Quinoa – a Super-Food for your Pet

Article by Dr. Janice Elenbaas, Founder of Lucky Dog Cuisine

Quinoa has a history dating back to the Incas over 5,000 years ago. Like many ‘ancient grains’ it disappeared in 1532 with the arrival of the Spanish. The Inca culture was destroyed and quinoa fields were burned. Only small amounts survived in the mountains of Peru. In the 1970’s, a renewed interest in this super food began.

This plant is unique. The leaves can be eaten like spinach, they are in the same family and the seeds used as a grain. So, technically, quinoa is a seed. It is also gluten free and chock full of nutrients that are good for all of us, including our dogs!

I am always happy to find a food that helps fight inflammation. Because quinoa is a good source of anti-oxidants such as flavinoids and quercetin as well as omega 3 fatty-acids. It helps fight free radicals to keep the skin, joints  and organs healthy.

Other benefits include:

improving kidney function

preventing cognitive decline

good for the cardiovascular system

 being a complex carbohydrate,keeps blood sugars even, digested slowly to prevent spikes in insulin

good source of energy

low in calories

contains prebiotics to feed healthy bacteria in the gut

rich in vitamins and minerals

high in insoluble fiber to regulate bowel movements

One surprising advantage to adding quinoa to your diet and your dog’s is the high level of  amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and enzymes. They are also needed to produce hormones and neurotransmitters.

Dogs and people produce about half of these amino acids, the other half are called ‘essential’ meaning that the body cannot make them and they need to be supplied by a healthy, balanced diet.

Dogs can digest proteins from meat, eggs and dairy very efficiently. But most plant proteins are insufficient in specific amino acids. People need 9 of these essential amino acids and dogs need 10. That’s why quinoa is wonderful  for dogs when combined with meats. It boosts the protein content of the food fed and is easily digested.

Our dog food company uses Norquin Quinoa in our pork recipe. Norquin is a Canadian company that has been growing this ancient ‘grain’ for over 25 years. Their product is nongmo. We chose this company because they use sustainable farming methods and have source traceability.

Quinoa contains saponins, a naturally occurring chemical that protects the plants from insects. No pesticides are needed. These saponins are washed away to prevent any digestive upsets. Norquin takes care of that for us.

We are proud to feed our canine family a diet rich in whole foods. With one in 2 dogs being diagnosed with cancer and obesity on the rise, it is comforting to know we are doing the best we can to give our beloved companions a fighting chance for a long and healthy life!

Dr. Janice Elenbaas graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1982.

She was the first woman in Canada to complete a postgraduate program in Animal Physiology and Adjusting, and formed the inaugural Ontario Veterinary/Chiropractic Association to recognize animal adjusting in the province. She was also the director of The Canadian Equine Sports Therapy Clinic to help rehabilitate performance horses.

Dr. Elenbaas’ philosophy of helping the body to heal itself is also reflected in her lifelong interest in whole food nutrition for both people and animals. Lucky Dog Cuisine was born out of a lifestyle of healthy habits and a love of animals.

Her children and granddaughter live in Toronto and Dr. Elenbaas lives in South Carolina with her husband and “2 crazy goldendoodles, Molly and Leo”.