Can Dogs Eat Crab Meat? (Explained)

Can Dogs Eat Crab Meat? Photo of a dog licking with a dish of crab meat by its side

Want to share some crab meat with your dog? But, can dogs eat crab meat? You’ll want to know how to do it safely and what benefits it’ll give them! We’ve got it all waiting below.

Cooked crab meat is a safe choice to give your dog, as it has lots of beneficial nutrients for their health. Due to its naturally high salt content, you’ll want to keep portions very small and skip seasonings and other toppings off for your dog’s health.If your dog has never had crab meat before, consider giving him just a lick first to see if he is allergic to it. Lastly, never feed your dog shelled crab meat.

Can I feed my dog crab meat?

As mentioned in the introduction, crab meat is considered safe for your dog, and it is actually a good source of lean protein. You will want to be careful not to feed just any crab meat to your dog, though, since there can sometimes be more harm than good. These harms include:

  • Parasites from the crab meat
  • Seasonings added for human taste buds
  • Sauces or marinades 

Parasites from the crab meat

Because dogs have pretty impressive digestive systems, it’s easy to assume that they cane at raw meat or unprocessed meat, but this isn’t a good idea. The crab meat can be laden with parasites and bacteria, especially if you catch your own at the beach. These can transfer directly to your dog and leave you with an expensive vet bill to treat it.

This is why crab meat is kept at a specific temperature in restaurants and stores, both when it is raw and then when it is cooked. Don’t feed your dog raw crab meat from the beach or other places like this.

Seasonings added for human taste buds

When crab meat is prepared for humans, it’s seasoned for humans. It sounds silly, of course, but dog tastebuds are different. Dogs enjoy plain crab meat versus spiced. Also, many human spices and seasonings are unsafe for dogs, so it can be dangerous for dogs to eat crab purchased pre-seasoned or cooked by someone not making it for the dog.

Sauces or marinades 

While many will keep crab meat a simple blend of seasonings, some will marinade or coat it in sauces. Of course, these are intended to be potent, so they’ll be stronger in the crab meat itself.

Even if you were to hypothetically wipe the sauce or marinade off the crab meat, the seasonings and flavors would be laced throughout the meat itself, putting your dog at risk. 

Small amounts of cooked, plain, unseasoned crab meat are the best choice for your dog’s maximum health benefits and minimal health risks.

What happens if dogs eat crab meat?

If your dog eats crab meat prepared properly for them, they’ll enjoy all of the pros and minimal, and perhaps none of the cons. We’ll talk about those in a bit.

If your dog eats crab meat that is not prepared specifically for them, they can be at risk of two main reactions. These are indigestion and dehydration, and a potentially toxic reaction.

Indigestion will lead to inflammation in your dog’s stomach and gut as they digest the ingredients. This will most likely always lead to diarrhea and potentially vomiting. The food will be too rich for their sensitive stomachs, and it will be very uncomfortable to digest for them.

These symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting quickly lead to dehydration, which is especially common in dogs who can’t drink or eat anything else. While this seems mild, dehydration can quickly become fatal in dogs. You will need to know when to intervene by getting them to an emergency vet.

Can dogs eat cooked crab meat?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked crab meat as long as it has been prepared with minimal seasonings. Never feed your dog raw crab meat, and even when it is cooked and prepared properly, feed it to them in small services to prevent slat toxicity.

Dogs can’t tolerate large amounts of salt, and crab meat is, of course, salty in and of itself. Salt toxicity can shut down organs if it goes undetected, so this is why portioning is so essential!

Can dogs eat crab fat?

Crab fat is delicious and loaded with flavor. Deliberately feeding crab fat to dogs is not a good idea. It delivers no health benefits and can put dogs are at risk for obesity and salt toxicity. Focus on pure crab meat for dogs with no fat.

Can dogs eat imitation crab meat?

Imitation crab meat is made from fish and filler and seasoned to get it as close to actual crab meat as possible. All of these things make it high-risk for your dogs. There is no nutritional benefit to eating imitation crab meat and a lot of risks, so it’s best to steer entirely clear of it!

Photo of a dog carrying a live crab on his mouth on the beach.

Pros and cons of crab meat for dogs

To help you understand some more detail about those risks, in clear blacked white, here are pros and cons to help you make your decision!

Pros of crab meat

  • It’s a great source of lean protein
  • It has lots of minerals and vitamins
  • It’s loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids

Cons of crab meat

  • It has a lot of salt in it
  • The seasonings can upset your dog’s stomach
  • It can be hard to separate from crab fat

Experts agree that crab meat is an excellent choice for dogs in small servings occasionally. The goal is to make sure that you serve it properly and pay attention to portion sizes.

You’ll want to check with your vet on information specific to your dog’s size and portioning. They’ll be able to give you the exact numbers to make your decision on portion sizes.

How to prepare crab meat for dogs

When you’re ready to tie on your apron and make your dog some crab meat that is just right for them, you’ll want to remember not to season it at all, keep the portions small, and always cook it thoroughly, which we’ve already talked about.

But there is also another thing to think about with crab meat: shells. Never, ever give your dog crab meat in the shell. Whether it’s a tiny fragment or an entire crab leg, always be sure that you have gotten the meat out of the shell, and there’s no chance of them eating a shell.

Humans will often realize they’ve eaten the shell and spit it out carefully. Dog’s won’t pause long enough to notice and will swallow it.

The shell is sharp and very dense so that it won’t break down in your dog’s stomach. S it digests, it will scrape along with your dog’s innards and can easily scratch and even perforate your dog’s digestive tract! This can cause issues like infections and minor bleeds. 

It can cause a major bleed in rare cases, requiring emergency surgery. There is also the potential that it might get stuck in your dog’s tract and cause an obstruction which will also require emergency surgery.

Can dogs eat crabs on the beach?

No, dogs should never eat crabs on the beach. Between the shell and the fact that it’s been sitting out in the heat and seawater for a long time, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Can dogs eat crab shells

No, dogs should never eat crab shells for the reasons discussed above. This is a serious health risk that can take a few hours to show up as far as symptoms. Never let your dog eat or even get access to a crab shell.

My dog ate a crab shell what do I do?

If you’re sure that your dog has eaten or swallowed a crab shell in any form, the best thing to do is immediately bring your dog to the vet. The strength and sharpness of the shell make this a severe health hazard. The sooner your vet intervenes to detect what’s going on, the better.

If it’s a tiny piece, you can choose to wait and see if any symptoms arise from it, but it’s not recommended.

Will crab legs hurt my dog?

If the legs are still shelled, as they often are, yes. There is also a lot of fat in crab legs, so they aren’t your best choice for dogs! Go for the flakes of lean meat!

Can my dog eat crab cakes?

Unless you are explicitly cooking with a dog-safe recipe, you shouldn’t feed your dog crab cakes. They have ingredients in them other than the crab and lots of seasonings. These are all dangerous or not recommended, at the least, for dogs.

Can my dog eat crab sushi?

Dogs should avoid crab sushi for the same reasons as crab cakes. Unless, again, you are making them specifically with a dog-safe recipe. You’ll also need to cook the crab before you give it to your dog.

Can my dog eat crab rangoon?

As you can probably guess, this is the same as above! You can get away with it if you are making them just with plain crab and tiny amounts of cheese. However, it’s not recommended. There is no nutrition benefit in it for dogs, anyway.

The best way to give crab to my dog

If you really want to share this food with your dog safely, the best option is to get treats or food types that use crab meat. It’s a popular ingredient in many high-end dog foods, after all.

The other way is to give them cooked, fresh flakes of white crab meat. One or two, every once in a while, is safe. You can also mix this with their regular food as a hidden surprise!

In conclusion

You can occasionally feed your dog cooked, plain small amounts of crab meat. It has many health benefits, so it’s a great treat option. Make sure to avoid shells and raw meat, and additional seasoning. It’s also a good idea to check for an allergy before giving your dog a lot of it.

Dogs can safely eat carefully cooked and small amounts of crab meat as a pleasant surprise. Just make sure you keep it safe and delicious for your dog’s health! Know someone who loves to make their dog happy? Share this with them!

Photo of author
Dog Advisory Council

A team whose main goal is to serve knowledge about the canine world. Together since 2012, we thrive to transform and inform, so each dog can live a happy and fulfilling life. Read more about us.