Are green lipped mussels good for dogs?

Words By Gemma Sheehy

March 19, 2020

📷 Photographer: Amy Whitfield

Green lipped mussels are relatively innocuous ocean creatures that are native to the coasts of New Zealand. They’re known (and named) for the distinctive patterning across their shell – a striking green stripe on the outside, and a bright green lip on the inside. While their name might inspire thoughts of weird, neon creatures from the deep blue sea, they’ve been around for years.

Green lipped mussels have been in the limelight as a ‘superfood’ for humans since the 1960s. It was originally the Maori population who used their spectacular benefits. The relatively low incidences of arthritis and inflammatory conditions throughout New Zealand’s population has been attributed to their shellfish-heavy diet, including healthy portions of green lipped mussels.

The history of green lipped mussels

Researchers have used scientific studies to prove the medical and anti-inflammatory advantages to green lipped mussels. Since the 1960s, researchers performed medical trials and tests to substantiate these claims and share the scientific proof with the world. Since “outing” it as a superfood, green lipped mussels have been incredibly popular as individuals seeking its anti-inflammatory properties.

The pet industry has followed suit, often used in veterinary and dog food products. It’s used to “relieve everything from degenerative joint disease in dogs to fetlock lameness in horses with osteoarthritis“. Their usefulness lies in easing inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis and chronic pain in dogs.

Traditionally, dogs who suffered from chronic inflammatory conditions had little choice but to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to function comfortably. Sadly, while NSAIDs can help fight ongoing pain, they can also be responsible for a variety of not-so-great side effects. These include conditions like stomach ulcers, degradation to soft tissue, and long-term organ damage.

While necessary, the harmful side effects of NSAIDs drove scientists to search for a supplement that might pack the same punch to pain, but without the downsides. That search took them straight to green lipped mussels.

Do green lipped mussels have other health benefits?

It’s not just inflammation and pain control that makes green lipped mussels so great. There are so many reasons why these neon-green sea creatures are the perfect snack for dogs of all shapes, sizes and health conditions.

Their nutritional profile is definitely something to write home about. In particular, they boast a particularly healthy dose of:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, C and more
  • Antioxidants.

We’ve gone into more detail about why these are so essential below.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

If you’re seeking out the best way to imbue your doggo’s diet with these essential fatty acids, green lipped mussels are one of the best ways to go about it. Omega-3 acids are an essential component of your dog’s daily health and describe EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Dogs cannot create their own Omega-3 acids, and therefore must absorb it exclusively from their diet. Omega-3 acids are essential in maintaining the health of your dog’s brain development, immune system, coat condition, and heart. 

Vitamins and Minerals 

They’re absolutely jam-packed with nutrients essential to maintaining the health of your dog, particularly their bones, joints, and ongoing mobility. These nutrients include:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Chondroitin 
  • Glutamine
  • Zinc
  • Selenium, and
  • Copper. 

Antioxidants

The good stuff doesn’t stop there. Antioxidants are essential for the health and survival of dogs. And while a dog’s body can generate their own, these antioxidants can be found in many ingredients. The Mayo Clinic describes them as being a protective factor against “free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other conditions”. Green lipped mussels boast a healthy dose of antioxidants, and can make them very useful in bolstering the immune system of dogs who might need a hand. 

How many a day should I feed my dog? 

While researchers have put increasing focus on the benefits of Green Lipped Mussels for dogs, the dosages and serving sizes required are still not an exact science. But as an estimation, PetMD recommends that “small dogs get 0.5g, medium dogs get 0.7mg, and large dogs get 1g total a day.”

Providing your doggo doesn’t have an underlying shellfish allergy, there are very few concerns for dogs when taking mussels daily. This means that you can, within reason, alter their dosage a few milligrams every now and then until you find the dosage that works for your doggo. 

Where do I find them? 

Unless you’re lucky enough to live on the coastal side of New Zealand, finding this food in the wild (or your supermarket) is not always a simple task. As they don’t naturally populate in other locations, green lipped mussels don’t produce in enormous numbers. Even if you do find a supplier, getting a steady stream of mussels is both pricy and unlikely! Luckily, there are other ways to get your hands on these green critters that don’t involve bartering with Maori fisherman. 

Due to their usefulness in treating a variety of ailments and preventing inflammation, green lipped mussels can be found in powdered form – either inside a capsule, or loose to be fed as a meal topper. If your dog would prefer to enjoy them as a delicious wholefood snack (without negotiating raw or frozen protein), you can also source dehydrated green lipped mussels for all the payback, and none of the hassle. 

Greenlight this treat 

Is there anything better than a snack that tastes delicious and boosts your health? 

Green lipped mussels are the ultimate treat for the health-conscious owner, and are supported by experts and scientists alike as effective alternatives to traditional pain relief. Whether you and your vet are seeking out a treat that could replace (or reduce) the use of NSAIDs – or you’re on the lookout for a preventative supplement to fight the chance of future health issues – these green guys have got it all and more. 

Author

Gemma Sheehy

If there's one thing Gemma's passionate about in life, it's dogs. When she's not writing about them at WAG she's living, breathing, walking and snuggling with her own. Besides dog shows and sporting events on the weekends, Gemma is partial to cooking (sometimes) healthy meals, watching horror movies and making records for time spent in pyjamas.