Is It True Or False That Dogs Can Eat Imitation Crab Meat?

We love our dogs, and we love to feed our dogs. However, our beloved four legged friends also look to us for information about what they can eat.

This wouldn’t be a problem, if we were also dogs. Unfortunately, that is not the case and humans can eat a far wider range of foods than our pets, most of these foods being inedible for other creatures.

This does not stop dogs begging for food, and it does not stop us giving them little pieces of human food as a treat, though.

However, it is important to know what you can give them and in this area several terrible stories have gone around telling dog owners what might happen if they do.

Today, we are going to focus on the myth that you can’t give your dog imitation crab meat and see how true that really is.

What Is Imitation Crab Meat?

First, let’s start with the obvious question for those who may not have come across this product before.

Imitation crab is not real crab meat, but a product made to simulate the taste and texture of real crab meat without having any actual crab within it. Instead, it is made of fish, food coloring, flour, artificial flavors, and different additives.

In the United States, we would call this product ‘Imitation Crab’, but it originates in Japan and most people know it isn’t really crab.

It is just called such because it resembles the legs of the Japanese Spider Crab, hence the original name when it isn’t shortened ‘Kani Kamaboko’ which literally means ‘Crab Puréed Fish’ or ‘Crab Fish Cake’.

The fish is normally a large kind of white fish called Pollock, a close relative of Cod, that is then cleaned and stripped of its meat, leaving only the skeleton and the skin behind.

The white meat is then washed as well, and it is finely minced, before being washed once more to remove any lingering odors.

The mince is then beaten and pulverized until it becomes a gelatinous paste.

This gelatinous paste is then mixed with various seasonings, additives, and enhancers to make ‘Surumi’. Surumi can then be turned into different products, but mostly it becomes various types of Kamaboko.

These can be loaves of Kamaboko that people have to cut or individual products like the famous Narutomaki, with the pink swirl in the center of a circle.

However, the most popular product that Surumi has become is Kani Kamaboko or Kanikama for short. The reason that this product began being made is that crab is great and everyone would like a taste of it at dinner.

But crab is also expensive and hard to come by, so a food that tastes like crab but is cheap is ideal for anyone on a budget.

Can Dogs Eat Imitation Crab Or Kanikama?

No, absolutely not. Do not feed your dog imitation crab at all.

Most actual seafood or fish is good for your dog once in a while, like lobster, white fish, shrimps, or actual crabs, because it contains a lot of protein in a small package, along with other nutrients.

We say once in a while, due to it still having a high salt content, so make sure it’s at best once a week and that your dog is not allergic.

However, imitation crab is not pure seafood or fish. It is a fish paste with a lot of other ingredients added to it. Many of those ingredients are incredibly unhealthy for your pupper and even eating a little bit could make them sick.

We are talking swollen eyes and maybe red, itchy bodies.

This may be hard to understand or believe without an explanation, so we are going to go through the ingredients and give you a run down of just how many products in imitation crab will be bad for your dog:

Fish (Allergy)

If your dog is allergic to fish, please never feed them imitation crab meat or any kind of imitation crab.

The product that replaces actual crab in imitation is fish, normally Pollock specifically, and by feeding your dog this product with their allergy you will trigger an allergic reaction.

This will cause red, blotchy skin, swollen eyes and face, and potential breathing problems if you let this happen.


While salt is not bad for animals (and in many cases it can be very good for them, helping them maintain bodily fluids and their nervous system), imitation crab meat has a lot of salt in it.

We are talking a lot more salt than your dog should ever eat – it can even be a little much for humans.

An excess of sodium in the body will cause high blood pressure, kidney problems, and heart problems for your dog, which can eventually lead to your dog suffering debilitating conditions and even death.

Food Dyes And Coloring

Food coloring in general is not safe for most animals.

The only reason humans are okay with them is that we have one of the most robust immune and digestive systems of any animal, and even we can only safely eat 10 food coloring that have been created.

Their original purpose was to disguise stale or molding food, and now they are used throughout food manufacturing to make products more appealing. This doesn’t mean that they are

Is it true or false that dogs can eat imitation crab meat (1)

 healthy, though.

Food coloring and dyes usually have trace or small amounts of mercury, arsenic, and lead in them.

These are products that humans can process, but they may cause cancers in later life, however a dog’s system may not cope as well with processing these, and they could have problems from eating them sooner.

Artificial Additives And Flavor Enhancers

These are the most damaging things to your dog in the short term. Flavor enhancers are added to make the imitation crab taste like actual crab, but they will cause serious problems for your dog.

Dogs have a limited range of taste compared to us, like they cannot taste sweet for example, because their diet is more restricted, and so they can’t taste the potential problems these additions to the fish paste might cause.

The Flavor Enhancers And Additives And What They Do

We mentioned that the flavor enhancers and additives are problematic, but we haven’t actually covered what they do to your dog yet.

That is because it is too much to cover in a short paragraph, and so we are going to give each their own little section to show you why your dog should never eat them:

Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium Glutamate is used in a lot of manufactured products to give food a more robust flavor, including Surumi. However, when ingested by dogs – while not particularly hazardous – it can cause nausea, vomiting, and chest pain.

Potassium Chloride

Potassium Chloride is another chemical used in manufactured products a lot. It tends to give them a more savory flavor.

While it can lower blood pressure, the excessive amount used in Surumi can give Dogs nausea, bloating, vomiting, and can make them take darker stools.

Disodium Inosinate

Normally, this additive is used in frozen or canned foods to extend their lifespan or to disguise the loss of flavor from them. This is one of those products that your dog should never, ever eat.

The moment they have some, they will experience a burning sensation over their body along with swelling, their chest will tighten, and the chemical will begin to damage their skin and fur. All round, a bad thing for your dog to eat.

These are the big flavor enhancers and additives that make imitation crab so dangerous for dogs to eat.

While they can get away with eating it once or twice, if you make imitation crab a regular part of their diet, then it will be incredibly problematic for them healthwise.

What Kind Of Seafood Should I Feed My Dog Instead?

If you are looking to add seafood to your dog’s diet, then you should try and make it as natural as possible and only give it to your dog every once in a while.

Shellfish are a good option. While they can be a bit fiddly to prepare, they are incredibly nutrient dense and, since they are so small, they work great as a treat that your dog can have when they are good.

If you are looking to feed your dog fish, then make sure that the bones are removed or that you have bought fileted fish. Dogs can get small bones easily lodged in their throat, which can restrict their breathing.

Carp is always a good option for this, however make sure it is cooked first, so your dog doesn’t get parasites.


Dogs cannot eat imitation crab, due to all the additional products we, as humans, put in the Kanikama apart from fish. Most of the other ingredients will cause your dog to become very sick, which no one wants.

As such, try to stick to natural food from the sea with no added ingredients to feed your dog.

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