Seafood and shellfish are often touted as one of the healthiest things we humans can include in our diets. Fish is highly digestible and nutritious for our dogs too, providing plenty of benefits for our furry friends. But what about shellfish like prawns and shrimp.
Can dogs eat prawns? Many dogs are curious about their smell, and they’re just the right size for a tasty training treat, but can you offer one to your pup? If you’ve ever wondered, read on to find out if dogs can snack on some shellfish and if it is as healthy for our furry friends as it can be for us.
Yes, dogs can eat prawns as long as they are thoroughly cooked, peeled, and cleaned. In fact, prawns offer your dog some of the same benefits we humans enjoy from adding seafood to our diets. Your pooch might love the taste of prawns, however, some pups can be picky. If your dog seems interested in the smell, you can offer them a little to taste and see if they like it.
It is im-paw-tent that you peel prawns before feeding them to your dog as the shell can be a choking hazard. Parts of the shell, claws and legs of prawns could potentially irritate and obstruct your dog’s digestive tract and they are tough to break down. You also need to make sure you devein any prawns your dog is going to eat, in the same way as if you were preparing it to eat yourself. Meanwhile, cooking your prawns will ensure they are safe for canine consumption, while still maintaining the food’s nutritional benefits.
Although prawns might be a tasty and nutritional treat, it is still paramount to only feed them to your dog in moderation. Cut your prawns into pieces to avoid choking and only let them have a few bits at a time. Always remember that your dog should never have more than 10% of their daily recommended calories in treats, including prawns.
Not only are they tasty, but prawns are also a paw-some source of complete protein. This means they not only provide protein but several essential amino acids which your dog’s body will absorb and use to make their own proteins. Being seafood, it should be no surprise that prawns are also full of omega-3.
Prawns contain a good dose of vitamin B12 and B6 which are vital for healthy blood cells and help to maintain the brain and nervous system. There’s also some vitamin E, which is an essential vitamin for canines and a powerful antioxidant.
As well as protein and vitamins, these pint-sized shellfish also contain a lot of helpful minerals. When tucking into some prawns, your dog will ingest some calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. They also contain high amounts of selenium, zinc, and iron. This cocktail of minerals are all essential in your dog’s diet as they contribute to bone and muscle development, enzyme production and metabolism, and also help to maintain normal nerve and immune function. Iron meanwhile is im-paw-tent in allowing red blood cells to carry oxygen around their body.
It is important to note that your dog needs a complete and balanced dog food that is tailored to their needs. Home cooking for your dog often leads to an imbalance in their diet.
Prawns are low in calories but high in cholesterol, albeit “good” cholesterol due to the amount of omega-3 they have. However, it is still advisable to exercise caution feeding your dog prawns, especially if they have a condition such as hyperlipidemia. You should always discuss with your vet if feeding prawns, or any new food, is suitable for your pup.
Just as many humans can have shellfish allergies, you might find your canine companion is sensitive to seafood. Therefore you should introduce prawns to your dog’s diet in a small amount and monitor their reaction to ensure it does not cause any stomach upset or allergic reactions. If your pup reacts well, you can give them a little more. Even if your dog enjoys prawns you still have to feed them in moderation as overfeeding can cause vomiting or diarrhoea.
Another thing to be cautious of when feeding your dogs prawns is that these sumptuous seaside snacks have a high sodium content. Salt isn’t good for dogs and can cause GI issues, dehydration, or sodium poisoning if your pup somehow eats a lot of it. Giving your pup a few pieces of prawn won’t cause any harm though, so this is just another reason to exercise moderation.
No, dogs should not eat raw prawns. It is advised against feeding your dog raw seafood and shellfish because they could potentially carry parasites. Prawns are no exception, and raw prawns may carry harmful pathogens or parasites that could make you or your pet ill. The safest way to serve prawns and ensure there are no risks of illness is to cook them, which makes them less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset too.
Another way to reduce the risk of parasites and pathogens in prawns is to freeze them. Sufficiently freezing prawns for at least a week can help to kill any parasites that may be inside them. After this time, you’re free to defrost the prawns and offer them to your pup. Freezing in this way also makes raw feeding a possibility, as there’s no need to cook the prawns to kill off any bacteria.
Nope, never feed your dog garlic prawns or any food that’s covered in garlic. Garlic and other members of the onion family are toxic to dogs and eating too much can damage their red blood cells.
Dogs are quite sensitive to seasoning too. As prawns are already high in salt, you should never feed your dog any prawns that have been flavoured or seasoned. Always feed your dog fresh, cooked, and peeled prawns served plain.
Cooked prawns are perfectly safe for dogs to eat.
Shellfish and seafood can have a few caveats when it comes to letting your furry friend eat them. Some seafood, especially long-lived fish like tuna, are contaminated with heavy metals like mercury which can pose a problem if fed regularly. Luckily though, prawns don’t carry these risks of contamination because they are short-lived and small, so any build-up of metals inside them is minimal.
Your dog shouldn’t eat prawn crackers. Although prawn crackers are lower in calories and fat than crisps, they’re still a very unhealthy “treat” to give your pup. However, they are not toxic and safe for dogs to eat. That means if you’re tucking into a takeaway and your dog swipes a dropped prawn cracker it shouldn’t cause them any harm. (Unless your dog is allergic to any of the ingredients, like tapioca or prawn.)
To be on the safe side, you shouldn’t feed prawn crackers to your dog, mostly because they can contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
Yes, dogs can eat shrimp. Although prawns and shrimp seem similar, they do have different anatomies. Luckily though, the rules on letting your dog snaffle some shrimp are the same as with prawns. Dogs can eat shrimp as long as it is thoroughly cooked and the shell and veins are removed.
Shrimp also carry risks of pathogens and parasites which is why it is important to cook and clean them or freeze them sufficiently before serving them. Just like with prawns, feeding your dog shrimp in moderation is key.
Yes, dogs can eat prawns provided they are cooked and peeled. Don’t feed your dog whole prawns with the shell on, and never feed them raw prawns that haven’t been frozen. Shrimp is also safe to eat as long as it too is cooked and cleaned.
Seafood has a lot of health benefits as it is high in protein and omega-3 but low in calories and fat. So, next time you’re opening up a packet of prawns to make a salad and your dog is giving you puppy eyes, don’t be “shellfish” and share a little with them. Just make sure your prawns are plain before you give them to your mutt to munch.
However, if you want to save your prawns for yourself, feed your dog a meal that has all the benefits of this shellfish. For example, Pure is complete and nutritionally balanced, each recipe packed full of vitamins, protein and omega 3 oils, so your dog can reap the benefits with every meal they eat. Tailored nutrition for your dog that's totally tasty, Pure is perfect for keeping your dog happy and healthy.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.