In many regions, particularly in coastal communities, varieties of seaweed have become a staple in the kitchen. Seaweeds, also known as sea vegetables, don’t just taste good because of their umami flavor. They also offer a myriad of health benefits.
We know veggies are good for our pets. But how about those that come from the sea? Do they count as dog-friendly vegetables? Keep reading for more information about seaweed for dogs.
Seaweeds for Dogs: Friendly or Deadly?
This depends on the kind of seaweed you’re going to feed your dog. There are thousands of kinds of seaweed worldwide and not all of them are safe to eat. The wild ones or the dried ones that have washed up on the beach are not meant for consumption. Those seaweeds from the grocery or from the restaurant are the safe types you can share with your buddy.
The seaweeds you see at the beach are actually deceitful. They shrink when they dry so if your dog ever tries them, he might eat them relentlessly. Your buddy might not even chew them because of their small size.
This is where the problem starts. Once ingested, the seaweed begins to expand as it absorbs fluids from your pet’s body. When it swells in the stomach, it has the tendency to cause intestinal blockage. Needless to say, a gastrointestinal blockage can be deadly. Therefore, take extra caution when it comes to feeding seaweed to dogs.
Dogs usually get into wild seaweeds during a walk at the beach. To make sure your dog will not eat the dried seaweeds or any hazardous material like stones and shells, keep a close eye on him. There are many potential hazards at the beach. Apart from seaweed, some dogs also eat the sand and even fish hooks!
Furthermore, it is best to limit your dog’s time at the beach. The intense heat could leave him dehydrated. In worst cases, dogs could also suffer from heat stroke because of the intensely hot temperature.
The Best Types of Seaweed for Dogs
The edible kinds of seaweed are the kelp, nori, wakame, dulse, and hijiki. Each of these types has a different use in cooking and they also taste different from one another. Kelp, the most popular type of edible seaweed, is often used for salads, snacks, and noodles. Besides being a food ingredient, kelp is also being used for other commercial products such as cosmetics and supplements.
Nori, on the other hand, is that thin sheet used for wrapping the rice in sushi dishes. Many pet owners give their pets nori as a reward. There are owners who intentionally give it for the sake of improving their pet’s fur. The best kind of nori is the one used for making sushi since it is usually plain and does not contain additives.
Like kelp and nori, dulse is an edible seaweed that you can safely give to dogs. These types of red sea vegetables are also called sea parsley. Your pet will surely be pleased with its taste because it is somewhat comparable to bacon. It is best known for its added crunch.
If you are currently in Japan or like the Japanese cuisine, you have surely come across wakame. This brown seaweed is very popular among people trying to lose weight because it regulates metabolism and it also supports a healthy gastrointestinal system. Wakame is safe for canines and it is also packed with nutrients such as iodine, calcium, and thiamine.
What to Do If Dog Eats Dried Seaweed
The best thing you can do is call your veterinarian for assistance. Depending on your dog’s condition, your vet might require you to bring the dog to a veterinary hospital immediately. If your pet is showing any sign of discomfort, don’t hesitate to take him to a vet as soon as you can.
The signs of intestinal blockage in canines include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Your pet might also suffer from lethargy and bloating. Because of the blockage in the intestines, your pet will likely display apparent signs of pain.
Unfortunately, one out of three dogs dies because of eating dried seaweed at the beach. If you suspect your dog ate seaweed, take him to a vet for an ultrasound. This will show if the plant is causing an intestinal blockage. If this is the case, your pet will eventually have to undergo surgery.
Risks in Feeding Seaweed to Dogs
While the edible types of seaweed are not toxic to dogs, there are still a few things to keep in mind before offering some to your own pet. First, all kinds of seaweed are subject to high iodine contents. All of them contain this mineral but the amount varies depending on the class.
Kelp contains the highest amount of iodine among all varieties of seaweed. Your buddy needs iodine but too much of it can eventually lead to poisoning. Iodine poisoning in dogs can negatively affect Fido’s thyroid function and form.
The only good news here is that your dog will not get too much iodine from natural kelp. Iodine poisoning because of seaweed only takes place when dogs ingest excessive amounts of kelp supplement.
The second concern with seaweed is the sodium content. Seaweed has the tendency to be so salty that many people suggest using it over sodium chloride or salt. A sheet of roasted nori has around 11 milligrams of sodium while a 1/8 cup of kelp contains as much as 23.3 milligrams of this nutrient.
How to Give Seaweed to Dogs
There are various ways of incorporating seaweed to your pet’s meal. The easiest way is giving it in the form of a supplement. Kelp supplements are widely available and have been receiving many positive reviews from the dog community.
If you are planning to give your pet nori, cut it into small strips. Make sure that the type of nori you are giving your pet is unsalted and avoid the kind which is fried and seasoned. This is not recommended for pets because the additives could cause ill effects in them. There are already organic nori varieties being sold on the market.
Another way to serve nori to dogs is by shredding it. You can sprinkle it on top of your dog’s meal. If you don’t have time to do this, simply buy pre-shredded nori from specialty stores.
Benefits of Seaweeds to Canines
- Seaweed can help improve Fido’s cognitive skills. These sea vegetables, particularly the nori, contain an impressive amount of Vitamin B12.
- It alkalizes your dog’s body. The alkali in seaweed maintains the balance of acid in the body, which helps in detoxifying the body from radiation and heavy metals.
- It reduces risks of many diseases, including cancer. Seaweeds, especially nori, have anti-inflammatory properties. This eventually keeps your pet from further developing cardiovascular diseases, tumors, and cancer.
- It supports a healthy metabolism. Seaweeds could help if you are helping your pet shed some extra pounds. Because of its ability to increase metabolism, it plays a role in weight loss.
- The iodine content of seaweed can help dogs with thyroid problems or those suffering from dysfunctions of the pituitary gland.
The Bottom Line
Seaweed is a healthy treat for canines, as long as you offer it in moderation. In the right amounts, these sea vegetables are a great addition to your pet’s diet. Don’t let your pet eat dried seaweed, though, as it may cause ill effects in dogs. Be careful when walking with your pet at the beach, where dried seaweeds are everywhere.