Does Alfalfa Meal Belong in Dog Food?
It is a common assumption that dogs have a single source of protein: meat. But it is not entirely so.
There are various plant-based proteins which are available that can fulfill some protein requirements for canines.
Alfalfa is one such flowering plant that is rich in protein. If you pay attention to the ingredients on the dog food label, you’d generally see a mention of this component.
But do you know what it is?
Table of Contents
- What is Alfalfa Meal?
- Nutritional Content in Alfalfa & Alfalfa Meal
- Is Alfalfa Meal Beneficial for Dogs?
- Other Ways to Feed Alfalfa to Dogs
- FAQs About Alfalfa Meal
- Final Words
What is Alfalfa Meal?
Alfalfa, which is also known as Lucerne, is a flowering plant. It is in the legume family Fabaceae. Its main purpose is to be cultivated as a crucial forage (plant eaten while grazing the cattle) crop in several countries.
The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines Alfalfa Meal as: “the aerial portion [the above-ground portion of a plant or all those parts that which can be seen directly with the eye- those that lie in air. It consists of the stem, leaves, flowers, and fruit and seeds.] of the alfalfa plant, reasonably free from other crop plants, weeds, and mold, which has been sun-cured and finely ground.”
There are two ways of preparing an Alfalfa meal. The first method consists of cutting the ground parts of the plant. Then, they are dried in a natural gas furnace and pelleted. The second one demands the plants be cut, sun-dried, and baled for feeding at a future time period.
Note: Find out the importance of ash level in dog food and learn how the ash in the dog food can help your canine.
Nutritional Content in Alfalfa & Alfalfa Meal
Let us start with air-dried alfalfa. It contains approximately 14-22% protein, 10% ash, 4-5% crude fat, and 15-30% crude fiber. It contains a generous amount of essential vitamins and minerals like
- Vitamins A, B12, C, D, E, and K
When the dried alfalfa is converted into an alfalfa meal for dogs, its nutritional content changes. It contains 15-16% protein and the fiber ranges from 16-18%.
Fact: As we all know that chicken meal is an approved protein source for dog foods. So, dog foods with chicken meal is a great source of protein for your canine.
Is Alfalfa Meal Beneficial for Dogs?
Several concerns have been raised regarding the advantages and disadvantages of alfalfa meal. To get a better understanding, we must look at both sides of the story.
Advantages of Alfalfa Meal
As alfalfa is a medicinal herb, it carries several healing benefits. It is known to deliver long-term pain relief from inflammatory joint diseases for dogs.
The alfalfa leaves contain saponins that help with the absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients in the small intestine. This can assist your dogs in either gaining weight or getting adjusted to a new diet.
It further helps in preventing dental issues. As it contains chlorophyll, it can help in freshening up their breath.
It plays a significant role in improving digestion in dogs. It cleans the kidneys along with the blood, making the dog’s body free from toxins. It also helps the palatability of the food, making it your dog’s favorite food.
Lastly, they significantly reduce the risk of cancerous growth.
Disadvantages of Alfalfa Meal
Alfalfa is an important source of plant-based protein. Due to its proportion of protein, it is often added to the various dog food products to increase the nutritional value. But the protein derived doesn’t contain all the required amino acids. This can hinder your dog’s overall growth.
Alfalfa contains plant estrogens like phytoestrogens. As these are endocrine disrupters, it can lead to developmental, reproductive, immune, or brain issues.
As alfalfa contains coumarin and vitamin K, it should be used with caution, especially with anemic dogs. It may also lead to nausea or gastritis due to its saponin content.
Thus, it can be concluded that alfalfa has its set of benefits and drawbacks. If you wish to be on the safer side, check the rendered ingredient label of your dog food. If the alfalfa meal is listed in the bottom half, you have nothing to worry about.
Other Ways to Feed Alfalfa to Dogs
Besides buying dog food with alfalfa meal, you can opt for the following ways to include alfalfa in your dog’s diet:
1. Sprinkle Over the Dog Food
You can sprinkle a pinch of dry alfalfa over your dog’s regular food. To avoid adding any dangerous repercussions, consult with your vet about the proportion.
2. Herbal Tea
Add alfalfa to water and bring it to a boil. Let it sit for a few minutes, and after the tea is cooled down, you can give it to your dog.
However, if you want to go the traditional manner and purchase a dog food containing alfalfa meal, we suggest you go with Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula.
It is available in different flavors, giving you the freedom to choose according to your dog’s diet.
It is made with a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
This helps in providing a holistic and balanced diet for your dog.
FAQs About Alfalfa Meal
Is alfalfa meal good for dogs?
Alfalfa is a high source of plant-based proteins. Along with that, it also contains other necessary nutrients. However, as it has phytoestrogens that are endocrine disrupters, it is best to provide the dog food that has less proportion of alfalfa meal.
Is alfalfa a grain or grass?
Alfalfa is a medicinal herb and flowering plant that is in the legume family Fabaceae. It is a forage crop that is used for grazing, hay, and included in different dog food.
Can alfalfa meal be used as a primary source of protein for dogs?
Even though alfalfa is a valuable source of plant-based protein, it should not be used as a primary source of protein. As dogs are omnivores in nature, they require animal protein to get their associated amino acid profiles.
Can dogs eat dried alfalfa?
You can provide dried alfalfa by sprinkling it over your dog’s food. You must use it in very little proportion. You can also consult your dog’s vet about the required quality as per your dog’s breed, weight, age, and underlying diseases and allergies.
Are there any side-effects of feeding alfalfa to my dog?
If the proportion of alfalfa increases in your dog’s diet, it can lead to thyroid issues. Thus, it is always advisable to add in an appropriate proportion.
Note: You can read about the benefits of corn gluten meal in dog food and find out how it benefits your canine.
As dog parents, it is vital for us to have a comprehensive knowledge of the dog food ingredients. Spending a few extra minutes in reading the nutritional value of the component can work wonders for our furry best friends.
As many people are educating themselves about plant-based protein like the alfalfa meal, they are adding it to their dog’s diet. Even though it doesn’t necessarily pose any dangers ( if given in small proportions ), a vet’s consultation and advice are mandatory
Choose the best for your dog and watch them flourish and live a healthy and happy life!
- Alfalfa: Does It Belong in Pet Food? By Dr. Karen Becker
- Alfalfa – Wikipedia
- Commodity Fact Sheet – Alfalfa | UCDavis
When things come crashing down, Tiffany comes to the rescue! As a veterinary medicine graduate, she is the brain behind the in-depth analysis of the products. As an avid dog lover, she is earnestly driven to find the finest options. Any article on DogNeedsBest that has to do anything with your pet’s health goes under scrutiny before getting published.