You might have heard of Green Lipped Mussels as a dog treat. But how, and why? And are all Green Lipped Mussels created equal?
Here’s the Gourmate Pet Treat Co. guide to l̶i̶f̶e̶ Green Lipped Mussels for dogs.
What’s a Green Lipped Mussel?
The Green Lipped Mussel, Perna canaliculus, was first known as Kuku (in te reo Maori) and is also sold under the trademarked name Greenshell Mussel. It doesn’t grow anywhere else in the world except the waters around New Zealand.
Green Lipped Mussels can be distinguished from other mussels by the green colouration of the shell near the lip, which gives the mussel its name.
Green Lipped Mussels continue to be a popular food for New Zealanders and are exported as a food and in health supplements (for humans).
As filter feeders Mussels have a low impact on their environment and are considered one of the most sustainable animal proteins in the world.
Because Mussels are filter feeders they’re always taking in the water around them and everything that’s in that water - which is why we love to give our dog Organic mussels from the clean waters of Stewart Island.
Why are Green Lipped Mussels good for dogs?
Short answer - They are a natural joint support
Tall answer - People around the world swear by Green Lipped Mussels as an anti-inflammatory superfood that noticeably supports the reduction of joint pain, whether in themselves or their dog or cat.
Since the 1970’s researchers have been investigating how and why these special Mussels from New Zealand seem to do so much for arthritis and joint pain - and to be honest, they still don’t exactly know.
What many vets, nutritionists, and researchers think is that the Green Lipped Mussel’s natural combination of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin, glucosamine, plus super-important omega-3 encouraging phospholipids, come together to inhibit inflammation and support joint conditioning.
Green Lipped Mussels are of course valuable for older dogs showing stiffness and pain in their shoulders, hips and knees, but can be taken by dogs of all ages to support the maintenance of healthy joints.
On top of joint support, all the good stuff in a Green Lipped Mussel will also support your dog's eyes, coat and skin, cardiovascular health and immunity.
One last thing: Green Lipped Mussels have no known side effects. They can be treated like a food - a food with extra awesomeness.
Mussels don’t have any of the nasty stuff associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and it’s generally accepted that Mussels can be given as a dietary supplement alongside NSAIDs (but of course consult your vet if you have any questions).
Tips for buying Green Lipped Mussels for your dog:
1. Go freeze dried or go home
Let me blunt - if you’re buying Green Lipped Mussels that have been air dried, gently dried, slowly dried, lowly dried, or cooked in any way - you are not getting the full benefits of the mussels and you’re probably getting ripped off too.
We know that cooking can reduce key nutrients and bioactive components in food, and mussels are susceptible to this.
Freeze drying works because it preserves the mussel without heating, keeping it as close to raw as possible. All the research on the benefits of Green Lipped Mussels focuses on freeze dried mussels.
2. Ensure you're getting the good oil
"Defatted" mussel meat or powder has had the oil removed. The lipids (oil) is where much of the good stuff we listed above is found - so you want it!
There's no requirement to identify if a mussel has had it's oil removed... but if you see mussels for sale that are significantly cheaper than everyone else's, maybe ask yourself why.
Right: A customer posted this photo of a Gourmate mussel (the larger of the two of course) next to another brand's Green Lipped Mussel!
3. Shell no
Some manufacturers of mussel powders add ground up shell and try to make it sound like it helps in some way. There’s no evidence for this. There is evidence that it saves the manufacturer money.
Whole Mussels and Green Lipped Mussel Powder are usually the same thing (look at the ingredients - you want 100% Green Lipped Mussel) so it’s up to you how you give it to your dog. Just don’t shell out for shells.
Sounds great. But what if my dog doesn’t like Green Lipped Mussels?
Aha, excellent. Laura’s got a blog on this coming up.
@roo.of.a.kind and our mussels needed no introduction (via instagram)
It’s not uncommon for dogs to find Green Lipped Mussels a strange taste and texture in their first couple of experiences with the shellfish - but it’s worth trying to win them over as it is such an amazing treat.