Sushi is a terrifically versatile food of Asian origin that has grown to mainstream popularity all over the world and is readily available in any degree of formality from food truck to formal dinner. It is made by rolling rice paper or edible seaweed sheets around a variety of fillings; the most common are white rice and certain types of fish, but the possibilities range well beyond these pedestrian options.
Sushi is favored by many for the ease with which it is ordered out or taken home. Sushi bites fit easily into takeout containers and are neither particularly wet nor inclined to disintegrate, and can hold together despite a surprising amount of jostling. All of this makes having sushi around your house a fairly reasonable state of affairs, although if it’s any good, the sushi won’t be there for long.
If you have a dog, chances are that the dog will have noticed the sushi only moments after it is taken out of the refrigerator or bright in the front door, and is already politely asking you for a piece. Most sushi includes raw fish and even the recipes that don’t are likely to include things that your dog likes just as much as you.
One thing that has become common knowledge among most pet owners, though, is that not everything your dog sees you eating will also be safe for your dog. Chocolate, for example, is a great treat for people but can poison a dog in even modest quantities. Is sushi safe for dogs, or is this something that dogs should avoid?
The real problem with answering this question is that sushi is prepared in a component manner, meaning that each ingredient is cooked or cut up separately from all the rest, and most sushi can be ordered or made with nearly any ingredient left out. Figuring out whether your dog will be safe having sushi is largely a matter of knowing what went into the sushi.
One thing to keep in mind if you are including raw fish in your sushi is that raw fish is a known and heavily problematic source of intestinal parasites. Although most food services have regulations and inspections in place to ensure their ingredients are not infested, it is nevertheless not unheard of for something to slip by.
Wasabi, a potently spicy condiment, is a frequent addition to sushi of many kinds and is immensely enjoyed by anyone that can handle its burning aftereffect. Dogs, unfortunately, are not among those who can properly enjoy wasabi. Your dog tastes differently than you do, and while you may enjoy the wasabi taste, your dog is likely feeling pain from the burn but no enjoyment of flavor at all.
Spices, in general, are problematic in dogs, as the canine body is not properly built to handle seasoning or spicing; a dog is naturally built to enjoy unseasoned meat, and spicing it can aggravate the dog or cause it extreme discomfort.
A final warning that should, in all honesty, apply to dogs and humans alike, concerns the age of the sushi in question. Sushi has a fairly brief shelf life and can begin to spoil in short order once this time is up. This is especially true if you have indulged in putting liquids such as soy sauce or melted butter over your sushi, as the rice tends to trap them and more material to the spoiling process.
Giving your dog spoiled sushi will end with bowel problems at best and a dangerous case of food poisoning at worst. If you think that sushi is spoiled, it is likely best to toss it completely rather than trying to feed it to the dog.
The Good News
As a rule, most dogs will be able to enjoy sushi; although there are plenty of exceptions, the usual, pedestrian sushi is almost always safe for dogs. Although they should not be allowed to do so, most dogs can even manage several bites of sushi, as each individual piece is far too little to satisfy a dog alone.
On a related note, it should be understood that even if your dog gets into sushi that is labeled unsafe for dogs, you don’t necessarily need to rush to the vet on the spot. Most sushi is made in bites too small to have any real effect on the dog, such that the main thing to do in these situations is to make sure the dog doesn’t get any more than it already has.
If you know that your dog likes to try and get at your food, you – as the owner – are responsible for handling and storing the food in question in a safe and secure manner. Move your sushi around in a closed container or on a covered plate, and try to eat away from the dog’s cage if at all possible.
Similarly, it becomes your prerogative to ensure that your dog is both properly distanced from your sushi and tied up or otherwise secured to prevent them from making a grab for your meal. It is vastly preferred to have the dog shut in a different room, a cage, or outside when eating, as these provide the most surefire ways to keep your dog’s appetite for your sushi from becoming a more serious problem.
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Although it is far from your dog’s normal diet, sushi generally contains nothing immediately harmful to the dog, and in fact, contains many of the same ingredients as most commercial dog foods. A dog grabbing a piece or two should be fine, but some specific recipes may have problematic ingredients that warrant a separate consultation before handing them to your dog.
If possible, keep human food away from dogs entirely, and stick to feeding your dog a reliable, meat-based kibble from a trusted manufacturer. This ensures that your dog will be getting food designed for their digestive system without anything that could prove problematic for dogs mixed in.
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