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The quick answer: Yes, plain quinoa is safe for dogs to eat.
This grain-like food is not actually a grain; quinoa is a small seed whose popularity has rapidly grown as of late due to its health benefits. This nutritionally dense superfood is gluten-free and is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. You’ll find these tiny seeds in several different colors, including yellows, reds, and dark purple or black, each of which tastes similar and can be cooked the same way.
Benefits of quinoa
Quinoa contains B vitamins, iron, and calcium, plus it’s a great source of protein. It can be found as an ingredient in some high-quality dog foods as it is a healthy replacement for commonly used starches like corn, wheat, and soy.
The safest way to share quinoa with your dog is to cook it in plain water or low-sodium chicken broth that does not contain any onion or garlic. Keep portions small to start, in case it gives your dog an upset tummy. You can mix a little cooked quinoa into your dog’s food or offer her a sample right off a spoon.
Hazards of sharing quinoa with dogs
Quinoa produces saponin, a natural chemical to defend itself from insects. Some suggest that this chemical can cause gastrointestinal irritation in both dogs and humans. However, rinsing your uncooked quinoa before the cooking process will help to remove most of it.
Plain quinoa is your safest bet. Do not give your dog quinoa if salt has been added. Some ingredients and spices can cause tummy trouble, and others like garlic and onion can be dangerous for your dog.
As with anything, serve quinoa in moderation. Too much could cause an upset tummy and excess calories can lead to weight gain.