Quinoa is a grain being eaten all around the world, especially in South America, Kenya, and India. In fact, it belongs to the spinach family, which means their leaves are edible too. However, while enjoying famous quinoa treats, pet parents are often concerned about the safety of this particular food for their dogs.
Even health-conscious humans are relishing quinoa without concerns; why your dog can’t have it? First, it is gluten-free, unlike other grains, mainly wheat, oat, barley, and rye. This fact makes quinoa safe for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Quinoa Seeds?
The majority of the time, this answer is YES! Quinoa seeds are safe for dogs to eat because they do not pose any kinds of toxicity hazards to them. In fact, some highly organic dog foods these days include these seeds as an ingredient. They offer a superior dietary composition, making them a healthy alternative to other starches often used in dog food production, such as maize, wheat, rice, and soy.
Quinoa seeds include carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, which make up a significant portion of their overall nutrition. In addition, quinoa’s edible seed is gluten-free. As a result, this gluten-free seed can be used to substitute gluten-containing grains in kibble to prevent gluten allergy in dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Quinoa Leaves?
The young leaves of quinoa are rich in nutritional value and can be eaten like spinach as a vegetable both by humans and dogs. To your surprise, quinoa leaves contain a higher amount of proteins and essential amino acids than the leaves of amaranth and spinach. The dogs in raw form can consume the ripe quinoa leaves, but they have a tad higher concentration of oxalates and nitrates in them. As a result, giving your furry friend quinoa leaves on a regular basis may increase the risk of kidney stones. Steaming them for a few minutes before serving is a preferable option. Don’t worry; they’ll retain all of the important components, including amino acids, minerals, and vitamins unless they’re overcooked.
Health Benefits of Feeding Quinoa to Dogs
Quinoa is not only safe but also provides potential health benefits. It provides balanced nutrition when added to the dog’s diet. For the same reason, it is often considered a superfood. Following are the most obvious benefits of the quinoa plant:
Packed With Proteins
Grains are usually high in proteins, so are quinoa. While many grains are not complete protein diets, quinoa is. Being a complete protein diet means that it provides all the essential amino acids. From tendons and cartilage to muscles and hair, all the dog’s body parts are made up of proteins. Quinoa provides a great opportunity to maintain all of these body parts by providing a wide range of amino acids in a sufficient amount. It also helps to maintain a shiny coat, strong bones, teeth, and nails. Besides, these proteins are essential for maintaining the supply of hormones to the body.
Quinoa is high in vitamins such as folate, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and vitamin B1, among others. Folate is extremely important for DNA synthesis and hence plays a role in all cell activities, including gene expression and protein synthesis. In addition, folate has been associated with a reduced risk of many malignancies in dogs, as well as a subsequent alleviation of anxiety and depression.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin that the body of a dog requires for a variety of processes, including lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, red blood cell synthesis, and conduction of nerve impulses via neurotransmitter regulation. Because it is not synthesized by the dog’s body, it must be obtained from nutrition, with quinoa being the greatest source.
Reservoir of Minerals
Quinoa provides a great amount of magnesium. It is necessary to produce energy at the cellular level. It also boosts the nervous system and the functioning of the muscles. In addition, it can protect the dog against diseases related to magnesium deficiency. Another important mineral, potassium, is necessary for maintaining normal blood pressure. It also supplies the body with calcium that helps maintain healthy teeth and healthy bones.
The plant is rich in manganese. Though it is a micronutrient for the dog’s body, the supply is enough to fulfill its requirement. In addition, it is needed to metabolize the protein and carbohydrate content of dog food as it is a cofactor (a nonprotein part) of many metabolic enzymes.
Rich in Antioxidants
In addition to complex carbohydrates, quinoa contains flavonoid plant products such as quercetin and kaempferol. These flavonoids have anti-inflammatory effects on the dog’s body. They also serve as significant antioxidants in the body, assisting in protecting cells from oxidative stress caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals, which are generated during metabolism or pathogenic infections.
Antioxidants are also known for their function of preventing cancer. They also have anti-aging properties. The antioxidant-rich foods, such as quinoa, may assist in improving the overall health of the dogs and make them free of potential health concerns resulting from diseases and pathogen attacks.
Another nutritional importance of quinoa is its high fiber content. 100 grams of a cooked quinoa meal contains about 2.8 grams of fiber which is a quite large amount. This fiber content is even higher than popular high fiber foods like yellow corn and brown rice. Dietary fiber helps to ease digestion by facilitating bowel movement through the dog digestive systems. It relieves both constipation and diarrhea. Although it is not digested in the dog’s stomach, this indigestible portion of food is vital for digestive health.
Soluble dietary fiber is a source of food for the microflora in the gut of dogs, similar to human digestive systems. Fiber prevents the dog from overeating as it causes fullness. Insoluble fiber also reduces the risk of diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. In addition, some studies show that the dietary fiber content of food is related to the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases.
Good for Arthritic Dogs
Quinoa contains a high concentration of phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties. A quinoa meal is thus helpful with arthritis in dogs which is nothing but an inflammation of joints. Moreover, gluten in grains like wheat, rye, and barley can irritate arthritic joints and add to the pain due to inflammation. On the other hand, quinoa is completely free of gluten and prevents such types of adverse reactions faced by dogs in arthritis. Furthermore, quinoa is rich in proteins and is an ideal diet for dogs with arthritis.
How Much Quinoa Can Dogs Have?
Anything in excess can be hazardous for health, so it’s better to keep the ingredients of the dog’s food in check. Many dog foods already have quinoa in them. If you are feeding the dog any of those foods, there is no need to add quinoa to its diet plan. In the other case, adding quinoa mixed with other foods will be a good idea.
For small dogs, one tablespoon is enough, while the amount can be increased a bit more for the larger dogs.
Check for Allergic Reactions to Quinoa
If you are feeding your dog quinoa for the first time, start by introducing small amounts in his kibble. This practice should be adopted while introducing your canine companion to each type of new food because dogs are prone to food allergies. If your pup shows any negative symptoms, immediately take it away from him. Although it is rare, quinoa in the dog’s diet can act as an allergen for some dogs and lead to anaphylaxis or allergic reaction. The symptoms of this allergy include runny nose and eyes, sensitive stomach, skin and ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, licking of paws, etc. In case you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Does Quinoa Cause Any Possible Health Problems?
Though quinoa is extremely healthy for canine companions, still some downsides are associated with its consumption, such as:
Comparatively Higher Content of Calories
Quinoa has a higher calorie content as compared to other grains. There are almost 120 calories per 100 grams serving. Serve quinoa to your dog on a good exercising day. Pet foods high in calories can make dogs obese. Obesity is the core problem of a dog suffering from several diseases at a time, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and many kinds of cancers. Though a single meal won’t put the dog at risk of these diseases, it can if fed regularly or in large quantities.
Presence of Saponin
The quinoa plant produces saponin, which is a chemical naturally found in many other plants as well. It is a bitter chemical that is soapy in its texture. Quinoa produces saponins to protect itself from microbial and fungal attacks. Unfortunately, these chemicals are toxic to dogs and can lead to saponin poisoning in them.
Prepare quinoa beforehand to remove saponins by rubbing it with slightly alkaline water or simply soak it in the water and wash thoroughly until all the soapy texture disappears from the water. If you serve your dog quinoa in large amounts without removing saponins, it is likely to cause vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, itchy skin, and extreme abdominal and oral pain. The vomiting may also have blood in it in some extreme cases. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice any signs of saponin poisoning.
How to Reduce the Harmful Effect of Saponin?
Eating quinoa with saponin can cause several harms, but these effects can be reduced by slightly cooking the quinoa. It doesn’t mean you can give your dog the meal you prepared for yourself as it has a lot of seasonings that can harm him. Prepare quinoa for dogs in a way that won’t harm them. Wash quinoa carefully and add in the boiling water. Instead of water, you can also use a broth made from bones or veggies. The broth can help give the meal a better taste and aroma. Boil until the quinoa becomes soft and serve it as quinoa soup in the dog’s bowl. Don’t add salts and spices and serve it warm. Make sure it’s not too hot to burn his tongue.
Animals typically cannot digest plant-like food, but quinoa is readily digested as a dog food because of its high fiber content. It is a part of commercially available dry food for dogs and is perfectly safe for the dog’s health. It provides numerous benefits and keeps the dogs fit and healthy. Feed moderate amounts as too much can cause stomach upset. Due to a bit more calories and the presence of saponin, it is advised to cook the quinoa before serving and should not be served regularly.