Does your dog have a taste for veggies? Is it really safe for him to eat brocolli? 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 are 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, your loyal companion, your unconditionally loving family member, and the one being on Earth who would do just about anything for you – especially if it means being able to share your dinner.
How can you resist?
But then again, you don’t want to feed your dog something toxic!
So you have to do your research, both so you can eat your dinner in peace and so you can do the right thing for your dog’s health.
In this post, we will take a look at broccoli as a dish for dogs.
Can dogs eat broccoli? Is broccoli ok for dogs? And is giving dogs broccoli a good decision – read on to find out the answers to these questions right now!
Is broccoli good for dogs?
Read any people-centric nutritional guide and you will learn 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?
The truth is, dogs need lower amounts of vegetables and fruits than people do to stay healthy. This is particularly true if your dog is already consuming a high quality commercial dog food brand that your veterinarian is happy with.
However, because broccoli does have plenty of Vitamin C and minerals a low fat, satisfying fibrous crunch, some dogs can safely consume broccoli in small amounts.
The American Kennel Club’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Jerry Klein, states that in veterinary medicine circles, broccoli dogs is generally considered safe in very small quantities.
However, broccoli as a food source should never exceed 10 percent of a dog’s daily food intake.
Is broccoli bad for dogs?
Here is where the central debate about broccoli and dogs still rages.
As it turns out, broccoli contains isothiocyanates, which are naturally occurring sulfur-based plant compounds that are present in many dark green veggies.
Broccoli, kale and cabbage are just a few examples of vegetables that contain these compounds.
For people, consumption of veggies that contain isothiocyanates is now thought to help protect against some forms of tumors and cancers.
For dogs, consumption of isothiocyanates has been reported as toxic in amounts that exceed 10 percent and potentially FATAL in amounts that exceed 25 percent of a dog’s daily food intake.
Dogs that consume too much broccoli (anywhere from 11 percent of their daily diet on up) may experience gastrointestinal distress ranging from mild to severe.
As well, since this is still a poorly researched topic in dog breeds, for some dogs, consuming any broccoli may potentially lead to gastric distress or worse.
[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. Cows that eat 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 not so simple as you may have hoped.
Thus far, we have learned that broccoli does have some good health benefits, including fiber and Vitamin C and lots of minerals.
We have also learned that a component in broccoli, isothiocyanates, has been linked to gastrointestinal distress in dogs.
And we have learned that, 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 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. This means 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.
One more safety warning to consider is that, for small dogs or dogs with a narrow neck and esophageal canal, eating broccoli can potentially cause choking. Here, cutting or slicing the broccoli into very small bite-size pieces can reduce the risk.
Can dogs eat raw broccoli?
If you went to your doctor and told her you had increased your daily broccoli servings, she would probably be delighted!
This is because you have a digestive tract that is specifically designed to break down even totally raw fibrous vegetables fully and 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.
If you do decide to feed your dog broccoli, it will be easier for your dog to digest cooked.
Can dogs eat cooked broccoli?
Steer clear of spices, oils and butter, which your dog doesn’t need and which may upset her stomach.
Never add garlic or onions, which 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 the outermost tough skin off the stems first. Do this before steaming, slicing and serving the broccoli.
Can my dog eat broccoli?
So can dogs have 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.
Unseasoned, well steamed and sliced into bite-size pieces, and then observe her to see how she does.
If she exhibits no signs of gastrointestinal discomfort, you are 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.
For you, broccoli is the kind of food choice that will have your doctor (and your waistline) jumping with joy.
For your dog, who just wants to eat whatever you are eating whenever you are eating it, broccoli may or may not be the right treat to offer.
As your dog’s owner and caretaker, the choice is up to you.
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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.