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Can dogs eat quinoa?

A bowl of raw quinoa

Love feeding your dog different foods? That’s great—but not all foods are good for dogs! 

Knowing what your four-legged friend can and can’t eat is one of the most important things about being a pet parent. Although you can’t watch what your dog eats all the time, you’re the one in charge of his meals and snacks. And it’s an easy mistake to think that a particular food is fine, only to learn later that it’s not such a good idea.

Fortunately, there are lots of ‘human’ foods that dogs can eat. Many dog owners are happy to learn how nutritious and varied their dog’s diet can be once they start incorporating these foods.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is often mistaken for a grain, but it’s actually a seed. It’s both a carbohydrate and a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s often referred to as a superfood because of its rich nutritional content. But can dogs eat quinoa?

Can dogs eat quinoa?

Yes, quinoa is safe for dogs. The American Kennel Club explains that this seed is sometimes even used in high-quality dry dog foods. Its powerful nutritional profile makes it a healthy alternative to other starches often used in kibble, such as corn, wheat, and soy. 

Benefits of quinoa for dogs

Quinoa is rich in vitamins and minerals 

Quinoa contains a range of B-vitamins, including riboflavin and folate. These are crucial to your dog’s energy production and nervous system function. 

It’s also a good source of dietary minerals, such as magnesium and iron. Iron is important for your dog’s red blood cell production, while magnesium supports his muscle function. 

Quinoa is an excellent source of insoluble fiber, which helps to keep your dog’s digestive function in tip-top shape. It’s gluten free, so it’s a good alternative to wheat-based products. 

Quinoa supports healing

Quinoa provides small amounts of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that helps to support heart health. It’s also packed with antioxidants such as flavonoids, quercetin, and kaempferol. These powerful antioxidants help to protect your dog’s cells from harmful free radicals. These are often linked to various chronic diseases. 

Supports energy production 

As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa is beneficial for your pup’s cardiovascular system and physical fitness. 

Helps fight inflammation

The wonderful antioxidants in quinoa are great for keeping inflammation at bay. Inflammation is a major cause of chronic disease and poor health. It's important to supply your dog with plenty of these anti-inflammatory nutrients as he ages. 

Risks of feeding your dog quinoa

According to some sources, quinoa contains a chemical that may be harmful to dogs. This chemical is saponin, which is naturally produced by the quinoa plant to protect itself from pests such as insects. But it’s been suggested that saponin may irritate the intestines in both humans and canines. 

The amount of saponin present in quinoa is actually very small—too small to cause health issues. In addition, the fiber in the plant will dilute any saponin content. 

Of course, some dog breeds may have a slightly more sensitive digestive system than others. Washing the quinoa before cooking it will help to remove most of any saponin. 

How to prepare quinoa for your dog

The key to feeding your dog quinoa is to prepare it for him separately. We humans like to add salt, garlic, and various herbs to our own meals—but these are definitely not good for your dog! 

The best way to make quinoa for your pup is to rinse it thoroughly first. Cook for the required time (about 15-20 minutes) and allow it to absorb the liquid. You may also wish to use an organic broth in place of water to boost the nutritional content. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa, then serve it warm. Avoid adding any flavorings. This will make digestion easier and reduce the risk of any stomach upset. Add quinoa to your dog’s main meal for a super boost of protein! 

It’s highly recommended that you chat with your veterinarian before adding any new food to your dog’s diet.

Learn more about foods your dog can and can’t eat:

The article was written by Katie Stone on January 3, 2021.

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