Quinoa: The Dog-Friendly Ancient Grain

quinoa and dogs

Quinoa is a gluten-free edible seed that is related to beets, chard, and spinach, which contain many powerful anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It is a good source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. But can dogs have quinoa? The short answer is yes, dogs can eat quinoa, but there are a few things to keep in mind when feeding it to your furry friend.

Health benefits of quinoa for dogs

Quinoa is a healthy food for dogs in many ways. It is a good source of fiber, which can help to keep your dog’s digestive system healthy. Quinoa is also low in calories and fat, making it a good choice for dogs that are overweight or obese.

Quinoa is considered an ancient whole grain. Ancient grains also include:

  • millet
  • brown rice
  • sorghum
  • chis seed
  • flaxseed

Let’s take a look at the other ways this ancient grain can benefit your dog’s health.

It’s a healthy novel carbohydrate source

In addition to its nutritional benefits, quinoa can also be a good alternative for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. Since most commercial dry dog food (kibble) is made using starches like corn, wheat, and soy, quinoa is a gluten-free carb and less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Quinoa is rich in essential nutrients

Quinoa is a high-quality complex carbohydrate. In addition to protein, this superfood provides a number of essential amino acids and fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, including:

  • magnesium
  • folate
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • b vitamins (especially folic acid)
  • calcium pantothenate
  • manganese

It even contains small amounts of heart-healthy dha omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy poops

Quinoa may help dogs with digestive issues. In a 2021 issue of the Journal of Animal Science, the University of Illinois published a study that found that the use of ancient grains, such as quinoa, in dog diets were beneficial to their fecal microbiome. Their gut health improved, and, in turn, they had healthier stools!

How to feed quinoa to your dog

If you decide to feed quinoa to your dog, it is important to cook it properly. Quinoa is coated with a naturally-occurring chemical called saponin, which can cause stomach upset in dogs. To remove it, rinse the quinoa before cooking it. The American Kennel Club says that a small amount of saponin will not cause severe adverse reactions, but dog owners should still rinse quinoa thoroughly.

Once the quinoa is cooked, you can feed it to your dog on its own or mixed with their regular food. As with any new food, start by giving your dog a small amount of quinoa to see how they tolerate it. If they do not have any stomach upset, you can gradually increase the amount of quinoa you give them.

As always, pet parents should consult their veterinarian before making any major changes to their pet’s food.

fresh vegan dog food in a silver bowl

Quinoa and ancient grains dog food

For dogs that are overweight or have allergies or intolerances to meat proteins, quinoa-based dog food and dog treats can be a great option — if made properly. It is absolutely vital that your dog eat complete and balanced meals, therefore, look for a quinoa dog food that was made by qualified professionals in the veterinary nutrition space.

JustFoodForDogs’ Tofu & Quinoa ancient grains recipe is made with 100% fresh, whole-food plant-based ingredients, including tofu, sweet potatoes, cooked quinoa, kale, white mushrooms, blueberries, and nutritional yeast. Note that this recipe is not suitable for all life stages, just adult dogs.

Our nutrition team partnered with leading researchers in vegan pet nutrition to create a recipe that’s high in protein, packed with antioxidants, and full of anti-inflammatory ingredients. And, because this recipe is 100% vegan with zero animal protein, it’s perfect for dogs that need a novel protein. (For carnivorous dogs, our venison novel protein recipe is popular. For pescaterian pups, try the fish meal!)

We’re an open book. For more information, feel free to reach out to one of our Nutrition Consultants. And if you want to make vegan dog food recipes at home, talk to our Customs team for an appropriate DIY blend that contains healthy nutrients like Taurine, L-Tryptophan, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Cholecalciferol (source of Vitamin D3 supplement), and Riboflavin.

Things to keep in mind about quinoa and dogs

While quinoa is generally safe for dogs to eat, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not feed your dog ancient grains dry/raw quinoa. Uncooked quinoa contains saponins, which can be toxic to dogs.
  • Do not add salt, spices, or other seasonings to your dog’s quinoa.
  • Start slow. If your dog is known to have a sensitive stomach, just give them a small spoonful on the first try.
  • If your dog has any underlying health conditions, such as kidney disease or pancreatitis, be sure to talk to your veterinarian before feeding them quinoa.

Overall, quinoa is a healthy food that can be a good addition to your dog’s diet. Just be sure to cook it properly and feed it to your pooch in moderation under the guidance of a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist.

This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your veterinarian about any questions or concerns.

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