Can Dogs Eat Seaweed? Exploring the Benefits of Seaweed and Spirulina
Explore the world of seaweed and kelp for your canine companions. Learn about the rich nutritional content of seaweed varieties like kelp, spirulina, and more. Discover the benefits these marine plants offer, from essential vitamins...
The answer is yes, and there are many benefits!
Currently, dogs have three main types of diets: commercial dog food, fresh food, and raw food. Commercial dog food typically includes dry options such as puffed grains, air-dried food, freeze-dried food, and some owners also feed canned food as snacks. However, due to my dog's health condition, after consulting with the veterinarian, the primary diet is now based on fresh food. When sharing the experience of feeding fresh food, especially homemade fresh food with students, there are often questions about calcium-phosphorus ratios. Concerns arise about the inability to obtain enough calcium from food, leading to insufficient calcium intake and excess phosphorus ions. Therefore, I often recommend adding ingredients such as black sesame seeds and ocean plants, namely seaweed and algae, to their diet.
Ocean plants, including seaweed and algae, not only contain calcium but also offer a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and water-soluble fiber. Here, I will summarize some common seaweeds and their benefits for dogs. Overall, seaweed is a generic term that may include various edible algae found in seawater or freshwater.
Most seaweeds available in the market, such as kelp, kombu, dulse, carrageenan, nori, and Irish moss, are marine vegetables. Compared to plants on land, seaweeds grown in seawater contain almost ten times the mineral content. When added to a dog's daily diet, seaweed helps address concerns about mineral deficiency. Additionally, seaweed is rich in antioxidants, including flavonoids and carotenoids, effectively preventing the generation of free radicals. Seaweed often has a slightly salty taste, making it a good alternative to salt.
Useful Seaweeds for Dogs:
- Kelp, a general term for brown algae, includes varieties such as giant kelp, southern kelp, and sugarwack. Rich in vitamins A, B, E, D, K, and sodium alginate, kelp helps eliminate heavy metals from a dog's body, provides antioxidants, and supports anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-rheumatic properties. It also aids in maintaining healthy skin and coat.
- Spirulina is high in protein and essential anti-inflammatory fatty acids. It is also rich in vitamins B, C, E, carotenoids, chlorophyll, and antioxidants. Particularly beneficial for senior dogs, spirulina helps alleviate arthritis, gastrointestinal inflammation, and aging-related issues. Its essential fatty acids support skin and coat health, while carotenoids contribute to eye health, reducing the risk of cataracts and glaucoma.
- Kombu, distinct from kelp, belongs to the Saccharin genus of brown algae. It contains special amino acids and digestive enzymes, making it a good ingredient for dogs prone to bloating.
- Dulse, often confused with kelp, belongs to the Alariaceae family and Undaria genus. Rich in iron, Omega-3, and other nutrients, dulse benefits heart health, hormonal balance, and bone strength.
- Nori is a processed seaweed product commonly used in sushi rolls or as a human snack. High in fiber, nori has more fiber in a small sheet than a cup of spinach and higher Omega-3 content than a cup of avocado. It is low in calories, only around 10 kcal.
When purchasing seaweed for dogs, remember to choose products without added salt or flavorings. Some products on the shelves may be human snacks or already seasoned, making them less suitable for dogs. Many pet food stores now offer freeze-dried seaweed, which, although may not be the most economical in terms of quantity and price, ensures a suitable option for dogs without salt or flavorings.
Seaweed is beneficial, but moderation is key. Despite the numerous benefits of seaweed, excessive consumption, like any food, may lead to adverse effects. For instance, damp conditions can cause dried seaweed sheets (nori) to form a gel, resulting in gastrointestinal blockage. Some seaweeds contain high levels of iodine, serving as an immune regulator for thyroid issues in traditional Chinese medicine. If a dog has suspected or diagnosed thyroid problems, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian before incorporating seaweed into their diet to avoid potential interactions with thyroid medications. Seaweed's rich mineral and vitamin content surpasses that of land plants, so only a small amount is needed in their diet. By investing a little effort, we can provide dogs with ample nutrition. Start incorporating seaweed into their diet consciously from today, it's that simple!