Can My Dog Eat Seaweed?
A beachy snack? 🤔
Seaweed has a ton of health benefits for people. But is it healthy for dogs, too?
It turns out seaweed can be good for dogs — but only certain types of seaweed.
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and a veterinary consultant for FiveBarks; Dr. Corinne Wigfall, a veterinarian spokesperson for SpiritDog Training; and Dr. Graham Brayshaw, the director of animal services at the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota, to find out how to feed your dog seaweed safely.
Benefits of seaweed for dogs
Seaweed may seem like a strange thing to feed your dog, but it’s actually really healthy.
“It does contain a range of nutrients, including iodine, magnesium and fatty acids, which confer a number of health benefits,” Dr. Simon told The Dodo.
The magnesium in seaweed is used for energy production and muscle function. The fatty acids help maintain dogs’ immune system and skin and coat health, regulate inflammation in the body and promote healthy development in puppies.
According to Dr. Brayshaw, seaweed’s also a good source of iron, which plays a role in producing red blood cells.
Dangers of seaweed for dogs
While seaweed does have lots of nutrients, there are some risks to giving your dog seaweed.
Avoid giving your dog seaweed snacks that have any kind of seasoning on them. Dogs have trouble digesting seasonings that we eat, and some can even be toxic, like garlic and onion powder.
“Some seaweed is high in salt, and many pre-packaged seaweeds contain additional ingredients, such as wasabi and chili, which a dog would struggle to digest comfortably,” Dr. Simon said.
Dogs also shouldn’t eat dried seaweed because it can block their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts.
“Dried seaweed can expand in your dog's intestinal tract and become stuck in the intestines,” Dr. Wigfall told The Dodo. “When eaten, the fluids from the intestinal tract rehydrate the dried seaweed and cause it to expand. If eaten in enough quantities, it can cause a life-threatening obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract.”
If your dog has a thyroid problem, you shouldn’t give him seaweed. Iodine can cause his body to produce either too much or too little of the thyroid hormone, which can make him sick.
“Due to the iodine content, which varies dramatically from one seaweed plant to the next, those with diagnosed thyroid issues should steer clear of seaweed altogether,” Dr. Simon said.
Can dogs have seaweed chips?
Dogs shouldn’t have seaweed chips because they’re basically dried seaweed, which can block your dog’s intestinal tract, and most seaweed chips have seasonings on them, like garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs.
Can dogs have seaweed supplements?
If you want to give your dog seaweed supplements to take advantage of the nutritional benefits, you should give him supplements that are made for dogs only.
“Supplements containing seaweed specifically formulated for dogs are safe and can be given,” Dr. Wigfall said. “Supplements for humans may have other ingredients that are not safe for dogs, such as xylitol, so always read the label and check with your veterinarian if unsure.”
Can dogs eat sushi with seaweed?
The seaweed on the outside of sushi is fine for dogs, but there’s a possibility that your dog could get food poisoning from the raw fish, so it’s best to save the sushi for yourself.
“Raw fish can contain parasites, which can be harmful to dogs, so we would not recommend feeding raw fish to your dog,” Dr. Wigfall said.
Can dogs eat seaweed at the beach?
You definitely shouldn’t let your dog eat seaweed that washes up on the beach. That seaweed often gets dried out by the sun, and dried seaweed is super dangerous for dogs to eat.
“Beware of dried seaweed, especially if found on the shore,” Dr. Simon said. “This type of seaweed has the potential to expand in the stomach when mixed with water. This can lead to bloating, discomfort and even a gut obstruction.”
Also, seaweed at the beach is usually super salty from the ocean, which can make your pup sick.
“Seaweed from the beach is often soaked in seawater, which is high in sodium (salt),” Dr. Wigfall said. “Too much sodium ingestion can lead to toxicity, needing hospitalization to correct the dehydration, vomiting and lethargy that results.”
And since seaweed at the beach is wild, it could have other organisms, such as bacteria or fungus, or chemicals on it that could make your dog sick as well, Dr. Brayshaw told The Dodo.
How to safely feed your dog seaweed
The best way to feed your dog seaweed is by giving him plain seaweed as a treat every once in a while.
“Any commercially prepared seaweed, kelp or nori is the best bet,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “Stay away from seaweed that's seasoned with other ingredients that may be poisonous to your dog, like onion or garlic.”
So next time you have some sushi, you can give your dog a pet-safe seaweed snack so he can join you.
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