Unseasoned commercially produced seaweed and seaweed supplements are in fact safe for dogs and can have some surprising health benefits. Wild seaweed from the beach, though, can be extremely dangerous and will require a trip to the vet.
Feeding Seaweed to Dogs
Seaweed is full of benefits. WedMD has done some research on the benefits of seaweed to humans, which include boosting the immune system, stabilizing blood sugar, improving gut health, and more.
It turns out many of these benefits can also apply to our furry friends. Though there are fewer studies on the effects of seaweed on dogs, it’s generally accepted that seaweed can help them have healthy skin and shinier coats.
It can also help them get some of the vitamins and nutrients they need. Just make sure you are monitoring their intake of seaweed and limiting the amount they consume. Everything in moderation!
When feeding your pet seaweed, you should start with small amounts and monitor their reaction. If your dog has diarrhea, vomiting, or reduced energy, you should consult your vet and lay off on the seaweed. However, if they react well, you can slowly increase the amount of seaweed as part of their diet.
I can’t tell you an exact amount of seaweed that’s okay for dogs, because each dog is different. Weight, size, age, energy level, and breed will all play a part. If you aren’t sure how much seaweed is okay to feed your dog, err on the side of caution and ask your vet or pet nutritionist for a recommendation.
I need to make a special mention of wild seaweed. It’s not the same to feed your pet a bite of dried sushi that’s been cleaned and prepared as it is to let them eat wild seaweed they find near the water.
Seaweed found on the beach or along a river has been dried by the sun. When your dog eats it, the seaweed will expand in their stomach as it collects liquid. This can cause blockages in their stomach and digestive system.
If your dog eats wild seaweed, or even if you just suspect that they have, you should plan out a trip to the vet as soon as possible for removal.
This is definitely reason enough to keep a careful eye on your pup whenever you’re around wild seaweed, but it isn’t the only reason. Wild seaweed isn’t clean or prepared. Depending on where you are, it could be filled with pollutants that can cause a whole host of problems for your dog.
In addition, wild seaweed may contain bugs, parasites, and other plant pieces that might be harmful to dogs. And, finally, if your dog is scarfing up seaweed at the beach, there’s a good chance they’ll also get a few mouthfuls of sand, which can also cause blockages in their digestive system.
So, to sum up, prepared seaweed has some nutritional benefits and is safe for dogs. Wild seaweed is not, and will require an immediate trip to the vet.
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Dog Nutrition Quick Facts
If you’re like me, you find yourself often asking Google what food is okay to feed your dog. My french bulldog just has such a cute way of tilting his head whenever I’m snacking, politely asking me to share.
However, it isn’t a good idea to give your dog a taste of whatever you’re having. Lots of vegetables are safe for dogs, but some are not, and many seasonings can cause problems for our four-legged friends.
Instead of sharing your treats, try to put together a healthy and delicious diet for your dog. Many commercial dog foods are designed to cover the needs of your pet. Check to make sure the main ingredient is meat, not grains, though.
You can supplement dog food with some healthy treats, like small amounts of seaweed, blueberries, or carrots. However, every time you introduce a new food you’ll want to do so slowly, while monitoring your dog for any changes in bowel movement, energy, or appetite.
While dogs are carnivores, they don’t actually just eat meat. Wolves in the wild are foragers, meaning they’ll eat what they can find. Modern domesticated dogs are also able to produce some plant-based foods and can get important nutrients from them.
Just remember, every dog is different. It’s up to you to work with your vet and watch your dog closely to see what foods agree with them and what foods don’t. If your pet doesn’t like a particular vegetable, don’t force them to eat it and instead just focus on finding other treats to provide them with a delicious balanced diet.
The ASPCA has some tips for creating a balanced diet for dogs at different ages. You can start here as you build a nutrition plan for your dog.
The Dangers of Table Scraps
Did you know that garlic and onions are both toxic for dogs? Tons of human meals contain these two ingredients, since they’re a great flavor for humans. There are other ingredients that humans love but can hurt dogs as well, like avocado, caffeine, and salt.
Just because your dog can eat seaweed doesn’t mean you should be tossing over a piece of sushi. The raw fish can cause problems, and the sushi may have spicy ingredients like wasabi that will upset your dog’s stomach.
There’s a reason that dog food exists. While you can definitely make your own dog food with special ingredients, in general it’s best to remember that human food and dog food are the same. You and your pet have different needs. Respect your pup by feeding them the right kind of food, food that will give them the nutrients they need instead of the flavors you like.
If you aren’t sure whether something is safe to feed your dog, it’s probably a good idea not to risk it. Give your dog a dog treat or a small piece of cooked meat instead.
And, if your dog does eat something they shouldn’t, like wild seaweed, a teabag, or a slice of avocado, you should call your vet and bring your dog in for a checkup. Keep a careful eye on how they react and avoid serious problems by having them seen by a vet early on in case they need treatment.
Recap: What Should You Feed Your Dog?
I leave you with a quick summary. Yes, your dog can eat seaweed, as long as it isn’t wild seaweed off the beach.
When it comes to dog food, always err on the side of caution and monitor your dog when you introduce new foods. Each dog is different and the exact amount of food, like seaweed, that your dog can eat will depend on factors such as weight, size, age, breed, energy level, and diet.
For the healthiest diet, work with your vet or with an animal nutritionist to create a plan for your pup. That plan may rely on dry dog food or it may involve a hands-on homemade food mix. It may include seaweed or seaweed supplements, but it will be intentional, balanced, and free of table scraps.
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