Chlorella for Dogs: Benefits and Tips
by Tudor Nikolas on Sep 30, 2023.
Along with Spirulina, Chlorella is one of the superfoods in our teeth cleaning food topper for dogs. But what are its benefits and how can adding it to your dog's diet benefit them?
Let's take a deep dive!
What is Chlorella?
According to Wikipedia, Chlorella is only one of several other single celled green algae under the Chlorophyta group. This is where its name also comes from.
Chlorella has been used successfully as a superfood for humans for decades. As with the dog humanization trend in nutrition and elsewhere, new benefits are now being discovered for pets as well.
Nutritional Profile of Chlorella
Here is a oversimplification with average values of its nutritional value. Do keep in mind that the exact figures will vary depending on how it was grown, where it was grown and also if any processing was involved.
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Vitamin A||5000 units|
Protein Content and Essential Amino Acids
As you can see, similar to Spirulina, Chlorella is very rich in protein.
If you are keen on your dog to improve its plant protein intake, this would be a flying start.
Because it contains all nine essential amino acids, Chlorella counts as a complete protein food option. This simply means that it has the full range of essential amino acids needed for the body to function.
Just as a reminder, the nine essential amino acids are Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine and Histidine.
Vitamins and Minerals
Although vitamin A and C are most predominant, it also has lower quantities of vitamin B, E and K.
Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron and Zinc are also in reasonable quantities.
Some of the benefits for these vitamins and minerals are as follows:
Vitamin A (aka retinol): Vital for vision, immune function, and skin (and coat) health. You may have also heard the term of retinol (or maybe even use it for your own skin). This is essentially vitamin A in its pure form and is present in a lot of skin care products.
We do know that too much vitamin A is not good in dogs, but at only about 5000 units per 100g, there is plenty of safety margin. As you can see from this Pubmed article, the safety upper limit is at 100,000 units.
Vitamin C: The primary role here is that of an antioxidant. It helps to combat oxidative stress and supports the immune system. Dogs can make their own vitamin C in the liver, but additional supplementation can help in times of stress.
Stress can affect dogs in many forms. This includes stress from separation anxiety, relocating home, traffic noise and so on.
Potassium: Potassium, in the right quantities is essential for appropriate hydration. This is one of the first electrolytes to get depleted in times of food poisoning for example, due to the watery diarrhoea. Potassium supplementation can therefore help keep a healthy electrolyte balance in check.
Iron: Building block of haemoglobin. And a healthy iron level is needed to ensure optimum blood levels in your dog to prevent him or her from becoming anaemic. For this reason, foods rich in iron, such as red meats should be an essential part of a dog's diet.
Zinc: This is an interesting one as we don't often come across zinc deficiency. However, low zinc levels can be the main cause of weak hair, hair loss, skin problems or a weakened immune system.
In humans, Zinc is a primary component of Hair, Skin and Nails multivitamins because it plays a role in strengthening all three.
Calcium: Vital for strong bones and also helps with muscle contraction at cell level.
About 9% of Chlorella is made of fat content. Don't worry though, this is the healthy kind! Fat is a crucial source of energy and aids in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins mentioned above.
It's as essential a component as protein! Without it, the vitamins would simply not be absorbed.
As with other fatty acid sources coming from plants, there is a higher ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats than in red meat for example. Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. They help in reducing inflammation, supporting brain health, and maintaining a healthy skin and coat among other benefits.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are prime components of the fat content in Chlorella and these come with their own benefits.
I personally love this Youtube video where Dr Jones (DVM) talks about the benefits of Omega 3 in dogs and cats:
Chlorella Vs. Spirulina
Chlorella and Spirulina are both nutritional power houses.
There are some main differences between these two.
Chlorella is more widely known for its detox properties. It can help bind heavy metals and other toxins, aiding in their removal from the body. It is also a widely recognised prebiotic that can help support and regulate your dog's digestive health. The prebiotic component comes from the fibrous outer shell of Chlorella.
The nutritional content of both is very similar, as we've already covered in our benefits of spirulina article. However, Spirulina has a higher concentration of fatty acids which are beneficial for heart health, skin health and coats.
Spirulina also contains phycocyanin, a rare pigment with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune system strengthening properties.
In terms of the molecular structure, Spirulina is multi-cellular while Chlorella is single-celled.
Is Chlorella safe for dogs?
Yes, Chlorella is generally a safe superfood to give to your dog. This can be either in isolation or together with other foods such as Spirulina. They can have an additive effect as they target different benefits.
As we've just seen, Chlorella could be another gem in the list of superfoods you could give to your dog or even your cat. There are plenty of potential benefits that could come from this, and that we may not even know about.