Sea vegetables, seaweeds and sea grasses are valuable additions to your dog’s diet. They are as nutritious for your dog as they are for you.
What Are Sea Vegetables?
Sea vegetables describe all different types of edible algae and marine plants … though they are usually called seaweed. Common sea vegetables include kelp, kombu, wakame, arame, dulse, nori and irish moss. They can grow in the sea, lakes and rivers, but those from the sea are most common in the human diet. In fact, many freshwater varieties can be toxic.
Sea vegetables are red, green, blue-green and brown. There are extreme differences in size … with phytoplankton being microscopic while kelp can grow to over 200 feet in height.
Sea vegetables aren’t just important to diet, they’re important to the whole planet. The impact of sea vegetables on the global ecosystem is enormous. They produce as much as 90% of the oxygen in the atmosphere and up to 80% of the organic matter found on Earth.
And sea vegetables are the food source for ocean-dwelling mammals and fish.Marine life from penguins to whales rely on various types of sea vegetables. Plus sea vegetables have been part of the human diet for thousands of years in Chinese and Japanese cooking.
Can Your Dog Eat Sea Vegetables?
Yes. And he absolutely should. Sea vegetables and seaweeds are the best vegetables for your dog. Not only are they nutritionally rich, they are highly digestible. Other types of vegetables contain a lot of cellulose, which is difficult for dogs to digest. But there is much less cellulose in sea vegetables so they’re easier on your dog’s digestive system.
Plus they’re rich in many nutrients, packing a lot of nutritional punch in a small amount.
Nutritional Benefits Of Sea Vegetables For Your Dog
Sea vegetables have an entirely different level of nutrients compared to terrestrial plants grown on land. The mineral content of sea vegetables is 10 times greater than in plants grown in soil. Mineral deficiencies are rare in those who include seaweed in their diet.
Sea vegetables are one of the richest plant sources of minerals and amino acids. And that’s excellent news for your dog. Each type has a different nutrient profile including vitamins, electrolytes and trace elements. They’re also a good source of protein at 25% or more, with minimal fat.
They’re also high in antioxidants including flavonoids and carotenoids that protect against free radicals. Flucoxanthin is a carotenoid found in brown algae. It has more than 10 times the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E. And it’s shown to offer better protection to cell membranes than vitamin A.
RELATED: Why your dog needs minerals in his diet …
What Nutrients Are In Sea Vegetables?
Nutrients in sea vegetables include …
- High amounts of these minerals: magnesium, manganese, iodine, sodium, calcium, floate, potassium
- HIgh in vitamin K
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, E, phosphorus, B vitamins and choline
- Phytonutrients such as lycopenes and carotenes
- Large amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber
Sea vegetables contain a perfect package of complementary nutrients. Calcium uses potassium and magnesium for natural absorption … and sea vegetables are high in all of them. Iron is more efficiently used by the body in the presence of vitamin C … and sea vegetables contain both.
Contrary to popular belief, seaweed is low in salt (even though it tastes salty).. It’s used as a salt substitute … but it’s got more nutritional benefits. Seaweed is high in potassium and magnesium which leads to the salty taste. Plus it has sodium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and other trace minerals naturally found in the ocean.
Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables For Dogs
Feeding your dog sea vegetables is one of the best things you can do for him. They can help prevent common diseases while boosting nutrition to support his long-term health. Here are some of the things sea vegetables can do with only a sprinkling a day on your dog’s food.
Brown sea vegetables like kelp, wakame and kombu have compounds that may help prevent the spread of cancerous cells. Others contain anti-tumor properties.
Diabetes And Blood Sugar
Fucoxanthin is an antioxidant thought to reduce insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. And fiber slows down the digestion of carbs and stabilizes blood sugar.
Heavy Metal Removal
Sea vegetables fight heavy metal accumulations in the body. Dulse binds with mercury lead, aluminum, copper, cadmium and nickel. It can locate mercury, bind with it and hold it until eliminated from the body. It also crosses the blood-brain barrier to bind with heavy metals. Spirulina draws heavy metals from the central nervous system, brain and liver. (Use it in conjunction with barley grass extract powder.)
Sea vegetables support the endocrine glands and thyroid function. They’re rich in iodine the thyroid needs to make hormones. They also contain the amino acid tyrosine which is also used to produce hormones. But if your dog is hypothyroid, ask your holistic veterinarian for specific advice about sea vegetables … especially if he’s on any thyroid medications or supplements. .
With its soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, sea vegetables support heart health. They also have anticoagulant properties so they prevent blood clotting. And they contain sulfated polysaccharides that reduce blood pressure.
Gut Health And Digestion
Because sea vegetables are rich in fiber they can prevent constipation and improve digestion. They have insoluble fiber which is a prebiotic and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut to support the microbiome. One study found that it was more effective than other prebiotics.
Sea vegetables’ substantial nutrients lead to a more efficient metabolism. That results in an increase in energy and better immune system support. And good health leads to longevity.
Start adding more minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients to your dog’s diet with these top 7 sea vegetables.
Top 7 Sea Vegetables For Your Dog
Sea vegetables are full of nutrients with lots of health benefits. So any time you can add them to your dog’s dinner, you should. Here are 7 sea vegetables for your dog that are easy to find and even easier to feed.
Kelp refers to more than 120 species of brown algae. And within brown algae, there are about 30 types of kelp including giant kelp, southern kelp, sugarwack, bull kelp, arame and bongo kelp.
Like most sea vegetables, these marine plants are high in minerals and vitamins A, B, E, D and K. Kelp also contains sodium alginate (algin) which is valuable in removing heavy metals from your dog. Alginates are also used as a natural thickener in products like toothpaste and ice cream. Kelp is rich in antioxidants that fight against disease-causing free radicals in your dog’s body.
If your dog has dry skin, skin allergies and alopecia (hair loss), kelp can help achieve a healthier skin and coat. The protein content of kelp helps tissue repair. There’s even been some success in controlling flea outbreaks by including kelp in the diet.
The vitamins and minerals in kelp also help with metabolism and that leads to better glandular function. Energy increases and dogs suffer fewer infections. Like most sea vegetables, kelp has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-rheumatic properties to keep your dog healthy. Kelp is available as fresh, dried or as a powdered supplement.
This algae is also 60% protein which is high by sea vegetable standards. It’s also high in gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is an essential fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. It can fight inflammation when it appears as skin problems such as atopic dermatitis and eczema. It also helps with inflammatory conditions like arthritis, colitis and irritable bowel disease. And it can inhibit the growth of certain cancers.
Spirulina contains vitamin C, E, B complex, carotenoids, chlorophyll (which helps purify the blood) and phycocyanin. It’s highly digestible and like all sea vegetables, it’s nutrient dense.
Spirulina is also a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system. It’s especially beneficial for older dogs as it can help slow down aging and prevent cancer.
Spirulina’s rich supply of essential fatty acids promotes healthy skin and coat. The protein from spirulina can be easily and readily absorbed into the bloodstream. That makes spirulina an ideal supplement for sick dogs and dogs with a loss of appetite.
Feeding older dogs spirulina can also help support their aging eyes and lower their chances of developing cataracts and glaucoma. And if your dog has the habit of eating grass, spirulina can break this habit by supplying lots of missing nutrients.
Dulse is a red seaweed harvested by hand. That’s because it’s pulled and scraped from the rocks where it grows. It’s available as fresh, dehydrated, flaked, powdered and in capsules. It has a slight salty taste. It’s high in vitamin B12 and also has vitamin A, B6, C and E. Plus it’s got beta-carotene and these minerals: potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. It helps improve your dog’s skin and coat health. And if your dog needs energy, this is the sea vegetable to add!
This brown seaweed is a member of the kelp family and provides several benefits. Kombu has specific amino acids that help break down heavy starches that you’ll find in many processed dog foods. It also has digestive enzymes so if your dog has intestinal gas, kombu should relieve it. Kombu also has the highest amount of iodine of all the sea vegetables making it one of the richest sources of iodine in the world. Kombu contains fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide that fights rheumatoid arthritis. It’s available dried or as a fine powder.
Wakame is also a member of the kelp family. It’s known for being the base ingredient of miso soup. But you’ll want to give it to your dog because it’s a good source of iron and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It supports heart health, boosts energy levels, helps balance hormones and strengthen bones. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s used as an immunomodulator for the treatment of thyroid problems. It’s often used for issues of the liver, stomach and kidney. You can feed your dog wakame fresh or dried.
Nori is a processed type of sea vegetable. Fresh seaweed gets chopped and blended into a slurry and then made into sheets and toasted. So it’s usually found in dried form. You’ll recognize it as the papery seaweed wrap used in sushi rolls. A 5 inch sheet of nori contains as much fiber as a cup of spinach and more omega-3s than a cup of avocado at only 10 calories. Kombu and wakame are also found in sheet form.
7. Irish Moss
Irish moss is also an edible sea vegetable but with a caution that will be explained in a bit. It’s also known as sea moss, an algae used medicinally for centuries. Red seaweeds like sea moss are rich with antioxidants. It contains fiber, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iodine, potassium, zinc, bromine and copper. It’s used as a digestive aid for problems such as gastritis and ulcers. It’s also used for respiratory conditions and other lung problems. It includes a thickening agent that makes up about half of its bulk. So that’s why it softens into a gel when heated in liquid. Irish moss is often combined with turmeric, bladderwrack and burdock root to provide overall support for immunity, thyroid, digestive and joint health. It’s available as raw, a gel, powder or capsule.
Carrageenan is a thickening agent derived from Irish moss. You’ll recognize it from the controversy about carrageenan health concerns. Several international health agencies including the FDA dismissed the concerns. And a 2016 study was unable to reproduce any of the reported in vitro (rather than animal testing) findings. It concluded: “This work also demonstrates that when in vitro systems are used to identify potential hazards for humans, the results should be reproducible outside of the discovery laboratory…”
But the damage to carageenan’s reputation was already done. Saying Irish moss should be avoided because of the harmful effects of chemically processed carrageenan is a bit like saying you should avoid potatoes because vodka can lead to alcoholism or fatal car accidents. There are many steps between the whole food and digestion and the processed product. Whenever possible, choose whole foods for your dog to obtain vitamins and minerals in their natural state where they are best digested.
Here’s Where You’ll Find Sea Vegetables
You’ll usually find sea vegetables in Asian markets or the international section of your grocery store or health food store. Some seaweeds are in the freezer section. Sea vegetables like kelp and dulse are usually in a dried form rather than raw. They’re dried after harvesting to preserve the nutrients. Just be sure you’re getting a product without additives of salt or spices.
You can feed sea vegetables to your dog in regular but small amounts. Feed it in dried form like a garnish. Just sprinkle it over your dog’s food. Or you can rehydrate sea vegetables in water. Use 1-2g dried per 10kg of body weight. Depending on the size of your dog, that works out to be about ¼ to 1 tsp of dried flakes. You can also add a few sprigs of dulse to simmer in your bone broth to add the benefits of sea vegetables.
You can use nori, the unseasoned seaweed sheets used for sushi. Just crumble it on your dog’s dinner or use it as training treats for your dog.
Dried sea vegetable flakes and sheets can form a gel when wet and may cause a blockage. Avoid this by grinding or breaking them into small pieces before feeding.
Don’t Overdo Sea Vegetables
There are some cautions with sea vegetables. Like everything, moderation is key, especially when sea vegetables are so much higher in nutrients than soil-grown vegetables. You only need a little to give your dog the benefits of sea vegetables.
When you add sea vegetables to your dog’s diet, you boost his health with very little effort.
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