Clean eating is a big deal. Not many of us have escaped the healthy eating revolution or the gluten-free tidal wave. If you’ve embraced super foods yourself, you may want to pass the health benefits onto your dog. But is feeding dogs quinoa a good idea?
What is quinoa?
Despite being used as a grain, quinoa is a seed. Related to spinach and Swiss chard, it dates back over 3,000 years. Packed with an impressive nutritional profile, it comes in white, red, and black varieties. And it has gained popularity because it is gluten-free and contains all nine essential amino acids vital for health.
Because our bodies can’t produce these amino acids, we have to get them through our diet. They are key to our immune systems, muscle strength, and the formation of blood cells. Each cup of quinoa typically contains a whopping eight grams of lean protein and an impressive range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and potassium.
With so much in its favor, it’s no wonder that more people are feeding quinoa to their dogs. It is also making its way into commercial dog food, where it replaces other more calorific proteins.
But should dogs eat quinoa, or are there risks?
Quinoa for dogs, The benefits
Is quinoa good for dogs? There is a good argument that supports the claim that it is. Quinoa is a great source of complex carbohydrates that, along with a low glycemic index, makes a good alternative to other grains such as rice. Because of its unique nutritional profile, quinoa is also suitable for diabetic dogs.
Not only that, but quinoa is gluten-free and lower in calories than other grains, so it’s also a great choice for dogs that are overweight or that have sensitive digestive systems.
Quinoa is easy to digest and contains prebiotics which is vital for healthy digestion. What’s more, it packs a powerful punch regarding vitamins and mineral content as well as fiber. So those are the benefits, but are there any downsides to feeding dogs quinoa?
Feeding dogs quinoa, the risks
There is a counterargument that grains, even pseudo-grains like quinoa, do not belong in a dog’s diet. Since our dogs have a very different digestive system from our own, quinoa could upset a dog’s digestive system as some dogs do not tolerate grains or seeds.
If you do want to give your dog quinoa, then always start with a small amount. As with any new food, monitor any adverse symptoms before you increase the amount or frequency your dog eats it.
Before feeding dogs quinoa, always wash it thoroughly and cook it. It has a bitter-tasting chemical called saponin that coats it to deter birds, and it’s mildly toxic. Most commercially available quinoa has been processed to remove these saponins, but it’s always worth giving it a good rinse and cooking it well.
Feeding quinoa to your dog
Is feeding dogs quinoa a good idea? Yes, in certain circumstances, it can be a healthy treat for your dog. Quinoa is low-fat, low allergen seed packed full of nutrients, which means that it may be suitable for dogs that may not otherwise tolerate grain-based food or treats.
In fact, Quinoa is finding its way into more and more commercial dog food as its health benefits become better known. So if you want to feed quinoa to your dog as part of a healthy diet, why not whip up one of the recipes below.
Gluten-Free Quinoa Dog Treats
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 16 oz jar of peanut butter
- Overcook the quinoa – you want this super mushy to the point where you can’t tell one seed from another, so don’t follow the normal cooking instructions. Use about 4 cups of water and after bringing to a boil simmer for about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on it; you may need to add extra water to keep it from drying out.
- Add the whole jar of peanut butter and stir well. It should be a rather thick consistency.
- Scoop into a mini muffin pan; no need to grease the pan because the peanut butter provides plenty of oil.
- Bake on 250 for about 2.5 hours until the goopy mixture hardens up enough to remove from the pan easily
- Cool completely before serving. Makes 36 large treats.
3 Ingredient, Grain-Free Dog Treats
- 1 sweet potato, cooked and cooled
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 cups quinoa flour
- Preheat your oven to 350º F.
- Add your sweet potato and coconut oil, and mix until well combined. Don’t worry about getting it completely smooth.
- Add your flour, about a half cup at a time, until your dough begins to stick together and release from the sides of your bowl.
- On a floured surface, roll out your dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut out your treats. Quinoa flour is not as elastic as regular flour, so you may have to roll in batches if your dough breaks apart easily.
- Bake your treats for 20-25 minutes, then turn the oven off (or as far down as you can make it go) and let them sit and dry out for another 45 minutes to an hour. Take out your pet treats and let them cool before putting them away.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 small cooked skinless chicken breast
- 1 medium zucchini
- 10 baby carrots or 2-3 regular sized carrots
- 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
- 1 stock cube ( low sodium)
- 32 oz of filtered water
- A couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Heat pan to medium-high and add coconut oil.
- Add chopped carrots and sauté for about 4 minutes till they get soft.
- About 2 minutes in, add the chopped zucchini and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- In a medium-size stockpot, add the water and bring it to a low boil.
- Add carrots and zucchini to the broth and turn the heat down to a simmer.
- Shred the chicken breast and add to broth along with the quinoa.
- Stir and turn off the heat, so the soup cools down to room temperature.
- Garnish with parsley if you want and serve to your dog or cat to warm them up!