Why New Zealand Green Mussels are a Superfood For Your Pet

Jocelyn Bishop
January 6, 2017

Ingredients 101, Pet Nutrition


What are Green Lipped Mussels?

New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels are shellfish found off the shores of New Zealand. Their scientific, or binomial name is Perna canaliculus, but they are commonly referred to as green lip mussels, green-lipped mussel, or green mussels. At Redbarn, we refer to them as either New Zealand green mussels or green mussels.

Not only is this an edible superfood for humans, but it’s also a top-notch pet food ingredient. Green mussels provide a variety of benefits that can help to support your pet’s health. Studies show that green mussels can act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. While these studies were conducted on humans, not pets, New Zealand green mussels are a good source of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which can help in the formation and repair of cartilage and provide joint support for both dogs and cats.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts about why New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels are so good for your pet, let’s talk about a pet food term that you should know: functional ingredients.

What’s a Functional Ingredient?

Functional Ingredients are ingredients that have health-promoting or energy-boosting benefits. Functional ingredients are things that aren’t strictly necessary for a recipe, instead, they are added for their additional health benefits.  Functional ingredients serve two purposes; in some cases, the added functional ingredients like cranberries, or dandelion greens, mean that fewer vitamins and mineral need to be added in. Functional ingredients also support health needs like joint issues or weight management. New Zealand Green Mussels are a natural source of important vitamins, minerals, and protein that contributes to your pet’s optimal health.

Are Green Mussels Good For My Pet?

Excellent question! Green mussels, or Perna canaliculus, are made up of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, water, lipids and glycosaminoglycans. The two compounds believed to contribute to the beneficial effects of green mussels are lipids (ETAs) and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). We’re about to get chemical here, but don’t worry, there’s no test at the end.

So let’s look at lipids. Green mussels provide important nutrients in the form of the lipids, which include eicosatetraenoic acids (what a mouthful!), more commonly known as ETAs. ETAs are a type of Omega-3 fatty acids which can work to reduce inflammation, acting as a natural anti-inflammatory for dogs. Green mussels have about 0.95g of Omega-3 acids per 85g serving. Even this small amount of green mussels can act as an anti-inflammatory for dogs that can help reduce joint pain, and is the first way that green mussels can support joint health. In short, ETA’s are specific Omega-3 acids that can help reduce inflammation, which helps to reduce joint pain. 

So now that you’re on board with eicosatetraenoic acids let’s tackle the bigger mouthful, also known as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Glycosaminoglycans are one of the main components of cartilage and the synovial fluid found in joints. There are nine classes of GAGs, 2 of which are chondroitins, which are one of the building blocks of cartilage, which covers the ends of bones within a joint. GAGs also attract water, which helps to lubricate joints.

In addition to being a natural source of ETAs and GAGs, green mussel contains glucosamine, which is another building block of cartilage. Glucosamine aids in stimulating the formation and repair of cartilage and preventing its breakdown. Glucosamine is also a GAG precursor, meaning that it helps your pet produce more GAGs, so that your dog’s joints stay lubricated. Glucosamine and chondroitin are necessary for the body to make glycosaminoglycans.

To recap the benefits of New Zealand Green Mussels, they contain eicosatetraenoic acids that reduce inflammation, and both GAGs, a source of chondroitin and glucosamine that support the repair of your pet’s cartilage. Green Mussels are a superfood functional ingredient that helps to support your pet’s healthy joints.


How do I give my pet Green Mussels?

While you might be tempted to buy some mussels from your local fishmonger, there are two easy ways to give your pet Green Mussels. Green Mussels are available as a dried powder, as an extract you can sprinkle on your dog’s food or give to them as a capsule. In addition to green mussel powder, you can also find green mussel oil. As with feeding any oil to your pet, make sure to introduce it into their diet slowly to minimize stomach upset. Digestive issues can manifest as loose stools, bad breath or nausea, so if you notice your dog experiencing any of those symptoms, make sure to consult your vet.

Why are Green Mussels in My Pet’s Food?

As we previously mentioned, there are many ways to give your pet green mussels. You can supplement your pet’s diet with green mussel powder or oil. However, at Redbarn, we like to add the green mussel powder directly to wet food, like our premium canned food for cats and dogs. This way, they get a beneficial amount of the nutrients mixed in with premium protein and other important vitamins and minerals.

What should I look for on the label?

Just like the muscles in your body, not all mussels are created equal. Different varieties of mussels don’t have the same nutritional composition, and some varieties don’t have the nutritional makeup that we referred to earlier.

When you’re reading the label on your pet’s food or supplement, make sure to look for the ingredient listed as New Zealand Green Mussel or Green Mussel. That way, you know that the product you’re feeding has the ETAs, GAGs and Glucosamine that your pet needs. Additionally, while Green Mussels may help to support your dog or cat’s joints, products should not make any anti-arthritic claims. If you’re trying to use Green Mussel to treat your pet’s arthritis, make sure to consult your vet about all available treatment options, as the dosage amount per supplement, food, treat or medication may vary. We always recommend consulting your vet before making changes to your pet’s diet.

What Redbarn Products have Green Mussels?

In Redbarn Canned Food for dogs and cats, you can find Green Mussels, along with other functional ingredients that help cater to your dog’s particular health needs. Every recipe in Redbarn’s line is grain-free, features natural ingredients and added functional ingredients like Yucca Schidigera, Coconut Oil, Dandelion Greens, Parsley, or Salmon Oil. Redbarn’s new Patés and Stews feature these functional ingredients prominently.


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