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Can Dogs Eat Shellfish? Benefits And Risks (Updated 2022)

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Can Dogs Eat Shellfish?

In answer to the question can dogs eat shellfish I have to answer yes but, feeding any sort of shellfish to dogs does not come without risk and different shellfish can carry different risks.

However, dogs can and should eat shellfish to some degree as they are an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

So let’s dive a little deeper and find out which shellfish are good or bad for your dog and how to prepare them to minify the risks and maximize the benefits.

Can dogs Eat Raw Shellfish?

The short answer is a Hard No.

Shellfish can carry a range of bacteria, intestinal parasites, and overpowering toxins that can make a healthy dog very sick and can be fatal to an unhealthy one.

For this reason, all shellfish that is to be fed to your dog should be sourced from a reputable supplier, cleaned, cooked, and fed to your dog in strict moderation.

What are The Benefits Of Feeding A Dog Shellfish?

Shellfish are a rich source of lean protein, vitamin B12, EPA, and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium, and potassium.

  • Vitamin B12 is essential for the brain and central nervous system activity.
  • EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, support brain and heart functions, aid in the movement of joints, and reduce the risk of illness.
  • Zinc promotes healthy joint growth.
  • Iron maintains energy levels.
  • Magnesium aids in the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.

To find out more about the best foods for dogs and how to extend their lives I highly recommend – The Forever Dog – available now on Amazon.
To see the latest price and to hear a short excerpt from the book, just click this link.

What Are The Risks Of Feeding A Dog Shellfish?

Although rare, some dogs can express an allergic reaction to seafood which may manifest to a higher degree with shellfish.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to shellfish could include:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin
  • Anal gland itching causing (anal biting and rubbing)

Oysters, Clams, and mussels are filter feeders which means that toxins can accumulate from microalgae such as dinoflagellates, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans and dogs.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is one of the most severe forms of poisoning and can cause paralysis and death if left untreated.

Uncooked shellfish can contain intestinal parasites, toxins, mercury, and the bacteria E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Vibrio.

Additionally, the shells of shellfish can break into sharp indigestible pieces that can rip and tear at a dog’s mouth, throat, and internal organs or be a choking and internal blockage hazard.

How To Feed A Dog Shellfish

Shellfish should always be offered to your dog cooked, without the shells, without any additives and flavorings, and in strict moderation.

Most importantly, dogs can only eat shellfish as part of a controlled and well-balanced diet and never as an exclusive shellfish or seafood diet.

A predominantly seafood diet is extremely unhealthy for a dog due to the high levels of sodium, mercury, and protein which will quickly build and poison a dog.

To find out more about foods dangerous to dogs please read: 34 Toxic Foods For Dogs + Signs Your Dog Is Poisoned

Table of Mercury Levels In Common Shellfish

The table below lists the shellfish in acceding order of mercury levels. The safe level for the average human is 1 part per million (ppm) per week

ShellfishMercury PPM – LowestMercury PPM – Highest
Crawfish – Crayfish0.0330.051
Lobster – (Spiny)0.0930.27
Lobster – (Northern American)0.1070.23
Lobster – (Species Unknown)0.1660.451
Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012) — Content current as of:

To find out which fish have the highest mercury levels please read: Can Dogs Eat Fish? – Fresh, Raw & Frozen – Risks & Benefits

Can Dogs Eat Shellfish?

7 Common Shellfish Safe For Dogs To Eat

  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Prawns
  • Shrimp

Can dogs eat Oysters / Clams / Mussels

Oysters, clams, and mussels are nutrient rich in vitamin B12, protein, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, calcium, phosphorus, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

When it comes to toxic heavy metal and mercury contamination, they are low risk, as they live in shallow mineral-rich waters.

However, oysters, clams, and mussels from unknown sources should be avoided because they are filter feeders and their tissues may contain elements that are dangerous to dogs.

This is because filter feeders pump water through their systems, filtering the water to find and eat algae.

Unfortunately, this means that they can absorb the toxins from microalgae such as dinoflagellates, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans and dogs.

Therefore it is best practice to only purchase these foods from reputable suppliers who regularly test their products for signs of contamination.

Can Dogs Eat Crab

Dogs can eat crab meat; it’s highly nutritious and very flavorsome to most dogs.

The best way to prepare the dish is to steam the meat and don’t season or add anything to it. The meat itself is nutritious enough.

However, crab meat must only be fed to dogs in strict moderation.

Crab is naturally high in sodium, iodine, and cholesterol, which, when consumed to excess, can be difficult for a dog to digest.

Too much sodium leads to hypernatremia which can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, and problems with circulation in dogs.

Crabmeat is also high in iodine, and while it’s not common, some dogs can be allergic to iodine.

If your dog is allergic to the iodine in crab meat, he will begin to show the symptoms within 5 hours of consumption.

Iodine allergy symptoms include watery nose and eyes, lethargy, and diarrhea; however, most dogs recover relatively quickly.

If your dog is distressed and these symptoms persist, talk to your veterinarian for advice.

Can Dogs Eat Lobster

Cooked lobster is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals like zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Please note that lobster shells and shell pieces, no matter how small, are very dangerous to dogs.

Lobster meat should only be fed to your dog in very small portions and as a rare treat due to the high sodium and cholesterol content.

Lobster also scores high in mercury levels when compared to other shellfish which is another reason to be strict on portion control.

in conclusion, lobster is a shellfish that is higher in sodium, fat, and mercury than other shellfish which makes it dangerous to eat in large quantities but is fine as a treat on rare occasions.

Can Dogs Eat Prawns

Dogs love to eat cooked prawns and are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.

Prawns must always be cooked before consumption as these shellfish can carry harmful pathogens.

The best way to serve prawns to your dog is with the head, legs, tail, and shell removed and cooked without any additives or flavorings.

Can Dogs Eat Shrimp

Not a regular food for dogs, but so long as it’s fully cooked, the odd shrimp will be fine as shrimp are full of healthy nutrients like vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorous, and calories and are low in carbohydrates.

However, shrimp is high in cholesterol so you should not feed it to a dog with weight problems or a poor cardiovascular system.

Additionally, be sure to give your dog only the shrimp’s main body for your complete mental security; (no shell, head, tail, or legs) to avoid lacerations to your dog’s mouth and internal organs.

Shrimp is also high in cholesterol, so you should not feed it to a dog with weight problems or a poor cardiovascular system.

The Conclusion to Can dogs Eat Shellfish

In general, shellfish are a good source of essential vitamins, minerals, protein, and fats that will improve your dog’s health and well-being.

However, there are risks involved and you should fully investigate each type of shellfish before adding it to your dog’s diet.

This may also include chatting to your veterinarian about how the shellfish may alter the dog’s dietary intake to avoid sodium poisoning and pancreatitis.

Your vet will tell you if your dog can eat seafood and the appropriate kind and serving size.

If you suspect your pet is sick, please call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your regular veterinarian when possible as they can make the best recommendations for your pet.

A proud father of two boys, an amateur actor, and a green living enthusiast, Mark has been sharing hints, tips, and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.

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