Over the years, quinoa has risen to popularity as a staple food for people with celiac disease, and for those who seek out healthier diet options.
And most recently, these nutritious seeds also caught the attention of pet parents who are looking for ways to add variation to their pup’s diet. But, can dogs eat quinoa?
Quinoa is a highly nutritious edible seed native to South America, where it has been a prominent food source for 6,000 years. It is also often used as a substitute for rice, which explains why a lot of people regard it as a grain, and not as a seed.
Coined as a superfood, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom in providing a wide array of essential nutrients to both humans and animals.
And this is because it is a “complete protein.” Or it contains all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own; and therefore must only come from the foods that we eat.
Quinoa is indeed a powerhouse of nutrition, and it’s just right for it to be regarded as one of the healthiest foods of all time. But again, can dogs eat quinoa?
Can Dogs Eat Quinoa? Is It Safe To Give?
As mentioned earlier, quinoa is an extremely nutritious edible seed for both humans and animals. But in particular, is it safe for dogs?
Fortunately, yes, our canine companions can eat quinoa. It isn’t toxic to them, so, it’s completely safe to feed your dog quinoa.
In fact, it is an ingredient in a lot of high-quality dry dog foods that you can purchase from a pet store near you. Its outstanding nutritional profile makes it a healthier alternative to starches that are commonly used in kibbles.
However, just like with any human food that we incorporate into our dog’s diet, there’s always a bit of a catch. If your pup has never eaten quinoa before, make sure to start with a small amount and gradually increase if he doesn’t exhibit any adverse reaction.
While quinoa is generally safe for dogs, some of our canine friends may be allergic to it, and some may have a hard time digesting it. So, it’s always best to start with a small amount and observe your pup’s reaction.
For more tips on how to properly use quinoa for your dog’s diet, check out the serving ideas section at the later part of this article.
Health Benefits of Quinoa for Dogs
Okay, so now, we’ve strongly established that quinoa is highly packed with nutrients that are beneficial for dogs. But to be more specific, what’s in it for your dog? Why should you add quinoa to your pup’s dog food or give it as a treat?
As dog owners, we should know what to expect from giving this edible seed to our pets? Or should we just stick to feeding them their favorite dog foods, since they’ve been used to eating these after all?
Below are benefits of quinoa for dogs that could be enough reasons for you to give it a try:
1. Excellent Source of Nutrients
Quinoa is loaded with vitamins and minerals that are needed for your dog’s overall health. It is gluten-free, which makes it a healthy alternative for dogs with food allergies, specifically to foods that contain grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats.
It is also packed with B-vitamins such as riboflavin, vitamin E, and folate. And it is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, magnesium, and several essential amino acids.
But while quinoa is considered a complete protein, it still can’t replace meat as your dog’s primary source of this essential nutrient. Nonetheless, it can be a great addition to your pup’s menu.
2. High Levels of Antioxidants
Due to quinoa’s high levels of antioxidants, it can also help reduce free radicals, prevent cellular damage in the body, and help fight cancer.
3. Good for Heart Health and Weight Management
Just like healthy grains, quinoa is also beneficial for your pup’s cardiovascular health. It is also rich in fiber, so it is good for digestion, which, in turn, is important in weight management.
In addition, quinoa is low in calories and fat content, high in protein, and has a low glycemic index.
4. Helpful in Reducing Inflammation
Another benefit that can be associated with quinoa’s high levels of antioxidants is its effectiveness in reducing inflammation.
The prevention of inflammation in the body plays an important role in reducing a dog’s risk for any disease, and in achieving and sustaining good overall health.
Serving Ideas and Symptoms to Watch Out For
When adding quinoa to your dog’s diet for the first time, don’t overwhelm him with huge servings. Instead, start with a small amount and gradually increase until you reach the desired amount for your pup’s size and energy level.
You can also start by giving your canine companion dog treats that contain quinoa. And remember that dog treats should only account for 10% of your pup’s caloric intake.
To avoid health problems, don’t give your dog quinoa that came straight from your plate. Most often, human foods contain seasonings and ingredients that can be toxic to your pup.
Also, make sure to wash the quinoa first and cook it before serving it to your dog. The quinoa plant contains a chemical compound called saponin, which it produces naturally to protect itself from insects.
While this compound is beneficial for the quinoa plant, it can cause stomach irritation both in humans and dogs when consumed in huge amounts.
Moreover, the human digestive system may also be less sensitive to saponin than that of a dog. Hence, your pup may be more prone to experience the side effects of this compound than humans.
And though quinoa only contains a small amount of saponin to cause a significant reaction to dogs, it’s still best to avoid any potential side effects. And this can be done by simply washing the seeds to remove most of these toxic compounds off their surface.
Quinoa also contains oxalates, which can increase inflammation and cause digestive issues in some dogs. This is why it’s not advisable to give this edible seed to senior dogs, especially those with arthritis.
When your dog has never eaten quinoa, you will know if his body is having issues with it if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Oral pain or pawing at the mouth
If your dog has an underlying medical condition or if he generally has a sensitive stomach, it’s best to consult your vet before adding something new to his diet.
Can I feed my dog cooked quinoa?
Yes. Quinoa is not toxic to dogs, but can cause severe digestive upset if fed uncooked, so always serve quinoa to your dog after is has been cooked.
Is Quinoa harmful to dogs?
Though quinoa is generally a healthy food for dogs, some canines might have difficulty digesting it. If your dog experiences vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation after consumption, refrain from feeding it to him again. You should never give your dog quinoa directly off your plate.
Is Quinoa better for dogs than brown rice?
No, quinoa is not toxic for dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, the edible seed is actually an ingredient in some high-quality dry dog foods. Its strong nutritional profile makes it a healthy alternative to corn, wheat, and soy — starches that are often used to make kibble.
Does quinoa give dogs diarrhea?
While quinoa has not been known to cause the typical food allergy related reactions in dogs, it can. In most cases, severe diarrhea is the most commonly seen symptom of a quinoa allergy. If introduced gradually without any adverse side effects, quinoa should be safe for your dog to consume.