17 Hawaiian Spirulina Benefits for Dogs

Hawaiian spirulina is getting a lot of attention lately. In fact, pet nutrition in 2018 is a HUGE business.

Both dog and cat owners are paying more attention to what they feed their pets.  People are looking into alternative diets and supplements to maximize their pet’s health and wellness.

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While spirulina is grown all over the world, the safest and highest quality product is produced in man-made reservoirs on the island of Kona.

In this post, we outline 17 Hawaiian spirulina benefits for dogs.  Whether you have a specific health concern in mind or are just looking for a high-quality nutritional supplement, Hawaiian spirulina has something to benefit your dog’s health.

Hawaiian Spirulina 

Hawaiian spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is the domesticated form of the common blue-green algae trademarked under the name Spirulina Pacifica.

Spirulina is actually a type of bacteria that gets its energy from the sun. Just like a plant, spirulina uses photosynthesis to turn sunlight into energy the cells can use for food.

Hawaiian spirulina is cultivated in freshwater ponds and then harvested and dried to a powder. This powder can be taken in capsules, or mixed into other foods for consumption.

It is an especially nutrient-rich supplement that is eco-friendly. It is also gluten-free and is certified vegan, kosher, halal and non-GMO!

Spirulina has been used as a source of nutrition for humans and livestock for thousands of years.  NASA even sends spirulina energy bars into space for our astronauts! Check out the nutritional profile for spirulina below:

17 Benefits of Hawaiian Spirulina for Dogs

One Tablespoon (7 grams) of Spirulina Contains:

1. Protein

Spirulina is about 60% protein and contains 18 different amino acids. It has all 10 of the essential amino acids dogs require from their diets.

Unlike other plant-based protein sources, such as soy, the proteins in spirulina are highly digestible without further processing.

The other amino acids in spirulina can also be beneficial to your dog. Aspartic Acid, Glutamic Acid, and Glycine are all neurotransmitters that help keep the brain and nervous system working properly.

Tyrosine assists in melanin production, and Cystine is necessary for taurine synthesis within your dog’s body.

2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine is a vitamin that is essential to canine health. It promotes organ function (including the brain) and can help your dog maintain a healthy nervous system. Thiamine is also necessary for their bodies to metabolize carbohydrates.

Unstable When Exposed to Heat

While thiamine is added to all commercial pet foods, the challenge is that it is unstable when exposed to heat, air or moisture.

Since commercial foods are cooked and stored for lengthy periods of time, you have no idea whether these foods contain the amount of thiamine that is labeled on the bag.

There have been multiple pet food recalls in the last several years due to a thiamine insufficiency. Adding Hawaiian spirulina to your dog’s diet can ensure they are not missing out on this essential vitamin!

3. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

If there is one vitamin you really want to be sure your dog is getting enough of, it is riboflavin! This vitamin works with other enzymes in your dog’s body.  Riboflavin regulates their metabolism.

Riboflavin also plays a role in the production of red blood cells, and in the function of the immune system.

Riboflavin is found in many animal and plant sources, including Hawaiian spirulina. Interestingly, riboflavin is required for the uptake of many minerals which are found in Hawaiian spirulina as well!

This one’s for you! Check out the smoothie recipe below:

4. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is another essential B vitamin for dogs found in spirulina. This vitamin is required for the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Niacin helps maintain your dog’s skin and coat and supports their gastrointestinal health.

Niacin, like thiamine, is sensitive to heat and moisture. Commercially prepared foods may not actually contain the amount of niacin that is stated on the label.

Niacin is found naturally in animal meats, eggs, and legumes. While cereal crops like wheat and corn contain niacin, our dog’s bodies can not extract the vitamin from these sources. Spirulina, on the other hand, contains a bioavailable form of niacin!

5. Copper

You may think of the pretty metal when you see the word copper, but it is also a trace mineral that dogs require in their diet. Copper assists with the development of collagen, bone and connective tissue. It also helps with the absorption of iron and plays a role in the formation of red blood cells.

Spirulina is a good source of copper, especially since it contains iron (see below) and does not contain a lot of vitamin C (which prevents copper from being absorbed).

Some dogs have a genetic condition that disrupts their body’s ability to process and store copper. If your dog has liver disease related to copper, check with your veterinarian before starting him/her on spirulina supplementation.

6. Iron

Along with copper, iron is a major component of hemoglobin, the primary protein found in red blood cells. Iron works in tandem with other enzymes in your dog’s body as well. Insufficient iron in the diet can cause anemia, or a lack of red blood cells. Dogs should receive iron in their diet every day, especially puppies and growing dogs.

Spirulina is a rich source of iron and, as mentioned above, it also contains copper to ensure the iron is absorbed.

7. Magnesium

Another trace mineral that dogs require, magnesium is essential for the nervous system to function properly. It is involved with the transfer of energy throughout your dog’s body. Along with sodium and potassium (see below), magnesium is necessary for your dog to walk, run and jump. Pretty much all movement requires magnesium.

Dogs with insufficient magnesium appear weak and lethargic. Their muscles may twitch, and they often have difficulty walking.

Here’s a little slo-mo picture for you! This little dog seems to love his spirulina treats.

Magnesium deficiency can cause their heart to beat erratically and is considered very dangerous if left untreated. Dogs with kidney disease, diabetes and IBD may benefit from the magnesium in spirulina.

8. Potassium

Potassium is a trace mineral that plays an important role in fluid and electrolyte balance in dogs. As mentioned above, all muscle activity requires potassium (and the other electrolytes), and a deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, heart arrhythmias and other serious health problems.

Most dogs can get sufficient potassium through their normal diet and treats. However, dogs with diabetes, kidney disease or IBD may become deficient in potassium.

Even an otherwise healthy dog who refuses to eat, or has diarrhea for a few days, might develop problems with low potassium. Using Spirulina may help keep your dog’s potassium levels in the proper range, although you should check with your veterinarian first if your dog has any major health problems.

9. Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids

You have probably read a lot about omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and their benefit to our dog’s health. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are an essential part of our dog’s diets, since their bodies can not produce them.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids support a healthy coat and immune system, and when the ratio is balanced correctly can also have anti-inflammatory effects.

While spirulina is only about 8% fat, the balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids is usually right around the target of 1:1.

Your dog’s overall diet will have a much greater impact on their Omega intake than a supplement like spirulina. Still, the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in spirulina can help maintain the health of your dog.

The Benefits of Hawaiian Spirulina

Now that we have covered 9 health benefits of Hawaiian spirulina for your dog’s health, let’s look at the bigger picture.

What superpowers does spirulina bring to the table?

10. Antioxidant

Spirulina contains several antioxidants, such as phocyanin and beta-carotene. In fact, spirulina has more beta-carotene by proportion than a carrot!

These antioxidants help protect cells and the cellular DNA from being damaged, which can lead to inflammation and even cancer.

Eating foods high in antioxidants is associated with a reduction in cancer rates, and while the research is still in progress, there are good reasons to think that spirulina antioxidants provide some protections when consumed every day.

11. Anti-Inflammatory

The antioxidants in spirulina can have an anti-inflammatory effect in your dog’s body. This can help prevent heart disease, reduce the pain associated with arthritis and even improve your dog’s intestinal function!

Chronic inflammation is associated with several diseases common to dogs, and spirulina may help prevent your dog from developing them.

12. Lower LDL

Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL’s, are the “bad fat” associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Several animal studies show that consuming spirulina lowers the amount of LDL’s in the blood, and some recent studies have indicated that spirulina may also have this effect in humans.

While specific research on dogs still needs to be done, there is good reason to believe that this will hold true to them as well.

13. Lower Triglycerides

High triglycerides are also associated with the development of heart disease. Human studies have shown that consumption of spirulina can lower triglycerides in the blood by 10-28%!

Several animal studies have also shown this result, although not all of them have. While we still need to wait for this research to be done in dogs, it is likely that spirulina will have some positive impact on the total number of triglycerides in your dog’s blood.

14. Raises HDL

High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, are the “good fats” in your body. They are associated with healthy hearts and arteries.

Taken as a whole, you want low numbers of LDL’s and triglycerides, and higher numbers of HDLs. Studies on spirulina in both animals and humans consistently shows that its consumption increases HDL’s even as it lowers LDL’s and triglycerides.

Overall, there is good evidence that spirulina supports cardiac health in many mammals, and will probably have this effect in dogs too.

15. Anti-Cancer

Spirulina may have anti-cancer effects in dogs. There is some evidence to show that animals given spirulina are less likely to develop cancer.

Since we know that spirulina is an antioxidant and that it has anti-inflammatory properties, it follows that it might also protect against some forms of cancer. Several studies have shown that it is particularly useful in protecting against oral cancers in humans.

Since spirulina is especially beneficial to the immune system and digestive tract, it may be that it also helps protect against cancer in these locations. More research is needed, especially in dogs, but the preliminary reports show promise!

16. Reduces Allergy Symptoms

Taking Hawaiian spirulina can relieve the effects of seasonal allergies. As mentioned above, it can reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system.

One of the ways Hawaiian spirulina does this is by reducing the amount of histamine in the body.

These histamines are one of the things that trigger your immune system to react, or overreact in the case of “hay fever.”

If your dog suffers from “hay fever” or other seasonal allergy symptoms, try adding spirulina to their diet! Not only will their coat be bright and shining, their skin shouldn’t itch as much.

17. Anemia

Since spirulina contains copper, iron and B2 vitamins, it is an excellent supplement to prevent anemia! Puppies and senior dogs are especially at risk of anemia, and may benefit from spirulina supplementation.

There are several studies in humans that show seniors and immunosuppressed people have higher levels of red blood cells when given spirulina every day.

Adding Hawaiian spirulina to your dog’s diet will help protect them from anemia, and will support their overall health.

We hope you have enjoyed this post about the 17 Hawaiian spirulina benefits for dogs! While more research needs to be done, there are many reasons to believe this superfood has superpowers our dogs can benefit from!

As always, check with your veterinarian before starting spirulina supplementation. Some dogs may have upset stomachs when they first start taking it, and it can react negatively with some medications.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post!  You should have a pretty good understanding of the benefits of spirulina in your dog’s diet.  

I hope you’ll come back often.  There’s a lot to read and you’re not going to want to miss out on some of the #1 posts.

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About Lisa Theriault

Lisa Theriault wants you to know right up front that she is not a veterinarian. None of the articles/posts on this website are meant to take the place of veterinarian care. That said, Lisa has had a lifetime of experience dealing with dogs and plans on further education on dog anatomy and canine massage. In the meantime, Lisa's posts are all professionally researched and carefully crafted. The last thing she wants is to do or say anything that would hurt your dog. Stay tuned for more updates to Lisa's bio.