Can Dogs Eat Crab? Is It Safe for Canine?


Crabs are among the seafood anyone would love to have at their dining table. They are a feast for the eyes, not to mention that they have a delightful smell that even your dog would die for.

However, there is more to crabs than their pleasant smell and appearance. They also boast an exquisite taste like no other. The delicate, slightly sweet, and well-rounded malty fish taste of crab is enough to make anyone go hungry, including your dog.

With this in mind though, the most important thing here is what crab can do for your pet. Are crabs safe for dogs? Would it make a difference to add crab meat to your puppy’s diet? We’ll try to look at the health benefits crab meat has for dogs and we’ll also discuss the potential risks involved in consuming it.

Can Dogs Eat Crab Meat?

Yes, as long as the dog does not have allergies to crabs. How will you know if your dog is allergic to crabs? This type of allergy is often characterized by itchy skin and an obsessive licking of the feet. Your dog may also develop infections on certain spots and around the ear area.

Crabs are one of the top causes for shellfish allergy, caused by the protein in them. Seafood allergies should not be taken lightly. If dog has already shown warning signs, it could be that he cannot tolerate the high protein content of crab meat and it is best to stop giving it to him and just offer something else that he usually consumes with no problems.

Ways to Serve Crabs for Dogs

  • Raw – when buying raw crab meat, make sure to consume it as soon as you buy it because they spoil quickly. Fresh raw crab normally has a sweet aroma. Never give your dog a raw crab meat that has a fishy, rancid, or strong smell. Fresh raw crab meat should be appealing to the nose.
  • Cooked – when sharing crab with your dog, skip the butter. The best kind of crab for canines is the simplest dish you could ever imagine. Simply steam the meat and don’t season it, it is safer and healthier that way. When steaming frozen crab legs, don’t cook them for too long because they are already pre-cooked when you buy them. Live crabs need to be cleaned before steaming them. If you prefer it, you may also clean them after steaming. Cleaning is very important because crabs contain spongy gills on both sides that should not be eaten by either humans or animals.
  • Canned – admit it, picking meat from a crab is extra work. If you don’t have a lot of time, just offer dog canned crab meat. Canned crab is fine, as long as it contain wholesome ingredients. There are budget-friendly canned crab meats that can be bought for around only $2-$4 but they may have lots of additives, and there are high-quality brands with a $15 price tag that taste just like the real thing. When buying canned crab meat, select those with no added liquid or salt. There are canned products on the market that offer an authentic crab flavor but can be very salty.

Safety and Precautions when Eating Crab

There is one more thing to keep an eye on aside from seafood allergies. Crab meat contains a high amount of iodine that can potentially harm dogs. Some dogs tend to have allergies to iodine. If you are unsure about iodine allergies in canines, better speak with your vet first if you are planning to introduce crab meat in puppy’s diet.

Benefits of Crab for Canines

Shellfish like crabs are generally low in calories and fat. Also, they are free from carbohydrates thus being an ideal food for canines trying to shed excess pounds. They can be a healthy staple for canines with obesity problems because they are a rich source of lean protein that is essential for building and repairing muscles and other body tissues.

Aside from these, here are some other ways dog can benefit from eating crab meat:

1.It boosts your dog’s metabolism. When your dog lacks appetite, the inviting aroma of crabs can make him crave.

2.It improves his immune function. The copper in crab meat does not only maintain the immune system but also plays a crucial role in producing cellular energy.

3.It contains essential vitamins and minerals. Crab meat provides vitamin B12, a micronutrient that is essential in fighting heart diseases and cancer.

4.Crab meat contains selenium that produces antioxidants in dog’s body. While enhancing your dog’s immune system, it also regenerates vitamins E and C in his body.

5.It helps in building strong bones. The vitamin C in crab meat is also good for the gums and the teeth, helping the gums stay tight to the teeth.

What To Do If Your Dog Ingested Crab Shells?

If you are pretty sure your dog ate crab shells but you don’t see anything to be concerned about, it’s likely that the shells have passed normally. However, it’s best to keep an eye on your dog because the warning signs may not show right away.

There are only two things to expect when a dog ingested crab shells, legs, or claws: they either got compacted or made their way to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

When shells get compacted, they would likely cause a blockage. You can easily tell that there is a blockage when your dog’s stomach is bloated. The only workaround for this is to bring him to an emergency vet.

Your pet doctor will perform an endoscopic retrieval to get rid of the crab shell from the dog’s upper digestive tract (mouth, stomach, and esophagus). This is done by inserting a very small camera in the mouth all the way to the stomach.

If the obstruction is no longer in his upper digestive tract, it is possible that it is already blocking the dog’s intestine. The doctor will likely conduct surgery to remove the foreign object from the dog’s body.

When there is no blockage, the sharp edges of the shells could tear your dog’s GI. Crab shells present the risk of having sharp edges so you must not induce vomiting. Doing so will only cause further harm and would likely cause a throat laceration.

If surgery is not possible, the last resort is giving the dog Vaseline sandwiches. Petroleum jelly is definitely safe for dogs in reasonable quantities and works as a natural laxative.

Can Dogs Eat Imitation Crab Meat?

Yes, but only from time to time. Imitation crab meat might look like the real thing and your dog might even like the taste but it does not offer the same nutrients as real crab meat. Truth is, imitation crab meat does not contain any crab at all. Also known as seafood sticks, imitation crab meat is made using surimi.

Surimi is a paste made from either meat or fish, most often from Alaska Pollock. It is basically minced white fish drained of water. Surimi is commonly used in making sushi, another dish most dogs love.

Imitation crab meat is usually found in crab Rangoon, California rolls, and crab cakes. There is quite a plethora of surimi-based products being sold in local supermarkets. This type of products is more popular than the real thing because they are cheaper.

Alaska Pollock is good for dogs. This nutrient-dense fish is known to combat heart disease because of its omega-3 fatty acids and is an excellent source of protein for dogs. It is a wholesome treat for canines with obesity problems because Pollock fish is generally low in fat.

You should not worry about giving your dog Pollock fish. The real concern in giving crab sticks to dogs is the fact that surimi already contains lots of additives.

Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine, said the harmful food additives used in the imitation crab meat can trigger diseases like inflammation and a leaky gut. Some crab stick brands contain tons of sugar and starch. Manufacturers add these ingredients to hold the crab meat in shape.

Below are the typical ingredients of fake crab meat:

  • Alaska Pollock
  • Water
  • Corn starch
  • Crab extracts
  • Refined fish oil
  • Sodium pyrophosphate

From this list, the ingredient that caught our attention is sodium pyrophosphate. This widely used food additive is added to keep everything together. But in case you were not aware of it, it can be twice as poisonous as table salt. This explains why eating food with a lot of Sodium Pyrophosphate leaves you with an aching stomach.

One more thing to be concerned about crab sticks is the fact that they are high in carbs with very little fiber. If your dog is always constipated, it would not help to give him fake crab meat because it will only give him a harder time defecating.

A three-ounce serving of real crab meat does not contain any carbohydrates or sugar. The same amount of imitation crab meat has as much as 13 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar.

In terms of the protein content, the amount is not even close to the protein content of real crab meat. Imitation crab meat only has 6 grams of protein while the authentic one has 16 grams. The potassium content of crab sticks is not even half of the one in the real thing. Every three ounces of imitation crab meat have 77 mg potassium, way lower compared to the 223 mg potassium in authentic crab meat.


Real crab meat is beneficial for dogs when given in moderation. It aids in weight loss, it can boost metabolism, and it lowers blood pressure. Imitation crab meat is non-toxic for canines but it’s best to avoid it as much as possible as it contains additives that may harm your pet.

Never let your pets have access to your garbage bins. No matter how careful you are in giving food to them, some dogs just cannot let go of the habit of raiding the trash. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Some dogs would not even show tendencies of eating anything but the next thing you know, you’re already in the ER with them because of an intestinal blockage.


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