Can Dogs Eat Quinoa Safely? It Depends

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Published: June 3, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/letterberry
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Quinoa is a whole grain that has become quite popular in recent times due to its numerous health benefits. It is packed with several ingredients, including protein, calcium, and many more ingredients. The fact that it is gluten-free has made it even more popular among people on special diets as an alternative to rice and other grains. Although humans have eaten quinoa for thousands of years, how safe is quinoa for pets and can dog eat quinoa safely? In this article, we will attempt to answer this question to help you determine if your pet should be eating quinoa. 

Can Dogs Eat Quinoa? 

Generally, the answer to this question is Yes. Although dogs are naturally carnivorous, certain grains and seeds are not off-limits for them. Quinoa is one such food. In fact, this edible seed is often added as an ingredient in dry dog food due to its numerous nutritional benefits. Quinoa is in Kibble as an alternative to soy, wheat, corn, and other starches. 

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Is Quinoa Beneficial for Dogs?

Not only is it safe to feed dogs quinoa, but this whole grain is also actually quite beneficial as an ingredient in dog food. It is a rich source of nutrients like complex carbohydrates, essential amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals. Additionally, the nutrients contained in quinoa are also potentially beneficial to various body functions and general metabolisms. Some of the benefits of giving your dog quinoa include:

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Gluten-Free And Packed With Nutrients 

Quinoa is a pseudo-grain with a lot of nutritional benefits for both humans and pets. To start with, it is gluten-free, which is a major reason for its popularity among people on a plant-based diet. It is also a great source of insoluble fiber and is free from trans fats. Other notable nutrients that quinoa contains include 

  • Essential fatty acids, 
  • Antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol and flavonoids 
  • B-vitamins 
  • Minerals such as iron and magnesium.

This nutritional composition makes quinoa a great choice to include in your dog’s diet. 

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Healing Properties

The abundance of antioxidants contained in quinoa makes it an effective healing agent. Antioxidants help to rid the body of free radicals and thus reduce the risk of cancer and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis in older dogs.  

Boosts the Cardiovascular System

Quinoa is a healthy whole grain which means it does your pup’s cardiovascular system a world of good. If your dog is on a heart-healthy diet due to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, quinoa is one of the best plant-sourced ingredients to include in its diet. 

What Are the Risks of Quinoa for Dogs?

Despite all of these benefits, there are still risks associated with feeding quinoa to your dog. As a pet parent, you should be familiar with these risks to be sure of what to avoid when feeding quinoa to your dog. Some of the risks to watch out for include: 

Saponin 

Saponin is a chemical naturally found in quinoa that could be potentially harmful to dogs. The main purpose of saponin is to protect quinoa seeds from insects. However, there are speculations that this chemical can also irritate humans and pets if ingested in large quantities. In humans, saponin is hardly ever a problem. However, a dog’s digestive system is generally more sensitive to these chemicals than that of humans, which is what makes it particularly dangerous. Generally, washing the quinoa before cooking it should get rid of most of this chemical. 

Poorly Cooked 

The digestive tract of dogs is generally not adapted to feed on plant matter, especially when it isn’t properly cooked. Feeding poorly cooked quinoa to your dog may cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and other related issues.

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Oxalates 

Plants including quinoa contain compounds known as oxalate or oxalic acid. Although humans have no trouble consuming oxalates, this compound has been known to increase the risk of inflammation in dogs. Thus, feeding quinoa to your dog may exacerbate pain in dogs already suffering from arthritis. 

Additional Ingredients 

When feeding dogs foods that are naturally prepared for humans, one thing to keep in mind is to avoid adding extra ingredients that may be harmful to dogs, such as onions, spices, salt, and seasonings. These additional ingredients are harmful to your dog’s health. It is best to prepare your dog’s meal separately instead of feeding it off your plate. 

How to Feed Quinoa to Your Dog Safely

If you have decided to add quinoa to your pup’s diet, you have to prepare it specially and carefully. First, you should wash the quinoa seeds thoroughly before you start cooking. This helps to get rid of any amount of saponin it contains. Then you can boil it in water before serving it to your dog. It’s okay to add additional ingredients such as bones or vegetables. But make sure they’re safe for dogs as well. 

As earlier mentioned, you should avoid feeding your dog directly off your plate. Humans typically add ingredients like garlic, salt, and onions to their quinoa recipe to improve the taste. Canines cannot eat these additional ingredients. Cook your dog’s meal separate, free from these ingredients

The most important point of all is to make sure you consult your veterinarian before introducing quinoa (or any new food for that matter to your dog’s diet). They’ll be able to evaluate your dog’s health and determine if the food would be a perfect fit for it. 

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How Much Quinoa Should You Give Your Dog?

When adding plant-based food to your dog’s diet, moderation is very important. For a start, try to mix about one teaspoon of quinoa into your pet’s food first. See how they react and watch out for any adverse effects. With time, you should be able to add one tablespoonful to the dog’s food. Note that this can be higher, especially for larger dog breeds. 

Negative Symptoms to Watch Out For

If your dog is eating quinoa for the first time, we recommend starting with a small quantity. Although this food grain is generally safe and healthy for dogs, some dogs may have a hard time digesting it. Since there’s no way to predict for sure how your dog will react to it, starting small and gradually increasing the quantity will allow you to watch your dog for negative symptoms and discontinue it if indicated. 

Some of the symptoms to watch out for include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite

Conclusion 

So can dogs eat quinoa safely? Well, it depends. Before you feed any new food to your dog, it makes sense to consult your veterinarian first to seek professional help. As far as feeding quinoa to dogs goes, it is generally safe to do so. Of course, there are risks, but they’re not beyond a manageable level. As long as it is properly prepared and does not contain additional ingredients that may be potentially harmful to your dog, you should have nothing to worry about. 

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.