If your dog already eats nutritionally balanced dog food, they should get all the necessary vitamins and minerals. However, if you want your dog to get an additional boost by eating vegetables, you might wonder if it’s okay to feed them spinach. Yes, most dogs can eat spinach, but only as a supplement to their normal diet.
Keep reading to find nutrition facts about spinach and the answers to frequently asked questions about feeding this vegetable to your dog.
Is Spinach Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Spinach is not toxic to dogs and is generally safe for them to eat. However, there are a couple of potential concerns you should be aware of. Several vegetables, including spinach, kale, and broccoli, contain isothiocyanates, which can upset a dog’s stomach when eaten in large amounts. Spinach is high in oxalates, which can cause kidney damage in excessive quantities.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach or kidney issues, talk to your veterinarian before feeding spinach. Most dogs can tolerate eating small quantities of spinach without an issue, but it’s best to clear it with your vet first.
Is Spinach Healthy for Dogs?
Spinach is considered a superfood for humans and can benefit dogs. The dark green vegetable is high in protein and contains multiple vitamins, antioxidants, and iron. Spinach is low in calories, fat, and sugar as well.
With a high water content, spinach can help your dog stay hydrated. It also contains fiber, which can help your pet’s digestion work smoothly.
Can Dogs Absorb the Nutrients from Spinach?
While some pet food advertising may lead you to believe dogs are carnivores who should eat primarily meat, they are more accurately described as omnivores. Essentially, during the domestication process, dogs adapted their diets to more closely resemble that of humans, who are also omnivores. Because of that, dogs can digest, absorb, and utilize nutrients from plant-based foods as well as meat.
As discussed in the previous section, some vegetables, like spinach, may be harder for dogs to digest. However, there is one way to make things easier, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
How Should You Feed Spinach to Your Dog?
Fresh spinach can be fed raw if it is washed thoroughly first. Raw vegetables contain the most nutrients but can also be harder to digest. If you want to make things easier on your dog’s stomach, try feeding cooked spinach instead.
The best way to cook spinach for your dog is to steam it. Boiling spinach reduces the nutrient content, and other cooking methods typically use butter or oil, which are unhealthy for your dog to eat. Don’t add any salt or other seasonings to the spinach; they are also unhealthy and may even be toxic in the case of garlic or onion.
Steamed, frozen spinach is also okay to feed your dog but avoid canned vegetables, which generally contain a lot of salt. Don’t feed your dog spinach-containing recipes like dip, spinach souffle, or creamed spinach. They often contain toxic ingredients and are generally high in fat and calories.
How Much Spinach Should You Feed Your Dog?
Dogs that eat a balanced diet don’t need to eat spinach or other veggies at all. Spinach and other safe human foods are considered more of a treat than part of normal meals. Treats of any kind should only make up about 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
Because of the potential for an upset stomach, stick with feeding your dog small amounts of spinach. You can check with your vet to find out what’s best for your dog to eat.
If you want to incorporate spinach into a homemade diet for your dog, discuss the preparation of these meals with your vet. Feeding a homemade diet may be appropriate for some dogs but can easily lead to nutritional deficiencies if it’s not properly formulated. Your vet or a veterinary nutritionist can help you avoid these concerns.
Although it’s typically okay for healthy dogs to eat spinach, it should only be offered occasionally because of the potential to upset your pet’s stomach. Check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog spinach or any other human food. Dogs with health problems or those on special diets must be more careful about eating treats, including veggies and fruit.
Featured Image Credit: Aline Ponce, Pixabay