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Dog smelling shrimp

The essentials

  • Shellfish can be a healthy extra treat for dogs— But it’s important to only give your pup shrimp in moderation.
  • The right preparation is key — Giving your dog raw shrimp exposes them to bacteria and germs that can cause harm.
  • Plain is better for pets — With both dogs and cats, it’s important to keep their treats plain without any butter or seasoning.

Many people love seafood, but what about pets? Dogs have eaten seafood throughout history , so, when your pup is begging in the kitchen for some shrimp you might be cooking, giving them one or two is okay — as long as you do it the right way. Shrimp in small amounts can be a healthy human food for dogs because they are low in carbohydrates, calories, and fat. Owners with dogs on a diet might find shrimp to be tasty, healthy treats and alternatives to store-bought pet treats. But, shrimp should only be an occasional treat, even for larger dogs. Shrimp are high in cholesterol, so pups really can have too much of a good thing.

Can dogs eat shrimp?

The simple answer is yes, dogs can eat shrimp. Shrimp is not a harmful food for dogs, doesn’t contain the things that can worsen health issues in already chunky pups, and it does have some good potential health benefits for dogs.

Nutritional benefits of shrimp for dogs

Shrimp contain certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that dogs need to live their best lives. While dog vitamins and supplements can provide these, a shrimp every once and a while can give pups an extra boost when they need a break from their regular treat.

  • Protein content. On average, shrimp contain about 24 grams of protein for every 100 grams.
  • Vitamins and minerals. Shrimp have numerous beneficial vitamins and minerals dogs need, like vitamins B and C and iron, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Shrimp are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for overall canine health and may help prevent the development of many chronic conditions.

Potential risks of feeding shrimp to dogs

While there are numerous benefits to letting your dog have shrimp, there are some drawbacks and potential health problems to watch out for.

  • Allergies. Allergies are unlikely for dogs unless they’ve been exposed to shrimp, but some dogs may be intolerant of shrimp.
  • Cholesterol. While shrimp is healthy in a lot of ways, this shellfish is high in cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can lead to congestive heart failure in dogs (and people).
  • Choking. Shells and tails can pose a choking hazard for dogs, making it essential to properly prepare shrimp before giving it to your dog.

The good news is that most dogs have little problem with dietary cholesterol unless they are predisposed to triglyceride and cholesterol metabolic problems or hypothyroidism, Canine Cushing's problems, obesity, pregnancy, certain kidney ailments (nephrotic syndrome), or pancreatitis. Certain breeds, such as miniature schnauzers and beagles, are predisposed.

Dr. Bruce Armstrong

Preparing shrimp for dogs

If you’d like to give your dog a special treat, it’s important to prepare it properly. Here are the steps to preparing shrimp for your dog so that it’s both a delicious and safe treat.

Cleaning and deveining shrimp

Cleaning and deveining shrimp before eating them is a must for people, and the same applies to your pets. Here’s Dani with Clean & Delicious on how to clean and devein shrimp.

While it may be tempting to skip this step, remember that shrimp tails and shrimp shells can become lodged in your dog’s throat, making a tasty treat dangerous. If you aren’t able to keep and devein shrimp, buy them pre-prepared instead.

Cooking methods

It may be tempting to accidentally let a shrimp hit the floor at dinnertime. After all, if dogs can eat shrimp, why shouldn’t they occasionally indulge in some fried shrimp? The difference is in preparation. Whether shrimp is fried, sauteed, or prepared in some other way, seasoning is often used to enhance the flavor. More than likely, that seasoning isn’t great for your dog, and may even contain harmful ingredients like garlic or onions.

👉 Dogs should never eat raw shellfish, so proper prep and cooking is essential. Boil shrimp until it turns from gray and translucent to white and pink. If your dog experiences paralytic shellfish poisoning, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

How much shrimp should you feed your dog?

As with any new foods you introduce to your pets, trying to decide how much shrimp you can give your dog can be tough. A healthy amount will depend on a few factors, including size, energy levels, and breed.

Dog size Number of shrimp
Extra small breeds
Ex: Maltipoo, Shih tzu, pug
One small shrimp or ½ of a medium shrimp
Small breeds
Ex: Bedlington terrier, West Highland white terrier, Miniature schnauzer
One medium shrimp or ½ of a jumbo shrimp
Medium breeds
Ex: Redbone coonhound, Basenji, Boykin spaniel
Two medium shrimp or one jumbo shrimp
Large breeds
Ex: Golden retriever, Standard schnauzer, Rhodesian ridgeback
Three medium shrimp or a few large shrimp
Extra-large breeds
Ex: Great Pyrenees, Irish wolfhound, Great Dane
No more than four medium shrimp or two jumbo shrimp

When shopping for shrimp, keep in mind that small, medium, and large won’t necessarily be on the bag. Instead, the number of shrimp per pound measures shrimp. So, medium-sized shrimp may have a 41/50 on the bag, while small shrimp may have a 61/70. The smaller the numbers, the bigger the shrimp.

Also, remember that shrimp should be an occasional healthy snack, not a substitute for pet food or a way to meet your dog’s daily caloric intake. Before giving your dog shrimp, speak to your vet about your pet’s diet and any health conditions they may have.

Alternatives to shrimp for dogs

Not interested in offering your dog shrimp? Some other seafood options are available as occasional treats for your dog, including shellfish and scallops. These other tasty treats offer some of the same benefits as shrimp and provide a flavor that most dogs really enjoy. But it’s important to remember that these are infrequent treats.

Dog owners can also incorporate other dog-safe human foods like certain fruits or vegetables. There are also an array of tasty dog food toppers on the market to help entice their appetites.

Can cats eat shrimp?

Many pet-friendly households have cats and often, what you give the dog, you must also give the cat. But fear not as the answer is yes, cats can have shrimp! It’s perfectly safe to let your cat help the dog enjoy these treats, but it’s best to first cut them into small pieces.

Frequently asked questions

Can dogs eat shellfish?

Like other seafood options, dogs can have shellfish but only in small amounts. It’s important to ensure that you feed them food-grade shellfish and that it’s thoroughly cooked to prevent shellfish poisoning or any other foodborne illness.

What do I do if my dog ate shrimp and has diarrhea?

When a dog eats shrimp that’s undercooked, this leads to shellfish poisoning and symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. It’s essential to cook shrimp thoroughly before feeding it to your dog. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms and you suspect shellfish poisoning, visit your vet ASAP.

Can dogs eat scallops?

Like shrimp, scallops contain many of the same vitamins and minerals beneficial to dogs. It’s vital to thoroughly cook scallops to ensure that any harmful bacteria has been killed off and that you don’t season it with things like butter, salt, or other popular choices.