Broccoli. You've probably spent plenty of time and energy trying to persuade your family to eat it, as it's good for them, but how about your fur kid? Is broccoli OK for dogs to eat?
The simplest answer is yes, your pup can eat broccoli, and he can be offered it either raw or cooked. And yes, some of the health benefits it offers to your human family apply to his diet too.
But before you start loading up his dog dish with this crunchy green vegetable, you should be aware of the fact that there are right and wrong ways to feed your dog broccoli, and that for some pups, it may not be a good idea at all. These, and a few other issues related to dogs, broccoli and healthy eating are what we are going to take closer look at here.
Is Broccoli Safe for Dogs to Eat?
In small portions, broccoli is fine for most pups to eat. But there are, experts say, things that you should be aware of, especially when it comes to a substance that broccoli (and a number of other green vegetables) contains called Isothiocyanate.
This substance may help reduce bodily inflammation in humans, but there is no scientific evidence that it does the same for dogs. What there is evidence for, however, is that when consumed in large amounts, or by dogs with sensitive stomachs, it can cause significant gastric distress.
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?
They can, as much as they can 'taste' any other food. What broccoli lacks is the appealing smell that attracts your pup to foods he's crazy for, like his meaty dog food (or your juicy steak.) That does not mean he won't eat it, just that, as is often the case for human kids, it may take him a while to warm up to the idea!
Why is Broccoli Good (or not) for Dogs?
When broccoli is discussed as a foodstuff for humans, it's often referred to as a 'superfood', as it is high in a number of essential vitamins and minerals. Not of all of these are as crucial to a dog's health, but they can certainly benefit from some of them, including all the following:
- Vitamin K - a vitamin that may improve bone health and density, something that is especially important in older dogs.
- Vitamin C - As is the case for their human friends, a dog's immune system may be boosted by Vitamin C.
- Potassium - Potassium is an important mineral for nerve and muscle function.
- Magnesium - Magnesium is a mineral that aids all kinds of crucial bodily functions.
Broccoli, when consumed raw, may also help canine dental health, but raw broccoli should only be given to your pup when they are fully supervised, as its hard stem can pose a choking hazard, especially for smaller dogs.
There are some significant downsides to broccoli that may affect some dogs more than others.
The Isothiocyanates we discussed earlier have been shown to cause gastric upset in dogs and in pups who are genetically predisposed to intestinal blockages; too much broccoli may pose a serious risk to their health. In puppies that may be increased, as their digestive systems are still developing, which is why many vets recommend you do not give it to them at all.
Other possible downsides to feeding your dog broccoli relate more to the way you feed it to them. Unwashed, raw broccoli can harbor harmful bacteria. Cooked broccoli loaded with salt and oil (which is often the way we eat it as humans) adds two ingredients to your pup's diet they just don't need.
The best way to feed Fido his broccoli? Boiled, without salt or other additions. Which sounds boring to us, but may appeal to your pup, especially as most dogs aren't so fussy about spiced up food.
Does Broccoli Upset a Dog's Stomach?
As we mentioned, the Isothiocyanates that broccoli naturally contains may cause stomach upsets if fed in larger amounts.
A dog who normally enjoys a varied diet should not have too many problems with an occasional broccoli stalk, however.
Dogs with food sensitivities may have a harder time though, and should only be given any cruciferous vegetable (the food family broccoli belongs to which also includes kale, cauliflower and cabbage) in very small quantities, and not at all if it seems to upset their tummy.
Does Broccoli Make Dogs Fart?
It might! Broccoli is high in fiber, which can be a great thing to help improve digestion and bowel movement regularity, but, as in the case for humans, high fiber foods can also lead to farts!
How Much Broccoli Can My Dog Eat?
We've talked about feeding your pup broccoli in moderation, but what does that really mean? As dogs are natural omnivores - meaning they can - and should - eat both meat and vegetables - the latter in general should make up no more than 25% of their diet. And broccoli is not the only choice when it comes to healthy, good for them veggies you can offer to pups.
Other vegetables your dog may enjoy, and benefit from include all the following:
Carrots are low calorie, and they contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene. They are also a good snack for maintaining good dental health if fed raw, and their slightly sweet taste often makes them more appealing to pups.
Raw or cooked, as long as they are served plain - no salt, no oil, no butter - then green beans can also be a good way to add veggies to your pup's diet.
Celery is a great choice for dogs. It's very low in calories, does not pose as much of a choking risk as other hard vegetables - broccoli included - and contains good amounts of Vitamins A, B and C. It is also good for dental health and may even freshen your pup's breath!
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Too Much Broccoli?
If your pup gets very flatulent after eating broccoli, that's OK. Not pleasant for you perhaps, but not harmful to him. The stomach upsets that can be caused by it are a bigger problem, and one that will require immediate medical attention if your pup seems to be in distress.
As we mentioned previously, you should also be aware of the choking hazard broccoli poses for some dogs, so never feed yours raw broccoli if they are going to be left alone.
If your pup does seem to be choking, act fast and make use of the procedure outlined here to remove the obstruction and ring your vet immediately.
The best way to avoid your dog suffering from any ill effects from eating too much broccoli is to ensure you only give him small amounts occasionally, especially if he is a smaller pup.
Just a few broccoli florets have been known to cause severe gastric distress in small breed dogs, and, as there are many other ways to make sure your pup gets the nutrition he needs - primarily by ensuring they are fed a high quality dog food - then it may be better to be safe than sorry and skip cruciferous vegetables altogether.
Be sure to also check out our other related dog food articles dedicated to the safety of foods for pets.