Person offering small dog a shrimp on a fork

Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? Yes, But…

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Many people think shrimp is delicious, so you might wonder if you can share it with your dog. There are so many foods out there, and it is quite common to wonder if we can allow our dog to eat the same food we are eating. There are many reasons we may want to offer “people food” to our dogs. Sometimes we are enticing them to eat, and other times we just want to share our food because we know our dogs love it. And there are certainly times our pups just sneak a bite off our plate, and we have to decide if what they ate is safe for them.

Remember dogs and people can eat lots of the same things, but not always. It is important to make sure you are sharing foods that won’t cause any harm to your pet. Read this article to learn about sharing shrimp with your dog.

Can My Dog Safely Eat Shrimp?

Collie watching owner eat shrimp

Yes (but only when cooked)  

Shrimp is safe and not toxic for dogs. Cooked shrimp can be a fun food for you and your dog to share. Shrimp does have some health benefits, and it’s a tasty treat for your pup.

Shrimp is a fairly low-calorie food that is higher in protein. Therefore, in moderation of course, this is a treat you can share that doesn’t lead to excessive weight gain for your dog.

Shrimp also contains some helpful vitamins and minerals. Shrimp has a lot of Vitamin b12 and selenium.1 These ingredients are good for neurologic system function and heart health in dogs, as they are in people.

There are natural antioxidants in shrimp, the main one being astaxanthin. This antioxidant may have some anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the body.2 There is not much literature out there to support how much of this antioxidant is needed to make a difference, however, it is very safe and may be beneficial.

Shrimp has a moderate amount of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are important for many different organs.3 Omega fatty acids are particularly helpful for skin health and can benefit dogs with skin disease due to allergies. Fatty acids also reduce inflammation in the body. And finally, fatty acid supplementation can be of benefit to certain diseases including heart disease, cancer known as lymphoma, and kidney insufficiency.4

Possible Risks Associated with Shrimp for Dogs

As with almost any “people food” treat, there are some things to think about before giving your dog a pile of shrimp to eat. Of course, moderation is going to be important when you are giving foods other than his main diet.

As with raw tuna, I would recommend avoiding raw shrimp. Raw shrimp can contain bacteria that are known to cause intestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea.5  If severe enough, these symptoms can lead to dehydration and require a hospital stay to cure. It’s best to offer cooked shrimp to your dog, as the process of cooking will remove the harmful bacteria.

Ideally, avoid giving the shells of shrimp to your dog. If your dog eats too many shells they may become lodged in his intestines, causing an obstruction. Intestinal obstruction is very dangerous and can require emergency surgery for removal and treatment. These shells have also been know to cause choking in small dogs.6

Shrimp is relatively high in cholesterol, therefore it’s best to offer in moderation.7 And, if your dog is on a restricted diet, make sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding the benefits compared with the risks of feeding shrimp.

Finally, shrimp is a high-protein food.8  90% of the calories in shrimp are from protein. For most dogs, this is not a problem at all. However, for dogs with certain health conditions, shrimp may worsen their disease. Dogs on low protein diets should avoid shrimp. For example, if your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease and needs a lower protein diet, shrimp should be given with caution and usually, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

How Much Shrimp Can my Dog Eat?

Foods that are not your dog’s “main diet” can be offered and enjoyed by your dog. However, as with many foods in life, moderation is key.

According to veterinary nutritionists, 90% of your dog’s calories should come from his balanced dog food. That leaves 10% of the daily calories from treats. Based on the basic calorie counter from OSU, a 22-pound dog needs approximately 640 calories per day. Therefore, this dog could have up to 64 calories per day total in treats.

Shrimp contains about 30 calories per ounce. He could eat 2 oz of shrimp, but then no other treats that day. Depending upon the size of the shrimp their weight can vary, typically 2-3 “large” shrimp make up 1 ounce.9 To eat more variety and avoid intestinal upset, it is best to start with a smaller volume of shrimp. I would offer 2-3 shrimp in a day and see how he likes it in our example pup.

How to Prepare Shrimp for my Dog

The best way to offer shrimp to your dog is to feed a small to moderate amount of cooked shrimp with no shells. Simply cooked shrimp without sauces and additional seasoning will be what your dog likes and benefits from most.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

Now you know it’s safe to feed your dog shrimp. Always monitor your dog closely. If you notice any decrease in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, stop offering people food and check in with your veterinarian. Just like people, some foods may be safe but still not agree with your dog’s tummy.

Find out the answers to questions like “can dogs eat raw foods?” in our series of guides on the topic of foods your dogs can or can’t eat such as whether your dog can eat ice cream, plums, ham, radishes, or mangoes.

Also, if you’re asking questions about what’s safe for your dog to eat you’re likely interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s overall health. Luckily, we have a lot of resources to help!

Including a guide which answers the question what is a high fiber diet for dogs? or our guide to choosing the best high fiber dog foods. If you’re worried about a dog with upset stomach we have a guide for that as well, and we can even answer the question of how long does it takes for dogs to digest food. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog feeder. We even have a list that answers the question what can’t dogs eat?

We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our dog size calculator can let you know how big your dog is likely to be, and our dog size calculator can help you determine if your dog is the ideal weight, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts to help you determine the proper weight for specific breeds such as our goldendoodle growth chart, great dane growth chart, golden retriever growth chart, chihuahua growth chart, or labrador growth chart.

Article Sources

Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. NutritionData. Crustaceans, shrimp, mixed species, cooked, moist heat. Nutritiondata.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
  2. Ambati RR, Phang SM, Ravi S, Aswathanarayana RG. Astaxanthin: sources, extraction, stability, biological activities and its commercial applications–a reviewMar Drugs. 2014;12(1):128-152. Published 2014 Jan 7. doi:10.3390/md12010128
  3. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Shrimp. Whfoods.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
  4. Brooks W. Omega Three Fatty Acids for our Pets. Veterinarypartner.vin.com. Published June 10, 2019. Updated June 2, 2021. Accessed September 22, 2021.
  5. Cornejo-Granados F, Lopez-Zavala AA, Gallardo-Becerra L, et al. Microbiome of Pacific Whiteleg shrimp reveals differential bacterial community composition between Wild, Aquacultured and AHPND/EMS outbreak conditionsSci Rep. 2017;7(1):11783. Published 2017 Sep 18. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11805-w
  6. Burke A. Can Dogs Eat Shrimp? Akc.org. Published August 24, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2021.
  7. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Shrimp. Whfoods.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
  8. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Shrimp. Whfoods.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
  9. Reference. How Many Shrimp Equals 3 Ounces? Reference.com. Updated April 12, 2020. Accessed September 22, 2021.
Dr. Melody Aitchison-Steed
Dr. Melody Aitchison-Steed graduated with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of California at Davis in 2005. Following graduation, she completed a 1-year rotating internship in small animal medicine and emergency care. After completing her internship, Dr. Aitchison-Steed has practiced small animal general medicine in Southern California. When she’s not practicing medicine, Dr. Aitchison-Steed is usually with her family (a husband and two sweet daughters, two dogs, and a cat!) enjoying the outdoors by hiking and camping, reading, or attending the kids’ sports events.