Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Tails?

If you’re preparing shrimp, you might be thinking, why not treat Fido to some shrimp tails instead of tossing them in the trash?

We all know shrimp is a tasty treat for your dog. But can dogs eat shrimp tails? The short answer is no. Shrimp tails can choke or irritate your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Also, they harbor dangerous bacteria that can make your pup sick. This article explores in detail why feeding your dog shrimp tails is a bad idea.

Can Dogs Digest Shrimp Tails?

No. Shrimp tails contain a tough exterior layer known as chitin which is difficult for your dog’s digestive system to break down. Chitin is like keratin in nails and hair. In shrimps, chitin integrates with calcium carbonate to make the tail and shell rigid but elastic. Chitin also contains zinc, phosphorus, sodium, and calcium.

Shrimp tails are also chewy and can lodge at your canine’s throat and cause many health issues. For humans, eating shrimp tails is a matter of personal preference. But for dogs, it is a matter of safety since they are difficult to chew and digest.

Smaller shrimp tails are chewable but chewing them can hurt your furry friend. Large shrimp tails like jumbo or colossal have giant tails and are a no-no for your dog. They are a choking hazard and more rigid, so even cooking won’t make them soft and consumable.

Shrimp tails are, however, good flavor and nutrient enhancers. They are rich in glucosamine, selenium, vitamin B12, zinc, and choline. Glucosamine helps form and repair cartilage for joint health and mobility. Selenium is essential for thyroid function and protects against cell damage.

Your dog needs vitamin B12 for metabolic functions like red blood cell formation and nerve and red blood cell development. Choline regulates mood, memory, muscle control, and other body functions, while zinc is essential for immune function.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Shrimp Tails?

No. Whether cooked or raw, you should not feed shrimp tails to your canine companion. But if thoroughly cooked until mushy, you can give your dog a little. Ensure you supervise your pup while eating, as cooked shrimp tails can still be a choking hazard.

Can Dogs Eat Fried Shrimp Tails?

Fried shrimp tails are not safe for dogs. Although crispy and tasty, they can be a choking hazard. The frying process adds more fat and calories, which are unhealthy for your pup. Fried shrimp tails can also cause pancreatitis, a fatal condition that can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, and death.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Shrimp Tails?

Dogs shouldn’t eat raw shrimp tails. They may contain harmful bacteria and parasites, and consuming them can increase the risk of illness. If your pup has eaten raw shrimp shells, look for unusual behavior like vomiting, dizziness, or diarrhea.

What of Puppies? Can They Eat Shrimp Tails?

Shrimp tails are not recommended for dogs, even for small pooches and puppies. They are still growing and, therefore, extra sensitive. They may not handle the risks associated with eating shrimp tails.

Risks of Feeding Your Dog Shrimp Tails

If your dog has accidentally wolfed on shrimp tails, it will suffer from several health issues, including:


Consuming shrimp tails can cause diarrhea in your dog, making it pass large amounts of loose stools and feel fatigued. If left untreated, diarrhea can be life-threatening, so call your vet when you notice your dog has loose stool and is weak.


Feeding your canine shrimp tails can lead to nausea making your dog queasy and uncomfortable with an urge to vomit. Shrimp causes an unpleasant feeling throughout your dog’s body, especially in the gastrointestinal tract.


Shrimp tails are tough to chew and difficult to swallow, so when your dog gobbles shrimp tails, they irritate their intestines. Shrimp shells can also cause your dog to vomit, which can escalate to severe illness. If not treated, chronic vomiting can cause malnutrition, dehydration, and tooth enamel decay.

Abdominal Pain

We mentioned already that shrimp tails have sharp ends that can irritate your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. A stomach upset is a common symptom when your dog eats shrimp tails, including constipation and gassiness.

The pain can be mild or sharp and sudden depending on your dog’s health status, size, and the number of shrimp tails ingested. You must rush to the emergency vet clinic if your dog shows signs of distress and has a bloody or dark stool.


Frozen and brittle seafood like shrimp tails increases the risk of choking in dogs, especially puppies and small breed dogs. The sharp ends can shatter and create sharp edges that can tear your dog’s mouth and esophagus or get stuck in your dog’s throat.

Sometimes, your pup may vomit up the shrimp tails, which can cause further discomfort. Phone your vet if you notice your dog gagging, pawing at its mouth, coughing, and drooling after eating shrimp tails.

Viral and Bacterial Infections

Shrimp tails, especially the raw kind, can harbor various disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and parasites, including Salmonella, E.coli, Vibrio, and Listeria. Although these harmful viruses and bacteria can be killed by high-temperature cooking, cooked shrimp tails are not recommended for your pup.

Allergic Reaction

Dogs are prone to food allergies, and although fish allergy is rare, it’s possible. Shrimp allergies are often triggered by a protein known as tropomyosin, commonly found in shellfish. Signs of allergy when your dog eats shrimp tails include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Itchy skin
  • Obsessive licking of feet
  • Swelling, hives, and anaphylactic shock

Other proteins in shrimp tails and shells can trigger allergic reactions, such as arginine kinase and hemocyanin. These symptoms may appear immediately after your pup eats shrimp tails or take a while to show.

High Cholesterol

Compared to tuna or sardines, shrimp contains 85% more cholesterol. This seafood is loaded with high cholesterol, regardless of which part of the shrimp you’re serving your dog. If your dog has too much cholesterol, it can put them at risk of obesity, pancreatitis, and heart disease.

Help! My Dog Ate Shrimp Tails

Has your dog pawed on shrimp tails from your kitchen counter? Keep an eye on them for signs of distress like diarrhea or vomiting and immediately rush them to the vet.

You can also try feeding your canine a small amount of plain boiled rice, oatmeal, plain yogurt, pumpkin, and boiled chicken to soothe their tummy and help bind the shrimp tails together, making them easier to pass. Do not induce your pup to vomit, as it can cause further irritation.

Your vet will conduct a physical examination, including X-rays and blood tests. Once the vet has a precise diagnosis, they can prescribe digestive support and pain relief drugs. In cases where an intestinal obstruction can’t be fixed by invasive treatment, your vet can recommend emergency surgery.

Which Parts of Shrimp Can I Feed my Dog?

Although shrimp tails can harm your pup, they can eat the meaty part after you’ve removed the shell, head, and tail. Remember to cut the shrimp meat into small chunks to make it easy to chew. Also, choose high-quality brands for your dog’s safety when buying shrimp.

How to Prepare Shrimp Tails for Your Dog?

If you still intend to feed your dog shrimp tails, there’s a way you can do so safely. Use the tails to make some tasty shrimp tails broth. This will give you a bowl of rich nutrients and flavors for your furry friend.

Boil the shrimp tails for 20 minutes and use the liquid on your dog’s kibble or serve it as a treat. Don’t add any seasonings, salt, or spices to the broth. Garlic and onions are toxic to dogs, while spices cause gut irritation. Also, shrimps are already high in sodium, so your dog doesn’t need the extra salt.

Alternatives to Shrimp Tails for Dogs

Not all types of fish are harmful to your dog. The following are suitable for your pup:

Recap: Can Dogs Eat Shrimp Tails?

Shrimp tails are a no-no for dogs. The risks associated with feeding your canine companion shrimp tails outweigh their benefits. Alternatives like cooked boneless sardines or salmon are a healthier and safer way to get your pooch the antioxidants, protein, phosphorus, and vitamins they need.

Further Reading:

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Shrimp?

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