Can I Give My Dog Prawns?
There are only a handful of edible things that inspire quite so much passion as seafood. Though sweets, such as cakes and cookies, and party foods, like pizza and nachos, are almost universally loved, seafood is revered by its fans and reviled by its critics. If we ourselves are not seafood lovers, we probably live with someone who does, and we are more than familiar with the way that fish fanatics place their favorite foods on pedestals. However, two of the most popular ocean-dwelling animals among seafood fans aren’t even fish: shrimp and prawns.
Though shrimp and prawns are, biologically, two different creatures, we often use the terms interchangeably. After all, they are both crustaceans. They both have an even ten legs. They both come in various sizes and they both live in the same environments, and they taste almost identical. Whether your prawns are actually shrimp or not, they are in many popular party dishes. But is it okay to share them with your pets? We constantly hear conflicting information about seafood, both pertaining to its healthiness and its sustainability, so many of us have no idea which seafood items are appropriate for our pets! So, can dogs have prawns?
Yes, dogs can eat fully cooked prawns on occasion—if your pooch likes seafood as much as you do, fresh prawns are considered a safe treat option by most sources. As a pet parent, you should always be mindful of food allergies or intolerances (seafood is one of the most common pet allergens!), but most dogs can tolerate small quantities of prawns without suffering from any severe or lasting health problems. Prawns can be a nutritious, savory snack for healthy adult dogs without food allergies. If your dog has had any food intolerances in the past, ask a vet before giving them seafood.
Prawns do not offer the same near-magical health benefits of many plant superfoods (unfortunately, meat has no dietary fiber), but they may offer a boost of certain key nutrients, including phosphorous and Vitamin B12. Seafood is often praised for its high protein content, and prawns are no different—their little bodies are full of essential amino acids that may help your dog meet their daily protein needs. The protein in prawns (and in all foods) is built from individual amino acids that have been strung into long chains.
When your dog eats protein, their bodies break up these chains into their individual amino acids, which are then used as the building blocks for nearly every part of their body. Carbohydrates serve as the fuel that keeps Fido moving, but proteins provide the stuff that their body is made out of! Dogs use the amino acids they eat in order to build and repair muscles (including the heart muscle), skin, fur, and nails.
Without adequate protein intake, these structures can’t repair themselves properly, and your poor pooch may exhibit signs of wear and tear like hair loss and skin problems. Severe protein deficiency can also compromise your dog’s immune system, causing an increased risk of infection. Prawns are a protein-rich supplement that, in conjunction with an overall healthy diet, may protect against protein deficiency.
Pet parents are advised, however, not to diagnose their dogs with protein deficiency—if you believe that your dog is suffering from any kind of nutritional imbalance, it is imperative that you seek veterinary care. Your vet will be able to determine not only whether their symptoms are, in fact, caused by a protein deficiency, but also whether or not this protein deficiency is a result of poor diet. If your canine companion has difficulty absorbing protein, feeding them prawns will do little to help their situation!
Things to Consider
Only feed fresh prawns to your pet after they have been shelled and thoroughly cooked. Raw seafood of any kind is at a high risk of contamination—uncooked prawns are a breeding ground for potentially dangerous bacteria and parasites. Cooking prawns well enough to kill any pathogens is the only way to make sure that they are sterile and safe enough for canine consumption. Unshelled prawns are dangerous, too, because the indigestible shells may cause blockages that can permanently damage digestive organs.
In addition, some dogs suffer from food allergies or intolerances that can make prawns unsafe. When introducing prawns into your dog’s diet, start off by giving them a small taste, then wait 48 hours to see how they respond. If they handle it well, they should be able to eat prawns on occasion. If they grow ill, however, leave prawns off their plate for good. If their symptoms last, see a vet.
Prawns are generally considered a safe supplementary food for healthy adult dogs without food intolerances. They are high in nutrients like Vitamin B12, phosphorous, and protein that can help support overall health. Even so, pet parents should always practice moderation, because prawns also contain cholesterol, sodium, and other nutrients that can cause problems in large quantities.