Can Dogs Eat Shrimp- Maybe, Maybe Not

Dogs, Dogs Diet

Last Updated - December 12, 2023

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Whenever you have leftovers, it's typical for your dog to stare at you with irresistible puppy eyes to request a sample of your delectable food. While you might not mind handing your canine a scrap from the table, you might pause when your leftovers include shrimp as you ponder this question: can dogs eat shrimp? Can dogs eat shrimp safely? Can dogs eat raw shrimp? And can dogs eat fried shrimp?

Good news: it's possible to feed shrimp to your dog safely. In fact, your dog can experience the nutritional benefits of shrimp-like you can. Before offering shrimp leftovers to your dog, it's helpful to know the health advantages, concerns, and recommendations on how to feed the crustacean to your pup safely.

Health Benefits for Your Dog

Shrimp offers numerous nutritional benefits for your dog. Nutrients such as glucosamine, astaxanthin (an antioxidant), and omega-3s occur naturally in shrimp. These nutrients bolster your dog's health in different ways.

Glucosamine: Supports Cartilage and Joints

Glucosamine is a natural sugar found in cartilage (the tissue that supports joints). On its own, your dog's body creates glucosamine, but this creation decreases as the animal ages. Over time, this means that your pup's cartilage slowly deteriorates, which causes the bones to grind against each other. It's an aging condition known as arthritis. Including glucosamine in your dog's diet with shrimp can repair this thinning cartilage and also form more of the tissue. Glucosamine effectively treats – and even prevents – arthritis, allowing your dog to have pain-free mobility.

Astaxanthin: Protects Against Free Radicals

Astaxanthin is an organic pigment found in algae. As shrimp regularly consume these algae, astaxanthin will cause a reddish or pink coloration in the shellfish. More importantly, though, astaxanthin is an impressive antioxidant that protects your dog's body against free radicals. 

Free radicals are unstable particles that naturally occur in your dog's body, but they can also enter the body through exposure to environmental chemicals. When there are too many free radicals in your canine, they'll start attacking your dog's cells and DNA. This kind of damage is linked to multiple diseases. Including astaxanthin in your dog's diet with shrimp can neutralize free radicals and prevent them from destroying healthy cells in your pup.

Omega-3s: Improves Brain Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that your dog relies on for vital development. These fatty acids boost memory and coordination functions and are particularly essential for growing puppies. Omega-3s can also prevent cognitive decline in older dogs. Since your dog's body cannot create omega-3s on its own, the body must extract the fatty acids through meals. Including omega-3s in your dog's diet with shrimp is one way to improve overall brain health in your canine.

Feeding Concerns for Your Dog

Although there are significant health advantages to consuming shrimp, there are also a few concerns about feeding the crustacean to your dog. If shrimp is undercooked or raw, for example, it can be hazardous for your dog. It's important to address this concern and others before including shrimp into your dog's meal plan.

Raw Shrimp And Undercooked Shrimp Might Cause Infections

Can dogs eat raw shrimp? While some people believe the best way to serve shrimp is raw, as heating shrimp can reduce the amount of nutrients. However, you may want to think twice before giving raw shrimp to your dog.

Dogs shouldn't eat shrimp that are raw and undercooked. Raw and undercooked shrimp might contain salmonella and/or listeria bacteria, and both can lead to an infection. These bacterial infections cause your dog to experience chills, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and fever. It's critical to immediately contact your veterinarian if your dog experiences one or more of these symptoms after eating shrimp.

Shrimp Shells And Tails Are a Choking Hazard

Can dogs eat shrimp tails? Should dogs eat shrimp shells? The shrimp shells and tails, also known as the exoskeleton, are hard for dogs to chew. It's also difficult to swallow, which puts your pup at risk for choking. In addition, the shell has pointed edges. When shell pieces are consumed, they can cause gastrointestinal obstruction or even puncture your dog's digestive tract. While serving shrimp to your dog, it's a good idea to remove the shell before the crustacean ever touches your canine's mouth.

Shrimp Might Cause an Allergic Reaction

Like people, dogs can have allergies. Considering that shrimp is one of the most allergenic foods, it's highly possible that your dog might have an allergic reaction to consuming the shellfish. If that's the case, you'll see symptoms such as excessive scratching, inflamed ears and skin, as well as gastrointestinal distress. In this instance, promptly stop feeding shrimp to your dog.

No Fried or breaded Shrimp

Even though fried shrimp and breaded shrimp are fully cooked shrimp, it isn't good for your dog. Fried and breaded food, in general, isn't good for your dog, all for the same reasons that fried and breaded food isn't good for us.

How Much Shrimp Can Dogs Eat?

Before feeding shrimp to your dog, it's helpful to give your veterinarian a call to assist you in deciding the appropriate portion size. Afterward, when you're ready to prepare the raw shellfish for your pup, keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Remove the shell and tail from the shrimp. 

  • Thoroughly cook the shrimp. 

  • Shrimp is properly cooked when it's white with red or pink hues. It's undercooked if it still appears gray in color.

  • Serve cooked shrimp that is plain.

  • As much as you might enjoy cooking shrimp with seasonings, it's best to avoid adding them to the shrimp that you serve to your dog. This is because spices, herbs, and other condiments can upset your dog's stomach.

Generally, as long as you check in with your veterinarian and follow feeding recommendations, you and your dog can both enjoy shrimp and its health advantages. Although your dog is exposed to a few risks from consuming shrimp, dogs can experience the nutritional benefits of the crustacean-like you can. So, the next time you have shrimp leftovers and your dog stares at you with irresistible puppy eyes, you can feel confident in deciding whether to feed the tasty shellfish to your canine.

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About the Author

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.