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A couple of years ago, I read that chia seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. With the news that fish oil may not be safe due to toxins and my inability to source phytoplankton affordably, I figured chia seeds were a solution for me and the dogs. But then I kind of forgot about chia seeds until I began fermenting vegetables and seeds. A chat with Dr. Becker reminded me of the importance of sunflower seeds for dogs, and she shared that many diets for dogs lack manganese, which is why we see so many dogs with partial or full cruciate tears. I immediately looked up “foods rich in manganese,” and chia seeds were on the list. Around the same time, I saw a post on the Canine Ascension Facebook page about fermenting seeds, so I added this to my dog nutrition regimen. When I mix up a batch of fermented vegetables, I add sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds.
Recently, I added Raw Vibrance, a base mix created by Dr. Harvey's, to my dogs' diet rotation and one of the ingredients is chia seeds. I was excited but didn't know why. I've never taken the time to research the benefits of chia seeds for dogs until now. Besides being a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids and manganese, why are chia seeds so great?
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are teeny, round seeds that plump up (best way to describe it) when they get wet. I read that they originated in Central America (Mexico and Guatemala) and are now grown in both North and South America. I often seen chia seeds used in healthy recipes and I gather that this is because it’s considered superfood thanks to the laundry list of nutrients:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 3x the amount we find in salmon
- Manganese – 2.72 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Calcium – 631 grams per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Fiber – 34 grams per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Protein – 16.5 grams per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Iron – 7.7 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Magnesium – 335 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Phosphorus – 860 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Potassium – 407 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Copper – 0.9 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
- Zinc – 4.6 mg per 100 grams of chia seeds
And, along with the above nutrients, chia seeds offer vitamins A, B, E, and D, as well as niacin, iodine (I thought kelp was the only source), and thiamine.
Wow! It pays to do your homework.
My Dogs’ Nutritional Needs
To show what beneficial chia seeds are, I compared a few of the nutrient amounts to what my dogs need on a daily basis. It’s crazy that this teeny seed packs so much punch.
This is an estimate based on the NRC; a friend calculated the amounts for me. Subscribe to the Keep the Tail Wagging newsletter for a link to my nutrient spreadsheet.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 0.4 grams
- Manganese – 0.22 grams
- Calcium – 1.74 grams
- Protein – 43.91 grams
- Iron – 13.9 mg
- Magnesium – 263.73 mg
- Phosphorus – 1340 mg
- Potassium – 1870 mg
- Copper – 2.68 mg
- Zinc – 2677 mg
Benefits of Chia Seeds for Dogs
In my research, I found that the benefits of chia seeds for dogs are the same as for humans.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (this is an ALA, alpha-linolenic acid, fatty acid)
- Skin and coat health
- Joint health; reduces inflammation
- Eye development and health
- Brain development and health
- Puppy growth
- Immune system functioning
- Supports heart health, lowers blood pressure, and cholesterol
It's important to know that dogs and humans can't easily convert ALA fatty acids to EPA & DHA, which is what we need. But chia seeds are still very healthy.
- Supports bone health
- Great source of antioxidants to help fight cancer
- Reduces inflammation which helps with joint and arthritis pain
- Helps to regulate blood sugar by slowing the conversion of carbs to sugars
- Supports a healthy metabolism
- Improves brain functions
- Supports a healthy thyroid
- Supports stronger bones; combined with manganese (above) these nutrients support both bone strength and density
- Promotes great dental health
- Fights the growth of cancer
- Supports healthy digestive and healthier poops
- Supports a healthy weight
- Helps to body better absorb nutrients
- Provides nourishment for the healthy bacteria in the gut
- Absorbs water and expands, which makes dogs feel fuller longer (another vote for a fresh, raw diet since it has more moisture than dry dog food)
As I continued to read, I became more fascinated by this tiny seed and all that it can do for us. I didn't know that chia seeds are a great post-workout food because they help to repair muscles, leading to muscle growth, increased strength, and stamina, and more energy for future workouts. I need to start adding chia seeds to my diet!
Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds, and Hemp Seeds, Oh My
As I continued to read, I came across information comparing chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
- Chia seeds have the highest amount of fiber, they can be consumed whole or ground, and they bring a lot of additional nutrients to the table.
- Flaxseeds contain the most Omega 3 fatty acids, and they need to be ground before consuming.
- Hemp seeds contain the most protein and offer additional nutrients, but they also contain a higher Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, which isn’t beneficial if you’re trying to keep inflammation to a minimum.
All of these seeds have cancer-fighting properties, but if our dogs have arthritis, we should keep hemp seeds to a minimum or alleviate them altogether. Of course, this is based on what I’ve read to date, and the information can change as we learn more.
Where I Buy Chia Seeds
I buy chia seeds by the pound at a local natural grocery store. I look organic seeds and only buy them from stores I trust. Too many companies are using “natural” and “organic” as marketing terms, not understanding that consumers would prefer the truth.
How I Feed Chia Seeds to My Dogs
I always read that you had to soak chia seeds to gain the benefits, so I toss them into my ferment, which has liquid. Soaking chia seeds make them easier to digest, and we (and our dogs) can absorb more nutrients.
Fermenting Chia Seeds
- I have a recipe for fermenting vegetables, I simply add a handful of chia seeds (along with pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds) to each jar of vegetables.
- I also have a recipe fermenting seeds.
Soaking Chia Seeds
If you don’t want to ferment, then you can soak chia seeds as follows:
- Soak chia seeds in a 1 to 10 ratio with water; so soak ¼ cup of chia seeds in 2-1/2 cups of water.
- Soak for a little as 30 minutes and up to 2 hours (yikes, my ferment is a lot longer than two hours).
- When your “soak” is complete, you’ll have more of a gel mixture.
You can also grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder (or NutriBullet) to create flour. I'm kind of curious if this is something that you can sprinkle over a meal and if the flour will have the same nutritional benefits as soaked seeds. If you know, please share.
How Much Chia Seeds I Feed My Dogs
I had to return to Google to figure this out and according to Dogs Naturally Magazine, the chia seeds (after soaked) dosage for dogs is as follows:
- 1 teaspoon for small dogs
- 2 teaspoons for large
- 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of your dog's body weight
- Benefits of Manganese, Healthline.com
- Benefits of Chia Seeds, Healthline.com
- Benefits of Chia Seeds, Dr. Axe
- Chia Seeds for Pets, Dogs Naturally Magazine
- My recipe for fermented vegetables.
- My recipe for fermented seeds.
This is a sponsored post. Keep the Tail Wagging® is working with Dr. Harvey's to promote their new base mix, Raw Vibrance (which I love, by the way) and other products. I have received compensation in exchange for freelance articles and product reviews; however, despite receiving compensation, all thoughts are honest and my own.