, not to mention phosphorus, potassium and vitamins.

Try to avoid shredded squid treats you might find in pet stores or online as they are loaded with salt, and this can be very dangerous for a dog. 

Your dog can have raw squid, if it is freshly caught. If you give him cooked squid, make sure to use a dog-friendly recipe with no added salt or flavorings.

Closing Thoughts

Although not a very common food, cuttlefish is a healthy treat for a dog. Your pet can have both the meat and the bone. Cuttlefish bone, which you can easily find on a beach, is very rich in calcium and other minerals. You can boil cuttlefish bones and store them in an air-tight container, so you always have a tasty treat on hand.

Dogs can have many types of seafood, including octopus or squid, but when you feed your pet such a treat make sure to watch out for any allergic reaction.