Seaweed is neither a weed nor is it limited to the sea. But can dogs eat seaweed? It’s the common name used for algae living not only in the ocean but also in lakes, rivers, and other freshwater locations. Seaweed can range in size from microscopic phytoplankton to kelp forests up to 200 feet long.
“Phyto-” comes from the Greek root word for “plant” but also refers to growth. Phytoplankton has chlorophyll and use the sun’s energy. They drift in the ocean, producing 50-85% of the oxygen on earth. Giant kelp is known to grow up to two feet daily under optimum conditions, so it’s easy to see why these two examples of seaweed hold so much potential to make the world a more habitable place.
In a moment we’ll talk about how they make the world a better place for dogs!
Different Types of Seaweed
Because the term “seaweed” includes tens of thousands of species of algae originating from more than one kingdom, they can be classified however you like! Edible or nonedible? Microscopic or macroscopic? Oceanic or freshwater? Because we’re focused on what type is good for your dog, we’ll examine them based on the characteristics of their color type:
• BROWN SEAWEED’S contain significant amounts of fucoxanthin, which masks the green color of chlorophyll, betacarotene, and other related compounds. Brown algae are harvested not only for their food value but their alginate content that produces a useful gel when added to water.
• GREEN SEAWEED’S color is derived from chlorophylls, betacarotene, and related pigments. Green seaweeds are valued commercially all over the world because of their food value.
• RED SEAWEEDS’S are so named from the presence of phycocyanin amid other pigments. Nori, dulse, and Irish moss are commonly known and popular varieties of edible red seaweed. One group of red algae known as corallines is increasingly being used in bone replacement because they secrete calcium carbonate.
10 Nutrient Benefits of Seaweed for Dogs
2. Rich in Vitamins: Vit A, B12, E
3. Vital Minerals: Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Phos, Selenium, Zinc
4. Packed with Omega 3 Fatty Acids
5. Increases Immune System Function
6. Highly Anti-Inflammatory
7. Meaty Taste! Tastes good to dogs
8. High in Soluble Fiber
9. Anti-Obesity Compounds
10. Anti- Cancer Elements
1. Because the cell walls don’t contain cellulose, a fibrous carbohydrate found in many plants, dogs are able to digest seaweed. Nutrients are useless if they can’t be absorbed by the body!
2. Seaweed is rich in vitamins that your dog needs:
- A: For vision, immune function, skin, antioxidative properties
- B12: For enzyme function, appetite, blood, bone marrow
- E: For skeletal muscle, reproduction, antioxidative properties
3. It also contains several vital minerals for canines:• Calcium: For bones, teeth, blood, nerves, muscle contraction
- Copper: For connective tissue, blood, pigments, antioxidative properties
- Iodine: For thyroid function, growth, metabolism
- Iron: For blood, metabolism
- Magnesium: For enzymes and hormones, bones, nerves
- Phosphorus: For bones, DNA building, energy
- Selenium: For the immune system, antioxidative properties
- Zinc: For enzymes, cell growth, metabolism, healing, antioxidative
4. It has omega-3 fatty acids, the “good fat” that supports heart health as well as vision and learning ability.
5. Seaweed packs a punch in supporting immune system function and can also suppress the growth of disease-producing microorganisms. It contains the antioxidants alginate and fucoxanthin.
6. Ingesting seaweed has a significant anti-inflammatory benefit, helping ease painful flares of arthritis and other conditions. While a well-coordinated immune system is crucial to survival, overactive or misdirected immune responses are the cause of several crippling disease conditions.
7. Seaweed offers a delicious salty, almost meaty taste without much salt: each variety has its own savory umami flavor derived from a combination of minerals and certain amino acids called glutamates.
This makes it an ideal supplement for introducing new foods to pooches who are picky eaters. It’s good for disguising medicine taste, too!
8. Seaweed contributes a high amount of soluble fiber, the kind that absorbs water and becomes slippery like cooked apples or oatmeal. Not only does it promotes normal digestion but it assists with both constipation and diarrhea.
9. Scientists are discovering anti-obesity compounds in seaweed. Fucoxanthin, found in brown seaweed, affects fat-regulating enzymes and proteins. Alginates are a group of compounds that lower the percentage of body fat as well as cholesterol.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog is best done through a proper nutrition plan accompanied by exercise; in the future, however, dangerously overweight pets may be able to shed excess fat with pharmaceutical products prescribed by your vet.
10. Bioactive anti-cancer compounds, principally in red seaweed, are the object of testing in labs all over the world. These substances not only inhibit cancer cell growth and invasiveness but also stimulate apoptosis, a medical way to describe cellular suicide.
Bonus: Seaweed grows crazy fast all over the world! It’s available for everybody the same as sunshine and air!
Can Dogs Eat Salted Seaweed?
Although they CAN, they should not. The salt requirements for dogs differ from those of humans. You probably know that most processed people food is dangerously oversalted. It contributes to dehydration, weight gain, sleep disturbances, headaches, high blood pressure, and a high risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer. You don’t want that for your dog!
As a matter of fact, the Pet Poison Hotline reports that the old remedy to induce vomiting by giving salt water is no longer recommended because of the danger of salt poisoning. Be careful about giving your dog any human treats unless you’ve read the label thoroughly. In general, the safest practice is to provide natural, unprocessed foods.
Can Dogs Eat Seaweed from the Beach?
Seaweeds absorb some of the contaminants now found in the ocean and can become entangled in trash. Another way that beach seaweed can be a killer is the fact that it’s salt-cured: sun-dried and encrusted in salt.
Because it’s shrunken, your dog can easily consume a large quantity. Once ingested, it expands in the stomach and intestines, directly contributing to the risk of salt poisoning while forming a blockage.
Intestinal obstruction in dogs is an excruciatingly painful veterinary emergency. What’s more, dead sea creatures wash ashore and decay in the detritus at the high tide line. Would you know how to recognize and treat ingestion of jellyfish toxin in your dog?
Would your veterinarian be able to recognize and treat jellyfish toxin before it was too late? To be safe, scope out the beach before you visit. Bring a leash along and be prepared to use it, even if your dog normally responds to voice commands.
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Seaweed for Dogs’ Teeth
Continuing research shows that seaweed extracts, especially from kelp, have the potential to support canine dental health by protecting gums as well as teeth. Plaque, the invisible film of food and sugar-loving bacteria that gets deposited daily along the gum line, can be removed by chewing hard food and by brushing.
The danger comes from its rapid growth and production of irritating acid. Plaque is the primary culprit in gum disease and tooth loss. Calculus, also known as tartar, is permanently hardened plaque that builds up over time. Compounds in seaweed seem to work together with the saliva to decrease the presence of oral microbes contributing to plaque formation and calculus deposition.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Seaweed?
A dog having an allergy to seaweed would be very unlikely. But allergies to anything are due to a weakened immune system. Having an understanding that a compromised immune system could potentially create an allergic reaction to almost anything, seaweed would not be an exception.
But, overall since seaweed is loaded with vitamins, minerals, omega 3, and rich in many nutrients, the likely hood is slim for a dog to have an allergic reaction to seaweed. Getting seaweed from an unclean source though would not be beneficial for your canine friend. So always make sure you check the ‘source’ of seaweed. See the paragraph below for more on ‘how to obtain a clean source’.
Can Dogs Eat Seaweed Nori?
Nori, also called purple laver, is a kind of red algae that turns green when dried. You’ve seen it sold in sheets and used as a wrap for sushi rolls. It also comes in a powdered form to be used as a seasoning. It’s rich in vitamin B12, needed for the nervous system and cognitive functioning. It also contains a large amount of bioavailable iron.
The word “bioavailable” is useful: it describes a nutrient being in a form that the body can absorb. For example, a magnet is made of iron, but it won’t do you any good to eat it. As you can see, bioavailability is a major factor in the value of a food. For dogs, dried seaweed can be rehydrated with water or unsalted broth.
Can Dogs Eat Seaweed Sheets?
Dogs are allowed to have small amounts of plain seaweed without salt or additives, but you need to know that dried seaweed needs to be rehydrated with water so it won’t cause an intestinal obstruction. Offer it in small amounts along with other foods. Since dogs can also tolerate dry rice cakes, most vets will approve of giving an occasional seaweed rice cracker as a snack.
Obtaining Non-Toxic Seaweed from Reliable Sources
Although seaweed itself is generally safe and healthful, the circumstances surrounding its harvest can be questionable. As with other foods we harvest, seaweed can absorb numerous toxins from the surrounding environment. Seaweed harvested irresponsibly may contain high levels of heavy metals, so named due to their high molecular density.
Mercury, lead, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic are poisonous in even tiny amounts and are known to promote cancer, brain damage, gastrointestinal problems, kidney diseases.
How do you know if a seaweed vendor is reliable? The ideal vendor will market sustainably grown products labeled as vegan and lacking fillers. Their seaweed will come from local harvesters and growers living in the communities where they work, meaning that they have a personal stake in preserving coastal ecology.
You’ll also want to check out potential upstream pollutant sources such as factory farms and irresponsible industries. Here is an excellent source of seaweed for dogs and cats.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Five Types of Edible Seaweed and Their Benefits (In Addition to Nori)
1. Wakame: A type of kelp also known as sea mustard and marine algae, wakame is commonly used in miso soup. This sea vegetable has a sweet taste and silky texture. It’s rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid often added to canine supplements because of its anti-inflammatory properties and cardiac benefits. It contains less iodine than nori but sometimes also has traces of arsenic and cadmium.
2. Kombu: The most widely used edible brown kelp, it’s often steeped in water in Japan where it’s called kombucha but differs from the fermented drink popular in the United States. Plain kombu in moderation is safe for dogs, but kombu may contain arsenosugars that release arsenic when metabolized by the body; studies are ongoing to learn more about this. Known to contain more iodine than other seaweeds, boiling kombu significantly reduces its iodine content.
3. Dulse: A purplish-red seaweed from the northern Atlantic sometimes called sea parsley, humans traditionally fry it in oil and most certainly share it with their canine companions who reportedly enjoy its bacon-like flavor. Dulse contains more protein than other commonly consumed algae.
4. Hijiki: This brown seaweed resembles black twigs when dried. There are questions about whether or not it releases more arsenic than other seaweeds.
5. Irish moss: Also known as carrageen moss, it is another purplish-red seaweed native to the Atlantic coasts of North America and Europe. Its byproduct carrageenan is used as a thickening agent in many foods but is now recognized as a culprit involved in intestinal inflammation. It’s much more healthful for you and your dog to eat the moss itself.
Benefits of Marine Phytoplankton for Dogs
What exactly is marine phytoplankton? It refers to the astronomical amount of microscopic and almost-microscopic plant life swarming life drifting in the ocean. Marine phytoplankton is being harvested and processed as food for animals and humans because of its abundance and bioavailable nutrient content.
In fact, some believe it to be the most nutrient-dense food on earth, calling it the “jewel of the ocean.” Some also call it “foul-tasting,” but we know how dogs feel about foul-tasting food! Its benefits include most of the general benefits of seaweed, but because it’s concentrated, only a small amount is needed.
Sold as a supplement rather than a food, it is free of added salt, seasonings, and other additives.
Can Dogs Eat Seaweed? Summary of Benefits
Clearly, seaweed is good for every system in your dog’s body and then some. It offers a bounty of nutrients and bioactive substances. Something else to think about: you know that you and your dog love each other. It’s a basic instinct to share food with those we love.
There’s almost no better way to bond with your canine companion than to share the same snack. So, can dogs eat seaweed? Absolutely yes! And make sure it’s from a clean and ethical source.