Does your dog have a taste for veggies? Is it really safe for him to eat broccoli? In “Can Dogs Eat Broccoli,” we find out whether it’s okay to share!
It can be awfully hard to enjoy your dinner when you’re being watched. With each mouthful, you can feel a certain set of eyes staring, and staring, and staring…. Those eyes, of course, belong to your faithful dog.
He is your best friend, loyal companion, unconditionally loving family member, and the one being on earth who would do just about anything for you. How can you resist sharing your dinner?
But then again, you don’t want to feed your dog something toxic! So you have to do your research. That way, you can eat your dinner in peace and do the right thing for your dog’s health.
In this post, we will look at broccoli as a dish for dogs. Can dogs eat broccoli? And is giving dogs broccoli a good decision? Read on to find out the answers to these questions!
Is Broccoli Good for Dogs?
Any people-centric nutritional guide will tell you that broccoli is low in fat, high in fiber, and packed with vitamin C and minerals.
Not so fast.
It is a winner for you, for sure. But what about for your dog?
What Does Broccoli Do for Dogs?
The truth is, dogs need lower amounts of vegetables and fruits to stay healthy than people do. This is particularly true if your dog is already consuming a high-quality commercial dog food brand that your veterinarian is happy with.
However, broccoli as a food source should never exceed 10 percent of a dog’s daily food intake.
It’s no wonder The American Kennel Club’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Jerry Klein, states that in veterinary medicine circles, broccoli for dogs is generally considered safe in very small quantities.
Most dogs can safely consume broccoli in small amounts. They will benefit from its vitamin C, minerals, low fat content, and satisfying fibrous crunch. Broccoli also contains vitamins A, B1, B5, and B6, as well as calcium, zinc, and phosphorus, among others.
These nutrients are super helpful to your dog. Vitamin A helps maintain their eyesight while B vitamins work wonders for their nervous system. Minerals like calcium and phosphorus help build stronger bones, and zinc helps in wound healing.
Is Broccoli Bad for Dogs?
Here is where the central debate about broccoli and dogs still rages (and why it’s worth asking “Can dogs eat broccoli?”).
As it turns out, broccoli contains isothiocyanates. These are the naturally occurring sulfur-based plant compounds present in many dark green veggies including broccoli, kale, and cabbage.
For people, consuming veggies that contain isothiocyanates is now thought to help protect against some forms of tumors and cancers.
For dogs, the stats are different. Isothiocyanates become toxic when the amount consumed exceeds 10 percent of a dog’s daily intake. Worse still, consuming amounts over 25 percent of daily intake is potentially FATAL.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Too Much Broccoli?
Dogs that consume too much broccoli (anywhere from 11 percent of their daily diet and up) may experience gastrointestinal distress ranging from mild to severe. This is still a poorly researched topic in dog breeds, so for some dogs, results may be worse than tummy troubles.
[NOTE: To date, most of the research on isothiocyanates side effects comes from California dairy cows. At certain times of year, broccoli is cheap and plentiful and is added to the cows’ daily diet. Cows that eat more than 10 percent broccoli per day have been witnessed to experience gastrointestinal upset. And those eating more than 25 percent broccoli per day have been witnessed to risk death.]
It is also critical to remember that how much broccoli is too much can vary greatly from one canine to the next depending on age, weight, size, general health, and other factors.
For example, in a tiny Chihuahua, one small floret might do it. But in a Labrador, it might mean consuming all the young broccoli planted in your backyard garden!
Is Broccoli Safe for Dogs?
Ultimately, this question is the single most important one to ask: is broccoli safe for dogs?
As you might already suspect from reading earlier sections here, the answer is complicated.
Thus far, we have learned that broccoli does have some health benefits, including fiber and Vitamin C and lots of minerals. But we have also learned that isothiocyanates, a component of broccoli, has been linked to gastrointestinal distress in dogs.
Overall, for most dogs, broccoli can be fed so long as the amount is minimal and never exceeds 10 percent of your dog’s daily diet. But what we still, we don’t know is whether YOUR dog will experience gastrointestinal distress from consuming broccoli.
Unfortunately, canine-specific veterinary research on broccoli toxicity in dogs is still insufficient to address this question on a breed-specific basis. So, we really don’t know whether some dogs might have gastrointestinal upset from eating broccoli in any amount. This means the only way to know for sure right now is to feed broccoli and see what happens.
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli If It’s Raw?
If you told your doctor you had increased your daily broccoli servings, she would probably be delighted!
This is because humans have a digestive tract designed to break down even raw fibrous vegetables efficiently.
Dogs are not so similarly blessed. Their digestive systems are less efficient at extracting the nutrients from densely fibrous vegetables. This is because they have not evolved to need vegetables and fruits in their diet the way we do.
So, if you do decide to feed your dog broccoli, it will be easier for your dog to digest cooked broccoli. It is also safer to introduce veggies gradually into your dog’s diet to be sure they do not have allergies.
Something else to consider is the choking hazard. For small dogs or dogs with a narrow neck and esophageal canal, eating broccoli can cause choking. Try cutting the broccoli into small bite-size pieces to reduce the risk.
Cooking Broccoli: Dog Edition
Steer clear of spices, oils, and butter. Your dog doesn’t need them and they may upset her stomach. Also, never add garlic or onions as they are toxic to dogs.
Simple steamed broccoli – more rather than less well done – is your best bet. Then cut the broccoli up into small bite-sized pieces to avoid a choking hazard.
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Stems?
Steamed broccoli stems are acceptable to serve.
However, for ease of digestion and prevention of choking, always peel their tough outermost skin first. Do this before steaming, slicing, and serving the broccoli.
So, Can My Dog Eat Broccoli?
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your dog. Never feed puppies broccoli, since their digestive systems are still maturing. But if your dog is aged 12 months or older, you can try feeding her a very small amount of broccoli.
Keep it unseasoned, well steamed, and sliced into bite-size pieces. Then observe your dog to see how she does. If she exhibits no signs of gastrointestinal discomfort, you’re probably safe. But only feed her broccoli prepared this way as an occasional treat.
While dogs and people have been literally joined at the hip for centuries now, it is still important to remember that our digestive systems (unlike our hearts) are not identical twins.
While broccoli will have your doctor (and your waistline) jumping with joy, it may not be right for your dog. So although he wants to eat whatever you’re eating, as your dog’s owner and caretaker, the choice is up to you.
What Fruits and Veggies Can My Dog Eat?
Since too much broccoli is not safe for your dog, are veggies totally off the table? Are there any other safe ones you can feed your fur child? Indeed, there are some alternatives, to prevent you asking the internet, “Can dogs eat broccoli?” A few of the safe fruits and veggies you can feed your dog are:
How to Add Fruits and Veggies to Your Dog’s Diet
There are many ways to feed your dog fruits and veggies. Sometimes—not all the time—I like to use fruits as a substitute for treats.
Fruits are natural and while they can be sweet, are often healthier than treats. Just remember not to overdo the sweet fruits, like pineapples.
You can also steam veggies like broccoli and feed others like carrots and cucumbers raw. These vegetables could be a part of your dog’s meal. But cut them into small enough pieces, so they don’t choke.
Experts also recommend that you consult your vet before adding anything to your pet’s diet.
Help, My Dog Ate Too Much Broccoli
If you think your dog has eaten too much broccoli, it’s probably because they have diarrhea now. They may also be curled in a ball whimpering. Usually, if they’ve had a ton of vomiting and diarrhea in a day or two, the worst may have passed.
But if they’re still unwell after a couple of days, or if you’re very worried, it’s best to see the vet.
We hope we’ve answered your panicked “Can dogs eat broccoli” question and put your mind at ease.
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- Sanderson, S.L., BS, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN, “Nutritional Requirements and Related Diseases of Small Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2016.
- Higdon, J., PhD, “Isothiocyanates,” Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, 2005.
- Richards, M., DVM, “Broccoli Toxicity,” Toxins (Poisons) That Affect Dogs,” Vet Info, 1998-2007.
- Trupanion. Nold, S., DVM, Tips for Feeding Your Pets Fruits and Vegetables
- Vet Street. Blake, A., DVM. Healthy Treats for Cats and Dogs: the Best and Worst Options
“Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?” has been extensively revised and updated for 2019