Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?

What to know about giving these tasty seafood snacks to your dog as treats.


From head to tail, boiled or fried, crustaceans are delicious, but can dogs eat cooked shrimp? The answer is yes—with reasonable precautions. For most of us, shrimp are a treat, not an everyday meal, and it should be the same for dogs. While shrimp are a good source of protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote heart and brain health, it’s best to save them for special occasions. Here’s how to share them when your dog is angling for a bite.

Healthy Choices

Boiled, steamed, or grilled shrimp with no spices or sauces is the way to go if you want to share one or two with your dog. Dogs don’t need spicy or sweet sauces to enhance the flavor of shrimp and unusual ingredients could upset their stomach.

Dogs love crunchy, savory foods. Can dogs eat fried shrimp? Because of the higher calories and potentially spicy seasoning, it’s not the best choice for them, but one small bite—not the whole thing—typically isn’t going to cause problems. If you want to give your dog shrimp with crunch while keeping the caloric level low, try air-frying it without breading. Test the temperature before feeding to make sure it’s not too hot.

Avoid giving shrimp on wooden skewers or leaving them where dogs can reach them. If swallowed, the skewers can perforate the wall of the stomach and even migrate out of it, requiring surgical intervention.

Raw vs. Cooked

Raw shrimp is a delicacy in many cultures—including canine—but it comes with risks. Raw or undercooked shrimp can carry bacterial pathogens such as Vibrio and Salmonella. Their effects can be highly unpleasant for humans but rarely affect dogs. However, if you accidentally drop a raw shrimp on the floor and your dog snarfs it up, it’s smart to keep an eye out for problems.

Signs your dog may have eaten contaminated shrimp:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • lethargy
  • fever
  • appetite loss

Even if dogs don’t show signs of infection, they can shed bacteria in their feces and saliva, potentially spreading it to you or family members. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling shrimp, dog food (which can be contaminated by salmonella in the manufacturing process), or used pet food and water dishes.

Other Potential Hazards

Vomiting and diarrhea combined with unexplained itchiness could signal that your dog has a shellfish allergy. That’s uncommon, but it is something to be aware of.

Can dogs eat shrimp tails? My dogs have enjoyed them on rare occasions, but in the back of my mind I worried about whether it was okay to give them. Depending on the size of the dog, tails with shells could be a choking hazard and eating too many could cause an intestinal blockage. To be on the safe side, remove the shell first.

Don’t go overboard. Depending on the size of your dog, half a shrimp to one or two is plenty. Treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories. The good news for dogs is that unless they’re fried, shrimp are a low-calorie treat.