Can Dogs Eat Prawns? Let's Explore The Benefits
by Tudor Nikolas on Jul 26, 2023.
This article is part of our series on safe human food options for dogs, and we will be answering the question of "Can dogs eat prawns?". Yes, prawns are safe for dogs as long as they are being had in moderation.
About a couple of weeks ago, our family labrador, Charlie, was just glancing at us as we were having this prawn starter in the garden. I still remember that look!
Charlie hadn't had prawns up to that point; at least not as far as I know. I mean, he may have snatched some off the table when we weren't looking but at least he was never caught doing it!
So that's when I decided to alleviate his desire and offer him a couple of prawns on the spot. Luckily I knew that prawns are safe for dogs and giving him two from our starter was not going to be unsafe for him.
But are all prawns safe? That pretty much depends on how they are prepared.
Prawns Safety and Sustainability
Prawns can be divided into wild prawns or farmed. The majority of farmed prawns come from Asia, specifically China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. These countries have huge parts of their industry dedicated to prawn farming. In addition, parts of Mexico have now also started farming large amounts of prawns, as it can be a lucrative business.
This means that there is little regulation in the area and according to Greenpeace, the use of antibiotics and unruly practices is thriving in the farmed prawns from these countries. One therefore has to be very cautious when purchasing farmed prawns.
Benefits of Prawns for Dogs
Wild prawns that are caught by trawlers/ small nets are a better nutritional and moral choice for both your diet and your dog's!
These tend to be higher in the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, as shown in the table below.
Nutritional Content of Prawns
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Total Fat||0.3 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 g|
|Total Carbohydrates||0.9 g|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||240 mg|
Prawns also don't contain any sugars or fiber. As you can see, they are very rich in protein and also contain a good amount of calcium, some iron and omega 3!
Omega 3, a primary component of fish oil is important as it helps promote healthy joints, brain and immune system function. We now know that fish oil is also recommended for dogs and it has been clinically proven to reduce inflammation, in both dogs and humans.
The disadvantages of prawns are that they can have a hefty amount of salt (sodium) and there is also a bit of cholesterol. As we have learnt from my previous analysis on whether dogs can eat crisps, excess sodium can be quite harmful to dogs. I would say that anything over 200mg of salt per day is too much for a dog.
However, these values are per 100g so one or two prawns for your dog will be just fine.
The other super important factor is how your prawns are cooked...
We usually have our prawns cooked with spices, garlic, and butter. These foods can be harmful to dogs. For instance, garlic and onions are toxic to dogs and can cause anemia, and butter is high in fat which can contribute to obesity and pancreatitis.
Can Dogs Eat Prawns That Are Fried?
Yes, but the best way to cook your prawns for your dog, if you buy them raw is to have them boiled and unseasoned.
Devein and De-shell
Prawns have a thin, hard outer shell that needs to be removed, including head, tail and legs. The dark vein running along the prawn's back should also be removed, as it can contain grit, although this is more optional than a strict requirement.
Neither of these are good for dogs, and us humans wouldn't eat them either.
Cook by Boiling
The safest way to cook prawns for your dog is by boiling them. Place the cleaned prawns in a pot of boiling, unseasoned/ unsalted water.
You can boil the prawns for about 3-4 minutes, or until they turn opaque and a coral pink colour.
Serving the Prawns
Finally, allow them to cool down before serving them to your dog. Make sure to chop them into appropriately sized pieces based on your dog's size to prevent choking.
I would generally avoid frying the prawns as this can add to their fat and cholesterol content. Boiling them is the most natural way to cook them either from frozen or if you buy them fresh.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Prawns?
I wouldn't recommend giving your dog raw prawns. Same as with other raw meat, there can be particular bacteria present in meat, that would otherwise be killed off by boiling.
If you really are keen to give your dog raw prawns, I would advise to always check with your local vet first.
What About Dry Prawns?
Can dogs eat prawns that have already been cooked, dried and packed? Yes and no.
The advantage here is that there is less work for you, so you can feed them straight from the packet.
However, in most cases there is a lot of extra processing done to make the prawns tasty. This can involve adding seasonings, flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate or preservatives to make them last longer. All of these tend to be bad for your dog.
Can Puppies Eat Prawns?
Yes, same as with adult dogs, prawns can be given to puppies. They make excellent occasional snacks and treats. Their high omega 3 and protein content plays a key role in their early development and growth.
I would however avoid raw prawns in puppies because their gut is still not fully developed so they will have a more sensitive digestive system. They are also more likely to get unwell if the prawns are not very fresh or if any bacteria in them.
If you're going to feed prawns to your puppy, also make sure that you fully take off the hard case and that you've cut them into small enough pieces. The last thing you want is to cause choking or a blockage somewhere in the gut. However, if the prawns are cooked properly and cut into small pieces, you should be good to go.
So just to conclude; yes, dogs can eat prawns and the best way to prepare this wonderful treat for them is to buy them fresh (or frozen) and to boil them yourself at home. Avoid adding salt or other seasonings and feed them in moderation taking into account the nutrition table above.
For another wonderful snack that your dog or puppy would love, why not try some dragon fruit? Read my next article on how to feed dragon fruit to your dog.