Dog owners can be very particular about their dog’s food, as evidenced by all the available premium formulas with high-quality ingredients, raw diets, grain-free foods, etc. But they often don’t pay the same attention to the nutritional value and safety of treats, snacks, and found items that dogs also ingest. For example, we often get asked about dogs eating seaweed in various forms. Is it safe for dogs to eat seaweed?
It is safe for dogs to eat packaged seaweed such as nori and kelp as long as it does not include spices or salt. Wild seaweed that you or your dog might find growing naturally at the beach is generally NOT safe, and you should not let your dog eat it.
Let’s look at seaweed as a snack option for dogs as well as the safest ways of serving it to your pet. We will also consider its nutritional benefits so you can decide whether you should give seaweed to your dog. Finally, we will identify the types of seaweed you should avoid, so you can be sure that your dog stays safe.
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Seaweed?
Seaweed Paper (Nori)
Seaweed that is packaged as seaweed paper or snacks is, in fact, quite beneficial for dogs as it is rich in nutrients such as protein, iron, magnesium, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids. As long as it is not spiced or salted, you can freely give seaweed to your dog. You should especially avoid spices like garlic and onion because a dog’s digestive system is sensitive and cannot tolerate these additives.
Natural Seaweed Found on the Beach
You should strictly avoid allowing your dog to eat seaweed from the beach. This is because the seaweed found on beaches is often full of toxins that can harm your dog. Seaweed also can expand in a dog’s stomach and cause severe problems with the digestive system, including obstruction, which can be fatal.
Dogs who eat beach seaweed also often suffer from seaweed poisoning, which causes symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. And depending on the beach location, there is also the possibility that your dog may discover other dangers such as hidden jellyfish in the seaweed.
So feeding unspoiled packaged seaweed like nori to your dog is perfectly fine, but letting your dog feast on a pile of seaweed they have found at the beach is a definite no-no.
Benefits and Risks of Seaweed for Dogs
Like most things, there are pros and cons to letting your dog consume seaweed.
Benefits of Seaweed for Dogs
When dogs eat seaweed paper without any seasoning, it is considered quite nutritious. It contains protein, iron, and other nutrients that can positively contribute to your dog’s digestive system. Seaweed can also enhance the immune system of your dog.
For example, nori is a type of seaweed used to make sushi, and it is famous for its high level of vitamin B12. This vitamin has health benefits for both humans and dogs. Commercially produced seaweed supplements and snacks which are suitable for people are also safe for dogs.
If you want to add seaweed to your dog’s diet, the safest and simplest way is to add a sprinkle of supplements to their meal. You can also choose to give them as treats, and your pet will enjoy the seaweed more.
Seaweed Risks for Dogs
Another type of seaweed that might be hazardous for your dog would be the one with different ingredients and spices. For instance, avoid salted seaweed. Also, try to avoid seaweed with garlic or onion at all costs. These seasonings and spices usually don’t agree with your dog’s stomach, so it’s best not to take unnecessary risks.
If your dog gets used to the taste of seaweed, they may try to eat dry seaweed they find on the beach. Therefore, you need to be careful when taking your pet to the seashore.
Wild seaweed often washes up on the beach, and your dog may want to try it while exploring the shoreline. So, when taking your dog to the beach, make sure that you keep them on a leash as that is the most secure way to prevent them from eating seaweed. Unless your dog is highly trained, letting them wander off-leash may not give you enough time to prevent them from eating seaweed they find.
Seaweed absorbs water, and if your dog eats it, it will start expanding in the digestive system. That can cause blockages in the dog’s stomach, which can sometimes end in fatal consequences. Also, the beach seaweed can contain many pollutants that can be harmful to your pet and foreign bodies that can be dangerous to the dog’s digestive system.
If your dog ingests any amount of seaweed from the beach, make sure that you immediately contact your vet. It’s best not to leave this matter unaddressed since there can be serious consequences.
Common symptoms of seaweed poisoning are vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. If your dog shows these signs after eating seaweed, take them to the vet.
How To Feed Seaweed To Your Dog
As mentioned before, serving plain seaweed is the safest way for your dog. You should give seaweed in small amounts, so you can see how your dog handles this type of food. Some dogs cannot tolerate any kind of seaweed, even though it contains many nutrients. Also, be sure to cut the seaweed sheets into smaller pieces since big unchewed pieces can potentially block the dog’s digestive system.
Plain seaweed paper is considered a healthy and nutritious snack for dogs. Just make sure it doesn’t contain seasonings or spices. Consuming wild seaweed is a risk to your dog’s health and should be avoided at all costs. Be sure to closely monitor and control your dog when at the beach.