Can Dogs Eat Crawfish?

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They swim, but they are not actually fish; They walk forward and swim backward but are not shrimps. They have shells, but they are not crabs. So, what are they?

The answer is crawfish — a kind of freshwater crustacean closely related to lobsters, shrimps, and crabs. They are covered with blue, green, white, and yellow. But when boiled, they turn into a bright-red outside with a slice of juicy meat inside.

They say love is someone who peels crawfish for you. But would you peel a crawfish for your dog? Let’s reserve our hypothetical guesses first; In this article, we will gather facts about crawfishes and how to prepare them for your dog’s appetite!

What are Crawfish? 

Crawfish is a distinguishable food that is often found in the Southern part of the United States. They are often called “mudbugs” or “crayfish” — whatever you want to call them, they are deliciously boiled and prepared with Old Bay seasoning or even just plain butter! They make an excellent appetizer for any family gathering or event.

Don’t confuse yourself — a crawfish is not a fish with a tail and fins — it is a crustacean closely related to a lobster, shrimp, or crab. Also, they often resemble natural colors like blue, red, and green.

Crawfishes, on the other hand, can only survive in freshwater. That’s why they expire, having no access to fresh water.

Even though crawfish is an under-appreciated food, it still possesses amazing nutritional facts! Crawfish contains high amounts of protein with low-fat content.

It also provides some Vitamin A, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and other minerals.

Food family of Crawfish 

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Crawfishes belong to freshwater crustaceans — a group of species resembling shrimp, lobster, and crabs. Crawfishes are also known as mudbugs because they live in the soil of freshwater sources like lakes, ponds, or rivers that contain creeks.

Freshwater crustaceans share unique characteristics: they breathe through gills. In addition, their bodies are covered with carapace or exoskeleton, identifying as omnivores. Hence, this food family provides a rich source of protein, minerals, and vitamins.

Crawfishes and other freshwater crustaceans are best cooked when alive. The meat within is a lot more tender and sweet when cooked fresh. Therefore, they are best served when boiled or fried with butter, garlic, and lemon.

With that being said, can we say that crawfish are safe for dogs?

Can dogs eat Crawfish? 

Crawfish are safe for dogs to eat. And we affirm that you can prepare this as your dog’s meal. Crawfish contains high amounts of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. All these components are essential nutrients for your dog to grow its muscles and remain healthy.

In addition, crawfish contains a low fat, an ideal source for dogs who need to lose weight or have heart problems. However, there’s also a downside: high levels of phosphorus that can lead to severe problems like kidney failure.

So, we formulated the best ways to feed your dogs with crawfish following these best ways:

Best Ways to Feed your Dogs with Crawfish

Permanently remove the shells.

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Dogs need to consume crawfish with shells. Remember that these crustaceans contain sharp spines on their back and legs, which can harm your dog’s mouth, throat, and even the esophagus.

These spines might be hard to detect if it was not appropriately peeled during the cooking time — so make sure you remove the shells before feeding it to your dog.

Give a small portion at a time.

Since crawfish is rich in proteins and minerals, dogs might have trouble digesting all of its nutrients if consumed too much or too fast. Therefore, giving smaller amounts of this food is crucial rather than serving more significant portions that can overwhelm your pet’s stomach.

Give a small portion, but avoid giving too much at once — give them enough time to digest and metabolize the food you fed them with.

Disregard cooking methods for dogs that are picky eaters

Some pet owners complain about their pets being picky eaters. For example, they cannot even consume crawfish if it is not cooked as they usually eat. This is a common problem among dogs who are still new to this kind of food or those fed with cat and dog foods until now.

So, if your pet does not want to eat crawfish even after it has been boiled perfectly, then you might need a different method for them to eat this.

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Reasons Why Dogs Can Eat Crawfish

Crawfishes serve a better purpose for your dog’s health. If you don’t have any idea why dogs can eat crawfish, we list them down for you:

Source of Protein and Vitamin A 

Crawfishes are good protein sources and vitamin A. Crawfish have a lean and high protein content (18g of protein per 100g). They also contain Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and Niacin — three essential nutrients that help dogs function correctly.

Source of Minerals

Crawfishes are also rich in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals help your dog’s body to produce red blood cells that can carry oxygen throughout the whole body.

They also maintain nerve function, muscle contractions, and bone structure.

Source of Phosphorus 

Unfortunately, crawfish are also rich in phosphorus. This mineral is essential for your dog, but too much of it can lead to severe problems like kidney failure.

So take note that if you are going to feed crawfish as meal additions, make sure not to give them more than ten percent of the total amount they eat daily — this will ensure no harm done and allow them to absorb these nutrients.

High in Vitamin B12 

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Crawfish is also rich in vitamin B12 — an essential nutrient that helps your dog’s body produce red blood cells and maintain nerve function, muscle contractions, and bone structure.

This makes crawfish a good addition for dogs who have heart problems or those who suffer from anemia.

Possible Concerns When Eating a Crawfish 

Too, there are downsides to letting your dog eat crawfish. This section lists possible long-term concerns your dog may experience:

Intestinal Parasites

When not appropriately cooked, crawfishes carry intestinal parasites — which can cause anemia and other digestive problems. If you see your dog having diarrhea after eating this, there is a high chance that they have been infected with parasites — so it is best to consult the vet immediately.

Extremely Sharp Spines 

As we mentioned earlier, crawfish have extremely sharp spines on their back and legs, which can hurt your dog’s mouth, throat, and esophagus.

Removing the shells carefully before cooking or serving them as food for dogs can be dangerous if not done correctly.

Crawfish Allergies 

There are also cases that some dogs develop allergies when they eat crawfish. If you notice changes on their skin like rashes, hives, and itches, then consult the vet immediately.

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Signs your dog is sick from eating Crawfish

Have you checked some apparent signs after your dog has eaten crawfish? This time, you have to take note of these signs if your dog is sick after eating crawfish:

Changes in Appetite 

If you notice changes in their behavior such as loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting — then it’s best to consult the vet immediately. These symptoms may indicate that they have an upset stomach or intestinal problems from overeating crawfish.

In this case, your dog might have induced bacteria or parasites from the crawfish.

Increased Water Intake 

Check for other symptoms like increased water intake and frequent trips to pee — these are signs that your dog’s kidneys may be having a hard time filtering out waste materials in their body due to too much phosphorus found on crawfishes.

In this case, you might have given them more than ten percent of the total amount they eat daily.

Coughing and Sneezing 

If your dog coughs or sneezes when eating crawfish, it’s best to consult with a vet, for this may be an allergic reaction from their body towards crawfish proteins. In some cases, dogs who have asthma react worse due to too much protein intake.

What to do if your dog is sick from eating Crawfish?

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Getting worried and panic, when symptoms show is okay. But it’s not okay to overlook when signs of sickness persist. So, be collected and bring your dog to the veterinary immediately.

After checking, your vet might give you antibiotic pills or prescribe other medications for sick dogs after eating crawfish.

If symptoms persist even when given medication by the vet — then it’s best to bring them back again and seek a further examination from their doctor regarding this concern. Take note that there are cases where dogs do not recover from crawfish poisoning.

Nevertheless, you may also ask questions to your vet. For instance, here are the following to ask:

  • What food to pair with crawfish?
  • How often should I feed my dog with crawfish?
  • What home remedies to follow when my dog catches an allergy?

Avoid these similar foods from this family.

Your awareness of its possible concerns leads you to this section. So, here are some similar foods to avoid:


You might have noticed that both crawfish and lobsters are alike in appearance. But they do not share similar properties. Here, lobsters have a higher level of cholesterol compared to crawfish.

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Therefore, do not give them too many lobsters as a substitute for their daily food intake — it can lead to health problems such as obesity and high cholesterol levels in your dog’s body.


Similarly, shrimps have higher levels of purines that can cause too much uric acid in the body. Again, this increases your dog’s chance of developing gout or kidney stones when eaten too often.

In other words, feeding shrimps can also increase the chance of having health problems in dogs.


High levels of cholesterol are also found in crabs compared to crawfish and lobster — so be aware! Moreover, they do not have a significant amount of minerals or vitamins beneficial for dogs’ health.

For instance, there are no Vitamin A properties that the body can easily absorb due to their shells.

How to Make Crawfish Safe To Eat?

There are different ways to kill a cat — so with the possibility of feeding crawfish safely to your dogs. Hence, we suggested ways to do this:

Boiling Crawfish 

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For first-timers, you should boil crawfishes or any other type of freshwater crustacean for at least ten minutes before feeding it to your dog.

This simple step can help kill all kinds of bacteria and viruses present inside the body harmful to dogs’ health. If possible, add some garlic powder to the boiling water to help kill all viable bacteria that might be present.

Adding Salt and Pepper 

Another simple step is adding salt and pepper when boiling crawfish — this can also kill any harmful bacteria or viruses inside its body before feeding it to your dogs.

If you think about it, we humans also add salt and pepper when boiling our food — so this is an excellent way to have crawfish safe for dogs.

Blending Crawfish 

For first-timers, it’s best not to feed whole crawfishes on their dog’s body as the possibility of them getting choked is higher than ever before. So, instead, blend or grind them into tiny pieces that your dog will find easy to eat.

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By doing this, it’s less likely for any unwanted parts such as shells and heads of crawfish to get left behind in your dogs’ stomach — which can cause some health problems too.

Key Takeaways

Often coined as “mudbugs” or “crayfish,” crawfishes are freshwater crustaceans resembling shrimps, lobsters, and crabs. Even though some people might get confused about this relative species, crawfishes still make a great appetizer when boiled and prepared with Old Bay seasoning or even just plain butter.

Crawfish contains high amounts of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. These components are essential nutrients for your dog to grow its muscles and remain healthy, such as Vitamin A, B12, protein, and phosphorus.

Yet, uncontrolled feeding of crawfishes could carry intestinal parasites, excessive thirst, and even cough and sneeze due to crawfish allergies. When in doubt, consult your vet about the right amount of crawfish to feed your dog.

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Indeed, love begins when you peel crawfish for your significant other. And yes, you can peel it for your dogs, too!

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