Super Seeds to Add to Your Dog's Diet

Spring is the time for seeds, nature’s nutrition boosters
By Susan Tasaki, May 2018
dogs eat quinoa

Photo by Marek Uliasz

Break out your grinder, dust off your food processor, find your power blender. You’ll need it to help your dog take advantage of a humble pantry staple: seeds. Yes, dogs can eat seeds too and they can be a healthy, nutritious, bonus for you pet.

Whether big (pumpkin and sunflower), small (sesame, hemp, chia, flax) or grain-like (quinoa, amaranth), seeds supply an extra buzz of protein, along with fiber, amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals and other useful micro-nutrition morsels. You can add them as an ingredient in your dog’s home-cooked meals or sprinkle them on as a dog food topper.

Caveats: In order for your dog to benefit from their many pluses, seeds should usually be ground; some should also be refrigerated to avoid rancidity. Raw and unsalted are best. Because they tend to be calorie-rich, use them judiciously. Finally, try a single variety at a time in small quantities until you know how your dog responds to and tolerates them.

8 Healthy Seeds to Add to Your Dog's Food

Quinoa and amaranth are “ancient grains,” seeds from plants that have been cultivated the same way for thousands of years. (If your dog has arthritis or kidney problems, it’s probably best to give quinoa a miss; it’s fairly high in naturally occurring oxalates, which can exacerbate these conditions.) Amaranth contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein for dogs.

Chia and flaxseeds are best refrigerated. Chia is said to be an immune-system booster and is credited with supporting dogs’ electrolyte balance. Flax is high in fiber, and both are high in anti-inflammatories.


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In addition to being mineral-rich, sesame seeds have two unique elements, sesamin and sesamolin, which have been shown to increase vitamin E in animals and to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

Hemp seeds are a high-protein, easily digestible source of immune-system support.

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds both supply extra anti-oxidants. Pumpkin seeds rank high in zinc, a mineral recommended for dogs with copper toxicosis, aka copper storage disease. (Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are high in copper, so if your dog has liver problems, check with your vet before feeding.) Pumpkin seeds are unusual in that their nutritive value has been shown to improve with age—those pumpkin seeds that have been languishing in the back of your pantry since Halloween are better now than when you bought them!

When it comes to the kinds of homemade dog food toppers you can offer your dog, the world is your oyster. Use these seed ideas as inspiration to add delightful but healthy surprises to your dog's food. Remember that each dog is different, so if one seed doesn’t pique your dog’s interest, try a new one. Experiment, and don’t forget to share word of your well-received delights with us. And we’ll return the favor — get more healthy homemade dog food topper ideas that your dogs will go wild for.

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 93: Spring 2018