The Dangers and Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are considered ‘super seeds’ as they are packed with vital nutrients that can truly benefit your dog if given properly. Before anyone thinks we’re downing chia seeds let us set the record straight and say that we absolutely adore them and our dogs do too!
So, are chia seeds toxic to dogs? No chia seeds are not toxic to dogs, in fact, they can eat them on a regular basis and enjoy the many health benefits of the seeds. However, there are some things you need to watch out for when feeding them to your dog. Let’s discuss possible side or ill effects that you should know about.
If you want to read about 6 other super seeds that are scientifically backed and deemed healthy for your dog in the right quantities, read our article here.
THE DANGERS OF FEEDING YOUR DOG CHIA SEEDS
1. Digestive issues
Chia seeds are packed with fiber and while this is often extremely beneficial for pets with digestive issues, if fed too much they can cause GI upset.
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, providing 11 grams of fiber in each 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. While fiber can be of great benefit for your dog, especially if they have GI issues, too much of a good thing is as the saying goes a bad thing, a really bad thing.
Always make sure your pup has plenty of fresh water and if your dog has IBD, you may want to limit their intake during a flare-up for this reason.
Talk to your vet prior to feeding your dog chia seeds so that you don’t give them in excess. A good rule of thumb is 1/4th teaspoon per 10 pounds. My dogs are 5 & 7 pounds so they get a little less than 1/4th of a teaspoon.
Chia seeds can hold up to 12 times their weight in water, which means they are wonderful at preventing dehydration but if taken dry can possibly cause major issues in your dog’s esophagus or stomach.
When given dry, the seeds can get lodged in the esophagus easily or pull moisture from the intestinal system and cause internal swelling. This can lead to many complications including blockage, which can be life-threatening.
This is especially important to note in dogs that suffer from esophageal dysfunction or have difficulty swallowing. You can prevent this from happening by first mixing the seeds with some water and giving the seeds time to swell. Ideally, for every 1/4 cup of chia seeds soak in 3-4 cups of water for at least 20-30 minutes or if you can soak them overnight.
hydrating chia seeds also have the added benefit of making them more bioavailable for your pet’s body to use. This is because soaked chia seeds release enzyme inhibitors that naturally serve to protect the seed from sprouting prematurely. Without soaking first, these enzyme inhibitors may bind to nutrients and cause gi irritation.
Though uncommon, some dogs may be allergic to chia seeds. If you are giving your pup chia seeds for the first time make sure to keep an eye out for any possible allergic reactions and give a smaller amount to start out with.
As with any food allergy things to watch for are hives or a rash, swelling, itchy skin, diarrhea, and/or vomiting.
4. Omega 3 overload
Chia seeds are loaded with omega 3’s but there is a delicate balancing act between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. While this would be rare, make sure your pup is getting enough of both.
5. Medication Interactions
As you’ll read in this article, chia seeds can minimally reduce blood sugar and high blood pressure if your pup is already taking medications for these issues speak with your vet prior to feeding your dog chia seeds as eating too many may cause hypoglycemia or hypotension.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHIA SEEDS FOR DOGS?
Chia seeds were first harvested by the Mayans, the word in Mayan means “strength”, and the Mayans believed that the seeds contained supernatural powers, and they may have been on to something!
They are one of the world’s most popular super seeds because of their nutrient-dense properties and they are great for humans and dogs alike. The popular seeds have been shown to have therapeutic effects in the control of diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, and are heart-healthy. Due to their high antioxidant effects, they are also believed to have liver and heart-protective effects, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-aging properties.
Vitamins & Minerals
Chia seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals. Dog’s need vitamins as many times they aren’t able to make them on their own and have to obtain them from their food. To read more about feeding your dog’s vitamins you can read our article here.
- Vitamin B’s
Anti-inflammatory & Anti-oxidants
- chlorogenic acid
- caffeic acid – an antioxidant that helps fight inflammation in the body
- quercetin -an antioxidant which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid & omega-3 fatty acids
The seeds have one of the highest amounts of alpha-linolenic acid out of all the other super seeds, even more than flax seeds. According to a popular published study, the higher proportion of α-linolenic acid makes chia a great source of omega-3 fatty acids
Chia seeds are packed with soluble fiber which is beneficial for the digestive system and controlling diabetes mellitus and lower high blood pressure. The fiber in chia seeds absorbs water and makes your dog feel fuller faster, so adding the seeds to your overweight dog’s meals may prove to be beneficial.
HOW MUCH CHIA SHOULD I GIVE MY DOG?
Speak to your veterinarian for a dose specifically for your pet, but most dog owners stick with the rule of thumb of giving a quarter of a teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight.
WHICH DOGS BENEFIT THE MOST FROM CHIA SEEDS?
While every dog can certainly benefit from eating chia seeds there are some that could certainly use the added boost more than others
They are great to give a dog that needs to lose a little weight because like flax seeds, they are also a great source of fiber and can assist in weight loss as they give a feeling of fullness without adding extra calories due to their ability to expand with water.
Dogs with constipation or that are long-time sufferers from intermittent constipation can benefit from eating chia seeds with their meals every once and a while as the added fiber will help keep their stools regular
Chia seeds help support normal insulin function according to the writers at My Ollie, they help regulate blood sugar and glucose tolerance.
To read more about which type of dog benefits the most from chia seed, read our article here
HOW TO PREPARE CHIA SEEDS FOR YOUR DOG
Soak 1/4 cup (40 grams) of chia seeds in 4 cups of water (1 liter) for at least 30 mins in the refrigerator, preferably overnight
You can add the soaked chia seeds to your dog’s meals (use within 3 days)
You can add the soaked chia seeds to your dog’s water (this is what I do)
CAN DOGS EAT CHIA SEED PUDDING?
While chia seeds are fairly safe in moderation for dogs, chia seed pudding may not be the best treat for your dog. Since most chia seed puddings are made with nut milk you may want to bypass giving your dog chia seed pudding.
Most nut milks are safe for dogs when given in small amounts, with oat milk being one of the safest, but there are some things to keep in mind when feeding your dog nut milk. Some nut milk can have harmful ingredients that can cause everything from stomach upset in your dog to more severe effects that may need a trip to the veterinarian.
Things like excess sugar, stabilizers, and artificial sweeteners are all ingredients you should watch out for when giving your dog nut milk, in addition, many of the nut milks are high in calories, which your dog doesn’t need.
If you do decide to make your dog chia seed pudding the best way would be to make the nut milk at home and give a very small amount with food. This is not something that is recommended daily for dogs and should be used as a treat in moderation.
Can dogs eat chia seed sprouts and grass?
Yes, your dog can eat chia seed sprouts and grass just like chia seeds. You can include them in your dog’s food in small portions
KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE WHEN FEEDING CHIA SEEDS
1. Soak the seeds
Chia seeds can absorb 9-10 times their weight and not only does this help with any possible blockage or choking hazards, but it also makes the seeds a lot easier to digest and increases nutrient absorption. Like all seeds, chia seeds contain digestive inhibitors, and phytic acid (which binds to some minerals like zinc & iron in the body which in turn prevents uptake) but soaking them helps remove this barrier.
2. Observe your dog
The first couple of times you give your dog chia seeds make sure you pay close attention to them. Watch for any signs of gagging, allergic reaction, or gastrointestinal upset. You may need to decrease the number of seeds you give them or discontinue use at all
3. Consult your veterinarian
Always consult your veterinarian prior to giving your pet chia seeds, this way they can recommend a starting amount to give with meals.
4. Keep water close by
Always have a fresh bowl of water available for your pup when you give them chia seeds with their meals
5. Choose organic
Choose organic chia seeds
6. Check your dog’s food
Make sure your dog isn’t already getting chia seeds in their diets since many popular brands are now including them in their formulations because as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is a bad thing! If your dog is eating too much chia, they could have issues like hypoglycemia, stomach aches, and diarrhea.
SIGNS YOUR DOG IS HAVING A BAD REACTION TO CHIA SEEDS
- Stomach upset and bloat
- Painful abdomen
If you experience any of these signs discontinue chia seeds and consult your veterinarian.
Overall, chia seeds and dogs go together like peanut butter and jelly, if you feed them properly. Chia seeds are relatively safe to feed your dog in moderation and with supervision. In fact, I add them to my dog’s drinking water regularly. Do you give them to your dog?
Have a question? Leave it below or email: [email protected]
Author: Dr. Jackson has practiced veterinary medicine for over 15 years and has three fur babies two of which have digestive issues.
Fort Tryon Park
The Daily Plant : Thursday, October 14, 2010
From Parks’ Citywide Nursery: Andrew Jackson Downing And The Cucumber Magnolia
The City Birder
Richie Cabo is horticulturist and manager at Parks’ Arthur Ross Citywide Nursery, where he oversees the propagation of thousands of plants using all organic, eco-friendly processes. For the past year, a special tree discovery inspired Richie to research the New York horticulturist Andrew Jackson Downing. This essay is about his findings and his journey.
On a fall day last September, I was driving with my family on our way to climb Mount Beacon in Dutchess County. We passed the Craig House, a large property with an old mansion, and I pulled over to get a closer look at a beautiful tree. It had large leaves and white flowers, and unusual orange, cucumber-shaped fruits. I also noticed the largest Weeping Hemlock I’d ever seen. The property’s majestic, unusual landscaping stayed with me not only on our hike, but to this day.
At the nursery, we stratified the strange fruit seeds that I’d collected throughout the winter and they sprouted in the spring. We transplanted them and they have grown beautifully—they are now two years old. As the trees grew, I noticed that they looked like a Magnolia, but the flower was different. I asked among the gardeners and heard that Fort Tryon had a Cucumber Magnolia that, sure enough, was a match.
I learned that the Magnolia acuminata (Cucumber Magnolia), now listed as endangered in the U.S. and Canada, was the favorite tree of Andrew Jackson Downing—a name I had only heard briefly mentioned during a master gardener’s class. I started to research Downing and learned that he is considered one of the most influential characters in the American history of horticulture.
The trees continued to grow, and about a year after planting, I read in the Poughkeepsie Journal that plantings and grounds at the Craig House estate in Beacon had been “overseen by a renowned horticulturist, Henry Winthrop Sargent.”
It was as if a light bulb went off in my head: I remembered that there was a tree named Weeping Hemlock Sargentii. The fact that the two horticulturist names were associated with one landscape—Craig House, home to the same magnificent landscape that had the Cucumber Magnolia—made me want to look more closely at the connection between Sargent and Downing. I have been a student of horticulture for some time, and yet I had no idea who these two horticulturists were. But a tree was calling for me to find out more, to dig deeper. This journey through history all started with the propagation of a tree seed.
I learned that Downing had been close friends with Sargent, who lived across the river from him in Beacon. Sargent introduced Downing to the Craig House property that would eventually be home to the beautiful Cucumber Magnolia, and the two worked on the grounds design together. Downing also worked closely with Central Park designer Calvert Vaux. Together, their designs for cottage homes, Villas, and farmhouses and shaped the style of early American homes.
The librarians at the Newburgh Historical Society provided me with Downing’s book, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, and I learned that Downing had learned the horticulture trade at his father’s nursery in Newburgh, NY—across the river from the Craig House. Downing’s father had over 100 types of apple and pear trees at his cutting-edge nursery.
Until his death, Downing was the founding editor of the first monthly periodical about horticulture in America, the Horticulturist. I was astonished to find that it is in this periodical that the concept of New York’s Central Park is first introduced. In August of 1851, eight years before what we now know as Central Park was born, Downing wrote a piece entitled “The New York Park.” “Plant spacious parks in your cities,” Downing wrote, “and unloose their gates of morning to the whole people.”
I was confused, though: if Downing was the first to write about a New York Central Park, why have I only heard about its designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux? I learned at Newburgh’s Historical Society that Downing died in a tragic boating accident on the Hudson River in 1852—in other words, before Central Park opened. He was just 36 years old.
I owe a great deal to Andrew Jackson Downing, and in studying his life, I’m reminded by how history can inform our everyday lives and how easily it can be lost. How can Downing be remembered for new generations of horticulturists? Calvert Vaux designed an urn his memory that is now at the Smithsonian Institute, and there is a park in his name in Newburgh, but beyond a few books buried in the archives of historical societies, there isn’t much to preserve his story.
Central Park makes no mention of him, and I wonder if it should. Well, consider this: Olmsted’s daughter, Caroline, was married to Sargent, and Sargent looked to Downing as his horticultural expert. What’s more, Downing and Vaux were partners, and Vaux and Olmsted built and designed Downing Park in Newburgh without pay in memory of their friend Downing. Had Downing not died, I wonder if he would have worked with Olmsted and Vaux. Schuyler told me in an email that the two “hoped to erect a monument in memory of Downing in Central Park in 1860.”
I have organized a partnership with the City of Beacon and Parks called the “Sargent-Downing Collection.” We will honor Downing by returning these historic trees to the city of Beacon, and in the spring, I will oversee the trees’ planting on the Arsenal’s roof garden and throughout parks in the five boroughs. With these trees, Downing’s legacy returns home to our city’s parks.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“To a historian libraries are food, shelter, and even muse.”
Barbara W. Tuchman