Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?

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If you love seafood, you likely eat shrimp from time to time. But, when preparing your next favorite shrimp dish, you might wonder, "Can dogs eat shrimp?" Cooked, plain shrimp is safe for dogs in moderation and filled with beneficial nutrients like vitamin B.

Can dogs have shrimp? Yes, but should they? Ultimately, it depends on your dog's current health and whether they have any allergies. In general, shrimp is low in fat, carbs, and calories.1 Therefore, it's a healthier snack option than many other types of human foods, especially for dogs watching their weight. Of course, we're only talking about plain, cooked shrimp. Other types of shrimp aren't safe for your dog. Considering sharing shrimp with your pooch? Keep reading to learn more about feeding shrimp to dogs and how to do it safely. 

Which shrimp is safe and unsafe for dogs

Is All Shrimp Safe For Dogs?

Cooked, plain shrimp contains beneficial vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorus, and protein.1 However, your dog should already be getting all the nutrients they need for optimal health from their regular diet. Therefore, there's no reason to share shrimp with your dog because there's no benefit for them. However, we understand the impulse of sharing your food with your dog, especially when they give you their puppy eyes. Unfortunately, not all shrimp is safe for dogs. 

  • Raw shrimp: Can dogs eat raw shrimp? They shouldn't. Dogs should never eat raw shrimp because it contains pathogens that can harm their health. In addition, raw shrimp that hasn't been deshelled can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockages.1 Ingesting raw shrimp can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain in dogs and humans.2 Therefore, you should prepare your dog's shrimp properly, as cooking will remove any harmful bacteria and pathogens.
  • Cooked and boiled shrimp: Can dogs eat cooked shrimp? Absolutely! Cooked and boiled shrimp are the safest options for your dogs because you'll cook out pathogens that can harm their health. Of course, when cooking shrimp for your dog, avoid cooking it in oil or with spices and seasonings that can be dangerous to them.2
  • Fried shrimp: Can dogs eat fried shrimp? Dogs should not eat fried shrimp because the fish fry typically contains seasonings that can be toxic to pets, such as garlic. In addition, butter, oil, and fats can contribute to weight gain and associated health problems.2 Even a small amount of fried food can give a dog an upset stomach, so it's best to avoid feeding them fried shrimp. 
  • Seasoned shrimp: Whether you bake, steam, boil, or fry your shrimp, one thing to keep in mind is seasonings. You should only feed your dog plain, unseasoned shrimp because seasonings are often toxic to pets. For example, garlic and onion are toxic to pets and are often used for seasoning shrimp. Additionally, seemingly harmless seasonings like too much salt can be dangerous for your pet by causing dehydration. If your dog consumes seasoned shrimp, it's best to consult your vet for the next steps. Depending on how much they've consumed, your vet may ask you to bring them in as soon as possible for treatment. 

Another consideration is shrimp shells and tails. Can dogs eat shrimp tails? Shrimp shells and tails are a choking hazard and can cause digestive irritation and blockages.1 Dogs can't easily digest shrimp shells, so you should avoid feeding them to your pup no matter what. When you're done deshelling the shrimp, toss the shells in the trash as soon as possible so there's no chance your dog can get them. 

Ingesting raw shrimp can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain

Is Shrimp Good For Dogs?

Can dogs eat shrimp? Yes, but is it good for them? In general, there are benefits to feeding your dog shrimp, especially if the alternative is unhealthy. For example, shrimp is low in calories, fat, and carbs, so they can be a good alternative to unhealthy dog treats or other human foods. However, shrimp should only be an occasional snack in moderation; your dog's diet should not regularly consist of shrimp. 

Remember, your dog's kibble is specifically designed to support all aspects of their health and contains all the beneficial vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health. 

That being said, shrimp can be a good addition to your dog's diet if you have a picky eater that needs to be enticed to eat. Shrimp consists of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iodine
  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty acids2

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Shrimp?

While shrimp is safe for dogs and can provide some nutritional benefits, not all dogs should eat shrimp. Feeding your dog too much can cause GI issues like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In addition, some dogs can be allergic to shrimp. Dogs and people can have shellfish allergies. However, shrimp allergies are rare in dogs. 

Still, monitoring your dog after feeding them something new is always best to ensure they won't experience an adverse reaction. If you feed your dog a small piece of shrimp and they vomit or have diarrhea later, it's safe to assume you shouldn't feed them shrimp again. However, if your dog's symptoms don't subside within a day or two, you should take them to the vet because it could indicate a bacterial infection, which can occur if the shrimp is not fully cooked.2 

Things to consider when feeding your dog shrimp

What To Consider When Feeding Shrimp To Your Dog

If you share shrimp with your dog, there are a few rules of thumb to follow to prevent illness. Wondering how to feed your dog shrimp? Here are a few tips: 

  • Ensure it's cooked: Uncooked or not fully cooked shrimp can be hazardous to human and canine health. Shrimp and other seafood contain pathogens. If you've ever gotten sick from eating shellfish, it's likely because it wasn't fully cooked. Your dog can experience the same symptoms of food poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Therefore, you should ensure the shrimp you feed your dog is fully cooked. 
  • Portion correctly: Like humans, dogs need the correct portion size to prevent weight gain and GI issues from overeating. Small dogs should only eat one medium shrimp, while larger dogs can enjoy up to three or four medium-sized pieces of shrimp.2 If your dog eats any more than this, they may experience symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which may show undigested pieces of shrimp. 
  • Don't season shrimp: Never season any shrimp you plan on sharing with your dog. Instead of feeding your dog right off your plate, consider making them their own plate so you can season your food to taste. Avoid frying it in oil or butter when cooking your dog's shrimp. Instead, you can try steaming or boiling it to reduce the fat in their serving. 
  • Remove shell and tail: Always remove the shell and tail before sharing shrimp with your dog. Both the shell and tail are hard and can't be easily digested by your dog. In addition, they can have sharp edges that can hurt your dog's throat and stomach and pose a choking hazard, especially in small dogs. Since dogs can be mischievous, always toss the shells and tails in the trash as soon as possible. Since they smell like shrimp, your dog might think they're food and get to them when you turn your back, so it's always better to err on the side of caution, especially around dogs that can jump on the counters. 
  • Cut into small pieces: Always cut your dog's shrimp into pieces they can easily swallow. Many dogs don't chew their food enough and will swallow anything that touches their tongues. To prevent choking, always ensure your dog's shrimp can be swallowed whole if they forget to chew.

FAQs

Will one shrimp hurt my dog? 

One shrimp will likely not hurt your dog if it's cooked and deshelled. However, shelled, raw shrimp could harm your dog's health because it contains pathogens. In addition, the shell is a choking hazard. If your dog eats raw or seasoned shrimp, consult your vet as soon as possible. 

Your vet will ask how much they ate and what types of seasonings were on the shrimp to determine whether it's an emergency. In some cases, your vet will suggest monitoring your dog for signs of illness. However, if your dog consumes a lot of raw or seasoned shrimp, your vet may want to evaluate them to prevent potentially life-threatening illnesses. 

What seafood is toxic to dogs?

Several types of fish, including whitefish, tuna, salmon, cod, and catfish, are safe for dogs when cooked and fed plain.3 However, many types of seafood are dangerous to dogs, whether or not they're cooked. Seafood you should never feed your dog include:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna
  • King mackerel3 
  • Sushi

Of course, you should always consult a vet before feeding your dog anything new, especially human foods. For example, before you feed your dog shrimp or any type of seafood or shellfish, ask your vet if it's safe for your particular dog based on their health. 

How often should I give my dog treats?

Treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake. Therefore, your dog can have treats every day, and treats can even improve your dog's behavior when used as positive reinforcement. First, however, you should monitor how much you feed your dog. This might mean knowing how many calories they should consume and calculating how much food and treats you can feed them daily. Of course, most pet parents don't do this, but if your pet is gaining weight, sticking to the 10% treat rule can help them lose or maintain weight. 

Dog looking at owner peeling shrimp

Final Notes 

Can a dog eat shrimp? Unseasoned, cooked shrimp, is safe for most healthy adult dogs when fed in moderation. However, some dogs shouldn't eat shrimp, including those with a potential allergy and those monitoring their weight. Even though shrimp is low in fat, not all types are safe or healthy for your pet. Boiling, baking, and steaming shrimp is the healthiest option for your pet. You should also avoid using seasonings on the shrimp you share with your dog. 

Of course, you should always consult your vet before sharing new foods with your dog, especially if they have an underlying health condition or sensitive stomach. Consult a Dutch vet if you're wondering if shrimp is safe for your dog or if you'd like to know more about what foods are safe for your pet. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Burke, Anna. "Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?" American Kennel Club, 16 Aug. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-shrimp/.

  2. "Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?" PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-shrimp.
  3. "Can Dogs Eat Fish?" PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_can-dogs-eat-fish.

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