Seaweed is rich in iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, iodine and magnesium. Because of these nutritional benefits, seaweed is a popular supplement for humans. As with many foods, what's good for you also may be good for your dog. Always proceed with caution when introducing a new food into your pup's diet. Watch for changes in the stool, energy levels and appearance and cease use if you suspect a problem.
Despite the myths about them being carnivores, dogs need vegetation in their lives. When a dog hunts in the wild, he gets his vegetation fix by eating the undigested food in his herbivore prey's stomach. Kelp, a type of seaweed, is known for its restorative properties, aiding the repair of tissue and skin. This gives your dog a glossy, healthy looking coat. Nori seaweed is rich in vitamin B12, which promotes good cognitive function. The fatty acids in seaweed are of particular benefit to growing puppies, as it promotes joint health. This is crucial during the growth stage.
Beware of Wild Sun-Dried Seaweed
No type of seaweed is inherently unsafe, but the condition and preparation of the seaweed can have a huge impact on a dog's health. Dried, wild seaweed of the type commonly seen on beaches during high summer is not good for your pooch. The sun dries out the seaweed, causing it to shrink. Once digested, the seaweed will expand inside your pup's stomach, causing potentially fatal blockages.
The Importance of Moderation
Overuse of herbal kelp supplements can lead to arsenic poisoning, so only sprinkle a little on your pup's dinner. Nori can contain relatively high levels of mercury, due to seawater pollution. However, this is only a risk if overfeeding. You can deliver the benefits of seaweed by using it as a treat or a supplement, rather than using it as an integral part of your dog's diet.
If you have a very young puppy, he should feed exclusively on his mom's milk for the first eight weeks of his life. After eight weeks, it's OK to begin introducing some solid, yet soft foods. At this point, you may introduce some small amounts of seaweed into his diet. For example, you could sprinkle some cooked seaweed onto his dinner as a supplement. But remember that puppies have sensitive little stomachs. As with any change in a dog's diet, make the switch over time to avoid gastric upset.
By Simon Foden
Bastyr University: Seaweed; A Versatile Addition to Any Diet
Cesar's Way: Puppy Feeding Guidelines
Animal Planet: 10 Fruits and Veggies that Aid in Dogs' Nutrition
Vet Info: Holistic Allergy Treatment for Dogs
Telegraph: Dog Owners Warned of Lethal Dangers of Dried up Seaweed
UC Davis Health System: UC Davis Study Finds High Arsenic Levels in Kelp Supplements
Modern Dog Magazine: Spice up your Dog's Life
About the Author
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.