As a dedicated pet owner, you’d do anything to make sure your pet is getting the best nutrition they can, but is food alone enough? There is a sea of superfoods that all claim to boost nutrition and general health, but only kelp for dogs has such a wide variety of your dog’s essential nutrients all in one easy supplement.
You might -- like many other pet owners -- find that the endless supply of ingredients and products meant to support your dog’s health to be overwhelming. If you are looking for a simpler solution to boost your dog's nutrition, then you'll find it in kelp.
Kelp is nature’s multi-vitamin. As a highly regarded superfood, kelp is already used in many pet products, including food, treats, and supplements. Learn about how kelp can positively impact your dog’s life -- as well as how to introduce it into their diet safely.
What Is Kelp?
You may already be familiar with kelp's positive effects on humans and animals alike, but what is it really, and what makes it such a healthy food?
Typically found in underwater forests, kelp is a type of brown algae seaweed. Kelp can grow quickly in the shallow ocean water where it thrives -- up to a foot and a half per day -- ultimately reaching lengths of 100 to 260 feet.
Kelp is naturally nutrient-packed, and scientists say its existence may date back up to 23 million years ago. It is frequently praised for its benefits to human health, based on its richness in antioxidants that fight disease-causing free radicals.
Kelp even provides vitamins A, B, E, D and K. It has many practical uses in different cultures, including but not limited to cuisine, skincare, glass making and even medicine. While the uses of kelp are quite varied, this ingredient has made a name for itself as a useful supplement to dogs.
Kelp vs Seaweed
Keep in mind that kelp is a type of seaweed, but not all seaweed is kelp. Nori, for example, is the type of seaweed used in sushi. While nori is delicious, it does not offer the same nutrients as kelp for dogs. Kelp is exclusively grown in saltwater, and attaches to the ocean floor. The constant movement of water along rocky coastlines are what allow kelp to obtain such a variety of nutrients.
More common, smaller types of seaweed are typically found floating in almost any open body of water, both fresh and salt, and although still nutritious, do not offer the variety of nutrients that kelp does.
The Health Benefits of Kelp for Dogs
As mentioned above, kelp has become a versatile ingredient to improve the health of people, but its benefits extend to dogs as well. One notable benefit of kelp for dogs is its iodine content.
Experts cite kelp for dogs as an excellent source of iodine -- which supports the endocrine glands and overall thyroid health. Because iodine is essential in your dog’s diet, incorporating kelp can be a spectacular supplement, particularly if your dog is on a diet that does not contain fish.
Though many commercial diets, like kibble, contain nutrient packs that offer an array of vitamins and minerals, these synthetic additives can be difficult to absorb and are easily denatured or destroyed by the cooking process.
Adding kelp to your dog’s diet offers trace amounts of these nutrients from a natural food source to ensure that they are receiving optimal levels of vital vitamins and minerals, like iodine.
Kelp for dogs is also said to help improve their energy levels and strengthen their immune systems. This pet-friendly seaweed generally contains about 25% protein and 2% fat. Compared to other plants, kelp is one of the best sources of minerals and amino acids available.
Lastly, including kelp in your dog’s diet can result in healthier skin and coat, less dryness and itchiness, and a more balanced metabolism, by supplying omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. While these are only a few of the most common benefits, it confirms that kelp can be highly beneficial for your dog’s long-term health.
The Dos and Don’ts of Kelp for Dogs
Now that we’ve discussed the many advantages of adding this sea superfood to your dog’s diet, it’s time to consider a few significant dos and don’ts when it comes to kelp for dogs.
Do - Add to Homemade Diets
Kelp can play a crucial role in making sure their iodine and other essential nutrient needs are met. In fact, kelp is the preferred supplement for raw and homemade diets, as they often don’t use a synthetic vitamin pre-pack like many commercial diets.
As one of the most abundant and diverse superfoods in nature, kelp is often recommended to help buffer customized diets, especially those that don't contain enough fish ingredients.
Check out Homemade Raw Dog Food if you are interested in making your dog's raw food from scratch.
Do - Be Selective
Be selective about the kind of kelp you give your pooch. Experts suggest avoiding kelp for dogs sourced from along the coast, specifically around U.S. beaches. This kind of kelp is likely to have been around pollutants that could harm your dog.
Don't - Feed Whole Kelp
If you spend a lot of time at the beach, chances are you’ve come across some stray seaweed. We often think that fresher is better, but not in this case. Eating whole kelp, or seaweed of any type can be a choking hazard, especially if your dog doesn’t chew it properly.
Most kelp supplements are offered in dried powdered formats. This makes it both safe to ingest and easy to administer.
Don’t - Over Do it
Though kelp has a wide variety of nutrients that your dog needs in his diet, you need to make sure he is not getting too many nutrients. Fat-soluble vitamins and many minerals can be dangerous if you feed too much.
If you choose to incorporate kelp into your pup’s diet, consider other sources of nutrients, like iodine, that are already represented in your dog’s regular food and treats. For supplementing complete diets, try feeding kelp a few times per week as opposed to every meal to avoid offering too many nutrients.
Enhance Your Dog’s Raw Diet
Kelp can be a particularly positive addition to your dog’s daily nutrition if you feed raw dog food diet. Among the benefits of raw dog food is the elimination of unnecessary carbohydrates (which can help dogs lose weight and build muscle), improved digestion, cleaner teeth, fresher breath, and the list goes on.
Notably, a raw food diet can improve a dog’s energy and stamina, an effect that is compounded by the addition of kelp.
You should also be aware of the iodine levels your pet takes in. A diet lacking sufficient iodine is detrimental to your dog and should be remedied immediately. If you feed a raw diet that is lacking in fish or shellfish, then supplementing with kelp is especially recommended.
Incorporating Kelp into Your Dog’s Diet
Now that you have a more holistic understanding of the ways that kelp can positively affect your dog’s health and quality of life, you may be wondering how to introduce kelp into your dog’s diet.
If you’re feeling really fancy, you can add kelp to your dog’s homemade treat recipe-- Here are some easy and fun homemade dog treat recipes for you to customize.
Are you ready to try kelp for dogs? Let us know your kelp success stories in the comments below!
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.