Can dogs eat shrimp? This is what’s running in your head as you look at the empty shrimp tempura box on the kitchen counter.
You just finished a fabulous meal at your favorite Chinese restaurant. You rush home to make sure your furry friend is not getting too lonely but mistakenly leave your leftover box on the kitchen counter while you quickly make a run for the bathroom.
Upon returning, you find that your dog has ingested all the contents of your leftovers, including the fried shrimp tempura. Oh No! Dogs can’t eat shrimp, right? You quickly try to coax open your dog’s mouth to see if he’s swallowed the tail and find that yup, it’s indeed all gone.
Breathe. Shrimps are not fatal for dogs.
Generally, dogs can eat shrimp without harming themselves, but it can become problematic if your dog is allergic to shrimp or ingests shrimp shells and tail.
In this article, we are going to give you the low down on whether dogs can eat shrimp and what to do if your dog does.
Is Shrimp Bad for Dogs?
The first question that comes to your mind is, can shrimp be bad for my dog?
To answer this question, let’s first see if dogs can eat seafood. The answer to that is yes; they can. But it depends on the type and preparation of the seafood.
There are many benefits of seafood for your dog, like:
- Seafood has low levels of unhealthily fat
- It is a great alternative if your dog is allergic to other proteins
- Seafood has a high level of antioxidants which is healthy for dogs
- Fish and other kinds of seafood have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids
So, seafood, including shrimp, is not fatal for dogs if prepared correctly.
What does this mean?
It means that shrimp is safe for dogs if cooked properly and without tails and shells.
When feeding your dog shrimp, remember the following:
- It should be fresh and not leftover shrimp as seafood can go bad really quickly
- Don’t feed raw shrimp to your dog as it contains harmful pathogens
- Devein the shrimp before cooking it
- Take care to remove all shells as they may cause choking and intestinal blockage
The other issue to think about is whether your dog is allergic to shrimp or not? Like some humans, some dogs are also allergic to shrimp. If they are, eating shrimp can be fatal and, therefore, best avoided.
When feeding your dog shrimp for the first time, it is always a good idea to do it during the day, and always in a small amount.
How to Know If Your Dog is Allergic to Shrimps?
If your dog eats shrimp and then exhibits the following symptoms, it may be allergic to shrimp:
- Itchiness on their skin is a sign that your dog may be allergic
- Diarrhea is a sign that your dog is not able to digest the shrimp and may be allergic
- Vomiting is another sign that your dog cannot digest the shrimp and is allergic
- Your dog may develop severe gas which, is a sign that your dog may be allergic
- Ear infections can develop in some dogs if they are allergic to shrimp
- Your dog’s skin may erupt in hives and become red or inflamed
- Your dog may start sneezing excessively
- Your dog may experience anaphylactic shock, but it is an extreme reaction and may occur rarely
Take your dog to the vet right away if you notice these symptoms.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Tails or Shells?
It is not recommended that your dog should eat shrimp tails or shells. Tails and shells can become lodged in your dog’s throat, and they can potentially choke on it.
Do not believe pet owners who say their dog swallowed shrimp tails or shells and are just fine; it may be a coincidence as shells and tails are a choking hazard. Dogs and shrimp tails and shells are a bad combination. They are harmful to your dog, and you shouldn’t take the risk.
The sharp edges of the tails and shells can also pierce your dog’s airway, which can irritate the upper gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, if swallowed, the shrimp shells and tails can cause gastrointestinal damage.
They can also get stuck in the digestive system and rip the intestinal wall. If your dog has accidentally swallowed shrimp tails or shells, then it is important to call your veterinarian right away.
How Can I Prepare Shrimp for My Dog?
If you want your dog to eat shrimp, you should know how to prepare it. The following are some steps to follow if you want to make shrimp safe to eat for your dog:
- Buy shrimp that have been deveined and stripped clean of their tails and shells (buy organic if you can)
- If you have bought shrimp with shells and tails, then remove them carefully, so there are no shells in the shrimp meat.
- Steaming is the best way to cook shrimp, so steam it by bringing a pot of water to a boil and placing shrimp in a basket on top of the boiling water until pink. If the shrimp is white, you have overcooked it.
How Much Shrimp Can My Dog Eat?
Well, not too much. It is recommended that dogs are not given shrimp as a meal because it is seafood, and dogs may not be able to tolerate large amounts.
In fact, Thiamine deficiency can develop if you feed your dog seafood regularly. Therefore, you should always give shrimp and seafood to your dog in moderation.
What Are Safe Seafood Alternatives for Your Dog?
All types of seafood are generally healthy for your dog if prepared correctly. However, fish is the best type of seafood for canines.
Some types of fish you can feed your dog are:
- Salmon- Not farmed and cooked properly, should not be fed more than twice a week
- Sardines- These fish are small and can be found in a tin can. They are high in sodium and should not be fed often due to fat content
- Herring and Anchovies- These can be fed but only if properly cooked.
- Krill Oil- This is a good choice for dogs because it does not contain any harmful toxins but still has the good stuff
- Seaweed- Seaweed is a superfood and can be found in sheets or powder. You can sprinkle it over your dog’s food
Seafood that is not safe include:
- Tuna- This contains high levels of mercury and should be avoided.
- Fish Oil- This oil has high levels of pollutants and is no longer recommended
- Shellfish (Shrimp, Lobster, Crab)- Shellfish can only be fed if the shells and tails have been removed and should be fed in small amounts
- Bivalve Molluscs- These have high toxin levels and should not be fed to dogs
- Sushi- Raw fish contains bacteria that are not safe for your dog
- Fish Sticks and Imitation Crab- They have poor quality of ingredients and are not good for your dog
Other Poisonous Items You Should Keep Away from Your Dog
Besides dog and shrimp, you should be aware of the other poisonous items that your dog may ingest.
Keep these items away from your dog and seek medical assistance right away.
- Avocados can cause fluid to accumulate in the heart, pancreas, and abdomen due to a toxin called Persin.
- Xylitol is a sugar found in baked goods, chewing gum, and toothpaste. If a dog ingests this, it can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar.
- Coffee, tea, and other caffeine can cause an increase in the heart rate and nervous system in dogs.
- Grapes and Raisins can cause kidney failure. The toxic compounds are unknown, but some dogs have died from eating just a handful of raisins.
- Alcohol and Yeast Dough can be toxic to dogs, even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous for dogs.
How Can I Prevent Accident Ingestion of Harmful Items by My Dog?
According to the American Poison Control Centre (ASPCA), there were over 199,000 calls about pet poisoning in 2017.
The reason? Many household items can be poisonous for dogs. The top three poisonous items that animals have ingested are:
- Human Prescription Medicines
- Over-the-Counter Medicines
- Human Food Items
Signs of poisoning include:
- Weakness and Lethargy
- Pale Gums
- Racing Heart
The best way to prevent possible poisoning is to always remain vigilant of any items that your dog might be able to reach. It is amazing how many household items are poisonous to dogs.
If your dog does ingest something poisonous, you should take the following steps:
- Do not panic; stay calm but act quickly
- Gather any leftovers and keep them so you can show them to the Veterinarians
- Call Poison Control right away
So, Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Although shrimp is a relatively healthy protein, contains Omega 3, and has high levels of antioxidants, it has too many risks to be considered the best seafood for dogs.
These risks are:
- The shells and tail are a choking hazard and may even cause intestinal blockage
- If shrimp is not cooked properly, it can cause food poisoning as it may contain Listeria, Salmonella, Roundworms, Tapeworms, etc.
- It may cause allergic reactions
- It is high in cholesterol
Our Recommendation? Although shrimp is not fatal to dogs, it shouldn’t be included in their diet on a regular basis as there are healthier seafood options, like:
- Fish that are low in cholesterol like Salmon
- The humble sardines
If you are looking for proteins besides seafood, then consider chicken. Read our blog Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken? to find out more.