Is Quinoa Good for Dogs?
Quinoa has grown in popularity in recent times owing to the nutritional benefits it offers… for humans! It’s included in the new wave of “superfoods” because it’s packed with nutrients. However, not all human foods are suitable for our canine companions… so can dogs eat quinoa and enjoy the health benefits? Or is quinoa bad for dogs?
I’m going to answer these questions and explore whether or not adding quinoa to your dog’s diet is a good or bad thing.
I’ll also explain how you can introduce quinoa into your dog’s diet.
Table of Contents
- What is Quinoa?
- Can Dogs Eat Quinoa?
- The Benefits of Quinoa in a Canine Diet
- Can Quinoa Be Bad for Dogs?
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a plant originally native to South America grown for it’s edible seeds. Quinoa seeds are high in protein, fibre, B vitamins and minerals and they’re also gluten-free.
Often considered a whole grain, in reality quinoa is a “pseudo cereal”. Whole grains are seeds that come from grasses, and as I’ve mentioned quinoa is a plant. However, because it’s prepared and eaten in a similar way as whole grains, it’s often grouped in the whole grain category.
Because of their protein content, quinoa has become a popular food for vegans and perhaps this is one of reasons why we see quinoa-based products more often in our supermarkets today.
Can Dogs Eat Quinoa?
As a general rule, all dogs can eat quinoa without problems… quite the opposite in fact. We’re increasingly seeing quinoa used as an ingredient in many dry dog foods because of the nutritional benefits it offers. It’s also becoming more commonly used to make kibble in place of corn and wheat.
Disclaimer: I am not a canine dietary expert and if you are considering introducing new foods into your dog’s diet, you should discuss this with a veterinarian who understands the specific needs of your dog.
The Benefits of Quinoa in a Canine Diet
As referenced above, quinoa is full of beneficial nutrients that can bolster a dog’s health. It’s high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol-free.
Quinoa contains fibre, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, calcium, zinc and essential amino acids that’ll help boost energy, improve brain function, regulate blood sugar and keep the heart healthy. The vitamins in quinoa will help maintain your dog’s teeth, nails and keep coast healthy.
Additionally quinoa contains antioxidants, which neutralise free-radical toxins our dogs commonly come into contact with. Antioxidants can help to prevent certain diseases such as cancer.
Can Quinoa Be Bad for Dogs?
The quinoa plant naturally produces a chemical called saponin that protects it against insects. Saponin can irritate the intestines of both humans and dogs, but the low amounts found in quinoa is usually too small to cause issues. Saponin is also reduced further by washing quinoa before you cook it.
In most cases quinoa is good for dogs, however in exceptional case some dogs may be sensitive to it or have allergies. Typically the symptoms of quinoa allergy can be:
- Itchy skin or fur loss
- Runny nose and eyes
- Ear and skin infections
The most likely common issue for dogs will possibly be intolerance to quinoa as it’s high in fibre, which might result in an upset stomach.
If you’re in doubt about any potential side effects of using quinoa in your dog’s diet, consult a veterinary professional.
There are some foods that all dogs shouldn’t eat. Find out more about them in this guide to foods Whippets should avoid.
Preparing Quinoa for Your Dog
Before trying to incorporate quinoa into your dog’s diet, it makes sense to introduce treats that contain quinoa to see how they respond. If you notice your dog has a negative reaction such as vomiting, drooling or any other adverse symptoms then you might find that quinoa is not suitable for your dog.
If your dog suffers no adverse symptoms and seems to enjoy quinoa-based treats then you could try to introduce a spoonful of quinoa occasionally with the food you normally serve.
How to Cook Quinoa
- As I referenced above, wash quinoa thoroughly before you cook it. This will help to wash away the saponin that may cause a stomach upset.
- For every one part of quinoa you must add twice the amount of water. Add the water and quinoa into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, reduce to a low heat and cover until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (around 15 minutes).
- As quinoa absorbs a lot of water, allow it to drain in a strainer for a minute or two.
- Once drained, put the quinoa back into the saucepan and cover for 15 minutes to allow it to dry out from the residual heat of the pan.
Quinoa offers many nutritional benefits for dogs. It contains protein, amino acids, antioxidants and a whole range of minerals and vitamins to keep them healthy and happy.
Many high-quality dog food producers add quinoa as a substitute for grains that contain gluten. Quinoa is gluten-free, low in fat and offers an alternative to other starchy foods used in kibble.
Can dogs eat quinoa? Absolutely… but it’s best to introduce it to them gradually in the form of treats and then move onto small spoonfuls mixed into their regular food to see how they respond.
Finally, if you intend to radically change your dog’s diet to facilitate a quinoa-rich approach to feeding, it would be wise to talk to a veterinary expert before doing so, just to be on the safe side.
Does your dog eat quinoa? Or perhaps you use dog food containing quinoa? Please leave me a comment below to share your tips and recommendations!
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