Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Safely? What Are The Risks?

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: August 1, 2022
Image Credit leungchopan/Shutterstock.com
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Shrimps make up a massive portion of the typical American diet. It is one of the most popular items on any seafood menu, and some estimates say that Americans eat more shrimp than any other type of fish. Since it is such a popular staple food on everyone’s menu, you might be wondering if giving some of it to your dog is okay. Can dogs eat shrimp, and what are the potential benefits or risks of doing so? 

As a pet parent, it’s difficult to resist the urge to give some of your food to your pet. So even if you’re not feeding them shrimp directly as a major part of their diet, you may wonder if it’s okay to give them a few shrimps from your plate as a treat. In this article, we will answer the question of whether or not it’s okay to feed your dog shrimp.  

shrimp
Americans may eat shrimp more than any other kind of seafood.

Foodio/Shutterstock.com

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Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? What Are The Benefits? 

The short answer to this question is Yes, Dogs can eat shrimps. If you’re not satisfied with dog foods with salmon and would like to add some more seafood to your dog’s diet, shrimp is not a bad idea to consider. In fact, not only is shrimp a tasty treat that your dog is likely to enjoy, but it is also full of potentially beneficial nutrients. Some of the most abundant nutrients in shrimp include Vitamin B12, Niacin, and Phosphorus. Shrimp is also rich in antioxidants. All of these nutrients are beneficial for your pup in various ways. 

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  • Vitamin B12: This is important for various metabolic processes in your dog. Vitamin B12 is also beneficial to your pet’s gastrointestinal health. 
  • Antioxidants: Your pet needs antioxidants for brain health. It helps prevent the formation of free radicals that can affect the body negatively in various ways. 
  • Vitamin B3: Also known as Niacin, Vitamin B3 is a requirement for the proper enzymatic function of the body, and it also helps to regulate various body functions such as blood circulation, energy production, fat regulation, and so on. 
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a vital nutrient that promotes the development of healthy bones 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: these essential fats are known to reduce the risk of heart diseases, inflammation, and cancer. 

Generally, shrimp is a low-fat and low-calorie food, making it an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. However, it is high in cholesterol. Giving your dog shrimp occasionally is not a bad idea. In fact, it could be a healthy treat for your pet. Just make sure you’re not overdoing it, and pay attention to some of the risks involved. 

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What Are The Risks? 

We have established that shrimp can be good for dogs. However, can it be bad for them too? What are the risks of giving your dog shrimp? While there are no specific dangers of giving your dog shrimp, it could be risky under certain conditions. In essence, the shrimp is not the problem, but how you give your dog really matters. 

Raw Shrimp May Contain Pathogens 

Giving your dog raw and uncooked shrimp is not a good idea. Shrimps and other types of seafood contain potentially harmful pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, and Vibrio. They may also contain parasites like tapeworms.

In serious cases, your dog may end up with a bacteria infection known as Vibriosis. At the very least, uncooked shrimp may cause gastrointestinal upset, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort. It is important to note that Vibrosis and the other side effects of eating poorly cooked seafood can affect humans too. Hence, ensuring that the shrimp is properly cooked is good for you and your pooch.  

Choking Hazard 

When cooking shrimp for your dog, you should completely remove the shell and tails. The shells are a choking hazard, especially to small dog breeds. They can also obstruct the gastrointestinal tract of your dog. 

shrimp
Shrimps are a nutrient-dense but low-calorie food that can benefit your dog.

akepong srichaichana/Shutterstock.com

Excessive Fats And Oils 

The best type of shrimp to serve to your dog is the steamed or boiled shrimp. Fried or breaded shrimps often contain excessive fats and oil from all the butter added. This is full of fatty calories that your dog doesn’t really need. Excess fat can lead to obesity, joint problems, cardiovascular issues, and so on in the long run. This is why low-fat dog foods are usually more recommended, especially for dogs prone to obesity.

Seasoned Shrimps Are Bad For Dogs 

Another problem with fried shrimp is the use of seasonings, batters, and sauces that contain onions or garlic, which are toxic to dogs. Thus, serving your pup with fried or sautéd shrimp is not recommended. 

Watch Out For Shrimp Allergies 

Like humans, pets may be allergic to various foods, including seafood like shrimp. Since it is difficult to know for sure, the best thing is to give your dog a small amount at first and watch out for signs of an allergic reaction before serving more. 

Risk Of Excessive Sodium 

Fresh farm-raised shrimp typically contain high amounts of sodium (as much as 700mg per 100g of shrimp). Experts do not recommend such a high amount of sodium for dogs with hypertension or heart and kidney issues. Wild-caught frozen shrimp are a safer alternative as they contain just 100mg of sodium which is still great for dogs. 

salmonella
Be careful! Shrimp that isn’t properly cooked contains pathogens like Salmonella that can harm your dog (or you)!

nobeastsofierce/Shutterstock.com

How Much Shrimp Can Dogs Eat?

Shrimp should be considered a tasty treat for dogs and not a full meal. How much treat your dog should get depends on its weight. A 30-pound dog can get between 108 to 135 calories of treats per day. 

Since a small shrimp contains roughly 10 calories, your dog can still take up to 10 small shrimps per day. Of course, moderation is important, especially when you’re adding a new treat to your dog’s diet. Every dog will react differently to shrimp. For most dogs, 1 or 2 shrimps is just okay, especially since they’ll be getting other treats during the day. 

If you intend to add shrimp or any other type of shellfish to your dog’s diet regularly, you should speak to your veterinarian. They’ll give you professional advice about the right quantity to give and the potential health concerns you should pay attention to. Your vet will help adjust the calorie count based on how active or lazy your pet is as well as any underlying medical conditions that it might have. You should also read a comprehensive guide and review on how to choose the best foods for your dog.

veterinarian with a dog
Consult your veterinarian before introducing shrimp into your dog’s diet.

Ermolaev Alexander/Shutterstock.com

Conclusion 

So can dogs eat shrimp? As you can see, the answer to this question is yes. However, you must ensure that the little crustaceans are properly cooked and prepared before serving them as a treat to your dog. They offer several health benefits, but they can also be risky to your dog if they’re not properly cooked or if your pet is allergic to them. Consulting an animal nutritionist or veterinarian is always a good idea before introducing new foods or snacks to your pet’s diet

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.