Seaweed: a uniquely flavored snack. Some people love it, some people hate it, but most have an opinion about it either way. Have you ever wondered what your dog may think about the taste, or if they can even eat seaweed at all?
Yes, dogs can eat edible seaweed. They can even get some great nutrients from it — if provided in moderation.
And what do we mean by “edible seaweed?” Essentially, almost any seaweed that humans can eat can also be eaten by their canine companions.
Letting your pup chow down on seaweed washed up on the beach, on the other hand, is inadvisable. A simple rule to follow here is, can you identify it as an edible seaweed? If not, then dissuade your dog from making a meal of it.
Health Benefits of Seaweed for Dogs
As a supplemental food or treat, clean and prepared seaweed can be incredibly healthy and beneficial to your dog.
Seaweed is nutrient-dense and packed with good things like fatty acids. Omega-3s in particular can support canine brain development, joint health, and healthy skin and coats.
Wakame seaweed, for example, is full of the omega-3 fatty acid and eicosapentaenoic acid and is one of the richest plant sources for that nutrient in the world.
Some seaweed may even help overweight dogs burn off excess fatty tissues with the help of a compound known as fucoxanthin.
However, that is not to say that seaweed is necessarily something you should feed your pup every day. Moderation and caution are key when making changes to your dog’s diet.
Can Seaweed Be Bad for Dogs?
Just like any food, too much of a good thing can be harmful.
In fact, a few types of edible seaweed that humans enjoy can have small amounts of inorganic, toxic metals in them. Nori seaweed is a prime example.
The metal content is extremely variable based on the location the Nori harvested from, and the quality. But to be safe, daily consumption of large amounts is not advisable — for people or dogs!
Furthermore, even the completely safe types of seaweed are not an “eat this and be healthy” sort of cure-all. Just like human nutrition, canine nutrition needs some nutrients to be carefully balanced to get all the benefits out of them.
Dogs are omnivores but do best with the majority of their calories and proteins coming from healthy meats. While canines can get nutrients from and digest plants, it is not always as easy for them as it is for humans.
Besides being a little harder to digest, another special concern is that seaweed can also be incredibly chewy, and sometimes hard to swallow. Some seaweed is prone to clumping, which may result in hacking and coughing.
Some dogs are notorious for scarfing down food and not chewing very thoroughly. The texture of seaweed means that gulping it down could seriously increase the risk of choking or intestinal blockages.
If your dog eats at lighting speed, try giving them dried and ground seaweed in small amounts, or just avoid them altogether.
In other words, carefully consider the portion size of any seaweed you feed your dog. Talk to your vet if you want to make seaweed part of your dog’s regular diet.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Seaweed
Some kinds of seaweed can be healthy in small amounts for your dog. But what if your pooch eats an entire bag of Nori, or goes to town on a lump of unidentifiable kelp on the beach?
Call a veterinarian immediately in cases such as either of those.
Eating beach seaweed may also cause your dog to ingest excessive quantities of saltwater, which can hurt their stomachs. Additionally, seaweed can absorb all kinds of pollution and toxins, so you’ll want to get your dog checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
And when it comes to identified, edible seaweed, even the safest ones can cause gastrointestinal distress when eaten in large amounts.
How to Feed Seaweed to Your Dog
As we just mentioned, seaweed can be challenging for some dogs to chew and swallow.
To be on the safe side, if you want to feed seaweed to your dog, we recommend giving seaweed to your pup in a dried form or chopped very small in with other food.
Always check the ingredient lists of any seaweed you buy and avoid those that are put through processing that loads them with unhealthy things like salts and refined sugars.
Keep fresh water in their bowl nearby too, which will help their food get fully washed down and moved through their digestive system smoothly.
Types of Seaweed to Feed Your Dogs
A marine algae and sea vegetable with a slightly sweet, distinctive flavor and texture. It is most often found dried and should be rehydrated before eating.
Nori is a red algae that is used in Japanese cuisine, and often seen as a wrap for sushi rolls or rice balls. You can most commonly find it as dried sheets.
Please note that this seaweed can sometimes contain trace amounts of arsenic and cadmium, and letting your dog ingest large amounts is highly discouraged.
A large, brown algae with over 30 varieties that is used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cooking. Kelp is used to flavor broths, as a garnish or vegetable, and in snacks. It can be served dried, raw, or cooked.
One of the most widely used edible kelps, kombu is usually bought dried or pickled in vinegar. Avoid the vinegar for your pup, but feel free to let them try broth made with kombu.
This soft, succulent seaweed is a species of green algae native to the Indo-Pacific region. And it really does look rather like a bunch of very small grapes! It is beloved by people of the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam. Sea grapes are most commonly eaten raw.
Final Thoughts on Feeding Seaweed to Your Dog
So, should you feed your dog seaweed?
Random beach algae? Definitely not!
When it comes to cleaned, edible seaweed, however, it may be a delicious treat. Many types of seaweed can confer health benefits to dogs, but you should always err on the side of caution and keep portion sizes small.
Talk to your vet before making any drastic diet changes and ask them what amounts and kinds of seaweed your dog can try!
Featured image credit: shutterstock