Can dogs eat crab meat? The answer is, yes and no! Crab meat can offer a variety of benefits if added to a dog’s diet, but can sometimes present risks, depending on the dog.
Crabs are crustaceans that live in oceans and freshwater. They have a thick exoskeleton offering them protection from predators, and two large pincers that they use for defense.
Crab meat is full of nutrients that are good for your dog, however, shells should never be offered as part of your dog’s diet. Let’s have a look at what benefits feeding crab meat to your dog can have.
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Is crab good for dogs?
Crab meat is good for dogs in small portions and can be offered as part of a varied diet. As with any food offered to your dog, you should always monitor your dog post-ingestion to look for any signs of adverse reactions.
Benefits of feeding crab meat include:
Protein has several important roles within a dog’s body. It helps to form new skin cells, repair muscles, and support the immune system.
A lack of protein within a dogs diet can lead to symptoms such as anaemia (low red bloods cells), poor skin and coat appearance and anorexia (decreased appetite).
Vitamin B12 helps to sustain a healthy nervous system, as well as supporting brain function. It also helps with red blood cell production and aids in a healthy digestive system.
A lack of B12 within a dog’s diet can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and in extreme cases, seizures.
Zinc is an important mineral that is needed within a dog’s diet in order to support the immune system and help with thyroid function.
It also assists the body in chemical reactions, such as hormone and enzyme release.
A lack of zinc in a dogs diet can cause symptoms such as slow wound healing, immunocompromisation (more suseptible to illness) and decreased cell development.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Omega 3 is a fantastic fatty acid that can act as an anti-inflammatory, helping with ailments such as arthritis. It also helps support a healthy coat and promotes healthy skin.
A lack of Omega 3 can cause symptoms such as a dull coat, flaking skin, muscle weakness and delayed wound healing.
Risks of feeding crab meat
On the whole, crab meat can be given as long as the dog is monitored post ingestion, it has come from a reliable source, and is prepared in the correct way.
Never allow your dog to consume crab meat that has been left on the beach. Raw crab meat can be infested with parasites, and can potentially infect your dog. Intestinal parasites can feel very uncomfortable as well as cause gastro-intestinal upset.
Crab shells should not be ingested by a dog. No matter the size of the shell and regardless of the fact if they’re cooked or not, they are often sharp and can cause injury to the oesophagus, stomach, and intestines.
If you think your dog has ingested crab shell, contact your veterinary surgery for advice.
In some cases, dogs can be allergic to crab meat. If you have offered your dog crab meat for the first time, monitor them for any adverse reactions. Symptoms of allergic reactions include:
- Swollen eyes, face, neck, and ears
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased itching
If you think that your dog is having an allergic reaction to crab meat, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.
Crab also has naturally high levels of iodine. Whilst iodine is not toxic to dogs, large amounts can become hazardous for the body.
Iodine can affect thyroid function, causing an electrolyte imbalance within the body. High levels of iodine can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia (decreased appetite). In severe cases, excess iodine can induce a coma and possibly even death.
Crab meat can also contain high levels of sodium (salt). Whilst beneficial in small quantities, sodium can be harmful if too much is ingested. An excess of sodium within a dog’s body can cause symptoms such as dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and seizures.
If you are at all worried about your dog after they have ingested crab meat, contact your veterinary practice immediately.
Suggested reading: How many treats can my dog have a day?
Can dogs eat imitation crab?
You could assume that it will be safer for a dog to eat imitation crab, however, this is not the case. Dogs should not be fed imitation crab meat. As the name suggests, imitation crab does not contain crab meat! So, what does it contain?
Imitation crab is often a combination of different kinds of white fish, such as pollock, haddock, hake, and whiting. Whilst white fish is not necessarily bad for dogs, it’s the additives that come with them in imitation crab recipes that could cause harm.
The white fish is often blended with flour, spices, food coloring, and crab flavorings. The paste is then formed into crab sticks.
Some dogs can be allergic to seafood, so the fish found within imitation crab meat may cause an allergic reaction.
High levels of sodium, as well as seasonings and spices, make imitation crab meat something that should be crossed off your dog’s treat list.
Crab alternatives for dogs
Most complete dog food diets will already provide a dog with everything they need to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Foods that offer similar nutrients to crab meat include:
- Poultry such as chicken, turkey and duck offer high levels of protein
- Salmon, sardines, and anchovies offer high levels of omega 3, however, dogs should be monitored for allergic reactions. Omega-3 additives can also be added to a dogs diet in the form of oils and tablets. Speak to your veterinarian for more information
- Vitamin B12 can be found in a variety of foods such as eggs, poultry, and dairy products. Animal organ meat such as heart, kidney, and liver also contains high levels of vitamin B12
Final thoughts - can dogs eat crab?
On the whole, crab meat may not be the best additive for your dog’s diet. Caution should be taken when offering a dog crab meat for the first time.
If your dog has eaten crab meat before and not had an allergic reaction, then small amounts of crab meat may be beneficial due to good levels of protein, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, but while there are benefits, there may be alternative, safer treats that make a better choice.