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Various common ingredients in human food, such as onion and garlic, contain chemicals that are immediately toxic to dogs. Other people foods may not be inherently harmful to dogs. But they could become dangerous depending on how they’re prepared and served.
Therefore, it’s always prudent to conduct your research and consult your vet before feeding any human foods to your canine friend. That’s especially true for plant-based products.
Having said that, can dogs eat quinoa?
Dogs can safely eat quinoa. Although it’s a plant-derived product, quinoa doesn’t contain any compounds that could trigger immediate medical emergencies in dogs. The cereal also boasts a number of minerals and vitamins known to be beneficial to dogs. So, if you’ve always wondered whether you can share quinoa with your pooch, it’s reassuring to know that you can.
However, there are things to bear in mind even as you consider feeding quinoa to your dog. For instance, quinoa is only safe if offered to dogs in moderate amounts. That’s because the cereal isn’t a typical ingredient in canine diets. As such, overfeeding it to your pooch could trigger numerous side effects.
Below is everything you need to know about dogs and quinoa.
More About Quinoa
Quinoa, also known by the botanical name Chenopodium quinoa, is an annual flowering plant that belongs in the amaranth family. This herbaceous plant is traditionally cultivated as a crop mainly for its edible grains, which are commonly known as seeds.
Quinoa seeds are loaded with phytonutrients, including proteins, dietary fiber, dietary minerals, vitamins, and even antioxidants. Studies have shown that the concentration of nutrients in quinoa is significantly higher than in many grains.
Although widely described as grass, quinoa is actually a pseudocereal. Botanically, the plant is related to amaranth and spinach.
Quinoa traces its roots to the Andean regions of northwestern South America. Documented evidence indicates that the plant was initially used for feeding livestock as far back as 7,000 years ago, with human consumption beginning around 3,000 – 4,000 years ago around the Lake Titicaca basin.
Despite its origins in South America, Quinoa is now a staple food in many countries around the world. That’s mainly due to its high nutritional profile. And it’s for that very reason that quinoa-loving dog owners don’t mind sharing this grain with their furry friends.
Quinoa’s Nutritional Profile
A 100-gram serving (3.5 ounces) of raw quinoa boasts the following nutrients:
• Energy – 1,539 kilojoules or 368 kilocalories
• Protein – 14.1 grams
• Carbohydrates – 64.2 grams
• Dietary fiber – 7.0 grams
• Fat – 6.1 grams
• Monounsaturated fat – 1.6 grams
• Polyunsaturated fat – 3.3 grams
• Water – 13.3 grams
• Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – 0.36 milligrams, representing 31% of the recommended daily value (RDV)
• Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – 0.32 milligrams, representing 27% of the RDV
• Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – 1.52 milligrams, representing 10% of the RDV
• Vitamin B6 – 0.49 milligrams, representing 38% of the RDV
• Vitamin B9 (Folate) – 184 micrograms, representing 46% of the RDV
• Choline – 70 milligrams, representing 14% of the RDV
• Vitamin E – 2.4 milligrams, representing 16% of the RDV
• Calcium – 47 milligrams, representing 5% of the RDV
• Potassium – 563 milligrams, representing 12% of the RDV
• Copper – 0.59 milligrams, representing 30% of the RDV
• Zinc – 3.1 milligrams, representing 33% of the RDV
• Iron – 4.6 milligrams, representing 35% of the RDV
• Magnesium – 197 milligrams, representing 55% of the RDV
• Phosphorus – 457 milligrams, representing 65% of the RDV
• Manganese – 2 milligrams, representing 95% of the RDV
How Might Quinoa Benefit Your Dog?
1. Quinoa May Strengthen Your Dog’s Muscles and Tissues
Like all mammals, dogs require protein in their diets more than any other nutrient. And it’s reassuring to note that quinoa contains a decent amount of it.
Protein contains numerous amino acids which help in the formation of the building blocks for an animal’s muscles, tissues, bones, and hair.
So, regular supplementation with protein-rich foods like quinoa may help to strengthen your dog’s muscles and bones. This could further minimize the risks of muscle wastage and degenerative bone diseases.
2. Quinoa May Aid Digestion
Quinoa is relatively high in dietary fiber, with a 100-gram serving of raw quinoa providing as many as 7.0 grams of fiber.
Dietary fiber comes in two forms, namely soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both types may aid your dog’s digestion in various ways.
Soluble fiber is best noted for its role in nourishing the healthy microorganisms that live throughout your dog’s gut, known as gut microbiome. By nourishing your dog’s gut microbiome, fiber may help to guard against certain digestive and metabolic diseases.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber typically moves through your dog’s stomach undigested. In the process, it creates stool-bulking effect. This can help to relieve digestive issues like constipation, upset stomach, and flatulence.
3. Quinoa May Promote Hydration
Dogs are not known to be fussy eaters and drinkers. That title goes to cats.
However, there will come a time when your canine friend doesn’t seem to drink as much water as he should. During these worrying occasions, forcing the animal to take plain water may prove futile. Your best bet would be to supplement his diet with moisture-dense foods like quinoa.
More than 10% of raw quinoa constitutes water. That’s a pretty decent amount to keep your canine companion hydrated.
4. Quinoa May Encourage Weight Loss
Fiber and water share one fundamental trait – the ability to induce the sensations of fullness.
Serving your dog diets that are high in fiber and water is a proactive way of cutting back on the food portions the animal can eat in one sitting. This could ultimately encourage weight loss or prevent unhealthy weight gain.
But that’s not all. Remember what we mentioned about insoluble fiber moving through your dog’s stomach undigested? This phenomenon can also combat unhealthy weight gain by slowing down the absorption of fats and carbohydrates.
5. Quinoa Is Chockfull of Antioxidants
Not only does quinoa provide a host of minerals and vitamins. These cereal veggies are also high in antioxidants.
Quinoa contains two flavonoids – kaempferol and quercetin – which are noted for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
These compounds may help guard against inflammatory chronic ailments like arthritis and cancer.
All the other minerals and vitamins in quinoa could also benefit your dog in one way or another.
For instance, vitamin B9 plays a crucial role in embryonic formation and development. Feeding a pregnant dog folate-rich foods like quinoa may help in reducing the risks of congenital defects.
The calcium content in quinoa might work synergistically with protein in strengthening your dog’s bones and teeth.
Potassium is excellent for maintaining your dog’s electrolyte balance, while iron supports the absorption of the other essential nutrients in quinoa.
How Might Quinoa Hurt Your Dog?
Despite its numerous potential health benefits for dogs, quinoa isn’t without its dangers.
First, it’s important to remember that quinoa is essentially a plant-based food. Although dogs are classified as omnivores, they’re not true omnivores like humans. Their dietary requirements lean more towards meat than veggies. Therefore, feeding your pooch any plant-derived foods like quinoa could trigger certain adverse effects. That’s especially if such foods are fed in excess to dogs that are not already familiar with them.
Common side effects of quinoa for dogs include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Diarrhea, which could result in dehydration
• Signs of abdominal discomforts, such as a distended tummy
Secondly, quinoa contains a chemical known as saponin. Saponins are the compounds that give these cereals their soapy taste and aroma. They also play an instrumental role in protecting quinoa plants against pests and insects.
Unfortunately, various studies indicate that consuming saponins may cause digestive stress in humans and pets alike. The only saving grace is that the amount of saponins in quinoa is usually too insignificant to induce severe adverse effects in dogs. However, you still want to tread with caution while serving this cereal to your canine companion. That’s especially if your dog has a sensitive digestive system.
Weight gain is another potential risk of quinoa for dogs. This may sound contradictory, considering that the plant contains numerous nutrients that can actually promote weight loss. However, more than 64% of quinoa comprises carbohydrates and over 6% of the cereal is made up of fat. This combination could prove more hurtful than helpful to your dog.
Besides predisposing your dog to unhealthy weight gain, high-carb and fat-laden diets could also mess up the animal’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels, respectively.
Quinoa can provide numerous health and dietary benefits to dogs. However, the cereal may also pose certain risks to your canine friend.
If you must feed quinoa to your dog, be sure to cook the vegetable first. Boil it in plain water, without adding too much salt, fat, or spices. Once ready, serve quinoa to your pooch in small portions, keeping your eyes out for any negative reactions.
And as a general practice, always consult your vet before feeding your dog quinoa or any unfamiliar foods.