Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?

Put an extra shrimp on the barbie this summer for your furry dog companion. Yes, your pup can eat shrimp. So, if it's seafood night at your house, here's what you should know about giving the crustacean to your dog.

The biggest problem with shrimp is you can have too much of a good thing, says Dr. Antje Joslin, a Phoenix veterinarian and consultant at Dogtopia, a franchised doggie daycare, boarding, and spa facility. "Shrimp should be eaten in moderation and as part of a well-balanced diet," she says.

Dog on windy boardwalk
Dog on windy boardwalk

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Are Shrimp Nutritious for Dogs?

Shrimp is a nutritious, low-calorie snack. They are a source of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for skin, coat, joint, and brain health as well as inflammation control. Shrimp are a super source of additional vitamins and minerals including: selenium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, choline copper, and iodine. Plus, shrimp contain the antioxidant, astaxanthin, which gives shrimp their pink color and helps fight free radical damage in the body.

Each shrimp contains only seven calories depending on its size. Every three-ounce portion of shrimp provides 20 grams of lean protein, similar to chicken.

How Many Shrimp Can Your Dog Eat?

Dr. Joslin says don't feed a medium-sized dog more than half a cup shrimp per week. For a small dog, one half to one shrimp a day is acceptable, and for a medium dog, one to two shrimp a day is okay. Dogs should only eat small quantities of shrimp at a time.

"Although they contain many great nutrients, they are also high in fat and dogs can be sensitive to high-fat diets which can lead to pancreatitis," says Dr. Joslin. Shrimp can also be high in contaminants, such as antibiotics and chemicals used in commercial shrimping.

What's the Best Way to Serve Shrimp to Dogs?

Always cook any shrimp you feed your dog. No shrimp cocktail, please. You'll also want to follow safe food handling protocols when cooking and preparing shrimp since they can harbor harmful bacteria for humans and animals, including Salmonella.

Steaming is best; grilling without any butter or garlic salt is fine. Avoid breaded, fried, blackened and anything heavily spiced or greasy. "And remember to remove shells and tails, as they can be a choking hazard. They can also get caught between your dog's teeth and gums and cause pain and irritation," says Dr. Joslin.

Could Your Dog be Allergic to Shrimp?

You dog could be allergic to shrimp just like any other food. Whenever you introduce a new food to your dog, start with a small amount (half a shrimp for a medium-sized dog) and monitor for any adverse reactions, stresses Dr. Joslin. Signs of an adverse reaction to shrimp can include:

  • Facial swelling

  • Hives

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Itchy skin

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

"Most dogs love shrimp and can tolerate small amounts as part of their normal diet," says Dr. Joslin. So, the next time it's seafood night, you can let your pup have a shrimp bite knowing there's nothing fishy about your pup eating shrimp.

As always, consult your veterinarian before adding new foods to your dog's diet.