Is Quinoa Good for Dogs?
We are now up to the letter “Q” in our dog food ingredient series. Today we are writing about the use of quinoa in dog food.
What is Quinoa?
Although quinoa is consumed like a cereal grain (e.g. oats and wheat), it actually belongs to the same food family that contains spinach, beets, and Swiss chard. It is not technically a grain, and is often referred to as a pseudo cereal.
Common names for Quinoa
Common names of quinoa include kinua, parka, sweet quinoa, and dacha. In dog food we will only see quinoa listed in some foods’ ingredients.
Why is Quinoa in Dog Food?
Quinoa is added to dog food because it is a source of protein and provides many health benefits (see below) due to its vitamin and mineral content.
Is Quinoa Commonly Used in Dog Food?
Quinoa is growing in popularity as a human food and it seems like this popularity is extending to pet food. We found quinoa in about 3.25% of all dog foods. It is more common in dry foods, most likely due to the fact that it is a source of protein and dry foods, on average, are lower in protein than wet foods.
Common Benefits or Risks of Quinoa
Quinoa is high in protein and essential amino acids. It is also a source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential Omega-3 fatty acid with potentially anti-inflammatory benefits. Quinoa is a good source of fiber.
Quinoa is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is rich in the vitamin B complex (niacin, folate, thiamin), as well as vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also contains the anti-inflammatory flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol. Minerals that are abundant in Quinoa include iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc, to name a few.
One half cup of cooked quinoa has about 4 grams of protein or twice the amount of protein found in other cereal grains, it also has 2 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of carbs and 110 calories.
There are no known risks of using quinoa in the food of normally healthy dogs. However, it is important to note that quinoa seeds naturally have a coating of bitter-tasting saponins, making them unpalatable in the wild. Most of the commercially available quinoa has been processed to remove this coating. The toxicity category rating of quinoa saponins treats them as mild eye and respiratory irritants and as a low gastrointestinal irritant.
Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level
Quinoa is a healthy ingredient to have in a dog food recipe and it gets the SlimDoggy Happy rating. However, as a plant based protein source, it is not as efficiently digested and utilized as meat and fish based proteins. Thus, as a dog food ingredient, Quinoa’s appeal is in its vitamins and minerals and its comparatively high protein levels versus other ‘grains’.
Miscellaneous facts about Quinoa
The United Nations had declared 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa”.
Quinoa gained popularity as far back as 3000 BC, when its consumption became widespread in the Andes mountains regions of South America. Quinoa is able to survive high altitudes, thin and cold air, hot sun, salty or sandy soil, little rainfall, and sub-freezing temperatures. It is one touch plant.
Sources and Further Reading
Editor’s note: to view all of the dog food ingredients we have covered, search on the tag “ingredients” or click here:
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