Updated: August 2018
When you’re a devoted seafood lover, stopping along the coast without indulging in a plate of fresh shrimp would be downright blasphemous. Freshly caught shrimp is juicy and delicate in flavor, and whether you like it cold and dipped in a cocktail sauce or steamed and drizzled with lemon, it’s a light meal perfect for any occasion.
It’s no secret that your feline family member loves shrimp, and their food might even have shrimp as an ingredient. But do dogs like shrimp? And if they do, is shrimp even good for them?
Is Shrimp Okay for Your Dog to Eat?
Shrimp is fine for your dog to eat as long as you cook it first and only feed them small amounts. If you’ve heard that raw meat is good for dogs, you might be wondering why raw shrimp is dangerous. Raw shrimp is loaded with bacteria that can give you and your dog something called shellfish toxicity.
It should always be thoroughly cooked and brought to the proper temperature before you give any to your dog. Even if your grocer claims the shrimp is safe for sushi, you shouldn’t trust it.
There aren’t that many health benefits for your dog if they regularly eat shrimp. Evolutionarily speaking, your dog’s ancestors didn’t eat from the bottom of the ocean, which is where shrimp naturally reside. Because of this, there are much better protein options for your dog, like salmon, beef, and poultry.
Shrimp is low in calories and fairly easy for dogs to digest. They’re also high in minerals that speed up the metabolism and strengthen the bones and teeth. These minerals include iron, calcium, and phosphorous.
Aside from the potential bacterial infections when they eat undercooked shrimp, shrimp also has high cholesterol levels. Your dog certainly doesn’t need any cholesterol in their diet because it’s bad for their weight and their cardiovascular system.
Preparing Shrimp for Dogs
If you insist on giving your dog shrimp, you need to take a few precautions before you start filling their bowl up. First, you have to peel the shrimp and remove the veins. Unpeeled shrimp can be dangerous for your dog, not to mention it’s very difficult for the body to digest. The tough skins can lodge in their teeth or throat and create a choking hazard.
The skins can even get stuck in the intestines if your dog eats a lot of unpeeled shrimp at once. The same goes for the tails. If you’ve ever bitten too far into your shrimp, you know how hard it is to chew the tail. Your dog doesn’t have the right teeth to grind the tails up, and they’re also very hard to digest. Remove everything from the shrimp and cut it up into pieces before letting your dog have any.
When you’re cooking the shrimp, you need to take your dog’s dietary needs and restrictions into consideration. Fried shrimp is a definite no-no; the large amounts of fat are going to either cause digestive upset or an inflammation of the pancreas. The same goes for butter. No matter how much you love your shrimp scampi, it doesn’t love your dog.
Heavy amounts of salt are also dangerous for canines because it can spike their blood pressure or lead to dehydration. Ensure that any shrimp your dog is going to eat is free from garlic and onion powders. Garlic and onions are toxic to your dog in any form but especially so in their powdered form.
Shrimp are definitely not a dietary necessity for dogs. Dogs are designed to eat protein, but shrimp isn’t something your dog was designed to eat. If you want to offer your dog a more exotic type of protein, talk to your vet about acceptable forms that are found in a well-formulated dry dog food. Your dog’s food has everything they need to be healthy and lead a balanced life, so unless they have a medical condition, there’s really no reason to be giving them any additional foods.
Can Dogs Eat All Types Shellfish?
There isn’t any type of shellfish that is toxic to dogs, but there isn’t really any added health benefit in giving your dog foods like shrimp or oysters. They get all the protein they need in their commercially prepared dog foods.
There are warnings about letting your dog eat shellfish found on the beach as there have been rare cases of dogs dying of a very rare condition known as paralytic shellfish poisoning. If you know your dog likes to make a beeline towards gross things on the beach, ensure you keep a close eye on them or better yet: keep them on a leash.