You may have heard that quinoa is good for you – but is it also good for your dog? In general, the answer is yes, but not all dogs can eat quinoa. It’s also important to prepare and cook it properly. This article will explore the health risks and potential benefits of feeding your dog quinoa.
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WHAT IS QUINOA?
Many people think of quinoa as a gluten-free, high protein grain. Technically, it’s not a grain at all, it’s a seed. However, although is it a seed, we cook it as if it were a grain. It can be rolled, like oats, or ground into a flour, or of course, cooked whole.
It’s one of the few plant-based foods that contain all nine essential amino acids (along with chia seeds, hemps seeds, buckwheat and spirulina), making it a complete protein and ideal for people who don’t eat meat or can’t have gluten.
Quinoa was originally grown in the Andes region of South America before making its way into kitchens around the world as an alternative for grain-based dishes like rice or pasta. It can come in many colours including red, white, black, and purple. Amazingly, there are over 3000 varieties! The nutritional composition varies from one type of quinoa to another.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF QUINOA
Quinoa is often referred to as a superfood because of its nutritional benefits.
It is packed full of vitamins and minerals as well as protein and fibre.
The antioxidants in quinoa can help in the fight against free-radical damage, as well as offering anti-inflammatory benefits.
So we know that quinoa is fantastic for us, but what about our dogs, what’s in it for them?
BENEFITS OF QUINOA FOR DOGS
Quinoa is becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in better quality kibble dog foods. It can be an excellent source of protein, and it boasts antioxidants that will help to keep your pup healthy.
There are other benefits to quinoa as well: being gluten-free, many dogs with gluten sensitivities can eat quinoa as a healthier alternative to grains commonly used in dog food, such as wheat, corn, soy and rice.
IS QUINOA TOXIC TO DOGS?
Quinoa is not toxic for dogs. Whilst most dogs can eat quinoa without any adverse reactions, some do show an intolerance to it.
If you feed your dog quinoa, be on the look out for symptoms that indicate an intolerance. These might include:
RISKS OF FEEDING YOUR DOG QUINOA
Quinoa contains antinutrients (chemicals like saponins, phytic acid and oxalates). These antinutrients can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients.
For most healthy people and dogs, a small amount of antinutrients is not a problem. However, if your dog has a history of kidney stones, avoid feeding her quinoa as there is a risk of oxalates binding with calcium to form kidney stones.
Antinutrients can also be found in other types of plant food, especially in legumes and grains. However, in some food, the antinutrient levels are low enough not to be harmful and the nutritional benefits are greater than the risks.
LIMITING DAMAGE BY ANTINUTRIENTS
There are a few ways to limit the potentially damaging effects of antinutrients when feeding quinoa to your dog.
First, higher temperatures can help to breakdown some antinutrients, so pressure cooking the quinoa is ideal, though cooking it in a saucepan will do a pretty good job.
If you soak or rinse the quinoa well before cooking it can also assist in lowering the level of some of the antinutrients.
Include other food in your dog’s diet that help to block certain antinutrients. These include glucosamine-rich food like green lipped mussels, and animal meat with plenty of cartilage like trachea, feet and tail.
Cranberries also help block antinutrients. I always have a bag of dried cranberries in my pantry as they are great for dogs and often make their way into my dog treat recipes. Here are some dog treat recipes with cranberries in:
HOW TO FEED YOUR DOG QUINOA
If you decide to add quinoa to your dog’s food, here are a couple of tips:
You can also make super nutritious dog treats for your dog with quinoa.
HOW TO COOK QUINOA FOR YOUR DOG
You should cook the quinoa like you would any other type of rice – usually 1 cup for every 2 cups water. Bring it to the boil, reduce to a simmer and let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes. When cooked it is light and fluffy.
Alternatively, if you have a pressure cooker, cook it in the pressure cooker. This is much better (see above re. limiting damage by antinutrients). Add one part quinoa and one part water to your pressure cooker, then cook on high pressure for 1 minute. Let the pressure naturally release.
You can make easily your own quinoa flour by grinding raw quinoa in a food processor, or better still, a blender that also works as a grinder. You can use the flour in dog treats and cakes.
A blender you can also use as a grinder is such a useful tool to have for making treats.
As well as using it for your own needs, like making smoothies or grinding coffee beans, it’s perfect for grinding oats, nuts, seeds and even dried fruit for dog treat recipes.
GET A NUTRIBULLET BLENDER / GRINDER
Quinoa has a lot of nutritional value – it’s a great source of protein, fibre, and other essential vitamins and minerals. It is a healthier alternative to grains like rice, wheat and corn, and could be beneficial for your dog.
If you’re interested in trying out this new food with your pup, make sure to monitor any reaction by way of allergies or sensitivities.