The Many Benefits of Alfalfa for Dogs

by janie knetzer

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As pet owners, we’re always on the lookout for something new that we can use to benefit our dogs’ lives – but what about the benefits of alfalfa for dogs?

There are many, many benefits to that little rascal, the “perennial forage legume” often cultivated as a forage crop in the United States, Canada, Middle East, South Africa, and beyond.

It can look an awful lot like clover and generally features clusters of purple flowers, but what you may not know is that it’s from the pea family.

Alfalfa has also been part of herbal medicine for ages, known in the Middle East as “the father of all herbs” – no word on what the mother of all herbs is, unfortunately.

So what can this fatherly legume do for dogs? Should you consider alfalfa for your dog?

alfalfa-for-dogs

Benefits and Considerations

Let me start by saying that I only recommend alfalfa as a supplement to a meat based diet.

The good news though is that there are many benefits to alfalfa aka buffalo grass and a lot of protein is packed in. It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and even vitamin K. That doesn’t even mention the antioxidant chlorophyll or the saponins that help with the processing of fat-soluble nutrients.

These nutrients can help your dog in a variety of ways. The inclusion of lots of vitamin K can work as an anti-coagulant, which makes it great for dogs with anemia. There are also cancer-fighting agents. And alfalfa has been used to fight overly-acidic urine and help stave off bladder infections in four-legged friends.

Alfalfa is also effective in fighting arthritis, which makes it great for older dogs. Research tells us that up to 20 percent of people who take alfalfa display a decrease in pain. Similar effects have been shown in animals, so many veterinarians recommend daily supplementation with alfalfa for long-term relief of pain and even inflammatory joint disease.

A Word of Caution

As good as alfalfa can be for dogs, there are some considerations to make before you dive in.

  • Those saponins I was just gushing about have led to colic in some horses and a little bit of nausea in dogs, so you may want to be careful.
  • And the seeds of alfalfa contain a toxic amino acid in the form of L-canavanine, so make sure you don’t use the seeds. Alfalfa should only be used in pre-bloom state as well, as using it otherwise has led to allergic reactions in some dogs.
  • It’s also been mentioned that alfalfa may interfere with the endocrine system (thyroid, etc.), but on the other hand, it’s often a recommended food for low thyroid.  So, quite honestly; this may require a little more investigating on your part if your dog does indeed have endocrine issues.

There are, as you can see, are several benefits of buffalo grass. Used properly, alfalfa for dogs is a little something extra that can make a big difference in many areas of your dog’s health.

An Organic Alfalfa Powder is a Good Choice for Your Dog

Here’s a powder form for your dog  (and for you as well) that I like and it comes from the leaves.  It’s also, organic, kosher and inexpensive.  Dosage: Smaller dogs can get approximately 1/4 teaspoon daily, the medium guys roughly 1/2 teaspoon and the bigger fur kids about 1 teaspoon daily.  Mix with their food.

Keep in mind that it’s a powder and would be better mixed with a excellent meaty topper and not dry.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Bev March 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Well I guess that leaves Cubbie out since he has a sensitive stomach! I guess I could give him a speck but I don’t think that would make a difference.

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janie knetzer March 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Probably not Bev. However, I do hope that you’re giving Cubbie a whole green food like the Barley that I’m always recommending. It’s extremely good for your boy. People are always amazed at the difference in their dog after including a whole food.

~Janie :o

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Wendy March 12, 2013 at 2:40 am

Thank you for the article, Janie. My dog loves to graze on grasses (doesn’t throw it up), so wondering if I could sprout alfalfa and offer it to her mixed in her meal? When you say, “only pre-bloom” I’m guessing you mean don’t feed her the flowers or do you include not feeding the leaves when alfalfa is in flower?

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janie knetzer March 12, 2013 at 3:38 am

Hi Wendy:
You’re welcome and I’m glad you like the article. I recommend feeding once the tiny little green leaves start to develop but avoiding the flowers.

Hope this helps.
Janie :o

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Brad March 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm

What if one of my dogs has a history of pancreatitis? Should I not give this then? I have another dog who is really struggling with walking right now. He has arthritis in both of his elbows. I want to give him something. I have tried EFAC powder, but when I put it in his food he quits eating that food. I have to switch him to a different raw flavor, and do it again. I want to try something, that hopefully won’t make him stop eating his food. He’s still a very happy boy, and loves to play. He can’t keep up with the other dogs, or me on walks though. I feel bad for him. He’s only 7-8 years old, but he was abused by a man, which the Dr. thinks left him with old injuries.

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wendy March 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hello Brad,

We run a boarding kennel, so we have found a way to entice finicky eaters to eat. This is something you could try for your dog; we have a spice grinder loaded with the dried liver pieces sold in bags. They powder easily in the spice grinder and it takes only a tiny bit of this liver dust on top of their food to work it’s magic. It’s a rare dog that can resist it. If you don’t have a spice grinder to dedicate to dried liver, just put a few pieces in a baggie and tap with a hammer.

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wendy March 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Hi Brad,

Coffee grinders work great but, you’d want to dedicate it to only liver, if you know what I mean. Spice grinders are, to my surprise, a bit hard to find. I got mine at a kitchenware store. It’s a two-piece hand grinder comprised of a grater section and a fan-like blade section. You drop a few pieces of dried liver in then put the blade section in and twist – like a cheese grater action. Anyway, a baggie and wooden meat tenderizing mallot have it done in a few seconds. You only need a small dusting of liver per bowl. Don’t mix it in. Good luck!

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janie knetzer March 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Hi Brad:
Awe, I’m sorry to hear about your boy. It breaks my heart when I hear the things that people do to these wonderful animals. Not sure if you checked out my article series on pancreatitis in dogs or not, but you might want to. There’s some good tips and food recommendations as well.

I don’t know of any connections between Pancreatitis and alfalfa. If you’re referring to the statement in my article that indicates that alfalfa causes nausea in dogs; it can cause nausea in some dogs. However, it also has the ability to support pancreatic performance. You can always start with a smaller dose and see how he does slowly increasing over time until you get to the recommended dosage. I also have quite a few pages dedicated to dog pain relief caused by arthritis. :o

Hope this helps.

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Brad March 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Thank you! I will try to find the ones on pain relief. The boy with the arthritis in the elbows doesn’t have the pancreatitis. It’s my main girl Candy, that has that. She has arthritis in her rear legs due to luxating patella’s. She had surgery to fix issue, but the vet didn’t tell me she would develop arthritis if I didn’t get the surgery done early on. So, she got arthritis in the knees. My other dogs have all had the corrective surgery except one. I have 6 rescued dogs, and all of them but one needed the surgery for the patella problem. Luckily, we have one of the top rated orthopedic surgeons in the world here name Dr. Acker who travels around the world giving lectures on some procedure he invented. At 1500 bucks a pop though, it is getting painful.lol He cut me a break down to 900 bucks after the first two had the surgery. Now he tells me he’s going to name a wing after me.lol
I will try to find the other articles, on pain management, because Chucky is on Rimadyl, but I don’t think it makes much difference.
Thank you Mary, that’s a good idea. I will give it a try, but I’m not sure I know what a spice grinder is. Is that the thing with the bowl, and the little handheld part used to smash the stuff up? Or is is an actual grinder like a coffee grinder?

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sonja March 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hello Brad,
I am so sorry to hear about your boy as i also have a very arthritic little girl. Have you tried Dog Gone Pain at all? It’s an all natural supplement for the hips.I have heard good results of this and so now i have ordered this as well and coming soon. My little girl is also very finicky when i add herbal supplements to her food but will be trying the alfalfa.I was using Tumeric for a while then she quit eating her food.

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Ruth March 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Hi Brad,
You could try turmeric for your arthritic dog – Google turmeric and dogs and there is loads of information. It seems to work well for horses and humans as well for this condition and it is also cited to have many other health benefits.

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janie knetzer March 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Or, you could check out my article on turmeric right here Brad!

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Brad April 3, 2013 at 8:05 pm

You’re all very helpful. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back on here til now. I’ve been busy with my menagerie of rescued Poms. My first baby who I raised from a baby on the bottle has had an ear infection, and now she can’t hear at all, at least I don’t think so. She is so well behaved, and is actually an certified service dog. So, when I was calling her, or giving her commands with no response I became suspicious. The vet checked her out yesterday, but the ear infection has cleared up. She was yelping, and fighting the scope she was putting in her ear though. If you knew this baby you would know, that it doesn’t matter what you do to her she just doesn’t fight you like that. So, we know her ears have to be extremely tender. So, the doc thinks she might have a middle ear infection. So, hopefully this loss of hearing is temporary. Again, thank you all for you wonderful advice.

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Barbara Drew June 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm

My dog has allergy problems asthma excma and hayfever which we manage but she has suffered for years with bad breath the vet checked her several times and says not due to teeth or gums we think must be digestive. Have been told to put alfalfa powder on her good as it should cure it can you advise me

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