Dogs can eat small amounts of unseasoned, cooked shrimp as a treat. However, this seafood shouldn’t make up a large part of their diet. Uncooked shrimp and meals containing shrimp may be unsafe for your dog and are best avoided. If you can cook shrimp for your dog, that’s the best way to feed it!
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits and risks to feeding your dog shrimp, and how to serve it to your pup!
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Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Dogs can eat shrimp sometimes, but before you feed them a bite from your plate, let’s go over the risks.
Risks of Shrimp for Dogs
- Raw shrimp can cause shellfish poisoning. It’s important to cook seafood properly before serving it to your dog to avoid the harmful pathogens that cause shellfish poisoning. Symptoms include fever, respiratory distress, collapse, instability, excessive drooling, hypothermia, bloody stool, and diarrhea.
- Shrimp contains high amounts of cholesterol and may be unsafe for dogs with heart conditions. It’s always best to speak to your veterinarian before feeding new foods, especially if your dog has a health condition.
- Shrimp is high in sodium and isn’t healthy for dogs in large amounts. Small dogs should only eat up to half a piece of shrimp, while giant breeds can have a few shrimp. It also shouldn’t be fed every day.
- Meals containing shrimp may also contain garlic, onion, or other toxic foods. If your dog gets ahold of shrimp meals that contain toxic ingredients, call an emergency vet clinic or pet poison hotline right away.
- Seasoned shrimp may be toxic, or unhealthy. Some seasonings are toxic to dogs, and plenty of ingredients—including added salts, sugars, butter, and oils—are unhealthy. Unhealthy foods likely won’t hurt your dog when fed in very small amounts, but may pose health risks when consumed in excess or if your dog is already experiencing health problems.
- Certain parts of the shrimp, such as the shell, veins, and tail, must be removed prior to serving. Otherwise, the shrimp may pose a choking hazard or create a blockage in your dog’s intestines.
- Any new food can cause stomach upset. If your dog hasn’t eaten shrimp before, feed them just a tiny amount. If they’re prone to stomach issues, it might be best to avoid shrimp altogether since it’s not an essential part of their diet.
As you can see, that’s a long list of reasons not to feed your dog shrimp! If you still want to, though, it’s not all bad!
Shrimp can be healthy when fed in small amounts. It should be cooked without seasoning, butter, or oils. The tail, veins, and shell must be removed before serving it to your dog.
If you want to cook, boil, or grill up some plain shrimp for your dog separately as you cook your own meal, it can be a great, healthy treat!
Benefits of Shrimp for Dogs
- It’s good for dogs on a diet, as shrimp is low in fats and carbs. Therefore, it won’t add to your dog’s weight when fed in the right amounts.
- Shrimp is high in protein. Protein is an essential part of a dog’s diet and is especially important for our more active pups!
- Omega-3 fatty acids promote heart health and help to reduce inflammation in the body.
- It’s rich in astaxanthin, a carotenoid that helps to reduce inflammation. This can help with chronic diseases that are worsened by inflammation, including arthritis and even dementia.
- Shrimp also contains plenty of other vitamins and nutrients. These include iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.
How to Cook Shrimp for Dogs
Shrimp is healthiest for your dog when steamed, grilled or baked. Fried shrimp are often unhealthy as they contain excess oils and fats.
Here are some things to think about when cooking shrimp for your dog:
- Avoid salt and other seasonings. Some common seasonings are toxic to dogs. Excess salts are unhealthy for them, and can also be toxic in high amounts.
- Don’t add butter or oils when cooking. These things make the shrimp less healthy for your dog, and are unnecessary for them to eat.
- Remove the shell, veins, and tail before serving. These parts are easy to choke on and difficult for your dog to digest.
- Be sure to cook the shrimp thoroughly. When shrimp is done cooking, the base where you’ve removed the vein should no longer be translucent. Unlike other meats, shrimp turns pinker as it cooks and should appear completely pink and opaque when it’s done.
- Avoid feeding overcooked shrimp, as it can be difficult to chew and pose a choking hazard. It’s important to get them cooked just right!
As you can see from the guidelines above, it’s often not a good idea to share shrimp from your own meals. Humans like their seafood seasoned, covered in sauce, or as part of a larger dish.
For dogs, these additives can be dangerous. Dishes containing shrimp may include toxic or unhealthy ingredients, as can dipping sauces.
What to do if Your Dog Eats Raw Shrimp
As we discussed above, raw shrimp can poison your dog. Raw shrimp contains harmful pathogens that affect both dogs and people.
Although shellfish poisoning is rare in dogs, it can also be deadly. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your dog for symptoms and visit a veterinarian as soon as possible if they show signs of being poisoned.
Symptoms of shellfish poisoning in dogs include:
- Difficulty moving, incoordination, or collapse
- Respiratory distress (difficulty breathing, restlessness, pale or blue gums)
- Excessive drooling
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Bloody diarrhea
If your dog eats shrimp, it’s important to monitor them for these symptoms and keep an eye on their body temperature. Monitoring the color of their gums is also a good idea.
Call a veterinarian if you notice any of the symptoms above. If needed, call an emergency vet clinic for help. I don’t advise waiting for an appointment unless your vet gives the okay, as shellfish poisoning can be fatal in dogs.
If you’ve shared raw shrimp with your dog and they experience shellfish poisoning, you should also see a doctor yourself since humans are also affected by it.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Overall, shrimp is okay for dogs to eat in moderation if it’s cooked and plain. Avoid shrimp with seasonings, added salt, dipping sauce, or in meals with other unhealthy ingredients.
Be sure to remove the shell, veins, and tail so that the shrimp can be digested easily and your dog doesn’t choke on it!
See previous articles to learn if dogs can eat pickles, coconuts, cherries, tomatoes, pepperoni, and more pet health questions!