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Can dogs eat crab?

Crab on a plate

Some people believe that dogs can eat anything—and while they might try to, it doesn’t mean that anything and everything is good for them. Of course, dog owners may also be guilty of feeding their pup the wrong food by accident. It’s easy enough to serve up something you think is safe and then find out later it’s a bad idea!

Thankfully, most dog owners understand how important it is to feed their pup the right foods. What many don’t realize is just how many 'human' foods dogs can eat. Adding things like fruits and vegetables to your dog's diet can offer exceptional health benefits and ensure he is receiving all the nutrients he needs. 

And when it comes to human food for dogs, one category that receives some attention is seafood. We know that dogs can eat fish like sardines, but what about some of the items that are most popular with humans—like crab. 

Crabs are sea creatures known as crustaceans. They have flat round bodies covered by shells, and their meat is prized for its soft texture and sweet taste. But can dogs eat crab?

Can dogs eat crab meat?

Yes, dogs can eat crab. While it safe for dogs, there are some precautions you must take before you serve up this tasty little creature.

In most cases, fresh crab meat is not a toxic food for dogs, as long as the shell is removed! It’s also important to note that some dogs can be allergic to shellfish. Aside from that, crab is a delicious treat for your doggo. It can even harbor a few health benefits. 

The benefits of giving your dog crab

As a lean meat, crab is an excellent source of protein for your dog. It’s also rich in various vitamins and minerals that can contribute to his overall health and wellbeing. 

Crab is a good source of protein

Fresh crab is a delicious form of protein. Crab meat is known to contain almost as much protein per 100 grams as other meats, but has significantly less saturated fat. It also contains no connective tissue, so it’s soft and easy to chew. This makes it great for older dogs who have trouble with their teeth. It’s also highly digestible. 

Crab meat is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids

The omega-3 polyunsaturated acids in crab meat are highly beneficial to dogs of all ages. These healthy fats help to reduce inflammation and provide protection from heart disease. They also help keep his brain and joints in good working order.  Some research suggests that omega 3 may even help to inhibit aggressive behavior.

Long-chain fatty acids are even more beneficial to canine health because they can be used immediately. Short-chain omega 3s (found in vegetables and oils) must be converted to the long-chain form first, which some dog’s bodies aren’t very good at.

Crab meat contains selenium 

Shellfish in general are an excellent source of minerals, but crab meat is particularly rich in selenium. It contains three times the amount of selenium in cod and 12 times that of beef!

Selenium plays a key role in a doggo’s antioxidant defense system by fighting off damage caused by free radicals. This helps to protect his cells and tissues.

Selenium is also vital to the healthy functioning of the immune system, hormone metabolism, and proper DNA synthesis. 

Crab meat contains riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is required for the production of healthy red blood cells and normal growth. It’s also involved in energy production and the maintenance of the nervous system. For this reason, dogs that are very active may have an increased requirement of riboflavin in their diet. 

In the digestive system, riboflavin plays an important role in iron absorption. It also supports the activity of antioxidants.

Crab provides copper and phosphorus 

Crab meat contains nearly 30 times the copper found in cod and around 50 times that of salmon, chicken, and beef. Copper is vital for the absorption and metabolism of iron. It’s also involved in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of bones, blood vessels, and nerves. It helps keep your doggo’s immune system functioning properly. 

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It’s a major component of bones and teeth, which makes it important in skeletal health and development. Phosphorus is also involved in kidney function, cell growth, and heart muscle contraction. 

Can crab be bad for dogs?

It’s very important to know the difference between real crab meat and imitation crab meat. The imitation variety is known as surimi and is used in crab sticks. It is simply processed fish meat. Worse, it contains artificial additives such as flavor enhancers, food colorings, and preservatives. These are not good for your dog!

Crab is also naturally high in iodine and sodium, which may not be beneficial to your dog in large quantities. 

Dogs should never eat crab shells. Crab shells are not edible and can be extremely dangerous. They can break into shards when chewed and lead to choking or even internal injuries.

Feeding your dog crab

First and foremost, remove the shell! The only part of the crab that should be eaten is the soft flesh inside the main body and within each leg. 

Take care to remove the flesh so that it contains no shell fragments. It’s also best to cook the crab meat before serving it to your dog. Feed him only small amounts at a time, and watch for any adverse reaction.

Learn more about what dogs can and can't eat:

The article was written by Katie Stone on December 23, 2020.

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