From Sea to Bowl - 3 Ways Kelp Can Help Improve Your Dog's Diet

Johnna Devereaux C.P.N.
October
16
,
2023

As loving pet parents, we continually strive to ensure our dogs live long, healthy lives that are filled with wagging tails and lots of play. In recent years, the spotlight has shifted towards holistic and natural approaches to pet health, including their diet. One intriguing ingredient worth considering for (most) dog's bowls is kelp, a nutrient-rich, brown seaweed found in the ocean. 

Kelp

Kelp is packed with important minerals, benefitting health & immunity.

Let's explore why (and if) kelp could be a valuable addition:

  1. A Nutrient Powerhouse

Kelp is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It provides vitamin K for blood clotting and bone health, vitamin A for eye health and immunity, and contains vitamin C as a potent antioxidant. Kelp also offers various B vitamins, vital for energy production and metabolism. Moreover, it's rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, essential for strong bones, nerve function, and proper blood pressure regulation. 

Notably, kelp's iodine content supports thyroid function, which influences metabolism and growth. A well-functioning thyroid also promotes oral health by regulating saliva production, aiding in plaque prevention and tooth decay. A dog with an iodine deficiency has a higher risk of a thyroid disorder, like hypothyroidism. Alternatively, a dog with an overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, does NOT need kelp as the iodine content will most likely increase thyroid activity.

  1. Antioxidant Benefits

Kelp is a rich source of antioxidants, including carotenoids and flavonoids. These compounds combat oxidative stress, neutralizing harmful free radicals and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and inflammation-related disorders.

  1. Enhances Digestive Health

Kelp is a valuable source of dietary fiber, particularly alginic acid (alginate), which acts as a prebiotic, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is crucial for efficient digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function, as over 70% of a dog's innate immune system resides in the gut! Additionally, fiber aids in regulating bowel movements.

Incorporating kelp into your dog's diet can contribute to their overall health, from potential dental benefits to improved digestion and immunity, but moderation is key. Excessive consumption may lead to adverse effects on thyroid function due to excessive iodine intake. Also, be aware that some dogs may be sensitive or allergic to certain compounds in seaweed. For this reason, start with small amounts and monitor your pet's response before increasing to the recommendations below. 

Daily recommendations are as follows:

  • Dogs up to 10lbs- 1/8 teaspoon
  • Dogs 11-25 lbs -  1/4 teaspoon
  • Dogs 26-50 lbs -  1/2 teaspoon
  • Dogs 51-75 lbs - 3/4 teaspoon
  • Dogs 76+ lbs –  1 teaspoon

 

A Word of Caution

It's essential to remember that no single food is a “one size fits all”. While kelp offers numerous benefits, it may not be suitable for all dogs. If you feed commercial kibble or canned food, your dog is already getting iodine, so inclusion of kelp would be at a lesser rate and less frequently than one fed a homecooked or prepared raw diet. If your pet has a known thyroid disorder, specific digestive issues, or any other concerns, consult with your veterinarian to assess its appropriateness.


The points of view expressed above are those of our clinical pet nutritionist and supported by science, her education, and experience. However, we recognize there may be different points of view or opinions on some aspects or even the premise of this article. Our goal at Bow Wow Labs is to provide the best, clearest, and most helpful information possible to help keep your dog happy, healthy, and safe.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon or perceived as specific medical or veterinary advice.

RESOURCES:

Yu, L. L., Browning, J. F., Burdette, C. Q., Caceres, G. C., Chieh, K. D., Davis, W. C., Kassim, B. L., Long, S. E., Murphy, K. E., Oflaz, R., Paul, R. L., Sharpless, K. E., Wood, L. J., Yen, J. H., & Zeisler, R. (2018). Development of a kelp powder (Thallus laminariae) Standard Reference Material. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 410(4), 1265–1278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-017-0766-z

Panasevich, M. R., Daristotle, L., Quesnell, R., Reinhart, G. A., & Frantz, N. Z. (2021). Altered fecal microbiota, IgA, and fermentative end-products in adult dogs fed prebiotics and a nonviable Lactobacillus acidophilus. Journal of animal science99(12), skab347. https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skab347

Garcia-Vaquero M, Rajauria G, Tiwari B, Sweeney T, O'Doherty J. Extraction and Yield Optimisation of Fucose, Glucans and Associated Antioxidant Activities from Laminaria digitata by Applying Response Surface Methodology to High Intensity Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction. Mar Drugs. 2018;16(8):257. Published 2018 Jul 30. doi:10.3390/md16080257

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/

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