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The popularity of quinoa has exploded over the past few years, particularly among the affluent, health-conscious populations across the globe.
From sushi-style rolls to drinkable quinoa, you are likely to find the grain everywhere.
Quinoa’s popularity is propelled by three main dietary trends.
First off, quinoa is gluten-free, making it popular with the recent gluten-free diet craze.
Secondly, the grain is considered a ‘superfood’ because it is believed to be nutritionally dense.
Lastly, it is believed to be a complete protein because it contains all the nine essential amino acids.
This makes it popular among vegetarians and those who are trying to consume less meat.
And considering that the grain shares all the three food trends at once, its popularity could be here to stay.
If you are a health-conscious dog lover, you’ve probably thought about sharing this superfood with your dog.
But can dogs eat quinoa? Is quinoa safe for dogs?
Well, while it is apparent that quinoa is a beneficial addition to the human diet, people are still skeptical about whether dogs can also consume it.
So, if you are asking the above questions, know that you are not alone.
To help you figure out whether or not quinoa is good for your dog, this post will cover everything you need to know about including quinoa in your dog’s diet.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced as “keen-wah”) is an edible seed from an herbaceous annual plant in the amaranth family.
The plant has been cultivated for its seeds and leaves for about 5000 years and is native to South America’s Andean regions, particularly Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Today, however, its cultivation has spread to more than 70 countries, including the United States, India, Kenya, and several European countries.
Technically, quinoa is not a grain but a seed from the Chenopodium quinoa plant.
Typical whole grains that we use on a daily basis, such as oats and barley are extracted from grasses—and not plants.
However, we consume quinoa the same way we do whole grains. This is why the nutrition community considers quinoa a whole grain.
If you love getting technical with things, quinoa can also be quantified as ‘pseudo-cereal’, a term that is often used to describe botanical outliers from grass that are often prepared and consumed as whole grain.
Other examples of pseudo-cereals include Amaranth and buckwheat
Is Quinoa Good For Dogs?
The short answer is YES. Quinoa is good and safe for dogs.
Just like humans, your pooch can enjoy the many nutritional benefits that come with this healthy seed.
In fact, that’s why it is commonly used in high-quality commercial foods as healthy alternatives to wheat, corn, and soy.
However, due to its high fiber content, quinoa can sometimes cause digestive upsets if fed to dogs uncooked (we’ve covered this in detail in the subsequent sections).
But what are these nutritional benefits that your dog stands to gain from this popular pseudo-cereal?
Well, let’s find out.
Benefits of Quinoa to Dogs
Here are the main benefits of feeding your dog quinoa:
I. Source of Complex Carbohydrates
Quinoa is rich in complex carbohydrates, which are known to provide dogs with a constant supply of energy.
Compared to standard carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates tend to be broken slowly in your pooch’s body, which simply implies that your dog gets a steady supply of energy throughout the day.
Besides, these types of carbs don’t cause hyperactivity or spike in your dog’s blood sugar level.
II. Complete Protein Source
Quinoa is a complete protein that has heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
If your dog is allergic to animal proteins, therefore, you can include quinoa in his diet as an alternative protein source.
III. High Fiber Content
Quinoa is also rich in fiber, which plays a critical role in regulating bowel movements, enhancing normal and healthy digestion in your dog.
IV. Minerals and Vitamins
Quinoa is rich in minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin.
To learn more about the role of these vitamins and minerals, check out this post: Plain Food Is No Longer Enough: 23 Vitamins and Minerals to Add to Your Homemade Dog Food
V. Potent source of antioxidants
Quinoa is rich in calcium, vitamin B1 and B6, and vitamin E, all of which are known to have potent antioxidant properties.
Including quinoa in your dog’s diet may, therefore, reduce inflammation, slow down aging, and protect him from chronic pathogens.
VI. Great source of Omega 3 fatty acids
Quinoa is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids that make it an excellent addition to your pet food.
Omega 3 fatty acids provide your dog with many benefits, including managing inflammation in skin and joints, kidney function, cognitive function, and kidney function.
VII. Great Amino Acid Profile
Unlike grains and certain vegetables, quinoa has all the nine essential amino acids, which boosts muscle growth and reduce fatigue in dogs.
If your dog is an active dog, quinoa will be an excellent addition to his diet.
VIII. Low in Calories
Quinoa is also low calories (about 220 per cooked cup) and fats (about 3.5 grams per cup).
This makes it perfect for overweight dogs and those allergic to the gluten found in wheat.
IX. Source of naturally-occurring prebiotics
Quinoa is also a source of naturally occurring prebiotics, which are known to play an important role in improving the intestinal health of dogs.
Quinoa is also rich in succinct acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties and plays a critical role in maintaining intestinal health.
X. Fighting cancers, diabetes, and kidney stones
There are claims that quinoa can help dogs fight cancers, diabetes, and kidney stones.
But that is something that you need to confirm with your vet before you opt to include quinoa in your dog’s diet for such functions.
Does Feeding Your Dog Quinoa Pose Any Health Risks?
There has been a concern that dogs’ digestive systems cannot tolerate quinoa. This is because the quinoa plant produces a chemical substance called saponin to protect it from insects.
Saponin irritates both humans and dogs’ intestines and may cause side effects like diarrhea and constipation when first introduced to dogs.
The amount of saponin produced, however, is too small to cause health problems to your dog.
You can also wash your quinoa seeds before making the floor as this will remove most of the saponin.
Another concern about giving your dog quinoa has to do with the fact that dogs don’t digestive systems that can effectively process plant-like foods.
For instance, some dogs tend to react with oxalates, organic digestive compounds in plants, because they are often insoluble.
Oxalates are, therefore, often associated with digestive issues and inflammation in some dogs.
Accordingly, if your dog is already suffering from arthritis, it is not advisable to include quinoa in his diet.
Besides, if you notice the following symptoms after giving your dog quinoa, you should consult your vet immediately and avoid the seed going forward.
- Loss of appetite
- Pain and swelling
- Pawling at the mount
On the flip side, if your dog doesn’t exhibit these signs or any worrisome symptoms after taking quinoa, you can always include the seeds in his diet.
How to Prepare (Cook) Quinoa for Your Dog
- The first step is to thoroughly wash and rinse the quinoa to remove Saponin. Never skip this step as saponin is toxic to dogs and can make your dog sick.
- Add about one part of quinoa to two parts of water, vegetable, or bone broth and bring it to boil.
- Cook the mixture preferably in low heat until the water or the broth has been absorbed.
- Besides, broth, you can also use almond milk or your favorite milk to make the quinoa rich richer and flavorful for your dog.
If you are still confused, here is a good tutorial on how to wash, rinse, and cook quinoa:
Precautions to Take When Feeding Your Dog Quinoa
- Besides thoroughly washing and rinsing, cook quinoa before giving it to your dog to remove the toxic saponin coatings. Cooking the grain will also make it more digestible to your dog and will eliminate its bitter taste (which is common with white quinoa).
- If you are giving quinoa to your dog for the first time, start with small amounts and increase the quantity gradually. While quinoa is safe and healthy for your pooch, some dogs may have difficulty digesting it. If your dog manifests vomiting, constipation or diarrhea after giving him well-prepared quinoa, refrain from giving him a quinoa-based meal again.
- Avoid giving your dog quinoa that’s meant for human consumption. We tend to add salt, onions, and garlic to our quinoa recipes to make it more delicious. These ingredients can be toxic to your canine friend.
- Although quinoa is a potent source of complex carbohydrates, it can also be caloric. Your dog may be overweight if you feed him this superfood regularly, which may increase his risk to other health conditionals like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, liver, kidney diseases, and arthritis. So, if you decide to include the pseudo-cereal in your dog’s diet, practice moderation.
- Finally, always consult your vet before introducing any new food to your dog. Consult your vet as well if you notice any signs of trouble after giving your dog quinoa.
How Much Quinoa Should I Feed My Dog?
As aforementioned, moderation is key if you want your pooch to enjoy the many health benefits that come with this superfood.
Start with small quantities to see how your dog reacts before feeding more of this grain.
Your vet or canine nutritionist can also advise you on the best quantity to give your dog depending on his age, weight, breed, and other factors.
Is quinoa the same as Dacha?
Yes, quinoa is known by a wide range of names, including dacha, parka, kinua, or sweet quinoa.
Pro Tip: According to Whole Grains Council, there are over 120 varieties of the grain but the most common (and commercialized) types are white, black, and red quinoa. Interestingly, these 3 types of quinoa taste differently:
*White Quinoa: Taste bitter
*Red Quinoa: Has chewier and heartier taste
*Black Quinoa: Is slightly sweeter and crunchy
When giving your dog the white type, it’s advisable to add some ingredients to cover the bitterness.
Can rice provide the same (or better) benefits to dogs as rice?
Although it is less popular than rice, quinoa is more nutrient-dense.
100-gram serving of quinoa, for instance, has approximately double the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber than the same quantity of rice.
Is quinoa good for dogs with skin and hair problems?
Yes. It is highly recommended for hairless dogs or dogs suffering from coat and skin conditions.
Quinoa has potent antioxidant properties that can lower the risk of skin issues as well as cell aging.
Feeding your dog quinoa can also give him a sleek and thick coat.
Where can I buy quinoa?
You can purchase quinoa at your nearest grocery store or online.
You are likely to find them in the ethnic foods aisle, baking aisles, or near couscous mixes.
You may also find quinoa flour with other flour or near breakfast oats or gluten-free products.
If it is not stocked in your local grocery store, consider ordering it online.
Here are the best samplings of quinoa-based pet foods to try out:
Lucy Pet Formula with salmon, Pumpkin, and Quinoa
Farmina Natural & Delicious Quinoa Dry Dog Food
Grizzly 7-Ingredients Super Foods
Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa Flour (you can use this to make a homemade dog food quinoa recipe)
How do you store quinoa?
Like other whole grains, quinoa should be stored in airtight containers, preferably in cool, dark places to prevent insects and moisture from getting into it.
If it’s already cooked, you can refrigerate it, especially in the freezer to extend its shelf life. It should stay fresh for 5-7 days.
While quinoa might not give your pooch all the nutrients that he needs, it can be a healthy addition to his diet.
If your favorite dog’s food doesn’t contain this healthy grain already, it is wise to start figuring out how you can add it to your dog’s diet.
Related Post: Is Amaranth Flour Good for Dogs?