Surprising benefits of seaweed for pets, our planet

In recent years, pet owners have become much more concerned about the health and well-being of their pets and are increasingly looking for natural and holistic solutions. A remarkable contender has emerged from the depths of the ocean – seaweed. A pet treasure, seaweed excels as a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins such as A and C; minerals including calcium, magnesium and zinc; and amino acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6. From boosting the immune system to promoting a shiny coat, the benefits are varied and impressive.

Regenerative seaweed is also probably the most environmentally and environmentally friendly ingredient that people and pets should be eating more of. It needs no fresh water, fertilizers, pesticides or other food to grow and actually absorbs carbon 7 times faster than trees, making it a sustainable ingredient. In fact, some pet food manufacturers are reducing their overall carbon footprint, which consumers and shareholders are demanding.

Based in Biddeford, Maine, Ocean’s Balance is a vertically integrated seaweed company that grows and sustainably harvests seven popular organic sea vegetables from the clean, cold waters of the Gulf of Maine. Ocean Balance sells seaweed as an ingredient to human food and supplement manufacturers, as well as pet food and treat companies. We usually recommend a seaweed mix because each species has unique nutrients, flavor profiles, vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. Just as carrots are very different from broccoli in nutrients, taste and appearance, so are sea vegetables.

Red seaweeds such as dulse, nori, and Irish moss are high in protein, and some reds have gelling, thickening, and binding properties by themselves or when interacting with milk proteins. Brown seaweeds such as sugar kelp, Alaria and bladderwort sometimes referred to as kelp are high in antioxidant polyphenols and are high in fibre, iodine and a range of vitamins and are particularly good for digestion. Green seaweeds, such as sea lettuce, are a great source of iron and a number of other vitamins and minerals.

There are several health benefits for pets eating seaweed, including: digestive health (by providing an amount of fiber that improves digestion, prevents constipation and promotes a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for overall well-being and immune system support); weight control (seaweed is rich in iodine, vital for maintaining healthy thyroid function in pets, as well as the fiber content creates a feeling of fullness); healthy skin and coat (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that promote skin hydration and a shiny, supple coat); joint health and mobility (through compounds found in seaweed, such as fucoidan, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and ease joint discomfort and promote better mobility and an active lifestyle); immune system enhancement (resulting from seaweed antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that work together to strengthen the immune system): and dental health (kelp contains natural compounds that can help reduce plaque and tartar build-up, contributing to better oral health and a fresher breath). In addition to the high protein content, some seaweeds have favorable taste properties, so even picky cats will not turn up their noses at food that contains some seaweed.

Seaweed has long been a key ingredient in wet pet food to create texture for sauces, gels, chunks and loaves. These texturizing products, known as hydrocolloids, include chemically extracted carrageenan and agar. Carrageenan in particular has fallen out of favor with many consumers in light of recent research findings questioning its food safety. Consumers want more health-focused brands looking for clean, natural labels. Ocean’s Balance recently launched an all-natural seaweed thickener that has the same functional benefits as carrageenan, but without the chemical extraction process. We are now working with pet food manufacturers on customized products and solutions with our colleague Colin Hepburn who has over 30 years of experience in customer applications and product development in the seaweed industry.

Maine is at the epicenter of the seaweed movement in the US, with its extensive coastline (3,500 miles of coastline when you include all its islands) and clear, cold waters that make it an ideal place to grow seaweed. Ocean’s Balance recently invested in the former commercial kelp dryer in North America. They also have a very advanced milling operation so they are able to mill from flakes This infrastructure allows Ocean’s Balance to produce large quantities of quality seaweed for manufacturers.

Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, yet produce only 2 percent of the world’s food. Seaweeds are regenerative and are part of what has recently been described as blue revolution. Including seaweed in your pet’s diet is a holistic and natural approach to improving their overall well-being while helping our planet.

Mitchell Lench is the company’s CEO The balance of the ocean, a vertically integrated company based in Maine that grows and harvests 7 popular types of seaweed from the clean and cold waters of the Gulf of Maine. They also offer an all-natural seaweed texturizer that is used in wet pet food as a replacement for carrageenan.

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