Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that are especially good for one’s health — and the health of your dog. Loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber, they are thought to have a number of health benefits, including boosting heart health, improving the digestive system and fighting off diseases.
And some of the most powerful superfoods come from the sea. Sea veggies are thought to be among the oldest forms of life on earth. And while they might not seem like a natural additive to your dog’s diet, these sea veggies, or seaweeds, are extremely healthy and easily digestible for our four-legged friends. It’s believed that sea vegetables improve our dogs’ energy levels, boost the immune system, maintain coat and skin health and support thyroid function, among other benefits.
“I love integrating sea vegetables into a dogs’ dietary regimen. By providing unprocessed, dried seaweed you are delivering non-synthetic nutrients into their bodies that are easier for them to assimilate and 100% percent beneficial,” says Johnna Devereaux, a clinical pet nutritionist, the director of nutrition and wellness for Bow Wow Labs and owner of Fetch RI. “Seaweed even contains all trace minerals that are essential for good health—no land plant can match what seaweeds can deliver.”
You can add sea veggies to your dog’s diet in a few different ways. Sprinkle supplements and powders on their food, or you can buy and cook fresh sea vegetables/seaweeds that are sustainably harvested, sun-dried and certified organic. ( Do not let your dogs eat seaweed from the beach as it may be contaminated with pollutants.) When cooking fresh sea vegetables, wash them thoroughly, store in the refrigerator and cook in ceramic, stainless steel or glass cookware. Store dry sea veggies in dark-colored glass jars or hang them in dark, dry areas.
Here are some of the most beneficial superfoods from the sea that are good for your dog:
Sea kelp is a rich source of trace minerals as well as vitamins A, B, E, D and K, and protein, iodine, calcium, sulfur, folic acid, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.
Kelp helps support the immune system, maintain a healthy coat and skin, and improves the metabolism. It contains iodine, and can help balance thyroid function; it may be useful for dogs with hypothyroidism. It also helps with digestion, balancing blood sugar, alleviating joint pain and repairing tissue damage.
The most recommended is sourced from the North Atlantic coast of Canada. Called Acadian Sea Kelp, it is sourced from the Bay of Fundy. Other sources include organic Norwegian Kelp, Ocean Kelp from Ireland and Organic Icelandic Kelp.
Also known as blue-green algae, spirulina is 60 percent protein. (Spirulina is found in natural fresh waters, so technically not a sea veggie.) It contains high levels of essential fatty acids, chiefly GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains the antioxidants vitamin C and E, as well as vitamin B, chlorophyll (which helps purify the blood) and it’s a rich source of fatty acids.
Spirulina is good for dogs with arthritis, skin conditions, colitis, IBD and other inflammatory conditions. It boosts the immune system by helping build antibodies, and it promotes a healthy digestive system. Keep in mind, spirulina can upset a dog’s stomach, so pay attention to dosage.
Dulse is a red sea vegetable also known as sea parsley. It is harvested from rocks in North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific coasts. Dulse is dried, and it has a distinctive taste that has been likened to bacon. It contains high levels of iron, iodine, potassium and trace minerals and is rich in vitamin B12. It also contains protein, calcium, fluoride, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, chromium and vitamins C and E.
Dulse should always be ground up first, as feeding it whole can result in intestinal blockages. Sprinkle on your dog’s food as a powder or flakes. Dulse tastes salty, but it’s actually low in salt. Its iodine content supports thyroid health, and the trace minerals and antioxidants boost the immune system.
Kombu is a collection of large brown seaweeds of the laminaria species that can grow up to 1,500 feet high. It is high in protein, as well as C, A, E, K, B-vitamins, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, potassium, silica, zinc and copper. Kombu is also rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and fucoidan, a complex polysaccharide.
Kombu is richer in iodine than any other seaweed. An essential micronutrient, iodine is a critical element of thyroid function. Kombu also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
Buy as a powder and sprinkle on your dog’s food.
Nori are the dried edible seaweed sheets made from a species of red algae called porphyra that sushi comes wrapped in. Nori contains high concentrations of protein, calcium, iron, fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, iodine and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, and E. It also has amino acids, including arginine, which is commonly found in animal protein.
Nori aids in digestion and supports the liver and cardiovascular system. Its omega-3s are good for brain function, immune and cardiovascular health. Nori’s iron is easily absorbed by the body. The proteins are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. It also contains taurine, which is known to lower blood cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids.
“Seaweeds are a great source of vitamins, especially B12 and B vitamins—but Nori is also rich in vitamins A and C and contains 3 percent omega-3 fatty acids,” says Devereaux.
Nori comes in sheets, which can be crumbled into your dog’s food.
Wakami is a brown seaweed with a strong taste that turns green when cooked. It is rich in minerals, anti-oxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and dietary fiber, including high-levels of calcium, iodine, niacin and thiamine.
Wakame is known as blood purifier, liver detoxifier and it supports the gastrointestinal system. It supports healthy skin and coat. It contains fucoidan, which has antioxidant, and reportedly anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. It is also known to regulate metabolism and may be helpful for the diabetic dog.
“Brown seaweeds contain a natural polysaccharide known as algin which has been shown an important detoxifier against heavy metals, free radicals and environmental toxins,” says Devereaux. “Though I’m a big advocate for all-natural flea/tick prevention, adding brown seaweeds to the diet may prove helpful for those dogs on traditional, chemical-based flea/tick treatments.”
Buy as a powder and sprinkle on food or add to homecooked food.
Irish moss is actually not a moss, but a seaweed. It is a species of red algae that grows in the Atlantic coastlines of North America and Europe. Irish moss is rich in antioxidants and nutrients including Vitamins A, E, F and K, calcium, potassium, iodine and sulfur. Irish moss is rich in potassium chloride, which has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It’s reportedly good for the heart, kidneys, bladder, and lungs, and is thought to be good for dry skin.
Buy as a powder and sprinkle a small amount on food.
Before you incorporate the above foods into your dog’s diet, it is important to consult with a professional, such as a dog nutritionist or veterinarian.
The article was reviewed by expert Johnna Devereaux, a clinical pet nutritionist, the director of nutrition and wellness for Bow Wow Labs and owner of Fetch RI. Devereaux has been invited to speak at veterinary hospitals to speak about the benefits of proper nutrition for dogs and cats.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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