Sea Vegetables: A Garden Under the Sea for Your Dog?

02nd April 2024

Guest Blog: Anna Webb

Sea vegetables help sustain ecosystems, boost the planet’s oxygen supply, could these ‘veggies’ be good for dogs?

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A Garden Under the Sea

Sea Vegetables are nutrient dense, in fact 10 times richer in minerals and vitamins than many of their earth-bound counterparts.

Research is still only dipping its toe into the ocean of Sea Vegetables’ health potentials, but with many studies giving remarkable positive results, health professionals are considering it as a powerful super-food.

From an environmental perspective seaweed plays a vital role in capturing carbon and producing at least 90% of the oxygen into the world’s atmosphere!

Common sea vegetables include kelp, kombu, wakame, arame, dulse, nori and Irish moss. Hundreds of ocean dwelling mammals rely on sea vegetables to thrive, and in small quantities they’re a super-food for your dog!

There’s thousands of different varieties that fall under the generic term of ‘Seaweed’ or ‘Macroalgae’. Interestingly, Britain’s seas contain 6% of global seaweeds, with over 600 native species.

Seven of Europe’s 14 kelp species grow all around Britain’s coast. Creating underwater forests that provide essential nursery habitat for fish and countless other marine species.

The most common species of kelp in the UK is oarweed, which can grow more than 2 metres long at depths reaching 10 metres. Its other names include tangleweed and sea ribbon.

Highly digestible as, in contrast to earth-bound vegetables, sea vegetables have less cellulose, offering enhanced bio-availability for dogs.

Literally packed with minerals and amino acids, every sea vegetable contains its own nutrient profile, which also includes electrolytes and trace elements.

Plus, arguably out scoring earth-bound vegetables nutritionally by absorbing its nutrients from the ocean, Seaweeds are bursting with potassium, magnesium, manganese, iodine, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, folic acid, vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K along with a high concentration of Omega -3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Seaweeds also contain a large concentration of antioxidant compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids that are polyphenols, which exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Also containing the antioxidant Fucoxanthin, seaweed is thought to reduce insulin resistance and help stabilise blood sugar levels.

Whilst seaweed is still relatively unstudied, initial studies in rats have concurred that extracting polyphenol-rich components from edible seaweeds showed an anti-cancer effect in the colon.

Other health benefits include maintaining a healthy thyroid function thanks to seaweed’s rich Iodine content, but ensuring the right amounts to balance hypothyroidism without promoting hyperthyroidism is essential.

As seaweed is parked with both soluble and non-soluble fibre, it’s a great pre-biotic. Providing a valuable boost for the trillions of bacteria present in the microbiome, it’s an effective immune system boost.

Regulating the metabolism, maintaining a healthy weight and providing extra energy are also reported from adding Seaweed to yours and your dog’s diet.

What’s also interesting is that certain varieties of seaweeds, like dulse, which is found on the Atlantic coast of Britain, is shown to fight heavy metal accumulations in the body.

Its compounds bind with mercury, lead, aluminium, copper, cadmium and nickel. Atlantic dulse goes into deep, hidden places of the digestive tract and gut, seeking out mercury, binding to it, and never releasing it until it leaves the body.

So, with hundreds of seaweed varieties available around the globe, the underwater garden of sea vegetables remains an under-studied, but offers a multi-faceted sustainable resource. Positive scientific evidence to date means seaweed is being used increasingly in food supplements, in natural cosmetics, as a novel nutritious ingredient in recipes, and as a natural sustainable fertiliser!

Useful Facts:

  • Humans can enjoy seaweed in various forms and many ‘celebrity’ chefs are combining seaweeds into ‘haute cuisine’ as inspired by much Asian cooking.
  • For dogs its best to be sure of its ethical origins and minimal processing. Offering ground powdered seaweed is best as long strands could cause a throat or intestinal blockage.
  • Dosing for dogs: estimated: up to 5 KG – ¼ teaspoon: up to 10KG ½ teaspoon: up to 20KG 1 x teaspoon: up to 40 KG 2 x teaspoons.
  • Never let your dog eat seaweed on the beach! Seaweed found on the beach shrinks in the sun and can expand in your dog’s digestive system, potentially causing a severe blockage. It can also contain pollutants and other sea life potentially harmful. It can give your dog salt poisoning. Best to err on the side of caution and say NO to seaweed on the beach!
  • Use canine experts to suggest brands with formulations appropriate for a dog like Paleo Ridge’s Berry Good. Containing British seaweed along with a mix of complementary polyphenols like kale, broccoli, blackberries, hemp seed, and another marine source, green lipped mussel.

Anna Webb – as a Canine Nutrition and Behaviour expert, Anna combines her psychology degree, with study at the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT) and over 20 years of experience. Host of the award-nominated A DOG’S LIFE podcast, she lives in London and is owned by Prudence, a Miniature Bull Terrier, and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier.

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