Most dogs will happily try anything that their human is eating. But what if seafood is involved? Can dogs eat shrimp safely? Or is shrimp bad for dogs?
Put in simplest terms, dogs can eat shrimp, provided it is cooked. And it should only be given in moderation.
Let’s take a look at some more specific details.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Most people are quite familiar with shrimp. It’s considered a delicious addition to all types of food, such as pasta, as well as often being eaten on its own with flavorings like garlic and butter.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, several different species of shrimp are commonly eaten as food. The larger variations are called prawns.
Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States. One source estimates that the average consumer eats about four pounds of shrimp per year.
But that’s humans. What about dogs?
Cooked shrimp meat can be a good occasional treat for your dog.
But there are a few common-sense food safety tips to keep in mind when it comes to shrimp for dogs (and cats and people, too!). Is shrimp bad for dogs unless you follow these tips?
Generally speaking, if shrimp is properly cooked, it is safe for dogs to eat. However, dogs can have allergies, just as humans can. And what’s more, sometimes they may just not like it very much!
Shrimp And Dogs
Shrimp and other fish can be a common cause of both food allergies and food intolerance in dogs.
Along with other animal proteins like milk and beef, seafood can trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. Itchy, irritated skin is often a common sign of a food allergy.
Food sensitivities and intolerance are more common than true food allergies in dogs.
Shrimp and other shellfish can cause GI upset like vomiting, gas, and diarrhea in dogs that are especially sensitive.
If your dog ate shrimp and had a bad reaction, eliminate the food from your dog’s diet to see if the symptoms clear up.
A reaction every time your dog eats shrimp can mean an allergy or intolerance. A one-time reaction can be caused by contaminated food or improper cooking.
When Is Shrimp Bad For Dogs?
Shrimp can be bad for your dog if it is undercooked or raw.
Shrimp and other shellfish should be thoroughly cooked before you feed it to your dog. Most of the harmful microorganisms, like bacteria, that are present in raw shellfish will be killed by cooking.
Some shellfish can be contaminated by toxins that are not destroyed by the cooking process.
Although rare, contaminated shellfish can cause serious toxic reactions like paralysis, neurological symptoms, and gastrointestinal distress. See your vet as soon as possible if you suspect food poisoning.
Can dogs have shrimp that is uncooked? Dogs should never be fed raw shrimp.
Raw shrimp and other uncooked animal proteins like beef or chicken can be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella and listeria.
Even if the actual shrimp is not affected, raw shrimp can pick up bacteria from improper handling and contaminated surfaces. Cooking the shrimp thoroughly is the best way to kill harmful bacteria.
Is Shrimp Good For Dogs?
Can dogs eat shrimp if they do not have an allergy or sensitivity to seafood?
Yes, in small quantities.
Limited to around a half cup once a week, cooked shrimp can be a flavorful and nutritious treat for dogs.
Substitute plain, cooked shrimp for processed commercial dog treats for a healthy snack or reward. You can also add small pieces of shrimp to your dog’s food as a flavor enhancer.
Remember to keep your dog away from spicy shrimp dishes that you might eat.
Health Benefits Of Shrimp For Dogs
Shrimp is a quality protein that’s low in calories and saturated fat. It contains nutrients that can be beneficial to your dog’s health, like vitamins B12 and D, niacin, and iron.
If used as a healthier replacement for commercial dog treats, shrimp can also help to control a dog’s weight.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Shrimp?
As mentioned above, dogs should definitely not eat raw shrimp.
This is for many of the same reasons that a person should not eat raw shrimp.
There are many different health concerns associated with raw or improperly cooked seafood.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Shrimp?
Can dogs have shrimp that has been properly cooked, though?
If you are going to give your dog shrimp, then cooking it is definitely the way to go.
Make sure that it isn’t cooked with additives such as garlic and other spices that are not good for your dog.
And also ensure that the shrimp has been peeled and deveined.
Can Dogs Eat Boiled Shrimp?
Can dogs have shrimp that has been boiled?
Yes, dogs can eat boiled shrimp if they have been cleaned and shelled. As with other cooking methods, boil the shrimp until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
The flesh of boiled shrimp should be opaque.
Set aside a few plain pieces of shrimp for your dog if you are planning to add spices and seasonings for yourself.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Tails?
What about the tails of shrimp for dogs?
It is not safe for dogs to eat shrimp tails. Like small chicken or fish bones, shrimp tails can be a choking hazard if swallowed by your dog. The sharp edges can also irritate your dog’s upper GI tract.
You can look for cleaned shrimp in the frozen section of the supermarket or ask your fishmonger to clean fresh shrimp and remove the tails for you.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Shells?
Just like the tails, shrimp shells should be removed before you feed your dog cooked shrimp.
Removing the shell also makes it easier to take out the vein that runs along the back of the shrimp. Use a knife to cut the shrimp open and pull out the vein.
You don’t have to throw away the shells. Shrimp shells make a delicious seafood stock. Boil them up with some vegetables and strain when cooked.
You can give your dog some tasty shrimp broth as a treat or use it as a flavor enhancer for dog food.
Can Dogs Eat Fried Shrimp?
What about fried shrimp for dogs?
Fried food isn’t really good for dogs, for a lot of the same reasons that fried food isn’t really all that good for us! It’s not very healthy, for one thing.
And the grease and oil may upset your dog’s stomach, too.
So while you can give your dog a piece of fried shrimp now and then, it is definitely best to limit your dog’s access to fried food in general.
Can Shrimp Treat Obesity In Dogs?
Since shrimp is a generally healthy food, many believe that it can be used to help a dog to lose weight.
But is that true? What about shrimp for dogs who are overweight?
Well, the facts do show that shrimp contain a lot of protein for relatively few calories. And dogs need protein.
And if the shrimp is going to be used to replace commercial dog treats that contain preservatives or which are higher in fat, shrimp can definitely aid in a dog’s weight loss.
However, shrimp should never replace a significant portion of your dog’s diet. It should be given only in moderation.
And, as always, if your dog is having health issues due to being overweight, it’s always best to consult with your vet before you make any major changes to your dog’s diet.
Should I Give My Dog Shrimp?
Shrimp is generally safe for dogs, as long as it has been deveined, shelled, and properly cooked.
However, since your dog may have an allergic reaction, it’s best to give only a small portion of shrimp at first.
Give your dog a single shrimp and wait for a time to see what reaction there may be, if any.
Redness and irritation of the skin, gas, and vomiting are symptoms to watch for.
Remember, it’s also possible that your dog may just not like shrimp very much!
How To Prepare Shrimp For Dogs
Buy fresh shrimp that doesn’t have a fishy odor. Frozen shrimp packages should be free of rips, tears, and frost or ice crystals.
Cook the shrimp until it is at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. You can tell it’s done when the flesh is opaque and pearly white.
Shrimp for dogs should be cooked, deveined (which means the intestinal tract is removed), and taken out of the shell.
Also, many shrimp dishes that we enjoy are made with spices and seasonings that could upset your dog’s stomach.
Avoid shrimp prepared with horseradish-based cocktail sauce, garlic, onions, and spices (such as Cajun seasoning) and feed your dog plain, cooked shrimp instead.
Alternatives To Shrimp For Dogs
Suppose that you’ve tried shrimp out on your dog, and the reaction was not as good as you’d hoped. Perhaps he doesn’t like it at all! Or perhaps you see signs of an allergic reaction.
Well, don’t give up on finding healthier treats for your pup!
Here are a few suggestions to take into consideration.
Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Summary
Let’s sum up! Can dogs have shrimp in general?
Yes, dogs can eat a small quantity of cooked shrimp as an occasional treat. Limit your dog to a half cup or less per serving, no more than once a week.
Never feed your dog raw shrimp, and remove shells, tails, and veins from cooked shrimp.
Make sure the shrimp you feed your dog is plain, because shrimp prepared with spices and seasonings can upset your dog’s stomach.
Stop feeding your dog shrimp and other shellfish if your dog shows signs of allergy or intolerance. Symptoms include red, irritated skin or vomiting, gas, and diarrhea.
Seek veterinary care if a dog that normally tolerates shrimp experiences nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. These could be signs of contamination.
References And Further Reading
- Shrimp, Encyclopedia Brittanica
- Shrimp, Seafood Health Facts
- “Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets.” American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Dalefield, R. “Veterinary Toxicology for Australia and New Zealand.” Elsevier, 2017.
- “Fresh and Frozen Seafood: Selecting and Serving It Safely.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Wills, J., Harvey, R. “Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy and Intolerance in Dogs and Cats.” Australian Veterinary Journal, 1994.
- “Avoid the Dangers of Raw Pet Food.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- “FDA’s Advice: Know the Risks of Feeding Raw Foods to Your Pets.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This article has been extensively revised and updated for 2019.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website