Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
From your local pet store’s dog-devoted bakery to the ‘puppuccinos’ available for pickup when you grab your morning coffee, every dog lover wants to feed their best friend like family. When it comes to table food, you have nothing but good intentions when wanting to share. Of course, as professionals like Dr. Sara Ochoa advise, it’s best to think twice before giving your dog human delights–shrimp included!
Is Shrimp Safe for Dogs?
First and foremost, if you are in a panic because your pooch has just stolen a bite of prawn off your plate, don’t fear! It’s generally safe to feed shrimp in small amounts, although not advised. If doing so, the shrimp must be cooked thoroughly. The shell and tail must be fully removed as well because they can create a choking hazard or even cause an intestinal blockage.
Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM in East Texas, also adds that the seasoning on the shrimp we consume could cause issues for your canine. So, if you’re going to give your dog a bite of shrimp, “They should be fully cooked with no seasoning or spices. The spices that we enjoy on our shrimp can cause GI upset if given to dogs.”
GI upset, of course, could range from a minor case of diarrhea to repeat vomiting. Both of these things are signs that your dog’s system is trying to expel something that it doesn’t want or need. If your dog experiences GI upset after you feed them shrimp, you shouldn’t feed it to them again.
With that said, plain shrimp is not toxic to dogs. Unfortunately, some dog lovers get misled into thinking that shrimp is actually healthy for their pet. They might think about the high protein content, the Omega-3 levels, or even the antioxidants and see shrimp as a healthy treat. However, while it’s far from the worst treat you could give your pooch, it’s still not a healthy choice for them.
That means shrimp shouldn’t become part of your dog’s regular diet. In fact, if you can avoid feeding your dog people food all together, that is ideal for their health and well-being.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog Shrimp
While it has an adequate amount of protein, feeding shrimp to dogs has no benefits. In fact, it can greatly work against their body’s natural processes and throw them out of balance. Here’s why:
- Shrimp is high in fat, which can lead to serious diseases.
- Raw or undercooked shrimp has a high risk of causing food borne illness.
- Shrimp can block the intestinal tract if not properly de-shelled or de-tailed.
- Any seafood can cause an allergic reaction in dogs.
Shrimp is also a choking hazard for dogs, but–regardless of these concerns–experts like Sara never recommend giving your dog “people food” anyway. As Sara points out, “Certain dogs do not tolerate people food or a change in diet.” Be mindful that puppies and older dogs can be especially sensitive. “If your pet ever gets sick after eating people food, they should never be allowed people food.”
Plus, even if your dog does not suffer from a sensitive stomach, another major concern is the fat content and added ingredients. These things also make people food unsafe for our pets. “Never feed your dog anything fatty as these foods can cause pancreatitis,” she states. “That is inflammation of the pancreas and it can be very painful for your dog.”
Above all, Sara explains that no dog should not have people food as their only source of food. The high-quality dog food you buy at the store has been appropriately formulated and tested to ensure it provides a balanced source of all-around nutrition for your dog. You should select one of these foods based on their energy level, age, or even breed because all dogs have unique and specific requirements that change throughout their life.
Feeding them people food on a daily or even weekly basis can easily throw this out of balance. In turn, your dog may end up experiencing health issues like weight gain, loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, or diseases linked to too much fat, among other things.
Of course, Sara knows that dog owners mean well. “Dogs can eat certain people food in moderation, shrimp included.” However, you must always be mindful of not only what you’re feeding them, but also how much. “A small snack here and there is okay for them to eat,” she concludes.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Happy
To summarize, the occasional bite of shrimp won’t harm your dog so long as you take some general precautions. If it’s fully cooked, without the shell, tail, or seasonings, it should not bother most canines. With that said, you should be mindful of sensitives and allergies to seafood. You should also be aware that some dogs have sensitive stomachs, in which case they should be put on a very strict diet that caters to their unique health needs.
Overall, shrimp and certain other people foods can make a nice treat for your dog every once in a while. However, you should always prioritize their nutrition at the end of the day. Their specially balanced diet should remain their go-to food source. If they’re picky, try a new food. Don’t allow your dog to get used to table scraps because, no matter how cute their puppy dog eyes, you know what’s best for them.