Can Dogs Eat Shellfish? 7 Secrets Revealed

Should you feed your dog (who, let’s be honest, has probably been staring at you hungrily as you eat) the shellfish you couldn’t finish after a delicious dinner?

In a nutshell, yes, shellfish is safe for canine consumption on occasion. It should be cooked properly and never make up a significant portion of their diet.

Find out if this is something you want to feed your dog and, if so, how to safely prepare it by learning more about the food.

Can Dogs Eat Shellfish?

In a nutshell, yes, dogs can safely consume shellfish. In addition to a good source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals like zinc and iron, shellfish is a healthy addition to a dog’s diet.

While your dog may enjoy shellfish, it’s best not to give it raw shells and to always break them up before serving them.

Before feeding your dog any human food, including seafood, you should always check with your regular vet. What you should know about feeding your dog shellfish.

What’s good about shellfish for dogs?

Dog Eating Snail_shutterstock_Yekatseryna Netuk

Shrimp, oysters, mussels, lobster, scallops, clams, and crab are all examples of shellfish.

Shrimp is a great source of protein but is low in fat. You can use them as pill pockets because dogs love the taste of them and it will be hard for them to tell the difference between a treat and a pill.

Oysters, clams, and mussels are bivalve mollusks that are packed with protein as well as a plethora of other nutrients, including iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.

They are low on the food chain and thus less likely to be contaminated with heavy metals than, say, tuna.

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Green-lipped mussels are a popular ingredient in premium dog food and treats.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in this variety of mussel can help maintain the health of your dog’s skin and coat.

Moreover, as a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine, they can alleviate joint pain and facilitate movement.

What’s bad about shellfish for dogs?

E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and vibrio are just some of the bacteria that can be found in uncooked shellfish. If you feed your dog raw shellfish, they may experience severe stomach distress.

To eat, bivalves filter food through their shells. Because of this, they can sometimes take on the toxicity of the algae they eat.

Eating raw or undercooked shellfish containing this neurotoxin can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in both humans and canines. If you want to avoid eating tainted shellfish, make sure to buy them from a reputable vendor who conducts quality assurance checks.


In order to maximize their yield, shrimp farmers often resort to the use of disinfectants, antibiotics, and pesticides to keep disease at bay during the intensive farming process. Since farmed shellfish isn’t always labeled as such, it’s important to ask your seafood vendor if they can guarantee their shrimp came from a sustainable wild source.

Neither you nor your dog will benefit from eating lobster because of its high fat and sodium content. Iodine is another nutrient your dog doesn’t need in large quantities, but it can be found in high concentrations in crabmeat.

Can dogs be allergic to shellfish?

Dogs typically aren’t allergic to a variety of foods, and shellfish isn’t one of those foods. Chicken, beef, dairy, and eggs are the four recommended food groups by the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. Although shellfish allergies in dogs are extremely uncommon, it is still possible that your dog could experience an adverse reaction if exposed to shellfish.

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Itchy or inflamed skin and stomach problems like vomiting and diarrhea are warning signs.

How to prepare shellfish for your dog

If you want to feed your dog shellfish, make sure you cook it thoroughly first. We’ve already established that E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and vibrio are just some of the bacteria that can be found in raw shellfish.

Any shellfish that has been seasoned with oil, salt, pepper, or other spices is not a good choice if you want to feed your dog table scraps.

Make sure to remove the shell, legs, and tail before feeding your dog any cooked shrimp, crab, or lobster. These may have jagged edges that cause digestive tract irritation in your dog.


Feed your dog a small amount of cooked shellfish like mussels, clams, or scallops. Even though we humans enjoy raw oysters, you shouldn’t give them to your dog in the same form. We advise you to forego oysters altogether unless you plan on cooking them thoroughly.

Never give your dog canned or jarred shellfish, even if it’s been pickled.

How Can I Safely Give Shellfish To My Dog?

Cooked shellfish is the only safe option for canine consumption. Even if raw shellfish aren’t toxic to dogs, they pose a greater risk of illness when consumed due to the presence of harmful bacteria.

It’s easy to prepare shellfish for your dog. Any type of shellfish is best when steamed alone. When cooking shellfish for your dog, there should be no added salt, herbs, or spices.

In addition, if you’re thinking about giving your dog canned shellfish, it’s important to read the label carefully and take note of any extra sodium or preservatives that may have been added.

While shellfish can make for a tasty treat, it’s not recommended as a regular part of your dog’s diet. A precise guideline for how much shellfish your dog can safely eat can be formulated with the help of your vet.

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How much shellfish should you feed your dog?

To avoid over-nutritionalizing your dog, only give them a small amount of cooked shellfish as a treat occasionally.

As a special treat, you need only a single shrimp, mussel, or tiny bit of crabmeat. Maintain close vigilance for the next 24 hours to detect any signs of an allergic reaction or gastrointestinal distress in your dog.

Plate of steamed crayfish, giant river prawn, mussel, giant crab and fresh oyster. Seafood buffet line.

Dogs can benefit from eating shellfish if you purchase treats or food formulated especially for canines. When you buy freeze-dried whole green-lipped mussels, you don’t have to worry about cleaning or preparing them before feeding them to your dog.

You could also choose a dog food like Gentle Giants, which features a variety of nutritious seafood like green-lipped mussels. Supplements, such as Super Snouts Joint Powder Supplement, can be purchased and added to your dog’s regular diet.

Wrapping it up

Your dog probably doesn’t need to eat shellfish, but it’s okay if they find a dropped piece of cooked shellfish and snack on it. You should only feed your dog small amounts of thoroughly cooked shellfish that you purchased from a reputable source.

Except for green-lipped mussels, which have omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin, and glucosamine, no other seafood comes close.

If your dog has painful, inflamed joints or if your veterinarian has suggested adding something to your dog’s diet to improve the condition of his coat and skin, this may be a good option.

The good news is that green-lipped mussels can be found in a variety of treats, dietary supplements, and even dog food.

When it comes to feeding your dog shellfish, we think this is the most foolproof method because you can rest assured that the food has been properly prepared and will contribute to your dog’s overall health and vitality.

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