Shrimp is a popular seafood in America. It’s considered affordable, versatile, delicious, and extremely nutritious. But is it safe for our dogs?
The good news is that not only is shrimp safe for our pups, but it’s also incredibly beneficial for their health. A few pieces of cooked shrimp without the shell can provide additional protein, vitamins, and minerals to your dog.
In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of this shellfish in detail and discuss the various ways in which you can incorporate it into your dog’s diet.
4 Health Benefits of Feeding Shrimp to Dogs
Below we have listed 4 amazing health benefits of feeding shrimp to your dogs:
1. Helps Improve the Skin & Coat Health
Shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids that can significantly improve the quality of your dog’s skin and coat. It can help boost the immune system which in turn helps prevent and heal various skin allergies that can cause fleas, itchiness, dryness, and shedding.
Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids can also have other positive effects on a dog’s health, such as:
- Proper brain development in puppies
- Help improve cognitive function
- Support heart and vascular function
- Great for vision and eye health
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory
- Can prevent and reduce joint pain and mild stiffness in older dogs
2. Rich in Antioxidants
Shrimp contains Astaxanthin, which is a carotenoid that gives shrimp its pink or reddish color. What you might not know is that carotenoids are also extremely potent natural antioxidants. They can help your dog’s body fight against harmful free radicals and prevent chronic inflammation.
These antioxidants also boost the immune system of our dogs and reduce the risk of many health issues including respiratory diseases, infections, allergies, immunodeficiencies and autoimmune disorders, arthritis, and heart disease.
3. Good Source of Protein
Shrimp provides a high amount of protein with fewer calories. In fact, 100 grams of shrimp contains approximately 24 grams of protein which is almost the same as chicken which contains 27 grams per 100 grams, and beef which contains 26 grams per 100 grams.
Thus you can feed your dogs shrimp as a treat to supplement their daily nutrition and support their proper growth and development.
But make sure shrimp isn’t the sole protein source in your dog’s diet as it is high in cholesterol which can be harmful in large amounts. Use shrimp as an occasional treat that you serve with their well-balanced daily meal.
4. Provides Many Nutrients
Shrimp has an impressive nutrition profile as they contain many vitamins and minerals. They are especially rich in vitamin B12 which is directly linked to our dogs' cognitive and neurological health. It’s also an essential vitamin required for metabolic functions like breaking down fat and protein.
Besides that, shrimp also contains a wide range of minerals including iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and sodium. All of these affect different parts of a dog’s body and help support many vital functions.
How to Feed Shrimp to Your Dog
Shrimp is safe for dogs but you need to know a few things while feeding them to your dog:
Serve in Small Amounts
Our dogs usually love the taste of shrimp which makes it easier to go overboard. But you should know that even though shrimp contains many nutrients and antioxidants, they are also high in cholesterol.
Thus you need to be careful of the portion sizes and serve only one or two shrimp in a week. You can also talk to your veterinarian to determine how many shrimp your dog can eat safely.
Furthermore, if your dog is overweight or diagnosed with any health issues like hyperlipidemia, diabetes, or pancreatitis, avoid feeding them cholesterol-rich food like shrimp without consulting a veterinarian.
Remove the Shell & Tail
You should always remove the shell and tail of the shrimp before feeding it to your dog. The shells are made of chitosan, which is hard to digest and their sharp and brittle texture can be a choking hazard or causes obstruction in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. The tail too can lead to many stomach problems.
Always Cook Shrimp Before Serving
Shrimp are versatile and you can cook, boil, or steam them before feeding your dog. Just avoid feeding raw shrimp as it might contain bacteria and other pathogens like E. coli, listeria, tapeworms, and salmonella.
You should also avoid fried shrimp as even though it isn't toxic for a dog, it isn't a healthy choice. These are usually battered and deep fried, adding extra calories that can lead to many digestive problems for our little pups. It can also increase their fat and carb intake leading to some major health issues.
You can safely prepare shrimp for your pup like you'd prepare it for yourself. Just follow these steps.
1. Remove the shells and tail
2. Rinse with water
3. Start cooking by boiling or steaming them
4. Don’t add any salt, spices, or other seasonings as they can be harmful to your dog’s health
Once cooked, allow it to cool down and serve as a treat on its own or use them as a meal topper. You can also mix the shrimp with cooked rice and other vegetables to prepare a meal for your pup.
Some Precautions While Feeding Shrimp to Your Dog
While shrimp is nutritious and delicious for your pup, you still need to beware of the following risks:
Shrimp Has High Cholesterol
As also mentioned above, shrimp has high cholesterol which can lead to heart problems when served in large quantities. Thus it’s advisable to get in touch with your veterinarian to determine whether or not your dog needs shrimp in their diet. They can advise you according to your dog’s nutritional needs and prior health conditions.
Risk of Bacterial Infections
Pet owners are often concerned about the risk of bacteria and parasites like salmonella, E. coli, vibrio, listeria, etc. But this can be easily avoided by cooking shrimp before feeding as it will kill all the pathogens.
If by accident your dog eats a raw shrimp, you should montior their reaction and if they show any symptoms of stomach discomfort like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, call your veterinarian immediately.
Monitor for Allergic Reactions
If you’re feeding shrimp to your dog for the first time then you need to be careful of an allergic reaction. You should start by feeding them just 1 cooked shrimp and monitor their reaction for at least 24-48 hours.
Look out for the following signs:
- Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea
- Constant sneezing or wheezing
- Itchiness or hives
- Swelling around the face, ears, or lips
- Red or inflamed skin
- Itchy ears or ear infections
- Itchy and runny eyes
- Constant licking
If you notice any of these signs of an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Shrimp is healthy and nutritious for our pups. It contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help improve their skin & coat health, boost their immune system, and offer many other wide-ranging health benefits. Even the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in shrimp can perfectly supplement their daily meals and fulfill their nutritional requirements.
The only things you need to be cautious about are the portion sizes and removing the shell and tail before feeding. Since shrimp is high in cholesterol, you can only serve a few cooked pieces occasionally and avoid any kind of overindulgence.
But if you have any doubts, you can consult with a veterinarian before adding shrimp to your dog’s diet.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding shrimp to a dog:
1. Does shrimp make dogs sick?
Your dog can get sick if you feed them too much shrimp every day. Because of its high cholesterol level, you should only feed shrimp in small amounts occasionally.
Raw shrimp can also make your dog sick as it might contain harmful bacteria and pathogens like E. coli, listeria, tapeworms, and salmonella. But you can easily avoid this situation by cooking (boiling or steaming) the shrimp before feeding it to your dog.
2. Can a dog eat cooked shrimp?
Yes, your dog can eat cooked shrimp that’s prepared without any additional ingredients or seasoning. Boiling and steaming are the two healthy ways of cooking shrimp for your dog.
3. Can a dog be allergic to shrimp?
Yes, your dog can be allergic to shrimp. Thus its recommended to start with a very small quantity and monitor their reaction for 24-48 hours. If you see any signs of food intolerance or allergic reactions, contact your veterinarian immediately.
4. Can a dog eat shrimp tails and shells?
No, a dog should not eat shrimp tails and shells. The shells are made of chitosan, which is hard to digest for a dog. Even the sharp and brittle texture of the shells can be a choking hazard or obstructs their gastrointestinal tract. The tail can also cause many stomach issues for our dogs.
5. How many shrimp can a dog eat?
Ideally, you can feed one or two shrimp to your dog every week. It should be used as a treat or supplement that you serve in small amounts occasionally.
You can also consult with your veterinarian to determine the exact amount of shrimp you can add to your dog’s diet.