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The shrimp cocktail is almost as American as apple pie, first gaining popularity among the glitz and glam of 1950s Las Vegas casinos. Today, they remain a popular dinner party hors d'oeuvre. If you’ve ever caught your dog eyeing your shrimp cocktail dinner, you’ve probably wondered: can dogs eat shrimp? The answer, with a few caveats, is yes!

Is Shrimp Good for Dogs?

Not only is shrimp safe for your pooch to enjoy, it can also be one of the healthier dog-friendly foods. This pink shellfish is low in calories, carbs, and fat, making it a good treat for dogs on a diet.3 They’re also packed with vitamins and other nutrients key to a longer, healthier life, including:

●      Vitamin B12 - essential for a dog’s metabolism and also plays a part in gastrointestinal health.

●      Vitamin B3 - also known as niacin, it’s necessary for fat production, blood circulation, enzyme production, energy production, and a host of other important biological functions.

●      Phosphorus - helps keep your dog’s bones healthy and could protect against bone disorders like adult rickets and fibrous osteodystrophy, or “rubber jaw syndrome.”

●      Antioxidants - found in shrimp guard against free radicals, which can cause cellular damage, and can also keep your dog’s brain healthy as they age.4

It’s not all good news, however. While shrimp can be beneficial to a dog’s diet, they are also high in cholesterol. A high-cholesterol diet could contribute to the development of neurological, gastrointestinal, and ocular dysfunction.5

Can dogs eat shrimp tails?

You should remove any shells or tails before giving your dog a shrimpy snack. It could cause an obstruction or become a choking hazard, particularly in smaller dog breeds.

Can dogs eat cooked shrimp?

Raw shrimp can contain multiple pathogens that are harmful to dogs and humans both. Thus, cooking before ingesting is a good rule of thumb for you and your furry companion. Steamed shrimp are the best option for dogs. Fried and breaded shrimp usually comes with unhealthy fats and oils.

Can cats eat shrimp?

Cats can enjoy many of the same health benefits that dogs also get from shrimp! Just be sure to follow all the same safety measures as you would for your dog: remove the tails and steam the shrimp to kill pathogens. Also, keep in mind that your cat is likely much smaller than most dogs. Adjust the size of the shrimp treat accordingly.

How To Feed Your Dog Shrimp

It’s always important to get your vet’s approval before adding something new to your dog’s diet. Even though shrimp are canine-safe, every dog is different. There’s still the possibility that your pup might have a shellfish allergy or something else that causes an adverse reaction.

Once you’ve consulted your vet, start by giving your dog a small piece of steamed shrimp flesh. Remember to remove the tail! Depending on the breed, one or two shrimp should suffice for most dogs. Remember to modulate the size of the treat based on the size of your dog. Smaller breeds can be more sensitive to new foods.

Observe your dog for signs of discomfort or illness. If symptoms get worse, contact your vet right away. Gastrointestinal distress is one of the main reasons for emergency vet visits, and the bills can quickly add up.6 Preparing for the worst with a dog insurance policy could help mitigate some of that cost.2

Don’t Be Shellfish — Share Your Shrimp!

Now that you know the ins and outs of safely giving your dog shrimp, you can share the bounty next time there’s shellfish on the menu! Just remember: all things in moderation. Shrimp may be small, but overdoing it could end with an emergency trip to the vet.

If you’re still unsure about adding new foods to your dog’s diet, a pet insurance policy from MetLife1 could give you peace of mind. Check out our guide to see if pet insurance is worth it for you and your pup.  

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3”Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?”, American Kennel Club

4”Nutritional Intervention for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction,” Today’s Veterinary Practice

5”Hyperlipidemia in Dogs and Cats”, DVM 360

6”Pet Emergency Statistics and Veterinary Costs,” Preventive Vet