In addition to training, I have to say that canine nutrition is a close second on the list of dog things that I find really interesting and fun to learn more about. Through the past few months I've slowly highlighted various different aspects of canine nutrition that I've learned more about. Everything that I've included are things that I include in my dogs' diets. This month I would like to highlight the benefits of kelp! Specifically kelp in powdered form.
While I haven't tried giving my dogs actual kelp to see what they think of it, it's just easier for me to give it to them in a powdered supplement form so that I can make sure that they actually eat all of it. Especially since one of them *cough*Bess*cough* has a tendency to like to play with new food items and stick them in odd locations.
Kelp has many benefits to a dogs overall health. Most notably it has been cited in helping dogs with hypothyroidism. Since kelp is rich in iodine and iodine helps to regulate thyroid function, it only makes sense that including iodine in the diet would also help to improve thyroid function. I will add though that if you suspect your dog is having thyroid problems, it's best to take it in to see the vet and have the thyroid properly tested. You'll also want to make sure to let your vet know if you plan to supplement with kelp. In some cases that I've read about, the inclusion of kelp in the diet allowed the dog to go off of thyroid medication.
In addition to helping with thyroid function, kelp can also help with over all immune function. Since it's not only loaded with iodine, but many other beneficial vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, it helps to boost the immune systems abilities to ward off illness. Part of this process is kelp's ability to help cleanse the digestive tract and "absorb" various toxins along the way. Once the toxins are absorbed, they are harmlessly passed in the dogs' stool.
The skin and coat also benefit from the rich assortment of vitamins and minerals. It has been noted that kelp helps the skin in areas that may have become depigmented. Helping to darken up some pigment and encourage hair growth in areas that may have lost it.
Kelp has also been given credit for helping with canine reproduction. Many people have cited that including kelp in the diet of the pregnant bitch has helped to yield larger litters, easier whelping, and stronger overall puppies. While I haven't seen these studies in detail to know whether it's a placebo effect or actual facts, it does make sense.
And as always, here are a few web sites for further reading that I found helpful: