Use of algae in dog nutrition
Algae are an important source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They have a high nutritional value and are low in calories.
Algae are aquatic organisms that live in sweet or marine water. They can be unicellular (microalgae or phytoplankton) or multicellular (macroalgae). Algae have the ability to carry out oxygenic photosynthesis and have very varied colors, depending on the pigments present in the plastids.
They are characterized by being the most productive plants on the planet, because due to their simple structure they grow faster than others and reproduce with simple division.
Algae play an important role in supplying oxygen to the planet, and it is estimated that they participate with almost 50% of global photosynthesis.
The best known are green algae (Division Chlorophyta), red algae (Phylum Rhodophyta) and brown or coffee algae (Phylum Heterokontophyta). It is estimated that there are about 27,000 species of algae in the world.
The main use of algae is its direct consumption by humans, who extract approximately 40,000 tons a year from the seas. One of the most important seaweed crops is Porphyra (Nori, in Japanese), seaweed with which sushi is prepared in Japan.
Properties and benefits of algae
Algae are an important source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They have a high nutritional value and are low in calories. Various studies attribute antibacterial properties (against E. coli and Staphylococcus simulans), anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Its nutritional value depends on its size, digestibility, chemical composition and presence of toxic substances.
Algae have begun to be used more in recent years, both in human and animal nutrition (in poultry, pig, ruminant, pet nutrition and aquaculture), due to their high content of proteins, minerals, lipids and vitamins and also due to low cost.
Seaweed contains a lot of iodine, zinc and copper and 10 times more minerals than vegetables. They can help with intestinal problems, skin and thyroid problems.
Spirulina is a micro-alga rich in proteins and antioxidants, it stimulates the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Chorella is a green alga that contains a lot of chlorophyll, which has natural antibiotic properties and is known for its detoxification capacity.
Benefits of algae for dog nutrition
Seaweeds have the ability to absorb minerals directly from the water and that is why each species has different minerals and vitamins. For animal nutrition, algae are available whole, powdered or in capsule form.
Iodine, which is found in large amounts in seaweed such as Kelp, is very necessary for dogs. Dogs have a very active metabolism of the thyroid gland and need iodine in a sufficient amount, much higher than a human. For example, a 60 kg dog needs 640 µg/day, while a human of the same weight needs only 150 µg/day.
In case that they do not have enough iodine in their diet, animals can develop a syndrome called All-Meat-Syndrom and in the long term they can reach hypothyroidism.
Therefore, seaweed is a natural source of iodine. Diet supplementation with seaweed is a natural treatment for animals with thyroid problems.
Apart from helping metabolism and thyroid problems, they also help dogs with arthritis or heart disease.
Another benefit for pets is that it helps reduce fleas and reduces itchiness in dogs with skin allergies.
In recent years, due to the global growth in demand for protein in animal nutrition, there has been a continuous search for vegetable protein alternatives that can replace animal protein, with lower costs. Algae represent a good alternative, due to the high nutritional content they contain, being an important source of proteins, vitamins and minerals, and for having a relatively low cost.