Everyone has heard of the benefits of plant-based foods, and this new way of eating has become very popular among people and pets alike. New ways of safely adding protein to a dog’s diet are sought after for many reasons. One of those reasons being to eliminate the allergic reaction animal protein causes in some dogs. Some alternative popular protein sources in dog food are lentils, oats, peas, chickpeas, barley, and potatoes—as well as spirulina.
Spirulina is a supplement that is used every day by thousands of people because it’s rich in nutrients, has anti-inflammatory properties, lowers cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, improves endurance, and much more. Due to all the benefits it offers humans, dog owners have started to give it to their pets.
However, it’s important to understand what this substance is and what effects it has on our furry companions before jumping on board with this new trend, so let’s discuss it.
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is microscopic blue-green algae that love sunlight. It can grow in saltwater and freshwater located in subtropical climates. The algae can grow in natural and controlled conditions, however, it can become contaminated by absorbing heavy metals from the water it’s in when grown naturally. Spirulina that is produced for human use is grown in controlled conditions in large outdoor ponds. Always buy spirulina supplements for yourself or your dog from brands you trust to avoid any risk.
There are three main species of these algae which have undergone research. They are Spirulina platensis, Spirulina fusiformis, and Spirulina maxima. They all have high nutritional value and benefits to both people and dogs. They’re not only used in supplements but also as a color additive in certain candies and food.
Spirula is a superfood that contains proteins, essential amino acids, carbohydrates, iron, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. These components are necessary for a dog’s diet to build their muscles and maintain their blood and organs. It’s also necessary for immune function, coat health, and skin hydration.
How To Use Spirulina?
Thankfully, spirulina is available in many forms for easy consumption that appeals to a variety of different dogs, including picky eaters. You can use the powdered form and sprinkle it over your dog’s food. You can purchase spirulina in treat form, which comes in a gummy or biscuit texture, suitable for puppies and adult dogs. You can also feed it to your dog as a tablet or capsule in dog treat paste. Spirulina is usually better received when mixed with food or treats because it’s not a very tasty supplement.
Only a small amount needs to be given to your dog per day as it’s very concentrated—but it can be given at any time of day. However, you should always discuss starting a new supplement on your dog with your vet. Another point to note is that you cannot share your own spirulina supplement with your dog—they will need their own dog-friendly type that has been manufactured specifically for dogs.
Advantages of Spirulina
Spirulina has become so popular because of its many benefits. However, more research needs to be done on it. One of the biggest drawcards of this supplement is its benefit on the immune system. It’s full of antioxidants and produces antibodies, which strengthen the immune system to fight against infection and chronic illnesses. It may even fight against cancer and its recurrence, as well as offer healing properties to dogs that have had radiation treatment.
Just as these algae can absorb the toxins from the water it’s grown in, they can absorb the toxins in your dog’s body and pass them through them safely, making them an excellent detoxifier. It’s also highly digestible and helps with digestion in your dog. It’s packed with essential fatty acids that hydrate itchy and dry skin and bring the shine back into their coats. It also has antihistamine properties that benefit dogs with allergies.
Disadvantages of Spirulina
Of course, good things rarely exist without some risks. Thankfully there aren’t too many serious risks surrounding spirulina. One risk is that the spirulina you’re giving your dog might be contaminated and make them sick. Spirulina can absorb toxins from the water it’s grown in, but if you’ve bought your dog’s supplement from a trusted brand, you won’t have to worry about contamination because they would have taken the necessary procedures to ensure your dog’s safety and grown the algae in controlled conditions.
Avoid cheap spirulina supplements from smaller brands, as they’ve likely used fillers that could affect your dog negatively. Also, your dog might not be tolerant to spirulina and may experience vomiting or diarrhea from it.
Never give your dog human spirulina supplements because it will possibly make them sick—only use ones that have been specifically made for dogs. Spirulina can also cause issues with certain medications and isn’t recommended for dogs with an autoimmune disease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Much Spirulina Is Recommended Per Day?
The exact, most effective dosage a dog should receive of spirulina per day isn’t known at this stage. Per every 10kg(20 lbs) of your dog’s weight, a 1/8 teaspoon is suggested, but you may increase the dosage over time. However, it’s always safer to chat with your vet about starting your dog on a new supplement and the amount they suggest for your dog, with them knowing your dog’s weight, history, and health conditions.
What Time Should I Give Spirulina to My Dog?
When you choose to give your dog spirulina during the day is up to you, as time doesn’t play a role in the effectiveness of the supplement. It will work the same in the morning as it does at night.
What Will Happen If I Give My Dog Too Much Spirulina?
If your dog got ahold of more spirulina than their daily dosage, they would experience discomfort, but the symptoms should pass because it’s not a toxic substance, even in high amounts. Symptoms you could expect will be mostly gastrointestinal, such as nausea, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If the symptoms get worse or don’t pass, reach out to your vet because there could be something more serious going on with your dog’s health.
Does Spirulina Work Straight Away?
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see any changes in your dog right away, as it can take as little as a week and as long as 3 weeks to see any improvements in them. Stick it out and continue to give your dog their daily dosage. One of the first improvements you may notice in your dog is increased energy.
Spirulina has many benefits for dogs, as it can improve their digestion, provide them with protein, strengthen their immune system, fight against cancer, and more. It can be given to your dog in several forms, such as powder, treat, tablet, and capsule.
It can be mixed in or given with food to make it more palatable but never share your own spirulina with your dog or start your pooch on it without first consulting your vet. Only a small amount of this supplement is enough to make a difference in your dog.
Featured Image Credit: mama_mia, Shutterstock