NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be okay for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.
In the world of leafy greens, spinach is a superstar. This veggie is considered a superfood, meaning it’s rich in nutrients and healthy for us humans. But what about dogs? Can dogs eat spinach and reap the same health benefits we do? It’s not that simple.
Is Spinach Good for Dogs?
Spinach is not toxic to dogs, but the vegetable should only be fed to them in small portions. Because it’s a superfood, it is filled with numerous vitamins, minerals, and other health benefits such as:
Vitamins A, B, C, and K
Beta-carotene, which protects the body from damaging free radicals
Roughage, which stimulates the digestive tract
All of this is great, but your pup’s well-balanced dog food diet should already be giving them the basic nutrition they need. It’s not necessary to supplement their diet with spinach on a regular basis.
That said, if you’re concerned about your dog having a vitamin deficiency, consult your veterinarian about appropriate daily supplements.
Can Spinach Be Bad for Dogs?
Although spinach is a human superfood, it also contains isothiocyanates—a natural compound that’s also present in foods like broccoli and kale—which can cause severe stomach upset when eaten in large amounts.
In addition, spinach contains oxalic acid, which can block your dog’s body’s ability to absorb calcium, leading to kidney damage. But dogs with healthy kidneys can easily process small amounts of soluble oxalates. Your dog would have to eat an extreme amount of spinach for the oxalic acid to be a cause for concern.
Overall, snacking on fresh spinach is typically okay for most dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Canned Spinach?
Avoid feeding your dog any kind of canned foods, including canned spinach. Canned foods typically contain a high amount of salt for preservation purposes. This can worsen heart disease and cause health problems such as:
Can Dogs Eat Spinach Dip?
Spinach dip is not a good choice for a doggy treat. This usually contains ingredients that are unhealthy for dogs, such as dairy. Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so the dairy could upset their stomach. Spinach dip is also high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis if fed to your pup.
How to Feed Your Dog Spinach
Dogs can eat raw spinach leaves, but it’s a bit difficult for them to digest. And boiled spinach actually loses most of its nutrients as it’s cooked. So, the best way to feed your dog spinach is by steaming it.
Always thoroughly wash the spinach first to remove any harmful pesticides or bacteria (like E. coli) that may be lingering on the leaves. Make sure you prepare the spinach completely plain, too. This means no butter, oils, seasonings, or any other ingredients. You might be tempted to add flavorings like garlic or onion, but those are both toxic to dogs. And ingredients like butter and salt can cause health issues for your dog.
How Much Spinach Can Dogs Safely Eat?
Eating too much spinach can upset your dog’s stomach, but small amounts of spinach—when prepared safely—can provide your dog with some beneficial nutrients.
Treats of any kind should only be given to your dog in moderation and should only make up 10% of your dog’s diet. The other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food diet. Anytime you have questions about your dog’s diet and health needs, ask your veterinarian.
When feeding your dog steamed, chopped spinach leaves, the recommended portion sizes are:
Extra-small dog (2-20 pounds) = 1/4 teaspoon
Small dog (21-30 pounds) = 1/2 teaspoon
Medium dog (31-50 pounds) = 1 teaspoon
Large dog (51-90 pounds) = 1/2 tablespoon
Extra-large dog (91+ pounds) = 1 tablespoon
Featured Image: iStock/RyanJLane
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