Spirulina (Spirulina platensis) is a blue-green alga in the shape of a spiral coil, that has antimicrobial activity against numerous microorganisms. It’s packed with nutrients, and is of the highest-protein foods, offering 60% of digestible vegetable protein. So it’s great for vegan pets and their pet parents too!
Pet parents turn to Spirulina to help with fatigue and low-energy in their dogs. This is undeniably one of the best nutritional supplements for both man and dog. It can help with a range of ailments, from helping to detoxifying the body, improving gastrointestinal health, helping with allergies, strengthening the immune system, and also helps the body to generate new blood cells. That said, not all spirulina products are of high-quality, and are free of heavy metals and toxins.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a microscopic alga, shaped like a perfect spiral. It contains one of the highest amounts of veggie proteins, vitamins, minerals, and essential, but rare fatty acid GLA. It is also high in antioxidants, contains phytonutrients, vitamins, and is rich in essential oils. This all helps to maintain a glossy coat and healthy skin in dogs. Spirulina consists of the following:
- B1, 2 & 3
- Iron & trace minerals
- Essential fatty acid GLA (gamma-linolenic acid)
- Phycocyanin (phytonutrient)
- Sulfolipids (phytonutrient)
- Polysaccharides (phytonutrient)
- Vitamin K (may cause blood to clot)
Phytonutrients help to strengthen the immune system in dogs, help fights autoimmune disease, cancer, and may also help to reduce the chances of bacterial and fungal infection in dogs. With these powerful antioxidant properties, it’s no wonder that it is so popular! All the vitamins, minerals, veggie proteins, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants work together to optimize immune health, healthy gut flora, disease prevention, and well-being in dogs. Additionally, chlorophyll aids in detoxification and cleansing from heavy metals and contaminants. It also may safeguard dogs against allergies.
A 2010 study demonstrates that spirulina is also an antioxidant, and an anti-inflammatory. “The anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina may be attributed to inhibition of COX-2 activity or due to the ability to scavenge free radicals. Spirulina has also been shown to enhance innate and adaptive immunity. Immolina, a high molecular weight extract of spirulina, has been shownin vitro to be a potent activator of NF-kappa-B in monocytes/macrophages leading to increased IL-1β and TNF-α,” via Plos One.1.
Benefits of Giving Spirulina to Dogs
Apart from strengthening the immune system, spirulina helps in repairing DNA, as well as generating new blood cells. Dogs that suffer from an immune imbalance will feel lethargic, and out-of-sorts. Spirulina may help to stabilize the immune system, promoting well-being. It helps release metabolic energy which is important for healing, cell renewal, and nutrient absorption in dogs. Additionally, spirulina enhances appetite and keeps your dog’s breath fresh.
A tablespoon (7 grams) of spirulina has 20 calories with 1.7 grams of digestible carbs. 7 grams of spirulina also yields a small amount of fat- around 1 gram and has omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a 1.5-1.0 ratio. Although spirulina contains no vitamin B12, it has all the essential amino acids and protects against oxidative damage with phycocyanin, the main active component in spirulina. It also inhibits the production of inflammatory signaling molecules and promotes anti-inflammatory effects in dogs.
Spirulina Good for The Immune System Research Paper
The study goes on to add “that the effects of immolina were mediated through the toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 and not TLR-4, therefore it is unlikely that spirulina is acting as a competitive antagonist to the binding of LPS to TLR-4. However, extracting immolina from spirulina might alter the bioactivity of spirulina. Unlike NSAIDs, which act to suppress the immune activation, spirulina may be enhancing the innate immunity resulting in quicker removal of ‘danger signals’. This effect may be due to the priming of the monocytes/macrophages to the activation of the TLR. Spirulina has been shown to enhance phagocytosis in macrophages, as well as, enhancing cellular and humoral adaptive immunity. To the best of our knowledge, there has been noin vivo study to the determination of the temporal profile of the immune response to ‘danger signals’ such as LPS in animals fed spirulina supplemented the diet.”2.
Improve GI and Digestive Health
Dogs that are in post-op after having surgery or that are recovering from an illness need 400% more energy than maintenance. That said, adding spirulina to your dog’s meals helps your dog heal faster. When the nervous system is stressed out in a sick dog, the metabolic level of the dog changes. It’s also important to keep in mind that if your furry best friend is stressed out constantly due to illness, a new home or a new addition to the home, spirulina is one of the best supplements with over 60% of digestible proteins. Additionally, spirulina helps to keep bowel movements regular and promotes optimal digestion. It may also help prevent bloat.
Spirulina also combats e-coli and other bacteria and helps your dog absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from his food. It helps to improve digestibility, optimize well-being and energy, all the while bringing back puppyhood playfulness.
Natural Cleanser and Detoxification
A study found that rats that consumed spirulina had reduced kidney toxicity, and eliminated 7-times the amount of a dangerous chemical called dioxin. Spirulina also helps to detoxify the body from heavy metals, and a few pharmaceutical drugs.
Children that survived the Chernobyl nuclear disaster were given 5 grams a day of spirulina for 45 days. The results showed that they had lowered radionuclides by half the amount, and they also had normalized allergic sensitivities because of the spirulina.
Today, our dogs are exposed to so many toxins from polluted air, low-quality commercial dog food, and too many pharmaceuticals with long-term side effects. That said, spirulina can help cleanse your furry best friend’s body. The phytonutrients which consist of chlorophyll, polysaccharides, and phycocyanin all help to detox the body, maintaining optimal health.
Thought to Help Treat Cancer
Spirulina contains phycocyanin, which may inhibit cancer growth. It also assists with the immune system and repairs genetic material destroyed by radiation or toxins. Studies demonstrate that chlorella helps to negate the effect of chemotherapy and radiation in dogs. It also may reduce cancer occurrence and tumor size.
Oral cancer and spirulina use have been studied, and it was concluded that 45% of patients who consumed 1 gram of spirulina per day for a year had their lesions disappear. Those patients that ceased taking spirulina, redeveloped their oral lesions within a year. Spirulina, according to studies, may have anti-cancerous properties and may be effective against a type of oral precancerous lesions called oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) That said, too much spirulina may lead to lower blood pressure, which could be a risk factor for certain diseases in dogs.
Spirulina was also found effective in the treatment of female anemia, malnutrition in adults, and in helping with growth in malnourished children. The study concluded “that fortification of complementary infant food with spirulina had beneficial effects on infant upper respiratory infection morbidity and motor development. Spirulina may thus be a cost-effective home-fortification agent to improve infant health in resource-poor countries.”4.
How to Purchase Spirulina?
Here’s what to look for when purchasing Spirulina for Dogs:
- Made in the US, and regulated by the NASC
- Raw, natural whole food ingredients
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Supports energy & vitality
- Rich in phytonutrients & antioxidants
Spirulina can be purchased in powder form or capsules. The powder can be sprinkled once a day into dog food or into a delicious snack of plain organic yogurt with blueberries. Consult with your veterinarian as to the dosage, since it is nutrient-rich and could cause diarrhea if too much is given.
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Meet The Author
Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She’s a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.