Alfalfa is an important grazing plant that feeds livestock worldwide, so many people wonder if it is also safe to feed to dogs. The short answer is yes, alfalfa is a healthy food for dogs. That said, there are a few things to think about before making it a staple part of their diet.
Keep reading as we discuss the health benefits and potential dangers of alfalfa so you can learn more about this food. We also go over the best way to serve it and how much and how often, so you can feel good about feeding your dog this low-cost and healthy food.
Is Alfalfa Bad for My Dog?
Alfalfa contains a naturally occurring chemical called coumarin that can be toxic for dogs in large amounts. 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 even if you feed it to your dog every day or if they eat a large amount in one sitting.
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 serving to see if your dog has any problems consuming this chemical.
L-Canavanine is a chemical present mainly in the seeds of the alfalfa and to a lesser extent, in the sprouts. L-canavanine can be harmful to your dog, so experts recommend leaving out the seeds. Most commercial alfalfa will not contain seeds, anyway, so you will not need to worry, but if you are considering growing it on your land, you should be aware of this danger.
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.
Is Alfalfa Good for My Dog?
Alfalfa contains vitamin K, which helps the blood clot. This means your pet will bleed less if injured. Vitamin K is essential for overall proper coagulation.
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.
Unlike humans, dogs have the ability to synthesize their own vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for numerous biological functions. It can also help reduce the effect of stress, helping to improve your dog’s quality of life. Its main value is that it is a powerful antioxidant that can help remove free radicals and boost the immune system.
How Should I Feed My Dog Alfalfa?
Most alfalfa closely resembles timothy hay, and the two are usually mixed. You only want alfalfa for your dog, though, and luckily, it shouldn’t be hard to find. Here’s what to do if you want to give alfalfa to your dog:
Alternatively, you can mix fresh alfalfa in your dog’s food or purchase ready-made alfalfa powder.
Most dogs don’t chew grass too often, but if they do, it’s good to know that alfalfa can be beneficial to their health. It has plenty of vitamins and minerals, and it’s an inexpensive popular food source for small animals, so you can find it at almost any pet store. Feeding it as a meal add-on or treat every few days can be a healthy alternative to serving commercial treats. If your dog got into some of your small animal’s alfalfa 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.