Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? And What Amount Is Safe?
Read this before giving your dog shrimp.
It turns out that the answer is yes, but also no.
We consulted a vet to find out if shrimp is healthy for dogs to be eating and how pet parents can avoid putting their pups at risk for illness if and when shrimp is on the menu.
Is shrimp safe for dogs?
In short, “Dogs can eat shrimp if it is properly prepared and cooked and fed responsibly,” Dr. Kurt Venator, Ph.D., chief veterinary officer at Purina, told The Dodo.
Shrimp can be a healthy treat because it’s packed with beneficial vitamins and nutrients like phosphorus, B12, niacin and antioxidants. It’s also low in fat and caloric value, so it’s a fun little snack for pups who need to watch their weight and caloric intake.
Can dogs eat raw shrimp?
To make shrimp safe for dogs to eat, you have to cook it first, just like you would before eating shrimp yourself.
“Dogs should never eat raw shrimp due to the potential health risks of pathogens that can be found in uncooked shellfish,” Dr. Venator said.
There are a bunch of gross and dangerous things that could be hanging out on raw shellfish, including parasites, bacteria like vibrio, salmonella and Clostridium botulinum, and viruses like norovirus and even hepatitis A.
And although our dogs digest things differently than humans do, you never want to risk your dog getting sick if you can easily avoid it by simply cooking shrimp before you serve it.
Can dogs eat cooked shrimp?
If you’re going to feed your pup some shrimp, it should always be cooked.
“Plain/unseasoned, cooked (preferably steamed) shrimp is safe for dogs to consume in general,” Dr. Venator said.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that dogs should be eating shrimp all the time. (More on that below.)
Can dogs eat shrimp tails?
What if your pup steals a shrimp off someone’s appetizer plate and eats the whole thing, tail included?
Luckily, the tail itself shouldn’t carry any harmful pathogens if cooked. But the main thing you need to worry about is that shrimp tails can be a choking hazard and shouldn’t be served to dogs on purpose.
“The shell of the shrimp, including the tail, must be completely removed to avoid potential choking hazards, especially [for] smaller dogs,” Dr. Venator said.
And larger shrimp should also be diced before serving it to small dogs, too, for the same reason.
How much shrimp can dogs eat?
So, if cooked shrimp is fine for dogs to eat, how much shrimp is OK to serve?
“As a rule of thumb, it’s not recommended that dogs eat human foods, including shrimp, on a regular basis,” Dr. Venator said. And that’s because your pup needs to be eating foods that are specifically formulated for his needs.
Shrimp is actually pretty high in cholesterol, so too much of a good thing can be bad for your dog’s health.
“Even the healthiest treats should comprise no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories,” Dr. Venator added. “The other 90 percent should come from dog food that’s complete and balanced.”
Therefore, giving your pup a cooked shrimp every now and then is totally fine. But he probably shouldn’t be getting it daily and definitely not in place of a meal.
“It’s always a good idea to consult with your trusted veterinarian before introducing new foods or treats to your dog,” Dr. Venator said. This is especially important if your dog has a history of food allergies.
Cooked, unseasoned shrimp or another healthy option like salmon is a fun snack for your dog every once in a while, but it’s not necessary (or overly healthy) to be feeding your dog shrimp regularly, no matter how tasty he thinks it is. Save the shrimp for special occasions!