Can dogs eat shrimp is the latest addition to our library of healthy eating guides.
In this article we’ll discover the pros and cons of feeding shrimp to dogs and answer the jumbo questions about these little shellfish:
Can dogs eat cooked shrimp or raw shrimp?
Are shrimp shells and tails safe for dogs? Are dogs allergic to shrimp or is shrimp ok for dogs?
And what are the warning signs for an allergic reaction if your dog ate shrimp?
Shrimp For Dogs?
Shrimp are decapod (ten-footed) crustaceans in the same order as prawns, crayfish, lobsters and crabs.
They contain a small soft edible body inside a flexible shell with a semi-rigid tail fin and small legs and tentacles on the head.
These tasty sea creatures represent more than 10 billion pounds of seafood consumed annually!
Jumbo, Gulf, cocktail. Battered, buttered, broiled and boiled. From dive bars to fast food joints to five star restaurants. This delicious seafood is everywhere.
So it’s natural we want to share this delicacy with our canine companions. But can dogs eat shrimp? Or might it cause them tummy troubles? Let’s explore.
Is Shrimp Bad For Dogs?
Properly prepared shrimp is safe for dogs to eat occasionally. However, a few words of caution.
If your dog is diabetic, overweight or has circulatory problems, avoid shrimp. Shrimp are high in cholesterol and excess cholesterol can contribute to circulatory complications such as hyperlipidemia, or high lipid/fat content in blood.
While a large amount of shrimp would need to be fed to your dog regularly to be the sole cause of hyperlipidemia, maintaining a diet with reduced cholesterol is recommended.
If your dog has a thyroid condition, avoid shrimp. Shrimp, and shellfish in general, are a common source of dietary iodine which is harder to moderate with a thyroid condition.
Are Dogs Allergic To Shrimp?
It is possible that some dogs could develop an allergy to shrimp. Any dog, including your dog, could potentially develop food allergies or may have a genetic predisposition to food allergies or food sensitivity.
Although foods generally account for only 10% of allergies in dogs, it is best to limit shrimp for dogs until you are sure there will be no allergic complications.
If your dog has known allergies or sensitivities to other foods, it is wise to avoid shrimp altogether.
Can a dog eat shrimp safely – how to find out
The first time you give your dog shrimp, give him a small, fully cooked piece and watch him carefully for allergy or food sensitivity warning signs.
These may include aggressive scratching, difficulty breathing, diarrhea or vomiting.
If you notice any of those symptoms after your dogs eat shrimp, contact your veterinarian immediately. It may be possible that the shrimp has caused the problem and it would be best to avoid shrimp in the future
Is Shrimp Good For Dogs?
Occasional treats of this low-fat, low-cholesterol shellfish can play a beneficial role in your dog’s diet.
Aside from being tasty, shrimp are packed with a healthy combination of anti-oxidants and important nutrients such as Vitamin B12, niacin, and phosphorus.
Vitamin B12 is a common supplement important for proper metabolism, gastrointestinal well-being and brain health.
Niacin, or Vitamin B3, contributes to your dog’s overall energy level. This essential vitamin is vital to protecting your dog’s cardiovascular system and promoting a healthy metabolism. The niacin in shrimp contributes to proper blood circulation, brain function and healthy skin.
The phosphorus in shrimp is important for healthy bones. Shrimp also contain anti-oxidants which are indicated to reduce brain aging.
Do dogs need to eat shrimp?
You might be thinking, Wow, my dog needs to eat more shrimp! But the key nutrients found in shrimp are also found in other protein sources in commercial dog foods and treats.
Therefore, your dog does not require shrimp to maintain a healthy diet.
In fact, while shrimpy options are plentiful in cat foods and treats, these meaty crustaceans are only found in a handful of commercial dog foods.
Even then, they are often in the form of shrimp meal versus whole shrimp.
Blue Wilderness brand carries a small selection of high protein dog foods and treats containing shrimp meal. Canidae and Under the Sun brands each carry a salmon & shrimp option which contains shrimp in a salmon and chicken based wet food.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Shrimp?
Dogs should not eat any raw shellfish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that eating raw shrimp is hazardous because raw shrimp may contain parasites.
Also, consuming raw shrimp puts your dog at a high risk for contracting foodborne illnesses.
If your dog ate raw shrimp, watch for signs of stomach upset and contact your veterinarian if you notice any unusual behavior such as dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea.
You may also wish to contact the Pet Poison Helpline, endorsed by the American Kennel Club. Note, this is not a free service.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Tails?
Dogs should only eat the meat of shrimp.
Tails and heads should be removed prior to feeding.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Shells?
Just like heads and tails, the shell portion of the shrimp should be discarded prior to providing shrimp for dogs.
Particularly in small dogs, bits of shell can cause impaction. If the shells are sharp (uncooked), they can in theory cause damage or irritation to the intestines.
If your dog ate shrimp heads, tails or shells, monitor his bowel movements for constipation or bleeding and to ensure the shells pass uneventfully.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Shrimp?
Cooked shrimp is fine.
If you are going to feed shrimp to your dog, cook it thoroughly first, alternatively feed shrimp that you have bought ready cooked
Can Dogs Eat Boiled Shrimp?
Yes. In fact, boiled shrimp or steamed shrimp are the best preparations of shrimp for dogs.
Boil or steam shrimp until it is firm and no longer pink inside. Your fishmonger or package directions will advise you on the correct timing depending on the size of the shrimp.
Do not add any salts or spices to the shrimp pot. If you’re having a shrimp boil, for instance, set aside some clear water for boiling shrimp for dogs.
Can My Dog Eat Shrimp That Is Breaded, Fried or Sauced?
Ideally, it’s best to avoid coatings or cooking methods other than boiling or steaming.
Frying, breading, seasoning and saucing often add extra unneeded flavorings and salt to your dog’s diet.
Even if you remove the breading from shrimp, it can still have residual additives that are unhealthy for your pup.
How To Feed Your Dog Shrimp
After boiling or steaming in clear water, remove any part of the head, tail and shell and allow the shrimp to cool completely before offering it to your dog.
De-veining is optional.
Offer small dogs cut up pieces of shrimp; larger dogs can generally handle the whole shrimp at once.
Since shrimp come in different sizes, you might feed your dog three little shrimp or one jumbo shrimp. This is a snack so measure according to your dog’s regular treat size portion.
Shrimp as dog training treats
Editors note: Because shrimp are small they can make excellent training treats for raw fed dogs for special tasks where you need a high value treat
They are a bit messy to handle, so you’ll need to have some wet wipes to hand for your fingers once training is over!
You’ll also need to make sure that you keep the shrimp fresh – put them frozen into your treat bag or pot, and use them within the next hour or two
Keeping Shrimp For Dogs Fresh
If you’re buying raw shrimp, make sure it is free from black spots and ask if it has been frozen. Once shrimp has been frozen and thawed, the texture and flavor and will diminish by refreezing.
Raw shrimp can be safely refrigerated for one to two days or frozen three to six months.
Cook fresh shrimp within two days of purchase and frozen shrimp within two days of thawing.
Cooked shrimp should be refrigerated and eaten no more than three to four days after cooking.
Can dogs eat shrimp – summary
If your dog is lucky enough to have a shrimp snack, limit it to a couple of shrimp a couple of times a week.
Feed only fully cooked shrimp, either boiled or steamed in clear water. Do not feed shrimp heads, tails or shells to your dog.
Monitor your dog for any signs of shrimp-related food allergy and contact your veterinarian if you suspect a problem.
- American Kennel Club
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Science Teachers Association, (2014), “Food Safety Table Reference Guide A to Z”
- PetMD, “High Cholesterol in Dogs”
- Thomason, J., DVM, DACVIM, (2007), “Hyperlipidemia in dogs and cats”
- American Thyroid Association, (2014), “Iodine Deficiency Fact Sheet”