Seaweed is tasty. It’s also nutritious. BUT IT CAN BE DANGEROUS.
So, can dogs eat seaweed?
There’s a short and a long answer to this.
Short answer: Yes, but with care. Seaweed is not a typical dog food UNLESS it is specifically made for dogs (like snacks or supplements). That is, keep your dog away from wild seaweed on beaches.
Long answer: There are many things to consider, and you should pay great attention to what your dog eats – whether on the beach or at home.
Below, we explain everything you need to know about dogs eating seaweed (plus a bit more). Check it out!
Benefits of Feeding Seaweed to Dogs
Most people think dogs are carnivores, and that’s isn’t far from the truth. Almost every canine love meat from nearly any source. But that doesn’t mean dogs don’t enjoy vegetation. Some of them LOVE IT – and this includes anything from leafy greens to tubers and even SEAWEEDS.
It’s hard to believe for some people, but if you’ve seen your dog eating seaweed, grass, or veggies – you know that’s possible. And the dog may even enjoy it.
But, what does your dog get from seaweed?
Well, seaweeds are as healthy as anything. Vitamins, minerals, little fat, tons of fiber, and surprisingly high amounts of protein. As a consequence, your dog can enjoy:
- Improved Cognitive Function
Seaweed, like nori, contains high amounts of vitamin B12. This vitamin is directly related to cognitive function and better metabolism. Evidence also points to vitamin B12 as a nervous system booster and an excellent addition to high-protein diets, as it helps with synthesis.
- Lush Coat
Many minerals seaweed has, like magnesium, iron, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids, are all directly related to your dog’s fur. Together, they help your dog maintain lusher hair and healthier skin that translates into fewer skin issues.
- Energy and Mood
Dogs also get a boost in energy when they eat seaweed, mainly thanks to the massive amount of nutrients in the algae. They act on the brain, endocrine glands, and overall wellbeing, giving your dog a surprising energy boost.
- Better General Health
Seaweeds contain zinc, iodine, copper, folate, magnesium, potassium, and many other minerals. They also contain vitamins (A, B, C, E), omega 3-6 fatty acids, choline, and phosphorous. Your dog gets the whole package of improvements to have the best life, physically and mentally.
Hazards of Feeding Seaweed to Dogs
But don’t rush to buy seaweed for your dog yet…
While helpful in many ways, seaweed may also cause damage, so you must be CAREFUL. Here are some side effects your dog may experience from eating seaweed:
Develops a Taste
Dogs are habit animals. They eat something, they like it, and they will want to eat it forever.
Even if you give your dog safe seaweed, there’s a chance he will get accustomed to the taste. This is not inherently dangerous but could become a problem, as your dog will develop a taste for plants.
This doesn’t only include seaweed but also anything that looks like it (or taste similar). Sure enough, some of these can be dangerous.
Wild seaweed, for example, tends to have tons of different contaminants, like sand and huge amounts of salt. Also, seaweed may have critters and debris that acts directly on your dog’s stomach or straight-up, causing poisoning. That’s why seaweed is mainly used as a supplement or treat.
Say your dog eats a considerable amount of seaweed by mistake… That could cause blockage.
How? Well, seaweed tends to shrink when it is dry. But once it gets wet, it expands as it absorbs water. Consequently, your dog may suffer from a digestive tract blockage that comes with many severe problems.
This is why giving your dog treats or supplements is always a better idea than providing straight-up seaweed. And that’s also why wild seaweed is a total NO-NO.
Seaweed is safe as long as your dog eats it in moderation. Like most foods, seaweed can cause anything from vomiting to diarrhea if they overeat.
This typically happens as your dog eats way more than it should. Digestive issues arise as the seaweed is not processed well.
Whether it is wild seaweed or commercial supplements/treats, there’s a chance your dog gets poisoned.
For wild seaweed, it would be the contaminants and critters. But for commercial seaweed, it could be the seasoning and quantity. Dogs, for example, can’t stand garlic, onions, and other spicy veggies – so you better get non-seasoned seaweed.
Also, consider that most seaweed contains traces of arsenic and mercury. While safe at low and average quantities, they may cause mild poisoning if your dog consumes too much.
Types of Seaweed to Consider
Now, thinking of giving your dog some seaweed? You better choose the right kind.
Here are some seaweed varieties we recommend (and why they’re good).
Have you ever seen sushi rolls covered in a black/green layer? That’s what’s called nori. It is a type of wrap popular in Japanese cuisine. You can find them as sheets, making them easy to use in the kitchen.
Sure enough, it’s also safe to give to your dogs. Most nori comes unseasoned, maybe with a bit of salt, so it doesn’t cause any damage.
What makes nori so helpful is the vast array of vitamins and minerals it contains, from vitamins A, C, and E, to calcium, phosphorous, iron, iodine, magnesium, and more importantly, protein – it has everything.
Also, nori is a low-calorie food, so giving it as a treat or supplement with food comes with little to no danger of weight gain.
Another popular variety is kelp. You can find it as a brown or green alga, often in sheets or noodle-like form. People use it for cooking, soups, salads, and more.
This is one of the densest types of seaweed, and not because it is filled with unwanted nutrients. The total opposite, kelp, is at least 25% protein and contains tons of protein, iodine, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. You get the whole package.
Kelp is also the typical seaweed that grows on coasts. You need to avoid that kind of kelp. Also, avoid any kelp with seasoning. Those are for humans who can handle the spiciness as dogs can get severe poisoning from that.
Many people call it the sea lettuce, as it looks like a vegetable in many ways. But in contrast, you will find it with a dark green or brownish color. People use it for stews, soups, and salads in general. It is easy to find dried or packaged fresh (either works for your dog).
What makes it so helpful is the low-calorie content. Dogs can eat wakame without problems, as it is unlikely to cause weight gain.
As a benefit, wakame comes with tons of manganese, iodine, magnesium, and folate. They help keep your dog cognitively healthy and energized throughout the day.
You may also find it as “dasima” or “haidai.” It is a type of algae that typically comes in sheets as well. In contrast with others, this one may come pickled in vinegar or other sauces. For your dog, it’s better to pick the dried alternative.
Your dog can benefit from the humungous amounts of nutrients. It contains vitamins like A, B, C, E, and K, plus potassium, calcium, sodium, manganese, iron, magnesium, iodine, and even copper. Plus, your dog will also benefit from extra antioxidants, which kombu has a lot of.
In short, you get the chance to feed one of the healthiest foods while improving weight issues and the like.
As the name says, Umibudo grows in vine-like branches with tiny balls hanging on them, like grapes. It’s a popular type of seaweed, as its flavor tends to be salty and the texture super-crispy.
Dogs will love it, both for the taste and the exceptional nutrients it offers. It has everything from vitamins A, B, C, and K to calcium, potassium, iodine, and beta carotene.
You can use sea grapes as treats or supplementation, and your dog shouldn’t mind.
Regardless of what seaweed you pick, make sure you don’t feed more than it’s useful. Too much seaweed, like explained above, can cause serious digestive issues, poisoning, and worse. Apart from that, make sure it’s commercial and unseasoned seaweed.
How to Feed Seaweed to Dogs?
There are many ways to feed seaweed to dogs, mainly as treats or supplements alongside a complete diet. Follow these tips for the best experience:
⦁ Sprinkle seaweed on dog’s food – whether kibble, raw food, or meat, a bit of seaweed mixed or on top of the food your dog likes is always helpful.
⦁ Get seaweed treats – some pet shops sell seaweed treats that you can use to either train your dog or simply feed occasionally. If you can’t find these treats, buying dry seaweed and giving your dog small portions may also work.
⦁ Take it easy – it’s vital not to overfeed your dog. Even if seaweed is inherently low-calorie and contains tons of nutrients, your dog will be better off with moderate consumption once or twice a day.
⦁ Avoid wild alternatives – you’ll be better off with the dry varieties of seaweed or those farmed in safe environments. Don’t feed your dog any seaweed taken from wild habitats as they may contain unwanted contaminants.
⦁ Talk to the veterinarian first – before you give anything new to your dog, make sure it’s safe by telling your dog’s doctor first. They’ll let you know what seaweed, how much, and how often to feed seaweed to avoid issues.
Feeding your dog some seaweed shouldn’t be much of a problem going forward with these tips.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You will be surprised to know seaweed is uncommon dog food. Many dogs don’t like it at all (they don’t usually eat plants for pleasure). But curious and eat-it-all dogs won’t mind eating some seaweed. Especially because seaweed is healthy and nutritious, some dogs may find it irresistible.
The main reason is that dog’s instincts tell them to eat something rich. Given seaweed contains proteins, fiber, and tons of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids – they won’t have any issue eating lots of it.
Yes. There’s evidence that the Bacillus licheniformis has positive effects on any dog’s teethFF. It protects against decay by removing bacteria and reducing plaque.
Apart from that, kelp is known for containing bacteria that eat away bad bacteria and produce good ones. It also creates an enzyme that breaks down plaque and tartar.
Yes. Wild seaweed, for example, can be poisonous if it has critters or other dangerous contaminants. And more importantly, it can expand inside your dog’s digestive tract and cause obstruction, something that’s only solvable via surgery. This is primarily true for dry seaweed that expands as it absorbs liquids.
The best thing you can do is to call your veterinarian. Vets already know the ins and outs of the process, either to prevent your dog from getting into a life-threatening condition or simply to avoid eating more of it.
If your dog shows severe side effects like nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, bloating, abdominal pain, or clear signs of distress or congestion – TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY!
Seaweed may look non-threatening, but it’s not. It can cause serious damage that you’ll want to avoid by getting professional help first.
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Be Careful with Seaweed and Your Dog!
So, can dogs eat seaweed? YES!
But you need to be EXTRA CAREFUL!
Seaweed is healthy and nutritious enough to cause little to no damage (it’s a healthy treat or supplement instead).
Having said that, seaweed can be dangerous to the point of life-threatening. This is primarily true for wild seaweed (from beaches and lakes) and big amounts of seaweed the dog can’t process.
If you get one last thing from this article, you shouldn’t give your dog wild-growing seaweed and instead stick to dry, unseasoned options or treats.
Is everything clear now? We hope so!
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.