Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Shrimp?

Photo by Nickchick on Flickr

Do you sometimes have that guilty feeling as you are sitting down and eating dinner that your dog might be missing out?

And will it do them any real harm to feed them table scraps now and again. 

After all, it was only going to be thrown in the trash…

In today’s article, I want to take this feeling of guilt or inclusion that we sometimes have as dog owners and take it a step further.

To look at potentially us sharing our food with our dogs from trips or take outs from our favourite restaurants.

And a popular meal for many of us is popcorn shrimp.

Can dogs eat popcorn shrimp?

Let’s find out…

What is popcorn shrimp?

Popcorn shrimp is deep fried and then battered before being seasoned with different spices. 

It is then served with various dipping sources. 

It is called popcorn shrimp because it is served in bite size chunks (about the same size as popcorn) and people tend to pick it up with their hands just like you do with popcorn. 

It is a popular choice on the kid’s menus in restaurant

What are the origins of popcorn shrimp?

It’s origins are a bit vague but it definitely stems from somewhere in the deep south of the US, maybe somewhere in Louisiana or Texas.

It is thought it might have originated with that restaurant chain Red Lobster as far back as the 1970s…

What other restaurants serve popcorn shrimp?

Popcorn will be available to eat at many local restaurants across the United States but some of the bigger, more high profile regional or national chains that sell it, include; 

  • Long John Silvers
  • Captain D’s
  • Dairy Queen 

What other types of deep fried shrimp are there?

If you “rail against” or despise something so small as popcorn shrimp, then you might want to get your hands on something a bit bigger.

It seems that not all shrimp are popcorn sized.

It is also available in jumbo sized, whilst there’s also a butterfly style. 

What are the ingredients in popcorn shrimp?

It is impossible to know the exact ingredients of popcorn shrimp when it is served in so many different restaurants because of course, restaurants never share their recipes.

But a quick look online will give us most of the basic ingredients.

And they are:

  • Shrimp
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Flour
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Oil

On the surface, none of the ingredients are toxic to dogs in the sense that they will set off some kind of dangerous or allergic reaction within the dog. 

At the same time, none of these ingredients will be found in the top 100 list of healthy dog foods.

That is until we dig a little deeper and find out a little more about cajun seasoning.

And then unfortunately alarm bells start to ring.

What is wrong with Cajun seasoning?

Most dogs don’t do well with seasoning full stop.

Let’s not just pick on cajun.

Seasoning by definition is all about strong flavors- which will turn most dog’s stomachs because they aren’t used to these flavours and spices. 

But cajun seasoning doesn’t just threaten to upset a dog’s stomach, it contains more troublesome ingredients than that. 

It is highly likely that the cajun seasoning which is on your popcorn chicken includes either onion or garlic or both.

And onion and garlic in any form (fresh or powder) are known toxins to dogs.

But because the amount of seasoning which is used in popcorn shrimp (compared to the amount of chicken or flour) it is very unlikely that your dog will suffer from a toxic reaction.

But it is something to be aware of.

And I have written in far more detail about the specifics of onion poisoning in this article here

How the other ingredients might affect your dog?

I have already made a comment in passing about how the other ingredients are neither toxic or healthy.

But there are four ingredients in popcorn shrimp that might cause your dog to have an allergic reaction.

Now the chances of this are infinitesimally small

But it could happen. 

These are the four ingredients that contain protein- shrimp, egg, flour (wheat) and milk.

If shrimp doesn’t cause an allergic reaction in your dog, it is quite a healthy food.

Packed as it is with protein, healthy fats and important minerals.

It is just that the popcorn variety is covered in flour, egg and fat!

Now, I have mentioned salt and pepper when I briefly discussed seasoning a while ago.

The one ingredient in popcorn shrimp that we are yet to mention is oil.

And whilst oil is not an allergen, it is not an ingredient that dogs find it easy to digest.

In fact, in combination with the other ingredients in popcorn shrimp, oil is likely to give your dog a nasty dose of diarrhea- if they don’t vomit it all up first!

Can dogs eat breaded shrimp?

Breaded shrimp is incredibly similar to popcorn shrimp.

Only the flour in popcorn shrimp is replaced by breadcrumbs in breaded shrimp. 

And there is no cajun seasoning. 

So your dog’s digestion system won’t be irritated by any seasoning but the fat and the frying won’t do them any favours either.

I mean, tossing your dog the odd morsel of breaded shrimp won’t do them any long term harm but just don’t make a habit of it. 

Can dogs eat cocktail shrimp?

Cocktail shrimps are a slightly different animal to popcorn shrimp.

Well, obviously they aren’t a totally different animal but you get my giste.

What I mean is that the ingredients in this dish are very different.

And I hate to do this, but it is bad news again.

Let me explain all the different ways that cocktail shrimp is inappropriate for your dog.

Your recipe for cocktail shrimp might contain onions or garlic- which are toxic for reasons that have already been explained.

Also, your recipe might contain tomatoes, which is another fruit or vegetable that your dog might best avoid.

Just make sure that your tomatoes are ripe, with no leaves or stalks in sight.

There aren’t any more toxic ingredients but there are a few other ingredients to be wary of.

Cocktail shrimp normally requires a lot of spice and most dogs don’t do well with spices.

Or seasonings for that matter and most recipes require lots of salt.

There is one final aspect of shrimp to be a bit wary of and I will explain a bit more about that in the next section.  

Four parts of the shrimp to avoid- vein, head, shell and tail 

Popcorn shrimp is one of the many shrimp recipes that require a shrimp to be deveined and for the head, shell and tail to be taken off.

But there are lots of shrimp recipes out there that leave all of these parts of a shrimp on.

Including butterfly shrimp and some cocktail shrimp recipes

Again, none of these parts of the shrimp are toxic to your dog.

Even the vein, which is a shrimp’s digestive tract, just adds a bit of grit to the texture. 

The head, shell and tail might be a choking hazard for a dog who doesn’t chew properly.

But if all else fails, you can always perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog. 

In all seriousness, if your dog tends not to chew their food, it might be time well spent to “undress” the shrimp properly…

What is the best way of preparing shrimp for your dog?

So this article has been full of lots of “no, you can’t do that” or “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” type comments.

So to stop being such a “spoilsport” I will tell you the best way to prepare some shrimp for your dog.

Is there a way to provide your dog with the many nutritional benefits that shrimp brings, without all the complications of these overly “rich” recipes such as popcorn shrimp?

And of course there is- you just need to steam it. 

Just place the shrimp in a steam basket above a boiling pot of water.

After 5 or 6 minutes the shrimp should turn pink, indicating that they are ready to eat.

Let them cool and then serve your dog!