Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? Canines & These Common Crustaceans
Vet-Checked • Pet-Tested • Owner-Approved
Your dog loves shrimp right? Can it the shells though? What about the head? Is it even good for them? Read on!
There are all kinds of articles online with warnings about giving dogs shrimp, largely because people assume dogs have the same problems with food that some people do.
What’s the truth?
Shrimp will not hurt your dog. Yes, you should probably shell and de-vein any shrimp that you give your dog, but it’s extremely unlikely that a typical dog is going to choke on a shrimp peel or those tiny little legs.
In This Article...
- Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
- Shrimp Dog Treat Recipe
- 3 Tips for Feeding Your Dog Shrimp
- Healthy Ways to Add Shrimp to Your Dog’s Diet
- What Else Can Dogs Eat?
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Yes! Dogs love shrimp. Whether shrimp are part of a dog’s natural diet or not, dogs will usually beg for shrimp if you cook some.
Is Shrimp Good for Dogs?
Shrimp has been cited for raising cholesterol in humans, but most dogs don’t have to worry much about cholesterol. Weight is an issue for dogs, but that’s not the same thing.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Shrimp?
We have never seen any veterinary article that stated that dogs have shellfish allergies. Food allergies, in general, only make up 10 percent of the allergies found in dogs. It seems very unlikely that dogs would be allergic to shrimp.
Are there health benefits to dogs eating shrimp?
Shrimp is a great source of protein and it’s low in calories.
There are several health benefits to shrimp, and they can be a healthy addition to a dogs diet if added in moderation. Shrimp contain high amounts of phosphorous, niacin and vitamin B12. They are also high in protein and low in fat.
Shrimp is rich in antioxidants as well, uncommon for high protein foods. In fact, there are three known antioxidants found in significant quantities in shrimp astaxanthin, selenium, and copper.
Shrimp Dog Treat Recipe
There aren’t a lot of shrimp dog treat recipes but there are some dog food companies (and cat food!) using shrimp.
Holistic Select, for instance, makes a good canned food using shrimp, tuna, and salmon.
If you would like to give your dog some shrimp, probably the best way is to boil it the same way you would for yourself. Keep it relatively plain. Avoid using spices and a lot of salt. Here’s a basic recipe for preparing shrimp. If you give this recipe to your dog it’s best to modify it to a version without a lot of the spices.
3 Tips for Feeding Your Dog Shrimp
1. Cook thoroughly before feeding it to your dog.
Raw shrimp can contain the potentially deadly bacteria Clostridium botulinum type C, along with other potentially dangerous pathogens. Any shrimp that you give to your pup must be thoroughly cooked to be safe for consumption.
2. Make sure you remove all shells and legs before feeding to your dog.
They may seem flimsy, but shrimp shells have been known to cause lacerations in the intestinal tract of canines, which can lead to serious health issues.
Intestinal blockage and choking are a special concern as well. This is especially true in small canine breeds.
However, if you have leftover shells from preparing shrimp, you can boil them in some water for 10 minutes, then strain off the shells and discard. This will make a delicious broth that you can add to your dog’s kibble for a delicious boost of flavor and nutrients.
3. Try a very small quantity first.
Although very rare, as with humans, some canines do have shellfish allergies which make shrimp a potentially fatal food in those cases. If you are feeding your pup any crustacean for the first time, give them a very small quantity and keep an eye on them for a few hours to be on the safe side.
If after consuming shrimp they show any symptoms such as shortness of breath, swollen tongue or lips, vomiting or diarrhea, take your dog to the veterinarian right away. Although very rare, it is good to keep an eye out for these symptoms as they could constitute an emergency.
Healthy Ways to Add Shrimp to Your Dog’s Diet
Added in small quantities, shrimp can be a nutritious addition to your canine’s diet. However, many of the ways that people tend to eat shrimp can be a problem for dogs. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you make good decisions.
Best to Avoid:
Fried Shrimp: In addition to adding unnecessary fats to your dog’s diet, breaded and fried shrimp adds empty carbohydrates to the plate. It just isn’t a value added choice for your pooch.
Spicy Shrimp: Many folks love the addition of spices such as old bay or Cajun seasoning to their shrimp dishes. Many of these spices can cause stomach upset. In addition, they are usually full of sodium, something your dog is more sensitive to than you are.
Additional Fats: Too much fat in your dog’s diet can lead to obesity and digestion issues. It is best to use simple cooking methods that do not add additional fat in the cooking process.
Great Ideas to Try:
Peeled and Steamed: Steaming is an excellent choice when it comes to cooking shrimp for your canine companion. If you like to add spice to your seafood boil, just make a small separate plain batch for your dog.
Baked or Grilled: Both of these cooking methods can be an excellent way to cook shrimp for Fido. Olive oil is a good choice for a light coating of oil to prevent sticking.
Homemade Dog Treats: There are a variety of homemade dog treat recipes online that make use of proteins such as chicken or fish. In most cases, cooked shrimp can be chopped and substituted in. However, shrimp has a very short shelf life so be sure to feed treats fresh, or freeze immediately, to prevent spoilage.
Fish and shrimp in processed dog food
Although not a top concern among the mainstream of veterinarians, holistic vets have long been advising of potential health problems associated with regularly feeding processed dog food containing fish and/or shrimp meal.
The issue of eating too much seafood for humans is well known, and particular caution is recommended for pregnant women. The primary concern is aimed at the relatively high levels of mercury in seafood which can accumulate to toxic levels in the body over time.
In addition, when some seafood is processed, the preservative ethoxyquin is used. This preservative is not always declared on the ingredient list because it is added to some seafood prior to processing into pet food. It is a known carcinogen, and some dogs have shown particular sensitivity to this preservative.
The controversies surrounding feeding pet foods containing fish or shrimp meal concerns feeding products containing these ingredients over the long term. Adding these ingredients occasionally is very unlikely to present any health problems for your dog.
What About Shrimp Contamination?
If you have been following food news in the last few decades, then you probably already know that the contamination of ocean food sources such as shrimp have been a recurring problem.
In the case of shrimp, imported shrimp has recently been the subject of several refusals at port, with the FDA citing violations in the amount of antibiotics found in samples. Other issues have included a build up from massive oil spills, such as those in the Gulf. Recently, concerns about toxic algae have threatened shrimp harvesting in Florida.
The problem is widespread enough that some people have decided these crustaceans are not worth the risk, at least not as a regular part of our diets.
Of course, this is a decision every dog owner needs to make for themselves. However, it is one more reason to make sure that if you decide to feed your dog shrimp, to do so in moderation.
What Else Can Dogs Eat?
Check out some more frequently asked questions below: