Spirulina in dog’s diet

Published by Renata

Spirulina (Arthrospira Platensis) is a microalgae. A single-celled alga classified as blue-green algae. It belongs to cyanobacteria (phycocyanin – blue photosynthetic pigment, in addition it also has chlorophyll – green, carotenoids – yellow-orange, and some phycoerythrin, giving a red color). The pigments enable spirulina to carry out photosynthesis, thanks to which it produces the nutrients necessary for life.

It forms multicellular spirally coiled fibers, hence its name. This alga can be found (and grown) in the cleanest, fresh, warm, alkaline waters.

Spirulina has been used as a supplement for a very long time. There are reports that the Aztecs used it for healing and nutritional purposes. Its main dietary values are based on the high content of complete proteins*. It is also a very good source of minerals and vitamins. Thanks to the content of biologically active compounds, it is widely used in diet therapy.

Interestingly, spirulina farming on an industrial scale uses less resources than animal production. In addition, thanks to photosynthesis, it produces significant amounts of oxygen. This is of great importance in the context of ecology and environmental protection.

Spirulina cells, unlike land plants, are not coated with hard-to-digest sugars (e.g. cellulose). Thanks to this, the availability of substances that this alga accumulates increases significantly. Makes spirulina easily digestible.

* complete protein – a protein containing a full set of exogenous amino acids. Comparable to the amino acid composition of animal protein. Land plants are not a source of complete proteins.

The effect of substances contained in spirulina on the dog’s body

A valuable source of complete protein

About 60-80% of the weight of spirulina is complete protein. It contains all the amino acids that must be supplied to the body, the so-called essential amino acids that it cannot produce itself. The proportions of amino acids are not as ideal as in the case of meat, but it is definitely a better source of protein for a dog than plants.

This can be used in the case of allergies to various types of animal proteins, as well as during convalescence, with limited food intake or poor appetite.

Supplementing deficiencies of vitamins and minerals

Spirulina contains many vitamins, including: A, C, D, E, as well as B vitamins. They participate in the regulation of many processes in the body – digestion, absorption of nutrients, reducing inflammation, affect the overall condition of the body responsible for the quality of skin and coat.

Vitamin A is in the form of a precursor (beta carotene), i.e. a molecule that the body converts itself into the active form of vitamin A. This prevents overdose of vitamin A, which can occur in the case of supplements containing a ready-made form, e.g. feeding animal liver in the BARF / home diet .

A good source of many minerals, which, thanks to the combination with other ingredients, are highly absorbable. Magnesium is bound in chlorophyll, which is important in regulating the work of muscles, the heart or in the process of protein production by the body. Iron is combined with phycocyanin (it is absorbed up to 2x more than from meat). Hence, algae is recommended for anemia due to its hematopoietic properties.

Regulation of the work of the intestines and the composition of the intestinal biota

The addition of spirulina in the diet can positively affect the composition of intestinal bacteria by nourishing and stimulating probiotic bacteria, which reduces the growth of pathogenic biota. What’s more, some compounds contained in A. platensis will improve intestinal immunity (stimulating the production of IgA antibodies), reduce inflammation, which will translate into better functioning of the digestive system, and this will improve digestive processes.

For this reason, supplementing dogs with spirulina will be valuable especially in times of intestinal disorders or during and after antibiotic therapy.

Reducing inflammation

Spirulina contains many substances that reduce inflammation. These include fatty acid GLA (linolenic gamma), photosynthetic pigments: phycocyanin, carotenoids. They prevent e.g. formation and accumulation of free radicals, oxidation of compounds in the cells of the body, which lead to oxidative stress of cells and, consequently, causing inflammation.

Spirulina supplementation can support the therapy of diseases that are associated with inflammation (and as a result of pain, swelling, itching), e.g. inflammation of the joints, intestines, skin, internal organs.

Support in the fight against allergies

Many scientific studies have been devoted to the effect of spirulina on reducing allergy symptoms. The results are very positive for both humans and animals.

Substances present in spirulina limit the production of histamine and IgE antibodies, which are responsible for causing allergy symptoms. Hence, after supplementation, you can notice a decrease in the severity of symptoms – itching, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, swelling, redness of the skin.

Boosting immunity

The active ingredients contained in spirulina have a positive effect on improving the functioning of the immune system. Its operation is based, among others, on the stimulation of the production of IgA and IgG antibodies, which are responsible for the body’s defense against bacteria and viruses. For this reason, it is worth introducing it to the diet during a period of greater exposure to declines in immunity.

There have been studies that have proven that spirulina supplementation accelerates and enhances the immune response when dogs are vaccinated. The dogs that received the spirulina supplement showed a better result in the amount of antibodies produced to the received rabies vaccine, unlike dogs that did not get this algae.

Support in anticancer therapy

Many studies conducted on animal models confirm the effect of spirulina supporting the reduction of tumors. In some cases, there was even a complete recovery. One of the mechanisms is to stimulate the body to produce the factor TNFalpha, which destroys cancerous cells. Phycocyanin also slows the growth of tumors. In addition, the more efficient functioning of the body’s immune system is, the bigger ability to eliminate cancer cells.

Support in the treatment of obesity, hypertension and diabetes

It turns out that it helps to lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood by reducing its absorption from the digestive tract. A common occurrence in obese and diabetic dogs. Long-term elevated cholesterol can lead to atherosclerotic changes (although it is quite rare in dogs), i.e. the formation of fat deposits in blood vessels and reducing their diameter, which increases blood pressure. In addition, other studies have shown blood pressure-lowering properties by dilating blood vessels.

Spirulina reduces the level of glucose in the blood and the absorption of this sugar into the cells of the body. Studies have been conducted in which it was proved that the addition of spirulina in the diet contributed to weight reduction, and the reduction of blood glucose allowed to reduce the symptoms of diabetes.

When is spirulina not recommended?

  • the use of drugs that lower immunity (spirulina improves immunity),
  • autoimmune diseases (intensified immune reaction of the body),
  • taking medications, spirulina limits the activity of some enzymes (e.g. cytochrome p450) that are involved in metabolizing drugs
  • use of drugs that lower blood pressure,
  • use of drugs that lower blood glucose (insulin)

When choosing products with spirulina, pay attention to the source of origin. It is good if the manufacturer has certificates for the quality of the raw material. Spirulina, depending on the place of harvesting, may be contaminated with toxin-producing algae, and there is also a risk of containing heavy metal elements.


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