Algae is pretty amazing, isn’t it? It grows naturally at a rapid rate, could possibly be the next biofuel alternative, and … some forms of it are safe to eat? Yes! Seaweed is a form of algae that packs a ton of vitamins, minerals, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and has proven to be a healthy nutritional supplement for humans. But is it safe for our dogs to consume? The simple answer is yes, but there are some precautions and necessary preparation steps to take into consideration before attempting to feed your dog seaweed.
First, Let’s Talk Health Benefits
In the form and texture you receive edible seaweed in, it is hard to believe that it can not only be consumed, but can actually be healthy for you. In around one tablespoon of seaweed, you will find four grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of fat, minerals such as Calcium, Iron and Copper, Vitamins A, B, C, E and K, as well as powerful antioxidants.
The vitamins found in seaweed will help your dogs liveliness in a number of ways; everything from keeping their coat healthy, boosting their immune system, helping digestive health and maintaining healthy heart function.
In an animal study, carbohydrates in seaweed called fucans worked very effectively as an anti-blood clotting medicine. Reduction in blood clots can lead to reduced risk of heart disease. In another animal study, rats with high cholesterol were fed seaweed accounting for 10% of their daily diet, and by the end of the study, overall cholesterol went down 40%
The fiber found in seaweed will assist in your dog’s digestive process, helping them feel more full and creating healthier bowel movements. This could also be helpful if you believe your dog needs to lose some weight.
Antioxidants in seaweed known as flavonoids and carotenoids will help protect your dog’s cells by deterring cancer growth, and slowing down the rate of tumor growth. These antioxidants protect the cell membranes, and ward off possible free radical damage that causes cancerous growth. The omega-3 fatty acids contained in seaweed will also help deter cancerous cells from appearing.
Minerals Calcium and Iron will help the bone growth, bone structure, and heart health in dogs of any age. In addition, Copper is a very abundant mineral in seaweed, which is essential in maintaining your dog’s connective tissue, absorbing iron in the blood, as well as the development and protection of red blood cells.
Precautions About Seaweed
For starters, never let your dog eat dried up seaweed that they may find on the beach. This dried seaweed will expand in their stomachs, and can create blockage, leading to a cascade of health problems. In addition, seaweed found on the coast can contain absorbed pollutants that are very harmful to your dog, the severity depending on which pollutant they may have consumed.
As with any human food fed to dogs, never feed them too much, and always feed in careful moderation. An overabundance of seaweed can lead to salt poisoning, which can prove to be a very serious and sometimes fatal situation for dogs. Always allow their commercial or home-cooked meals to supply them with most of the vitamins, minerals and proteins they need.
With wild seaweed out of the question, there are many healthy, store-bought versions of seaweed that can be beneficial to your dog’s health.
Preparation, And What Kind of Seaweed Is Best
There are thousands of versions of seaweed found in the sea, all with their own antioxidants and healthy substances. Luckily, we don’t have to choose out of this many types as for what kind to buy, and essentially any store-bought seaweed will be healthy for your dog to consume.
Kelp and Nori are the two most common types of seaweed fed to dogs. Nori is the type of seaweed that sushi is wrapped in, while kelp is normally eaten on its own or as a side dish by humans.
Small, bite-size pieces are the most proper way to feed your dog seaweed, as it reduces the choking hazard and prevents them from eating too much. Large pieces of seaweed are never recommended. Moderation is very important in your dog’s seaweed consumption, so only feed in very small amounts as tiny treat or as a supplement to their daily / nightly meals.
Seaweed in the form of flakes or powder is perhaps the safest way for your dog to consume seaweed, as it digests more easily and still allows for all of the health benefits to be realized.
To get a better idea of how much seaweed your dog should consume, contact your veterinarian.
Seaweed Is Great, In Moderation!
As mentioned, just as with any human food fed to your dog, moderation is a critical aspect. Never allow your dog to consume an abundance of seaweed, and only use it as a small nutritional supplement. Over time, your dog will undoubtedly see the benefits of this superfood under the careful supervision of their owner. For all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in seaweed, it is certainly worth a try!
Edwards, Rebekah. “Kelp: The Sea Plant That Helps You Lose Weight & Treats Blood Disorders.” Dr. Axe, 25 Aug. 2016, https://draxe.com/nutrition/kelp/
Foster, and Smith. “Ask a Vet Online for Free, 24/7.” PetCoach, www.petcoach.co/article/copper-requirements-in-dogs/.
Magalhaes, Kaline Dantas, et al. “Anticoagulant, Antioxidant and Antitumor Activities of Heterofucans from the Seaweed Dictyopteris Delicatula.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI), 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116195/.
O’Brien, Sharon. “7 Surprising Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed” Healthline, 28 May 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-seaweed#section2
Sherrow, Genevieve, and Elizabeth Kirk. “Seaweed a Versatile Addition to Any Diet.” Bastyr University, 22 July 2009, https://bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2011/09/seaweed-versatile-addition-any-diet