Can Dogs Have Shrimp Tails? What About The Meat?

shrimp on a serving plate

Although shrimp tails are not poisonous to dogs, they are still a major choking hazard and can cause an obstruction. For this reasons, it is best to avoid feeding shrimp tails to your dog.

Being a dog owner has its ups and downs. Sometimes it can be easy, other times it can be difficult. For example, When your dog is giving you those glistening eyes for the food you’re eating, who in their right mind could deny them?

However, as a dog owner, you must be picky when it comes to what you feed your dog since dogs can’t eat everything we (humans) can eat.

They can eat many of the same foods that we can, including meat, rice, low-sugar fruits, and even peanut butter. But what about certain parts of meat?

Most parts of chicken are off limits for dogs. Why? Because the small bones can either choke them or cause a wound to the esophagus or gastrointestinal tract as it goes through the digestive process.

But what about other meats? Can dogs eat seafood? And all the parts that go along with seafood, like shrimp tails?

Dogs Cannot Eat Shrimp Tails

Although shrimp may be refreshing and easy for us humans to eat, we do not recommend shrimp for your dog. The main reason: shrimp tails.

Just like we could potentially choke on shrimp tails, so could your dog. However, they do not have the luxury of opposable thumbs, so they can’t easily remove the tails on their own. Therefore, dogs should not eat shrimp tails. There’s too great of a chance they’ll choke on them.

Shrimp tails can cause an obstruction not only in your dog’s throat but anywhere else beyond that, especially in his gastrointestinal tract.

This can cause a slew of symptoms, like vomiting, bloating, whimpering, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, among others. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, take him to the vet immediately.

What to do if Your Dog Eats a Shrimp Tail

Even if you try your absolute hardest to stop your dog from eating something, she will sometimes get to it anyway. It’s important to know what to do just in case she eats a shrimp tail.

Ensure that there are no other shrimp tails available that she can get to. Then, watch her symptoms closely. She may be fine, but be sure to watch her vigilantly, anyway.

Watch for coughing, gagging, or any signs of difficulty breathing. If you notice these, immediately take your pup to the veterinarian.

What About Shrimp Shells?

Although shrimp shells are softer than shrimp tails, dogs should not eat shrimp shells either. These can lead to similar choking and blockage issues as shrimp tails, not just because of the shell itself, but also the sharp legs.

It’s also even better if, when removing the shells from shrimp before feeding your dog, you also remove the vein.

Although it is typically OK for dogs and humans to eat, it’ll lessen any chances of potential sickness, as this is what the shrimp had ingested, and who knows what could be in there!

Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Meat?

Mostly yes and partly no. Confused? Let me explain.

Most dogs can eat shrimp (without the tail and shell, of course) because it’s high in lots of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for dogs, such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, B12, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein should be the #1 ingredient in any dog’s diet, so that is a good enough reason to feed your dog perfectly prepared shrimp.

But, calcium and phosphorus are two of the most important minerals in a dog’s diet, which shrimp is also high in.

Calcium is excellent for many bodily functions, such as muscle contraction, blood coagulation, building of bones and teeth, and signaling in cells. Phosphorus is also crucial to bones and teeth and helps at the cellular level. It helps in cell shape and the structure of DNA and RNA.

Vitamin B12 is important as well. It helps a dog’s blood cell growth, nervous system, and brain function. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and can significantly aid your dog in controlling inflammation and healing.

How to Safely Feed Shrimp To Your Dog

When giving your dog shrimp, make sure it is fully cooked. Like most other meats, it’s easier for them to digest and is overall healthier and less risky if it’s cooked prior to ingestion.

Although rare, some dogs are allergic to seafood (including shrimp). If you feed your dog shrimp, keep an eye out for symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as diarrhea, vomiting, scratching, more than normal flatulence, sickness, and even anaphylactic shock.

Any time you feed your dog human food, it’s important to remember that moderation is key. Even though shrimp can be good for dogs to eat, keeping the amount low is highly advised.

Other Choking Hazards for Dogs

It’s important to be aware of all the main foods that can cause your dog to choke. However, it isn’t just food that your dog can choke on. Some common foods and other items your dog can easily choke on are:

  • Chicken bones
  • Shrimp tails
  • Tennis balls and other balls with easily removable material
  • Bones of any kind (not just chicken bones!)
  • Rawhide bones
  • Sticks
  • Small toys, especially children’s toys
  • Plastic wrap
  • Stones and rocks

Although some of the above items may be tempting to give to your dog (looking at you, infamous fuzzy tennis balls), a dog owner should refrain from doing so. These are much easier to cause your dog to not only choke, but potentially get very ill and need an emergency visit to the vet.

What to do if Your Dog is Choking

If there is not enough time to take him to the vet, you need to take action. First, restrain your dog, as he is much more likely to thrash wildly and even bite you. Then, lie him on his back.

Second, open your dog’s mouth and inspect for any blockages you can see and potentially retrieve yourself. Use large tweezers if necessary.

If all else fails, give your dog the Heimlich maneuver:

  1. Lay your dog on his back, potentially in your lap
  2. Using your palm, apply pressure under the rib cage
  3. Push up and in 5 times in a firm thrusting motion
  4. Roll him on his side and check for the food/object causing the issue

Again, we highly recommend calling an emergency vet clinic and have them walk you through this process.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Choking

Keeping the easily chokable items away from your dog is a great place to start. However, there’s no way you can watch your dog every second of every day. He will get into things you don’t want him to, no matter how vigilant you are.

You should train your dog to “drop it.” This will help prevent him from swallowing and choking on any potential hazards.

It’s advisable to get a cover for your trash can and place it somewhere that your dog could never get into no matter how hard he tried, such as in a child-proof cabinet under the sink.

Being sure your dog can’t get into any cabinets or your refrigerator is also highly advisable.

Avoid Shrimp Tails

There are tons of healthy foods you can share with your pup, and shrimp is indeed one of them. But, be very aware of the choking hazard of shrimp tails. Remove those tails, shells, and legs after thoroughly cooking the delicious treats!

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