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Can Dogs Eat Quinoa? Is Quinoa Safe For Dogs?

Nicole Cosgrove

Quinoa is a gluten-free seed that has been a staple in many human diets for centuries, but has been elevated to prominence in recent years as a natural alternative to grains for health-conscious humans. It is also extremely healthy, as it is packed with vitamins, protein, and calcium and a host of other nutrients.

But can dogs eat quinoa? Is quinoa safe for dogs? Yes! Generally, the benefits derived from quinoa by humans can also be beneficial to your pooch, and in small amounts, quinoa is a great addition to your dog’s diet. We took a deep dive into the potential benefits of quinoa for your dog, as well as a few things that you may want to consider before feeding it to your pooch. Read on to find out more!

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What is quinoa?

This healthy seed has many health-conscious advocates talking these days. Quinoa is a gluten-free seed from the Chenopodium quinoa plant, so it is not defined as a grain, which is derived from grasses. It is a flowering plant that is in the Amaranth family and originated in the Andean region of South America and has been used for almost 400 years. It is also packed with 14% protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, and is 13% water, 64% carbohydrates, and 6% fat.

bulldogs_B Wills_Pixabay
Image Credit: B Wills, Pixabay

Potential benefits of feeding quinoa to dogs

Quinoa has a host of benefits for your dog and is packed with a seemingly endless number of vitamins, minerals, and various other beneficial nutrients. First, the seed is free from gluten, which means your dog is less likely to suffer from gastric issues or digestive issues when eating it as an alternative to grains.

Quinoa is also a great source of insoluble fiber, further improving digestion, and contain no trans fats. It has complex carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and fat and contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin E
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • B vitamins

Quinoa also has high levels of antioxidants that help fight free radicals and can reduce the chance of cancer development and other diseases, and it helps reduce inflammation and heart disease. The nutrients in quinoa also help give your dog a healthy, shiny coat and healthy teeth and bones, and it is a great source of energy overall too.

Potential health concerns of giving quinoa to your dogs

Different-dog-breeds-in-the-sunset_Judita-Kreizaite_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Judita Kreizaite, Shutterstock

Like most seeds, quinoa develops a chemical that it uses to protect itself against pests, birds, and insects. This chemical is called saponin, and there is some evidence that it can cause intestinal irritation in both humans and dogs. The amount of saponin in quinoa is very small, however, and certainly not enough to cause any health issues in your pooch.

That said, some dogs may have very sensitive digestive systems, and this may cause more irritation than normal. Thoroughly washing quinoa will help remove most of this chemical and reduce the chance of digestive upset. Cooking the seeds thoroughly will help too.

Try feeding a very small amount of quinoa to your dog first and keep a watchful eye on them. If you notice any symptoms, like vomiting, drooling, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation, your pooch may be overly sensitive to the quinoa and should not be eating it.

Also, quinoa should be served plain only and mixed into your dog’s normal food. Make sure there is no added salt, spices, onions, or garlic, all of which can be potentially harmful to your pooch.

Preparing quinoa for your dog

If you’ve decided to add quinoa into your dog’s diet, special preparation is key. Firstly, make sure the quinoa is thoroughly washed and rinsed to remove any trace amounts of saponin. You’ll then need to boil it in water — around one part quinoa to two parts water is generally great. After which, you can add flavor, like a homemade broth from vegetables or bones.

Try giving your dog a teaspoon or so mixed into their normal food at first, and you can then increase it if there are no adverse reactions. Up to 1 tablespoon added to your dog’s food is great, but you can increase this amount for larger breeds.

Quinoa
Image Credit: pictavio, Pixabay

We highly recommend consulting your vet first, in any case, as they’ll be able to give you a recommendation of the right quantity of quinoa for your pooch.

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Final Thoughts

Quinoa has a host of potential health benefits for your dog, with a small risk-to-reward ratio. Packed with essential amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, quinoa is a great addition to your dog’s diet. Just be sure to start with small amounts and watch for any adverse effects, like drooling or vomiting, and stop immediately if these are present.

Check out some of our other posts about dog diets:


Featured Image: Rose224, 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.