Can Dogs Eat Seaweed?

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Seaweed: that slimy, clammy sea vegetable that feels the need to desperately cling to our legs as we wade through the warm ocean waves. But did you know that this annoying little member of the algae family 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 your dog's stool, energy levels, and appearance, and cease use if you suspect a problem.


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Nutritional benefits

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. It curtails allergic itchiness and aids in the repair of tissue and skin. This gives your dog a glossy, healthy looking coat. Nori seaweed is a low fat, high protein food, which makes it a naturally suitable treat for dogs when fed in the correct amount. It 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. Due to seawater pollution, nori can contain relatively high levels of mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals. 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. Remember that when you administer any type of supplement to your dog, it is vitally important to be mindful of your dog's weight. It's simple: the smaller the dog, the lower the dosage. High doses of any vitamin, mineral, or supplement can be toxic to your pet.


Young pups

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. Remember, your puppy's first foods are a strong factor in determining his health and longevity, so before exploring supplements, it's important to carefully choose a high quality, nutritionally balanced food for him. 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.


Talk to your vet

When it comes to your dog's health and well-being, you veterinarian should be your partner and guide. Always consult with her before adding any vitamins, minerals or other supplements to your dog's diet. She will be able to instruct you on supplement types, brands, and dosages. Even if a supplement is generally considered safe, it may, for example, interact negatively with a medication your dog is taking. With your vet's help, your pup will be able to lead an energy-filled, nutritionally sound life.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.