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, but there are dangers you should be aware of when feeding your dog chia seeds. 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
Chia seeds are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties since they are a great source of antioxidants. The antioxidants found in chia seeds can help to fight free radicals in your dog’s body which can cause oxidative stress and cell damage.
- 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.
My advice is to start small and work your way up from there. Introduce the seeds into your pet’s diet slowly to help prevent any possibilities of GI upset.
|Small Dogs||1/4 – 1 teaspoon of Chia Seeds|
|Large Dogs||1-2 teaspoons of Chia Seeds|
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
Keep a close eye out for any of the following signs:
- 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?
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Author: Dr. Jackson has practiced veterinary medicine for over 15 years and has three fur babies two of which have digestive issues.