A dog should not eat crab shells because the sharp pieces may cause lacerations in the throat, esophagus, stomach, digestive tract, colon, or rectum. If your dog recently ate a crab shell, keep an eye on them for a few days. See your veterinarian if they display abnormal behavior.
Despite our best efforts, there will be times when our furry little friends get into things they shouldn’t. Whether it be from knocking over the trash can, digging up something in the backyard, or simply sneaking a “treat” from the table during dinner, our sneaky sidekicks seem to always salivate over foods that are not meant for them to eat.
Is It Okay For My Dog to Eat Crab Shells?
Dogs work off the assumption that if something smells like food, it must be food, even if it should be avoided.
It’s especially difficult to convince our canine counterparts that something is not edible if it is in close contact with actual food, like wrappers, tin foil, french fry cartons… and crab shells.
Crab meat is full of protein, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and just so happens to be super yummy! On the other hand, shells are hard, splinter into sharp pieces, and are extremely difficult for your fur baby to digest.
Shells are dangerous for your dog for several reasons, so you should keep them away from your pet. Do not offer crab shells to your dog, and be wary of leaving them on the kitchen counter or on top of the trash, where they are easily accessible to your curious canine companion.
Any object with a sharp edge can cause cuts, lacerations, or tears in the mouth, including the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, or inside the jaws or lips. A minor cut can lead to a bacterial infection that can cause problems down the road, especially if not caught and treated promptly.
Once the shell pieces pass through the mouth, there is still the danger of lacerations and tears to the throat, esophagus, stomach, digestive tract, colon, and even the rectum. After all, what goes in must inevitably come out.
It’s possible that something as hard and sharp as crab shell pieces could cause a series of harmful cuts all the way through your dog’s digestive system. Multiple cuts and lacerations could lead to internal bleeding. To make matters worse, the undigested shell pieces could cause intestinal blockages.
It’s also possible that the shell could become lodged in your dog’s throat, blocking the airway. A complete blockage of the airway can become fatal quickly.
As you can see, crab shells are definitely not a doggie delicacy. Contact the vet if you believe your dog has eaten one.
But What if My Dog Already Ate a Crab Shell?
As you now know, crab shells can be very dangerous for your dog to ingest. If you are certain your dog has eaten a shell (or pieces of one), take a good look inside its mouth and look for an injury to the roof of the mouth or gums. Check between its teeth for any pieces that may have become lodged.
Take the opportunity to brush their teeth with doggie toothpaste and a gentle bristled toothbrush. This helps remove small pieces that are hard to see or have become wedged between two teeth where they would be virtually unnoticeable.
Even if you find no wounds inside the mouth, monitor your fur baby for a day or two. If your pup becomes lethargic, begins vomiting or has diarrhea (especially if you see blood in the stool or vomit), develops cold-like symptoms, or seems to experience an unusual amount of discomfort, seek medical attention immediately.
Let the veterinarian know when your dog ate the crab shell and how many crab shells it has eaten.
It’s also important to pay attention to any signs of an allergic reaction. It is likely that there are still pieces of crab meat or residue inside the shell. Not all dogs are allergic to crabs. In fact, most are not. However, some dogs are extremely allergic to crab meat (to the point of being lethal).
Any signs of respiratory issues or distress, swelling in the tongue, or other uncommon behaviors should warrant an immediate trip to an emergency veterinarian.
Don’t Be Shell-fish With The Meat!
If your furry friend does not have any allergies or aversions to crab or other shellfish, you can share the delicious, flavorful meat with them as long as you remove the meat from the shell. In fact, it can be a healthy treat for your pup since it’s loaded with amino acids and protein.
Crab meat has a high level of B12, which is important for healthy brain function and promotes good intestinal health. The meat is soft, small, and easy to swallow and digest.
Another benefit is that the smell of crab meat is absolutely irresistible to our furry friends, so dogs that are reluctant to eat most other foods can easily be persuaded to eat crab meat.
If you serve crab meat to your dog, be sure to cook it thoroughly to avoid any parasites.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.