Many dog parents want to feed their pups with the healthiest and most nutritious fresh food, and what sounds better than crunchy broccoli?
The question is – can dogs eat broccoli? And if yes, what are the benefits, the possible health implications, and the safest ways to add broccoli into the diet of your dog?
While many people believe that canines are carnivores, they are, in fact, omnivores. This means that they can eat and digest both animal-based and plant-based foods. At the same time, not all animal-based or plant-based is good or safe for dogs, so it is essential to speak to your veterinarian or do your research before adding a new human food into the diet of your pup.
Thankfully, broccoli is among the veggies which are safe and good for dogs when given in moderation.
It is actually an ingredient present in many commercially available dog foods.
Read on to find out how dogs can eat broccoli and what is the safest way to add this healthy vegetable to their dietary regimen.
What are the health benefits of broccoli for dogs?
Broccoli is an excellent natural source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is also low in calories and fat and is a much healthier option for a treat than most commercially available doggy treats.
Dogs can safely eat broccoli – both raw and cooked, but you should be careful with the spices, oils, or other ingredients you use when preparing the broccoli treat for your fur baby.
What are the healthy nutrients in broccoli which are beneficial for dogs:
- Fiber – broccoli is rich in fiber which is essential for the proper functioning of the pup’s digestive system. But keep in mind that the stems of the broccoli can be harder to digest.
- Vitamin K1 – broccoli is the best natural source of vitamin K1, which is vital for the health and strength of your dog’s bones. This makes broccoli a very suitable addition to the diet of active and aging dogs, which can suffer from lowered bone density.
- Vitamin C – broccoli contains a lot of the essential, water-soluble vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is passed through the urine easily, so you don’t have to worry if your dog has too much vitamin C in its system.
- Vitamin B9 (folate) – this vitamin helps produce and keep healthy cells alive and is especially beneficial for pregnant dogs.
- Potassium – this mineral is vital for the control of normal blood pressure levels and the prevention of heart disease.
- Iron – which helps transport oxygen throughout the body via the red blood cells
- Minerals – broccoli is also a source of an array of other essential minerals, including magnesium and chromium.
But while broccoli is a healthy addition to a dog’s diet, there are some precautions that dog owners need to take in order to keep the pup safe and well when eating the cruciferous veggie.
Which parts of the broccoli plant can the dog eat safely?
The main parts of the broccoli plant are the stalk and the florets.
While both are safe to eat, you should keep in mind that the fiber-packed stalks can be harder to chew and can be a choking hazard for dogs when given raw and in large pieces. To be safe, you should steam or roast the broccoli and chop the stems into small pieces or blend or juice them and add them as a topper to the regular dog food.
The florets of the broccoli plant, like all other cruciferous plants, including cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, contain molecules called Isothiocyanates. These particular molecules can cause gastrointestinal irritation in some dogs. This is why it is recommended that you feed your dog with moderate amounts of broccoli florets. Feeding your dog with too much broccoli can lead to mild to severe upsets, including gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea.
So, do not try to replace your dog’s regular and main balanced dog food with broccoli. Instead, treat your dog with carefully portioned and prepared broccoli as a topping to its main course or as a treat.
Is it safe for dogs to eat cooked broccoli?
Yes, in fact, when steamed or roasted, the broccoli is better for the dog, as it softens up and is thus not a large risk for a choking hazard or a danger of an intestinal blockage. This is especially true if you cut it into small pieces or blend it before serving it to your pup.
But when preparing broccoli for your pup, make sure you stay clear of oils, cheese, or other added fats, which will add extra calories and can cause stomach upsets, or any types of spices, and other veggies such as onions or garlic, which can be toxic to dogs.
The safest way to prepare broccoli for your four-legged friend is to gently steam it or roast it and cut it into small and safe-to-eat pieces.
Is it safe to give my dog frozen broccoli?
Yes, but as with fresh or cooked broccoli, make sure that you cut it into pieces that are small enough for your dog to chew and digest comfortably and easily without the risk of choking or risk of gastrointestinal obstruction.
What is the safe quantity of broccoli that my dog can eat?
Broccoli needs to be portioned correctly, as with any other treat you give to your dog outside of its main menu. Broccoli or any other veggie or fruit should comprise no more than 10% of the caloric value for the day.
Plus, as mentioned earlier, due to the Isothiocyanate molecules in the florets of the broccoli, you should limit the amount of broccoli you give to your dog. Eating too much of these Isothiocyanates can actually be toxic to canines.
Before adding broccoli to your dog’s diet, you should start with a small piece and monitor the dog for any negative reactions. If there are no adverse effects, you can go ahead and give the pup some more, but not too much broccoli!
It is not recommended to feed young puppies with broccoli because it is easy to give a small puppy more broccoli than is safe for it, and also, due to the underdeveloped digestive systems of young dogs, they are more prone to suffering from digestive problems after eating too much crunchy broccoli.
Is the broccoli stem safe for dogs?
While carrot sticks, apple slices, and celery sticks can be great alternatives to the commercially available chew sticks for dogs and can help keep the pups entertained and at the same time help keep their teeth and gums clean and their breath fresh, the broccoli stem is filled with fiber and hard, which makes it harder to digest. This is especially true for younger puppies and dogs. Plus, the dogs can swallow large pieces of the stem and choke or suffer from a blockage in the intestines.
So, yes, your dog can eat broccoli stems, but in moderation, and preferably steamed, roasted, and cut into small pieces.
What is the best way to feed my dog with healthy broccoli?
As a whole, broccoli is a healthy and relatively safe vegetable that you can add to your dog’s diet. For the best results, you should gently steam or roast the broccoli so that it becomes softer and easier to digest, and yet it maintains its healthy nutrients.
Once again, you should feed your pup with broccoli in moderation, as too much of it can cause stomach upsets and can even be toxic to some dogs.
Here are some dog-friendly recipes for preparing broccoli:
- Raw – make sure you cut it in small chunks or blend it before adding it to the regular dog food. Remember that it should not exceed more than 10% of the recommended daily caloric intake of your dog in order to be a safe treat to enjoy from time to time.
- Cooked – you can steam, roast, or cook fresh or frozen broccoli before giving it to your dog in order to make it softer and easier to digest. But remember to refrain from using added fats such as oils or processed cheeses, or spices, and other vegetables, which can be dangerous and toxic for the dog.
- Blended or juiced – yes, you can blend or puree the broccoli along with other healthy fresh fruits and veggies, like apples, watermelon, bananas, carrots, green beans, or others and make a smoothie for your pup. You can freeze the fresh smoothie or add some fat-free unsweetened yogurt to it and present it to your dog as a delicious and cooling treat on hot summer days.
Broccoli is among the healthiest vegetables and one which, when fed in moderation and prepared properly, is safe for dogs.
But as with any other new food, you should start feeding your pup with small pieces of broccoli and watch for any adverse reactions.
If your dog reacts well, then broccoli can be an excellent healthy treat to give to your dog on occasion.