Delicious seafood is always good to eat, and for as long as humankind has been pulling fish out of the sea, new and delicious recipes have popped up for everyone to enjoy.
Plentiful and packed with protein, shrimp has proven one type of seafood that people just can’t get enough of.
But of course, wherever there is someone enjoying a meal, chances are a faithful furry friend is close at hand, licking their chops and wondering if they can have a taste.
So, can dogs eat shrimp? And indeed, should dogs eat shrimp? Let’s dive into the depths of this matter once and for all.
Is shrimp good for dogs?
Of all the seafood types, shrimp has perhaps been the aquatic meal most contentious among the dog-owning community – but common consensus nowadays is yes, if prepared correctly, dogs can safely eat shrimp.
As we explore the issue further, you may well discover that the issues that can make shrimp risky for dogs to eat are much the same as those issues that can make them risky for people, too.
Dogs need a diet that has plenty of protein packed in – and while shrimps are not the kind of prey that dogs would have necessarily looked for in the wild, careful human preparation can make shrimps into a good source of protein for man’s best friend today.
It’s important to mention that this proper preparation means not just cooking the shrimp, but removing the shell and other extremities before serving it.
Things like shrimp head or shrimp legs do nothing to help your dog, nutritionally speaking, and are only a choking or digestive hazard.
Shrimps contain lots of nutritional benefits for dogs, although certainly ought not be seen as the main course for any dog, so to speak.
Remember, nutritional experts have designed dog food and kibble to provide a balanced mix of your dog’s nutritional needs – shrimps needn’t replace that.
However, in shrimps dogs can gain not just the benefits of protein, but also omega-3 fatty acids, which help with a sharp mind and good circulation.
In fact, shrimps are surprisingly high in vitamins too, including Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin B6.
These all lead to higher energy levels and alertness, together with a more resilient immune system to fight off incoming infections – and hasten the recovery of an already unwell pet.
Dangers of shrimp for dogs
Perhaps the most immediate dangers of feeding shrimps to dogs that many pet owners encounter are the risk of seafood allergies. These occur in our furry friends just as often as they might you or I.
Because every dog is an individual, there is no way of knowing in advance if your dog has a seafood allergy.
Similarly, even if your dog is fine with all other kinds of seafood, he or she might demonstrate an allergy to shrimp in particular.
It’s best to be cautious in feeding shrimp to your dog for the first time for this reason. Even if your dog seems really eager after tasting shrimp for the first time, wait a few hours to see if he or she shows any signs of irritation, pain or discomfort.
Another of the risks when dogs eat shrimp comes from the potential of eating shrimps raw.
For instance, dogs taken on a fishing trip in which shrimp are being caught ought to never be fed raw shrimp, neither in any other circumstances.
The most obvious reason why this is the case is because these shrimp will still have their shells and extremities, which are brittle and therefore cause severe risks for internal blockages and internal injury.
However, freshly caught raw shrimp will also have lots of bacteria and other nastiness that peeling and cooking shrimp makes go away.
You might think it’s closer to nature to feed raw shrimp to your dog like this, but please don’t risk it.
However, when cooking shrimp, steaming or frying is also best avoided if you intend to feed it to your dog.
These are unhealthy ways of preparing shrimp for your animal – and in relation not just to frying but to any method of cooking, keep the shrimp as free from sauces and seasoning as possible.
How much shrimp can a dog eat daily?
A couple of cooked shrimp a day for small dogs, or between five and ten a day for larger dogs, are really all you need to consider when giving your dog shrimps to eat.
Remember, these are additions to mealtimes to reinforce protein levels and vitamins – not a main course in and of themselves.
Keep an eye on your dog to see if he or she experiences stomach pains or an upset tummy as shrimps become a more consistent part of his or her diet.
A dog who has these symptoms perhaps ought to be eating less shrimps overall, or at least have them instead as an occasional treat.
Likewise, try to avoid shrimps that are leftovers from meals enjoyed by the rest of the family.
Sauces and seasoning put onto these shrimps do more harm than good, nutritionally speaking, to your dog – and definitely be absolutely certain to avoid garlic and onions in those seasonings, because those are toxic to your animal.
It’s worth noting that there’s more fat and cholesterol in shrimps than you might realise, and this can have a pretty unkind effect on your dog’s health over the long term if left to build up.
This is another reason why portioning shrimps correctly for your dog is so important, no matter how much your pet might want to guilt trip you!
What to do if your dog eats shrimp
Even the most well behaved furry family friend can always be relied upon to get into mischief, especially when some otherwise forbidden food is involved.
You might well therefore encounter dogs eating shrimps when they aren’t supposed to be – and judging by the risks we have talked about today, this can be a scary experience.
The main course of action you need to take to heart here is to interrupt your dog while he or she is trying to eat shrimp, if you have caught him or her mid feast.
If you’ve instead found the evidence of your dog eating the shrimp, identify how your pet got to the seafood, and reprimand him or her for doing so.
It’s very important to establish these ground rules early on so that your pet doesn’t repeat this experience, perhaps next time with outright toxic food like chocolate, grapes or garlic.
Once that’s in hand, and during your time telling off your pet, look for signs of bloatedness, illness or difficult breathing.
The latter is very important to combat, because if your dog has internally injured themselves with crunched up shrimp shells, he or she will need swift medical attention from a vet.
This is also the case if you know your dog is very allergic to shrimps or seafood, but has eaten a load of them anyway.
A vet will have special means of stabilising the conditions of an allergic reaction and bringing more stability to your dog’s internal systems too.
Hopefully, though, your dog will just suffer a bit of a tummy ache and learn not to repeat this performance.
Always keep raw shrimps out of reach of your animal, and make sure if you are out and about in the wild where bodies of water full of shrimps might tempt your dog, that you have him or her in sight at all times.
While seafood sometimes has a question mark over it when it comes to feeding it to your pet, dogs are often very safe and happy eating shrimps that are considerately prepared by a loving owner.
As long as fried or steamed shrimps are avoided, and they are suitably peeled and served without seasoning, shrimps can prove a wonderful way of adding a little extra protein and vitamins to your dog’s diet.
They’re by no means a main component of such a meal though, and similarly, it must be considered important to avoid raw shrimp reaching your dog’s dinner as much as possible.
Seafood allergies occur in our pets as much as they do in human beings, so remain vigilant against matters like this – always keep an eye on your dog when he or she is eating shrimp for the first few times, in case of an allergic reaction.
Keep an eye open in case your dog becomes unwell or suffers an upset tummy after eating shrimps too – this is a good indication that it’s time to revise your portion sizes.
It sounds like a lot to keep in mind, but it’s all common sense that’ll come naturally in good time. Just treat your dog with the same love you’d want to be treated with yourself!