Quinoa, a funny word for a delicious alternative to grains. Even if you can’t pronounce it correctly, you can enjoy this delicious healthy seed. Yup, quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain!
Your pup may also benefit from a bit of quinoa as well. We did some research to learn about the health benefits of quinoa for dogs, and what you might need to consider before adding it to your pup’s diet.
Is quinoa toxic for dogs?
No, quinoa is not toxic for dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, “The edible seed is actually an ingredient in some high-quality dry dog foods. Its strong nutritional profile makes it a healthy alternative to corn, wheat, and soy — starches that are often used to make kibble.”
Four benefits of quinoa for dogs
- Packed with nutrients
- Holds healing properties
- Boosts the cardiovascular system
- Helps fight inflammation
Quinoa is free from gluten, is a good source of insoluble fiber, contains no trans-fats and is a source of the essential fatty acid linoleic acid. It is a great source of antioxidants such as flavonoids, quercetin, and kaempferol. Quinoa also contains B-vitamins such as riboflavin and folate and minerals such as magnesium and iron. This makes it a good ingredient to include in dog food.
These are due to the high levels of antioxidants. Studies have shown that antioxidants reduce free radicals, which can prevent some diseases including cancers.
Like healthy whole grains, quinoa is also good for your pup’s cardiovascular system. If you’re working to keep your dog’s heart-healthy, ask your vet about including quinoa in your dog’s diet.
Another benefit that can be attributed to high levels of antioxidants, quinoa is good for keeping inflammation at bay. Reduced inflammation is linked to less risk of disease and increased health -- another reason to consider adding quinoa to the menu for your dog.
What to watch out for when adding quinoa to your dog’s dietWhile quinoa is not toxic to dogs, not every dog can enjoy it. How do you know if your dog is having issues with quinoa? Watch out for these symptoms:
If you see your pup vomiting after eating quinoa, stop giving it to them. You may also want to contact your vet to make sure there isn’t a more serious underlying medical issue.
- Loss of appetite
If your dog is drooling after eating quinoa, it could signal and allergic reaction. Contact your vet to discuss the best course of treatment.
Obviously, not wanting to eat after a tasty treat like quinoa is not a great sign, you’ll want to work with your vet to get to the bottom of this. The vet will do a quick exam to figure out why your dog might not be hungry and get him the best treatment possible.
One of the main reasons why you want to watch your dog when introducing quinoa is that there is some concern that saponin a chemical naturally found on quinoa could be damaging to dogs. The quinoa plant produces saponin to protect itself from insects, and it’s been suggested that saponin can cause irritation in the intestines of both people and dogs. However, the amount of saponin found on quinoa is typically too small to create any health problems.
There is some possibility that dog digestive systems are more sensitive to saponin than human digestive systems. If you’re concerned about saponin, wash the quinoa before cooking it. This should remove most of it and make it easier on your dog’s stomach.
If your dog generally has a sensitive stomach, they may just not be able to properly digest quinoa. If you think this is a possibility, discuss it with your vet prior to feeding. You don’t want to make your dog sick unnecessarily.
How to incorporate quinoa into your dog's diet
If you’re looking to add quinoa to your pup’s diet, make sure you’re not just letting them eat if off of your plate. When quinoa is prepared for the human palate it is usually seasoned with oils, salt, and spices including garlic or even onion. These will make your pup sick, especially the garlic and onions which are toxic to dogs.
To prepare quinoa for your pup, start by giving it a really good rinse. You’ll then boil it in liquid (the ratio should be 1 part quinoa and 2 parts liquid). As far as what liquid to use, water is just fine, but for a flavor boost, you can use your favorite dog-friendly broth made from either bones or just some simmered veggies.
Once the liquid is evaporated, remove the quinoa from the heat. Fluff it with a fork and let it cool. You’re able to serve it to your pup warm, but make sure it isn’t too hot. You can serve it with dog-friendly fruit or veggies, wet or dry food, or a fresh pet food like Ollie.
If you want to work quinoa into a delicious dog treat recipe, try this one from Kol’s Notes:
Quinoa Crisps with Rosemary Salmon Dog Treats
- 2 cups canned salmon + water from the can for blending
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups quinoa flour ( make your own)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tbsp. dried rosemary
Let’s do this!
In a blender of a food processor, blend the salmon into a thick paste, adding the water from the salmon can, as needed (you want to use as little as possible).
In a medium bowl, stir together salmon paste, quinoa, and rosemary. Add quinoa flour, as needed, to create a loose, non-sticky dough. (Exactly how much flour you need will depend on how much water you used in the salmon paste.)
Knead together into a loose, non-sticky dough. (If it is still sticky, add quinoa flour until you can work with it.) Place the dough between two layers of parchment paper and roll out to ~1/8 thick. Remove the top layer of parchment. Use a knife or pizza cutter to carefully trim the dough into crackers.
Place crackers and the parchment onto a baking sheet. Bake at 200F for 3 hours, then flip. Return to the oven and bake for another 2 – 4 hours or until crisp all the way through.
Place crackers on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate for 6 – 8 hours or until crisp all the way through.
Store in an airtight container, away from moisture. If you’ve dried them all the way through they should have a shelf life of 3 – 4 weeks.
Like any new food, you’ll want to introduce quinoa to your dogs’ diet slowly to avoid upsetting their stomachs. Watch for any adverse reactions and add more to your dog’s diet over the course of 5-7 days until you’ve reached an optimal serving for your dog’s size and activity level. Do not overfeed your dog as it can lead to weight gain and/or nutritional imbalances. If you have questions as to how much quinoa your dog can have in the context of their specific diet, consult your veterinarian or a nutritionist to make a recommendation for your pet. You’ll still need to monitor and adjust until you find the optimal serving size and frequency.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.