Owners love sharing pet-friendly foods with their fur babies. Many of the fruits and vegetables in your kitchen are safe for cats and dogs to eat in moderation. But one produce item that’s less common in pantries is seaweed. Not only is it safe for pets, but seaweed is also packed with a diverse range of nutrients that support the thyroid, heart, skin, immune system and more!
If you don’t keep seaweed in your cabinets, consider picking up a pack from your local grocery store as a healthy pet snack. Seaweed offers the following health benefits for cats and dogs.
- Lower risk of cancer: Seaweed is packed with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that lead to cellular damage. Over time, the damage from free radicals can mutate healthy cells into cancerous tumors. Antioxidant-rich foods like seaweed protect cells against free radical damage by reinforcing cellular membranes. As a result, your pet is less likely to develop cancer later in life. Seaweed is key to helping fur babies live a longer, healthier life.
- Thyroid support: Some pets struggle with an underactive thyroid. This means the thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormones. Hypothyroidism is a serious health concern because thyroid hormones control many systems in the body, like your pet’s metabolism, heart rate and brain development. Seaweed is a great food to give alongside conventional thyroid treatment because it’s full of iodine, a trace mineral necessary for hormone production. Due to its high iodine content, seaweed may help reduce symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Healthy heart: Omega-3 fatty acids have long been used to lower the risk of heart disease. People often turn to fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids, but this nutrient is abundant in seaweed, as well! The omega-3 fatty acids in seaweed reduce triglyceride levels, a type of fat commonly seen in plaque buildup along the artery walls. Seaweed also reduces blood pressure and prevents dangerous blood clots in the heart and arteries.
- Treatment for diabetes: Seaweed is one of the most important foods for diabetic pets. High-carb diets cause them to develop insulin resistance, making it harder for cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Seaweed contains a compound called fucoxanthin that can lower insulin resistance and help cells metabolize glucose. When diabetic pets have more insulin, their blood sugar comes back down to a healthy level. The fiber in seaweed slowly releases glucose into the bloodstream, which also helps stabilize your pet’s blood sugar.
- Balanced digestive system: Seaweed is a great source of fiber. Fiber regulates bowel movements by preventing constipation and bulking up loose stool. Seaweed also balances your pet’s gut microbiome by feeding prebiotics to beneficial bacteria. While probiotics add healthy bacteria to the microbiome, prebiotics help those bacteria thrive for long-lasting digestive health. In addition to a daily probiotic supplement, seaweed is a healthy treat you can sprinkle on top of your pet’s regular food.
- Immune health: The fiber in seaweed can also lead to a strong immune system. Many immune cells live in the gastrointestinal tract, so a healthy gut can improve your pet’s resiliency to infection. Those same antioxidants that reduce free radical damage can also block viruses from affecting healthy cells. Pets that eat seaweed on a regular basis get sick less often, and a strong immune system helps reduce environmental allergy symptoms.
- Healthy skin and coat: A combination of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids reduce skin irritation among pets. Seaweed has both of these nutrients, which are essential for treating dry, itchy skin. Seaweed also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that calm redness and swelling. Omega-3 fatty acids bring moisture back into the skin and coat to eliminate dandruff and a dull appearance. Seaweed is a must for the wintertime and pets that suffer from seasonal allergies.
- Organ detox: Pets come into contact with toxins all the time. Cats and dogs that drink unfiltered tap water become exposed to heavy metals that are difficult for the liver to process. Certain types of seaweed bind with heavy metals to prevent them from damaging vital organs. For example, spirulina attracts heavy metals found in the brain, liver and central nervous system. Dulse crosses the blood-brain barrier to bind with mercury and assist its movement out of the body.
Any pet would benefit from munching on seaweed. This vegetable of the sea can reduce the risk of chronic disease and supplement conventional medicine. It boosts many vital systems in the body to maintain your pet’s overall health. Plus, your pet will enjoy the tasty treat!