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Can Dogs Eat Alfalfa? What You Need To Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Alfalfa is an important grazing plant that feeds much of our livestock worldwide, and many people naturally wonder if it is safe to feed their dogs as well. The short answer is yes. Alfalfa is healthy food for dogs, but there are some things to think about before making it a staple part of their diet. Keep reading while we discuss the health benefits as well as the potential dangers of Alfalfa so you can learn a little more about this food. We’ll also discuss the best way to feed it, how much, and how often so you can feel good about feeding your dog this low-cost and healthy food.

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Is Alfalfa Bad For My Dog?

Old english sheepdog
Credit: Svetlana Valoueva, Shutterstock

Coumarin

Alfalfa contains a naturally occurring chemical called coumarin that can be toxic for dogs in large amounts. Some studies suggest that eating too much can lead to liver damage and other health problems. Alfalfa only contains a small amount, so there is only a need for concern if you feed it every day or your dog eats a large amount in one sitting.

Saponin

Alfalfa also contains a natural chemical called saponin that can cause problems with the digestive system in some dogs and could lead to diarrhea or vomiting. In some cases, the vomit will contain blood. Saponins are not usually a problem, but you will need to start with a small amount to see if your dog has any problems consuming this chemical.

germinated alfalfa sprouts
Image Credit: Pixabay

L-Canavanine

L-Canavanine is a chemical present in the seeds that can be harmful to your dog, so experts recommend leaving the seeds out of the diet. Most commercial Alfalfa will not contain seeds, so you will not need to worry, but if you are considering growing it on your land, you should be aware of this danger.

Allergies

Another problem with growing Alfalfa on your land is that it can create pollen that will trigger allergic reactions in some dogs. Commercial Alfalfa that you buy at your local pet store or feed shop will not have pollen and should not trigger your dog’s allergies.

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Is Alfalfa Good For My Dog?

dogue-de bordeaux_Warren Matthews_Pixabay
Image Credit: Warren Matthews, Pixabay

Vitamin K

Alfalfa contains Vitamin K, which helps the blood clot, which means your pet will bleed less if injured. Vitamin K can also help treat a dog that ingests rodent poison, which is an anticoagulant.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for dogs that help produce healthy skin and hair. A diet without enough Vitamin A can leave the dog with rough patchy skin that’s itchy and flakey.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for numerous biological functions and is an essential vitamin in your dog’s diet. It can also help reduce the effect of stress, helping to improve your dog’s quality of life. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help remove free radicals and boost the immune system.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another important nutrient your pet can get from eating Alfalfa. It helps your dog regulate the balance and retention of calcium and phosphorus. Your dog usually gets Vitamin D from sunlight, but it can also be in food like Alfalfa.

Fights Cancer

Many experts suggest that Alfalfa can also help reduce the risk your pet will get cancer, but we were unable to find any studies backing it up. However, with all of the other health benefits, it’s certainly possible.

How Should I feed My Dog Alfalfa?

Most Alfalfa closely resembles timothy hay, and it’s usually mixed. You only want Alfalfa for your dog, though, and it shouldn’t be hard to find.

  • Grind the Alfalfa up in a food processor until it’s as fine as possible.
  • Add about one teaspoon per 50 pounds of dog food to get the added health benefits without the risks.
  • Store the remaining ground alfalfa in a Ziploc bag until you need it again.
  • If your dog likes the taste of Alfalfa, you can also allow it to eat it whole in small amounts as a treat every few days.
alfalfa sprouts
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Summary

Most dogs don’t chew grass too often, but Alfalfa can be beneficial to their health. There are plenty of vitamins and minerals, and it may even help fight cancer. It’s inexpensive and popular a popular food source for small animals, so you can find it at almost any pet store. Feeding it as a treat every few days will be a healthy alternative to the often-fatty treats we usually give our pets. If your dog got into some of your small animal’s food while you weren’t looking, there is no need to worry. The dangers associated with Alfalfa only occur when your pet eats a large amount.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped expand your pet’s diet, please share this guide to feeding your dog Alfalfa on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.