Whether you call them crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs, freshwater lobsters, or one of their other names, crawfish are edible crustaceans. They are found all over the world and are part of many cuisines. In North America, they are especially popular in Cajun cuisine in Louisiana. Can dogs eat crawfish? Find out in our guide below.
You might not think of crawfish when you think of lobsters but in some places they are known as freshwater lobsters. In fact, they are related to lobsters though not as closely as people sometimes think. There are hundreds of species of crawfish found in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The greatest diversity is found in the southeastern United States with over 300 species. Australia has over 100 species.
Crawfish are eaten all over the world. As with most other edible crustaceans, only a small part of the body is usually eaten. In soups, bisques, and other dishes, only the tail is used. For crawfish boils, the entire crawfish is used and the claw meat and even the head is eaten.
In terms of nutrition, crawfish are very low in carbs. They are made up of 1 percent carbohydrates, 13 percents fats, and 86 percent protein. They are very low in saturated fat. Crawfish are a very good source of protein, vitamin B12, phosphorus, copper, and selenium. They are also a good source of zinc and manganese. However, they are very high in cholesterol.
A 3-ounce (85-grams) serving of crawfish has 73.9 calories, 0 carbohydrates, and 1.1 grams of total fat. It has 156 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 133 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good for the heart and immune system.
That 3-ounce serving of crawfish provides 14.9 grams of protein. They are very protein-dense. The protein from crawfish provides all essential amino acids in healthy proportions.
Eating seafood, which includes crawfish, is said to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, obesity, and hypertension. This is because it is low in saturated fat and high in the “heart healthy” polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.
The American Heart Association recommends that people eat seafood, including crustaceans, to meet their nutritional requirements for essential fatty acids, proteins, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins.
Crawfish is an outstanding source of B complex vitamins.
Invertebrates such as crawfish are at the bottom of the food chain so they absorb very little in the way of heavy metals. If you are concerned about heavy metals from seafood, crawfish are one of the safest foods you can eat.
Only about 1 percent of the population is allergic to crawfish. Allergies are more likely to appear during the teen and adult years than in childhood.
Can dogs have crawfish?
Yes, dogs can eat crawfish in moderation. The protein, omega fatty acids, B complex vitamins, and minerals in crawfish are great for dogs.
Crawfish are particularly sensitive to polluted water so most crawfish you find in any waterways on your own will usually come from a healthy ecosystem. You should not let your dog eat raw crawfish. There is always the possibility that the crawfish could carry bacteria or parasites which could be harmful to your dog in an uncooked form.
You can purchase crawfish live, frozen, or buy the cooked or frozen tails.
There are lots of recipes for cooking crawfish for yourself. You can also use crawfish in place of lobster or shrimp in many recipes. Most of these recipes are off-limits for dogs, however, because they contain lots of butter and spices which aren’t good for your dog.
For your dog, it’s best to simply boil the crawfish in a pot of plain water for about five minutes. Let them cool and then remove the tail meat and claw meat. The head also contains meat you can use. Don’t use any spices for cooking the crawfish or feeding them to your dog.
You can also bake the crawfish at 250 Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes if you prefer.
Crawfish is low in calories and fat but provides a great source of protein. You can add it to your dog’s meals or give it to your dog as a special treat.
It is remotely possible that a few dogs could be allergic to crawfish, as with humans. If your dog is allergic to other seafood or shellfish, watch him carefully when you give him any crawfish to see if he has any sign of an allergic reaction. If you notice any side effects, contact your veterinarian immediately.
With genuine allergies, a dog usually has to come in contact with an allergen more than once to develop an allergic reaction.
Can dogs eat crawfish shells?
No, dogs cannot and should not eat crawfish shells when they are still on the crawfish or just removed. The shells can be a choking hazard for your dog. Some of the shells can be very hard and sharp when broken so they could be dangerous to your dog’s esophagus and gastrointestinal system when he swallows them.
If you have crawfish shells in your trash, be sure to put them away so that your dog cannot get to them. If your dog does manage to chew or eat crawfish shells, watch for any signs of discomfort. Contact your veterinarian if your dog is in distress.
It’s very rare, but dogs can also develop glucosamine toxicity from eating too many seafood shells. Crawfish shells (shrimp shells, crab shells, lobster shells, etc.) are high in glucosamine. Glucosamine is often recommended for dogs with joint problems and for senior dogs experiencing arthritis. Shellfish, including crawfish, provide a source of natural glucosamine for some supplements. However, a dog that consumes a lot of crawfish shells could make himself sick on glucosamine.
Since the shells are a source of glucosamine, if you want to save them and use them, they need to be chopped up and dried on a low temperature (about 210 degrees Fahrenheit) in your oven for 2-3 hours. After the shells are completely dry, you can put them in a food processor to grind them into a fine powder. Use a fine mesh sieve afterwards to make sure there are no sharp pieces remaining. Then store the powder in your refrigerator. The powdered glucosamine can be used in small amounts as a supplement for yourself or your dog – but only in small amounts.
How much crawfish can you give your dog?
Compared to shrimp or lobster, crawfish is very reasonably priced. It costs more than beef or chicken but if you are considering adding seafood to your dog’s diet, crawfish could be a good choice.
If you live in an area where you can catch your own crawfish, the price won’t be an issue.
You should only give your dog crawfish in moderation. Restaurants and retailers say that they estimate the average person eats about 3 pounds of whole cooked crawfish in a sitting. That yields about 15 percent tail meat per person. You should give the average medium-sized dog less crawfish to eat than that amount.
How often can you give your dog crawfish?
Although crawfish have many beneficial nutrients and they are high in protein, it’s best not to give them to your dog too often. They are high in cholesterol. It’s also possible that some dogs can have an allergic reaction to them since they are a shellfish.
You could give your dog a small amount of crawfish once per week.
Remember that the crawfish always needs to be cooked and the shell needs to be removed.
Crawfish is a very good source of protein. It’s low in calories and fat. It also provides an excellent source of B complex vitamins and some minerals. Plus, it’s a good source of omega fatty acids. As long as crawfish is cooked and the shell is removed, you can let your dog enjoy this small crustacean, but only in small amounts.