Seaweed is a bit polarizing as a food. Some countries’ cuisines feature it heavily. Some people love it, but others just don’t like the taste. However, some substances extracted from seaweed are used as additives and emulsifiers in many foods. In the United States, at least, it’s unlikely that your dog will come across food-grade seaweed by accident, though they may encounter wild seaweed on the beach. Since seaweed is often touted as a “superfood” for humans, you may wonder if it’s good for your dog, as well.
Can dogs eat seaweed? The answer is a little complicated. Unseasoned seaweed that’s safe for human consumption, like dulse and nori, and seaweed supplements are fine for dogs in moderation. However, your dog should never eat wild seaweed found along the beach, especially if it’s dried.
Here are some important things to know about seaweed for dogs.
- Usually, if a form of seaweed is edible and safe for humans, dogs can eat it in small amounts without problems.
- The exception is seaweed or seaweed salads that have been seasoned with foods that are dangerous to dogs, like garlic and onions.
- If you take your dog to the beach and see them eating wild seaweed, take it from them immediately and keep a close eye on them afterward.
- If your dog eats a large amount of wild seaweed, take them to the vet.
Is Seaweed Good for Dogs?
Seaweed, a form of marine plant life sometimes referred to as sea vegetables, contains quite a few nutrients that humans need, including protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also chock-full of dietary fiber, which most humans could use more of in their diets. Dogs also need plenty of protein and fiber, so shouldn’t seaweed be healthy for them, as well?
It might be. Unfortunately, there are no scientific studies on the benefits of seaweed for dogs. Even trying to look for the benefits of seaweed for humans is difficult because of the many sources trying to sell you “miracle” seaweed supplements. It’s also important to remember that commercially available dog food in the US has to meet certain nutritional standards, which means it already includes all the protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber your dog needs. Seaweed alone will not make or keep your dog healthy.
Is Seaweed Safe for Dogs?
That said, it’s perfectly safe for you to feed your dog a snack of processed, unseasoned seaweed or sprinkle their food with a small amount of seaweed supplement. Safe types of seaweed for dogs include nori, kombu, wakame, dulse, and hijiki. In fact, some pet parents have found that unseasoned sheets of nori (the kind used to wrap sushi) make tasty, low-calorie training treats. Here’s how to give seaweed to your dog safely: feed them small pieces of unseasoned, edible seaweed and then keep an eye on them for any problems. There are no known side effects of seaweed for dogs, but if your dog has a sensitive stomach, seaweed might upset it.
However, wild seaweed found on the beach is never safe for your dog to eat. It often contains pollutants, small marine animals, and garbage that could make your dog sick, as well as concentrations of salt that are too high. Even if not for these pollutants, seaweed that washes up on the beach has a tendency to dry out in the sun. If your dog scarfs down a large amount of dried seaweed, it will rehydrate and expand in their stomach, potentially causing a bowel obstruction.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Too Much Seaweed
In the unlikely event that your dog somehow eats too much food-grade seaweed, all you need to do is keep an eye on them. Minor nausea and diarrhea may occur, but if the symptoms continue, consult your vet. It’s worth noting that some seaweed and supplements contain trace amounts of mercury or arsenic, but your dog would have to eat a huge amount of edible seaweed for this to become a problem.
However, if your dog eats seaweed seasoned with garlic or onions, or if they eat wild seaweed, consult your vet immediately. These are all dangerous things for a dog to eat. Additionally, if your dog consumes a large amount of wild seaweed, particularly if it was dried, take them to the vet as soon as possible. They may need to have the mass of seaweed removed from their stomach.
The above are all worst-case scenarios. Your dog can safely eat small amounts of food-grade seaweed, the same kind you enjoy. Although the health benefits for dogs aren’t known, seaweed is a low-calorie veggie treat. However, if you like to take your dog to the beach, and you find that feeding them edible seaweed makes them more likely to try to eat wild seaweed, you may want to find a different kind of treat.
What can dogs eat?