Seaweed has a variety of benefits for humans and is extremely popular in countries such as Japan, China and Korea.
But can dogs eat seaweed? Yes, they can. Dogs can eat seaweed but there is some guidance you should follow to ensure it is fed safely. Let’s explore the wonderful world of seaweed and see what the benefits and hazards are for dogs.
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What is seaweed?
Seaweed is a collective name given to a variety of marine plants that grow in oceans as well as some rivers or lakes. It has increased in popularity in Western culture and is often referred to as a “superfood”.
Seaweeds are usually anchored to the sea floor or other structures such as rocks. Seaweed comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and is harvested to be used for medicinal purposes, as well as edible uses such as sushi seaweed.
Seaweed is often eaten as dried seaweed sheets, also known as nori. It has been eaten for thousands of years for its natural benefits, as it is packed full of Vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
What are the health benefits for dogs of eating seaweed?
Seaweed and kelp for dogs can provide a variety of health benefits and can make a great addition to their diet. Kelp is a larger type of seaweed with all the same benefits as its other seaweed friends!
Let’s look at what seaweed and kelp contain and how they can help your furry friend…
Iodine has multiple properties that can benefit your dog, often helping increase energy levels, encourage a shiny and healthy-looking coat, as well as help to reduce anxiety and behavioral problems.
Iron is a mineral that has an important function within your dog’s body. It supports the circulatory system and helps perform functions such as carrying oxygen in red blood cells around the body and supporting enzymatic functions.
Magnesium is a mineral that a dog’s body cannot synthesize – essentially, it cannot create its own magnesium, so it must be sourced from the dog’s diet. Magnesium helps to perform over 300 chemical reactions within the body. It also helps with muscle function, bone structure, and the immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 often acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping joint pain such as arthritis. Omega-3 supplements are often given to older dogs to help with their mobility and also help to support the heart, brain, and vision function.
Can dogs eat seaweed snacks?
Yes, dogs can eat dried seaweed snacks. Some brands of dog treats have now started to introduce seaweed into their products. These can come in a variety of different forms including seaweed chips, seaweed straws, and seaweed dental chews.
Treats are a great way to introduce seaweed into your dog’s diet and they are often healthier than standard dog treats.
If you want to supplement your dog’s diet with seaweed, then there are a variety of different options to choose from.
The most common way to add seaweed to your dog’s meal is to sprinkle it onto the food in a powdered form. Always follow the recommended dose from the packaging to avoid over-supplementation.
Seaweed can also be given to your dog in tablet form. This may be tricky if your dog is not a fan of swallowing tablets. However, you can often give a higher condensed volume of seaweedy goodness by tablet, depending on the strength.
Be sure not to collect your own seaweed from the beach to use as doggy snacks. By purchasing seaweed from a reputable brand, you can ensure that the seaweed is clean, healthy, and full of tasty goodness.
Can a dog eat seaweed from the beach?
Taking your dog onto the beach is fun for both you and your dog. It can be great to watch them run off-leash, chase a ball and play in the water. What isn’t so great is the number of potentially hazardous items that they could ingest including wild seaweed.
It is impossible to know what is contained within wild seaweed; pollution, hazardous objects, or even sea creatures!
Jellyfish often wash up on the beach and could easily be mixed in with the seaweed. Jellyfish that are dead can still damage your dog’s esophagus through their sting and some species of jellyfish are potentially fatal.
Suggested reading: Can dogs eat crab?
Seaweed that is on the shore and has not been washed back into the ocean can dehydrate in the heat of the sun. This can cause a potential problem if it is ingested by your dog, as it can then rehydrate within your dog’s stomach.
During rehydration, it can expand in size and cause a blockage in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This may potentially require surgery to remove.
Wild seaweed can also contain a significant amount of salt. Salt poisoning is a potential problem, depending on how much wild seaweed has been consumed.
When too much salt is ingested, the cells of the body release preserved water in an attempt to dilute the salt levels. This can then cause dehydration and disorientation and in extreme cases can lead to seizures, organ failure, or even death.
If you think that your dog has ingested wild seaweed, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately for advice.
Symptoms of wild seaweed ingestion
It is inevitable that dogs will eat things without us knowing and sometimes, even when we tell them no, they will take no notice and eat something they are not supposed to.
Symptoms can arise pretty quickly after eating wild seaweed. These symptoms may not necessarily indicate seaweed poisoning and could be symptoms of other illnesses or diseases, but if your dog displays any of them, then you should always contact your veterinary surgeon.
Your dog may start vomiting. This could indicate seaweed poisoning or that there is a blockage within your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Vomiting usually starts with containing food, before moving to water and then sometimes a yellow foam.
Diarrhea can range from loose but formed stools to complete liquid water. Sometimes, when the digestive tract is inflamed, blood may also be present.
Dogs who have ingested wild seaweed may become lethargic and reluctant to move.
Due to the high levels of salt found within wild seaweed, the body may become dehydrated. You may notice your dog drinking excessive amounts of water or passing urine more frequently than normal.
Due to ingesting dried wild seaweed or because of gastrointestinal upset, your dog may have a build-up of gas in the intestines. If this occurs, especially in larger breed dogs, seek veterinary advice immediately.
Is feeding my dog seaweed worth it?
The answer is – yes, absolutely! As long as you purchase a good quality seaweed, that is specifically manufactured for dogs, from a trusted and reliable source. Seaweed is packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals that can support a dog’s body for a variety of functions.
You may notice that your dog’s coat appears brighter, your dog has more energy, or even that your dog’s teeth appear cleaner! It is important to always follow the recommended daily dose for seaweed additives and always contact your veterinary practice if you are worried.