Give Your Dog The Benefits of Sea Vegetables

Give Your Dog The Benefits of Sea Vegetables

Is your dog getting the most nutritious vegetables possible? You might want to consider sea vegetables for dogs.  

What Are Sea Vegetables?

Sea vegetables are known as seaweed and sea grasses. They’re edible algae and marine plants. And they’re more nutritious than vegetables grown on land. You’ll see varieties called kelp, kombu, wakame, arame, dulse, nori and Irish moss.   

Sea vegetables are red, green, blue-green and brown. They vary in size from the microscopic phytoplankton to kelp that grows to more than 200 feet high.

Sea vegetables also play an important role for the whole planet. They’re responsible for 90% of the oxygen you breathe and 80% of the earth’s organic matter. 

Sea vegetables feed most ocean life. And they’ve been used in Chinese and Japanese cooking for centuries. So let's look at sea vegetables for dogs ...

Can Dogs Eat Sea Vegetables?

Dogs definitely should eat sea vegetables. They’re rich in many nutrients so they pack a lot into a small amount. And they’re highly digestible. That’s because they have less cellulose than other vegetables grown on land. Cellulose is the fibrous part of veggies that can be difficult for your dog to digest. So, sea vegetables are easier on your dog’s digestive system.

Nutritional Benefits Of Sea Vegetables For Dogs

Sea vegetables have a different nutritional makeup than plants grown on land. Their mineral content is 10 times greater than plants grown in soil. It’s hard to have a mineral deficiency if sea vegetables are in your diet. 

Sea vegetables are about 25% protein so that makes them a rich source of amino acids. And each type offers a different group of vitamins, electrolytes and trace elements. So that’s excellent news for your dog. 

They’re also high in antioxidants including flavonoids and carotenoids that protect against free radicals. Flucoxanthin is one carotenoid with more than 10 times the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E. Itoffers better protection to cell membranes than vitamin A.

RELATED: How to give your dog trace minerals … 

Nutrient Content Of Sea Vegetables

Here’s what you’ll get …

  • Magnesium, manganese, iodine, sodium, calcium, floate, potassium
  • Vitamin K
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients including lycopenes and carotenes
  • Soluble and insoluble dietary fiber
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, E, phosphorus, B vitamins and choline

Many bodily processes require complementary nutrients and sea vegetables deliver them. Calcium uses potassium and magnesium for natural absorption. Iron is used in the presence of vitamin C. And sea vegetables contain all of these.

Seaweed is high in potassium, sodium and  magnesium which gives it a salty taste. Plus it has calcium, phosphorus, iron and trace minerals from the ocean.

7 Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables For Dogs

Feeding your dog sea vegetables is one of the best things you can do for him. Sea vegetables can help prevent common diseases in your dog. And they boost nutrition for his ongoing health. Sprinkle your dog’s food with sea vegetables, and he’ll get these benefits:

1. Cancer Prevention

Brown sea vegetables like kelp, wakame and kombu help prevent the spread of cancerous cells. Anti-tumor properties are found in others.

2. Manage Diabetes And Blood Sugar

Fiber from sea vegetables slows down the digestion of carbs to stabilize blood sugar. Fucoxanthin is an antioxidant that reduces insulin resistance to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes

3. Thyroid Support

Sea vegetables are rich in iodine so they support the endocrine glands and thyroid function. They also contain the amino acid tyrosine which, along with iodine, produces hormones.

But if your dog is hypothyroid, you need to ask your holistic veterinarian about whether sea vegetables are right for him. This is especially important if he’s taking thyroid meds or supplements that might need adjusting.

4. Cardiovascular Health

Sea vegetables have soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. They prevent blood clotting and they reduce blood pressure. 

5. Digestive Health

Sea vegetables are rich in fiber so they prevent constipation and improve digestion. They also provide prebiotics to feed  the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut and support the microbiome. 

6. Heavy Metal Removal

Sea vegetables fight heavy metal accumulations in the body. Dulse has been found to bind with mercury lead, aluminum, copper, cadmium and nickel. It can locate mercury, bind with it and hold it until eliminated from the body. It's also been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier to bind with heavy metals. Spirulina has the ability to draw heavy metals from the central nervous system, brain and liver. (It’s even better used in conjunction with barley grass extract powder.)

7. Increase Energy

With their substantial nutrients, sea vegetables lead to more efficient metabolism. The benefits are increased energy and better immune system support. And that leads to longevity.

Give your dog a long and healthy life by adding some of these top sea vegetables.

Best Sea Vegetables For Dogs

Any time you can add them to your dog’s dinner, you should. These 8 sea vegetables are easy to find and even easier to feed.

Kelp

There are about 30 types of kelp including giant kelp, southern kelp, sugarwack, bull kelp, arame and bongo kelp.

Kelp is high in iodine, minerals and vitamins A, B, E, D and K. And it contains sodium alginate (algin), which removes heavy metals from your dog. Kelp is rich in antioxidants that fight against disease-causing free radicals in your dog’s body.

Kelp can help improve your dog’s skin and coat. The vitamins and minerals in kelp improve glandular function. That results in better energy and fewer infections. 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.

Spirulina

This algae is high in protein at 60%. It’s also high in gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with skin problems such as atopic dermatitis and eczema, another 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 a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system. That benefits older dogs by slowing aging and preventing cancer. It also contains essential fatty acids for your dog’s healthy skin and coat. Spirulina’s an ideal supplement for sick dogs and dogs who’ve lost their appetite, because it’s readily absorbed into the bloodstream.

It can also help support a dog’s aging eyes and reduce the chances of developing cataracts and glaucoma

Dulse

Dulse is a red, slightly salty seaweed harvested by hand. It’s available fresh, dehydrated, flaked, powdered and in capsules. It’s high in vitamin B12 and also has vitamin A, B6, C and E. It’s got beta-carotene and these minerals: potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. It improves your dog’s skin and coat health. And if your dog needs energy, add this sea vegetable and watch the difference!

Kombu

Kombu is a type of kelp. It has specific amino acids that help break down heavy starches in processed dog foods. It also has digestive enzymes that can help reduce your dog's intestinal gas. Kombu is one of the richest sources of iodine in the world. And it contains fucoidan that fights rheumatoid arthritis. It’s available dried or as a fine powder.

Wakame

Wakame is also a type of kelp. It’s a good source of iron and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And supports heart health, improves energy levels, helps balance hormones and strengthens bones. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s used for thyroid, liver, stomach and kidney problems. You can feed your dog wakame fresh or dried.

Nori

Nori is a processed sea vegetable so it’s usually in dried form. It’s the seaweed wrap used in sushi rolls. A sheet of nori contains as much fiber as a cup of spinach and more omega-3s than a cup of avocado. And it’s only 10 calories.. Kombu and wakame are also found in sheet form.

Chlorella

Chlorella is a freshwater microalgae that is a natural detoxifier, a powerful antioxidant and boosts the immune system. It’s also high in fiber, so it’s a great prebiotic. Plus it is antimicrobial and fights off harmful bacteria in your dog’s gut. It’s available in powdered form to mix right into your dog’s food. 

Irish Moss

Irish moss is also an edible sea vegetable also known as sea moss. It’s been used medicinally for centuries in its natural and raw form. This red seaweed is rich with antioxidants. It contains fiber, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iodine, potassium, zinc, bromine and copper. It has value as a digestive aid for gastritis and ulcers, and for respiratory conditions and lung problems. A thickening agent makes up about half of its bulk so it softens into a gel when heated in liquid. You can combine Irish moss with turmeric, bladderwrack and burdock root to provide support for immunity, thyroid, digestive and joint health. It’s available as raw, a gel, powder or capsule.

Caution: Irish moss gets some bad press because of the chemically derived carrageenan that’s made from it. Don’t let this processed byproduct stop you from giving the benefits of whole Irish moss to your dog. Whenever possible, choose whole foods for your dog to obtain vitamins and minerals in their natural state. But if you find your dog has any digestive problems or allergic reactions after eating Irish moss, it may be best to avoid it. 

Where To Find Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables are common in Asian markets, the international section of your grocery store and health food stores. You’ll also find some seaweeds in the freezer section. Kelp and dulse are dried after harvesting to preserve the nutrients so you’ll usually find them in dried form. You’ll want to make sure you’re not getting a product with added salt or spices.

Ways To Feed Sea Vegetables To Dogs

Sea vegetables are packed with nutrients, so your dog only needs a small amount. But feed them regularly.  Treat them like a garnish and sprinkle them  over your dog’s food. You can also rehydrate them in water. Use 1-2g dried per 10kg of your dog’s body weight. That works out to be about ¼ to 1 tsp of dried flakes. Add a nutrient boost to your bone broth by adding a few sprigs of dulse.

You can also crumble unseasoned nori onto your dog’s dinner. These sheets used for sushi also make great training treats for your dog.

There’s a possibility dried sea vegetables can form a gel when wet and could cause a blockage. To be on the safe side, grind or break them into small pieces before feeding. 

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Cautions About Sea Vegetables

Moderation is key with most things, and sea vegetables are no exception. They  are much higher in nutrients than vegetables from the soil, so a little goes a long way. 

Some types might have high levels of sodium and potassium which you’ll need to watch if your dog has kidney disease. They’re also high in vitamin K, and can interfere with blood-thinning medications.

Depending on where they’re harvested, some sea vegetables can also contain high levels of heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic.

As mentioned earlier, if your dog has a thyroid problem, you need to be aware of the iodine content.  You should know that kelp, dulse and kombu can provide more than the safe daily limit. So, check with your holistic vet before feeding these foods to your hypothyroid dog.

But for healthy dogs, adding sea vegetables regularly will improve your dog’s health with very little effort.

References

El-Said, Ghada F, et al. Chemical composition of some seaweed from Mediterranean Sea coast, Egypt. Environ Monit Assess. 2013; 185(7): 6089–6099.

Iodine: Fact Sheet For Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health

Brow, Emma S, et al. Seaweeda and human health. Nutr Rev. 2014 Mar;72(3):205-16.  

Matanjun, Patricia et al. Comparison of cardiovascular protective effects of tropical seaweeds, Kappaphycus alvarezii, Caulerpa lentillifera, and Sargassum polycystum, on high-cholesterol/high-fat diet in rats. J Med Food. 2010 Aug;13(4):792-800.

Maeda, Hayato. Nutraceutical effects of fucoxanthin for obesity and diabetes therapy: a review. J Oleo Sci. 2015;64(2):125-32.

Cho, MyoungLae, et al. Inhibitory effects of fucan sulfates on enzymatic hydrolysis of starch. LWT – Food Science and Technology. Volume 44, Issue 4, May 2011,

Liu, Jinghua, et al. Prebiotic effects of diet supplemented with the cultivated red seaweed Chondrus crispus or with fructo-oligo-saccharide on host immunity, colonic microbiota and gut microbial metabolites. BMC Complement Altern Med.2015; 15: 279.

Mikami, Koji, et al. Biosynthetic Pathway and Health Benefits of Fucoxanthin, an Algae-Specific Xanthophyll in Brown Seaweeds. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Jul; 14(7): 13763–13781.

Chan, Pei Teng, et al. Antioxidant and hypolipidaemic properties of red seaweed, Gracilaria changii. Journal of Applied Phycology. Volume 26, Pages 987–997 (2014)

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McKim, James M Jr, et al. Effects of carrageenan on cell permeability, cytotoxicity, and cytokine gene expression in human intestinal and hepatic cell lines. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Vol 96, Oct. 2016, Pages 1-10.


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