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Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? What Happens When They Do?

Curious to find out if your pup can eat shrimp on occasion? Perhaps Fido swiped a shrimp off the counter when you weren't looking? Find out what you can expect.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: January 5, 2021 | 5 min read

Dog Waiting to Eat Shrimp

This article should not substitute as contact with a veterinarian. While shrimp should be fine for most dogs, we recommend you contact your vet immediately if your dog is reacting poorly after shrimp consumption.

Maybe you fed your pup some shrimp before checking out this article, or maybe you are doing your due diligence before offering Fido one of these savory crustaceans.  Shrimps are not only full of meaty protein goodness, but they are also tasty and full of nutrients. So can you feed your dog shrimp, and what happens if you do?

The short answer is yes, it’s safe for most dogs to eat shrimp in moderation.  But there are some things that you’ll want to consider before feeding this to your dog.  There are going to be some limitations due to some pups having a more sensitive stomach, as well as how the shrimp is cooked.  It’s also possible for some animals to have shellfish allergies with severe reactions, so that’s something to keep in mind.

While shrimp is a healthy snack, it should only be fed to dogs in small quantities as it can be harmful in large amounts.  Before you dive straight in and add Shrimp to your dog’s diet, read this comprehensive guide about the do’s and don’ts of Shrimp.

Shrimp Nutrients

Chihuahua Eating Shrimp
There are several nutrient benefits for dogs when eating shrimp.

Shrimp offers dogs protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals that help him achieve a healthy oxidative state.  Because it’s nutrient-dense, it can be used in limited quantities on a regular basis in most adult dogs’ diets. Because it is low in fat and carbohydrates it makes a perfect alternative to commercial dog treats. With only 7 calories per Shrimp, it is perfect for those chunkier dogs who find themselves on a diet.

This means that shrimp can be a great source of low-calorie protein for just about every dog. Obviously smaller dogs have lower nutritional needs than larger dogs. You’ll want to feed your dog appropriately according to their size.  It’s hard for dogs to get the nutrients they need on dry kibble alone, so feeding them raw natural foods like shrimp for protein, and feeding them fruit like pineapple for carbohydrates is a good idea.

Cooked, Raw or Deep-Fried?

While you can feed your pup most raw meats, seafood is a little different.  When served raw and uncooked, shrimp contains harmful bacteria that may have a negative impact on your dog’s digestive system.  For this reason, we’d recommend that you only feed your dog shrimp that’s been cooked.

Deep-fried shrimp is something we don’t recommend that you feed your pup.  While it may be super tasty, it is a processed fatty food that he could do without. Deep fried foods in excess can cause your pup digestive problems, and you’ll likely be cleaning up loose stools as a result.

If you are cooking Shrimp for a curry or in something saucy, then be sure to cook it separately as he shouldn’t be given any spicy or seasoned Shrimp. So fresh, plain, cooked Shrimp is the only type that we would recommend you feed your pup.

What Parts Can They Eat?

Shrimp Parts
Dogs can only eat certain parts of the shrimp safely.

Just like us humans, dogs should only eat the fleshy muscular tails. Be sure to remove the head and the shell. These parts are sharp and can irritate his digestive tract and can sometimes cause choking.

Once you are left with the fleshy tail, ensure that you cook it thoroughly. Check that it is completely cooked through until it is pink in color, and slightly opaque.

How Much Shrimp Can Dogs Eat?

Half a cup of Shrimp every week is suitable for most dogs. You can alter this slightly according to your dog’s weight. While Shrimp is low in fats and calories, it is high in cholesterol. It’s best to be served as an occasional treat rather than in every meal.

Thankfully, and without getting too technical here, the cholesterol found in Shrimp is the healthier version of cholesterol. This can be quite beneficial for his cardiac system. This is another reason why Shrimp can be enjoyed in moderation.

Is Shrimp Beneficial for Dogs?

Dog Looking at Shrimp
There are a variety of nutrients in most types of seafood, including shrimp.

Just like most shellfish, it is full of Omega 3 fatty acids, which is also good for the cardiac system, as well as promoting a healthy skin and coat. It also includes a variety of nutrients such as Astaxanthin, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, and vitamins B6, A and E, albeit in small amounts. In addition to these, and the above protein and energy benefits, the main nutrients found in Shrimp include:

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in a dog’s gastrointestinal health, as well as metabolic functions. It also helps to keep his blood cells healthy, which of course assists in day to day wellbeing and gives him the energy he needs. A lack of this vitamin results in fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss, so it is important to ensure that he gets his daily intake of vitamin B12.

Niacin

This is another vitamin, less commonly known as vitamin B3, and it is an important antioxidant that repairs cells and converts energy into glucose, which produces the energy he needs to function. It also helps to maintain healthy hormone levels, and without this vitamin he will suffer fatigue and mental dullness.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a mineral that is similar to it’s more famous cousin, calcium, and it helps to maintain strong and healthy bones and teeth. But it is also important for the absorption and functioning of the other B vitamins listed above. It also helps kidneys function healthily and it can even keep rickets at bay.

Possible Side Effects

As with any introduction of new food be sure to only feed him a small amount at first. A couple of Shrimp will do, just to ensure that if he does experience any side effects they are kept to a minimum.

Some side effects could include diarrhea, vomiting and excessive flatulence. If you notice any of these symptoms be sure not to feed him any additional shrimp. Other side effects include scratching, skin hot spots and ear infections. If you see any of these signs, it should be clear that Shrimp is not the best snack for your pup.

More serious side effects include anaphylactic shock which can be deadly. If you notice any symptoms such as hives, a swollen face or muzzle, excessive drooling or red-hot skin, then take him to the Veterinarian immediately. This is a very uncommon side effect. However, it’s more likely to occur if he eats Shrimp that is either raw or not cooked properly.

Most seafood contains no fiber. This means you’ll also want to be ready to leverage a higher fiber dog food formula if your pup enjoys shrimp, but isn’t going to the bathroom as regularly as they normally do.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will shrimp give my dog bad breath?

    Yes, it's quite possible. Most fish or seafood based foods draw the unfortunate side effect of bad doggy breath. To fight this, consider leveraging a dog food that can prevent bad breath, and also using DIY dental care methods to improve your pup's oral hygiene.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp tails?

    As mentioned earlier, dogs shouldn’t eat shrimp tails.  It can be dangerous especially for smaller dogs, because they become a choking hazard if they get stuck in your pup’s throat.

  • What if my dog eats some shrimp shells?

    You should always de-shell shrimp before feeding it to your dog.  While some people feed their pups raw, shrimp shells are also a choking hazard, just like tails.  We do not recommend this and encourage you to see your vet if your pup accidentally ingests a shrimp shell.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp tempura?

    We don’t recommend your dog eating any type of deep-fried foods, just because it impacts their body and digestive system harder than it does humans.  While the occasional tempura isn’t likely to cause much harm, we’d recommend seeing your vet if your dog has an adverse reaction to any of the seasonings used.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp scampi?

    Scampi contains butter and garlic in most recipes.  This is one of the types of shrimp dogs can usually consume without much trouble, although the garlic can be a little rich for their stomachs.  We’d recommend moderation here so you don’t give your pup stomach problems.  Usually people aren’t making scampi to feed directly to their dog, and it’s a result of leftovers.  So you’ll just want to make sure you know what was included in the scampi seasoning before feeding to Fido.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp crackers or chips?

    It all depends on the recipe.  If your dog is grain-free, some cracker recipes may have added flour in them and your pup may have an adverse reaction.  We recommend moderation for chips, especially if they are deep-fried.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp alfredo?

    This will largely depend on what ingredients are being used in the alfredo recipe.  Most recipes for Alfredo will contain dairy, which some pups may have issues digesting.  We recommend you only feed your dog Shrimp Alfredo in moderation.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp cocktail?

    Shrimp cocktail is really just cooked shrimp with added sauce.  The sauce is not recommended for dogs, but the actual shrimp can be fed to your dog without issue if fed to your pup in moderation.

  • Can dogs eat shrimp fried rice?

    Shrimp fried rice is usually just fine, as most ingredients usually just include vegetables, eggs, rice and shrimp.  Your dog may have an issue if the shrimp fried rice if the recipe is using soy sauce.  Some dogs can have a negative reaction to soy sauce due to the ingredients, so you’ll want to make sure you know the ingredients inside and out.

  • Is shrimp used in some dry dog foods?

    Usually you’ll see fish as an ingredient in certain types of dog foods.  You can see fish has is a primary ingredient in some of our favorite foods for Rottweilers, some recipes for Chihuahuas, and also included in some foods for formulated for Dachshunds.

Final Thoughts

So, you now know that your best friend can eat Shrimp fairly safely, depending on how it’s cooked. He should only eat the fleshy body part, and you need to remove the sharp head, tails and shell. The Shrimp needs to be cooked thoroughly and should be plain with no spices or seasoning.

Shrimp has a wide variety of health benefits and it is packed full of healthy fats and nutrients, and the smell alone drives most pups crazy. Just be sure that when you first feed him Shrimp you monitor his reactions to ensure that he is not allergic to it, or worse, go into anaphylactic shock.

As long as he reacts well to it first time round, then you can go on to include it in his weekly diet. Does your dog like Shrimp? Let us know in the comments below how crazy your pup is about eating shrimp!

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