No matter where you stand on the seaweed train, you have to agree that it is quite nutritious. One question could be, can my dog eat seaweed? Well, worry no more! The answer is yes. Dogs can eat seaweed, but not just any seaweed. The only seaweed beneficial for dogs is edible seaweed.
What is Edible Seaweed?
You probably know of the seaweed growing in the ocean and other places. This is not the seaweed you want your dog to eat; neither should you, for that matter. The only beneficial and nutritious seaweed is the one you eat, preferably store-bought seaweed.
Most people are against store-bought goods. In this case, however, store-bought is better as you can be sure it is edible. Most seaweed that we eat is marine algae. However, it is only specific types of marine algae as others are very acidic and can irritate your digestive canal. Others have electrolyte-balancing and laxative effects.
Store-bought seaweed is rich in vitamins, such as A, C, and E. It also contains protective pigments that benefit your health and your pups. This is the seaweed you want to get and the only kind of marine algae you can feed your dog.
If you can differentiate edible seaweed from the other kind, you are good to go, but if you can’t, it is better to err on the side of caution and buy pre-packaged ones.
Types of Seaweed your Dog Can Eat
Instead of just winging it, I have compiled a shortlist of the edible seaweed your lovely furry friend can eat.
This red alga is popular in Japanese cuisine, mostly used in wrapping rice balls or sushi rolls. It looks like dried sheets and can be crackly. You, however, need to be careful when dealing with Nori as it contains trace amounts of cadmium and arsenic, and it is not advisable to feed it to your dog in large quantities.
Wakame is a sea vegetable and marine alga that has a distinctive texture and a flavor that can be slightly sweet. You should rehydrate this before feeding your dog as it comes in a dried form.
This is a green algae seaweed species that is succulent and soft. It looks like small grapes and is native to the Indo-Pacific areas.
Perhaps one of the most widely popular seaweed species, Kelp, is a large, brown algae mostly used in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine. You can use it as a garnish, flavored broth, vegetable, or snack. You can also give it to your dog cooked, dried, or raw.
You can find Kombu either pickled in vinegar or in a dried form. Do not give your dog pickled vinegar Kombu because vinegar doesn’t go well with dogs. You can, however, feed them broth with Kombu.
Related: How much should I feed my dog? Factors to consider
Seaweed is beneficial and healthy to your dog when used correctly as a treat or supplemental food. You should always clean and prepare the seaweed properly before giving it to your dog to ensure you get any impurities out.
Seaweed is chockfull of nutrients and fatty acids. It has plenty of Omega 3s, which promote your pup’s joint health, healthy coats, and skin, and supports their brain development. A good example of this is Wakame seaweed which contains eicosapentaenoic acid and boasts of being the richest source of that nutrient in the world.
Seaweed can also help your dog get rid of excess fatty tissues. It contains fucoxanthin, a compound that helps overweight dogs shed extra fat.
While there are a lot of benefits to seaweed, you want to moderate and be cautious when feeding it to your dog. Do not overdo it; it might cause adverse effects on your pup. Feed your dog moderate portions once in a while and find a balanced way of keeping them in their diet.
Adverse Effects of Seaweed
One of the reasons why you should not feed your dog too much seaweed is because regular edible seaweed contains trace amounts of toxic inorganic metals. A good example is Nori seaweed.
The location where the seaweed is harvested and its quality can determine the amount of metal content. Regulated consumption of these metals isn’t harmful to either you or your dog but overdoing it can be dangerous.
Canine nutrition, much like human nutrition, needs balance. You need to ensure you feed your dog a balanced amount of nutrients to reap all their benefits. Dogs also benefit more from proteins than they do from plants or seaweed. Feed your dog more protein and less seaweed for a good balance.
Seaweed is also a lot harder to digest for dogs and is quite chewy. It can also be hard to swallow, with some clumping making your dog cough. Feed them smaller portions and prepare them properly to avoid harming your dog.
How to Prepare Seaweed for your Dog
Because seaweed can sometimes be hard for your dog to chew or swallow, I recommend giving it to your dog in powder form. You can also chop it into small bits and mix it with their food to make it easier for them to eat it.
Make sure the seaweed you buy is healthy. Avoid processed seaweed as these are full of refined sugars and salts, which can be unhealthy. You should also have a water bowl close to make it easier for your dog to wash it down and aid digestion.
What if your Dog Eats Bad or too Much Seaweed?
Depending on where they are grown, seaweed may soak up toxins and heavy metals that might harm your dog. Even the safe ones can result in gastrointestinal distress, especially in large amounts. The seaweed can also make your dog drink too much water, which can harm them.
If you suspect your dog has consumed bad or too much seaweed, seek help immediately. It is better to waste a trip to the vet than to risk your dog’s life.
So, what do we know now? We know that dogs can eat seaweed, edible seaweed. Ensure you get unprocessed seaweed and only feed it to your pup in moderation. And always remember to call the vet immediately after your dog eats unidentifiable or too much seaweed.