Broccoli is an essential superfood, a cruciferous vegetable packed with nutrients and antioxidants. While crunching on this veggie, you might notice your pup begging for a share of your food, which can spark a couple of questions. As pet parents, you may wonder can dog eat broccoli? Is broccoli good for dogs? Can a dog reap the health benefits of broccoli-like a person can?
Incredibly, the answer to these questions is yes. Broccoli is a safe and tasty treat for your pup. There are ways to feed broccoli to your dog safely, and your dog can experience broccoli's superfood qualities as a person can. Before including this crunchy vegetable into your pet's diet, it's helpful to know the health advantages, concerns, and recommendations on safely feeding the veggie to your pup.
Health Advantages for Your Dog
Broccoli offers numerous nutritional benefits for your dog's body needs to stay healthy, strong, and energetic. Nutrients such as Vitamin K, lutein, sulforaphane, vitamin C, and potassium are naturally occurring in broccoli, and these nutrients bolster your dog's health in different ways.
Vitamin K: Strengthens Bones
As dogs grow older, their bone density decreases. This natural effect of aging can limit your pup's ability to go on walks and interact with you. Vitamin K strengthens bones by increasing bone density, and it's a significant benefit for older dogs. This vitamin help preserve your dog's mobility, allowing you to maintain an active lifestyle with your pup. In fact, out of any vegetable, broccoli contains the largest amount of Vitamin K.
Lutein: Supports Eye and Heart Health
Eye conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma, are common in dogs. A critical nutrient found in broccoli, lutein, increases a pup's retinal response and overall ocular function. It reduces the risk of coronary heart disease in humans and supports heart health in dogs, and it positively contributes to their healthy aging.
Sulforaphane: Detoxifies the Liver
Dogs’ livers carry out the important task of filtering toxins from the blood and metabolizing nutrients. With its detoxifying enzymes, sulforaphane provides needed support to the liver as it breaks down and processes substances. Sulforaphane effectively protects your dog’s liver from damage caused by inflammatory toxins and carcinogens, which can lead to cancer. Among all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains the highest amount of sulforaphane.
Potassium: Improves Nerve and Muscle Functions
Potassium is an electrolyte and mineral that is necessary for transmitting nerve signals and contracting muscles. A normal potassium level usually denotes a dog who is active and energetic. When dogs possess a low potassium level, they have a condition called hypokalemia.
Hypokalemia is connected with kidney disease and kidney failure. In a situation like this, introducing a delicious superfood like broccoli can make a big difference in your dog's health. Since broccoli is high in potassium, it can prevent or correct an imbalance of the mineral.
Broccoli is packed in fiber, which can help your dog's digestive system by moving things along the digestive tract. By feeding a moderate amount of this vegetable can help prevent cholesterol from building up around the arteries and help prevent high cholesterol.
Vitamin C: Boost Immune System
Broccoli naturally contains a high level of vitamin C. Vitamin C can help support and provide a healthy immune system by fighting off diseases.
Feeding Concerns for Your Dog
Although there are significant health advantages with consuming broccoli, there are also a few concerns in feeding broccoli for dogs. The most healthy dogs lean toward carnivorous eating habits, so broccoli and other vegetables do not constitute the bulk of their diets. Naturally, this means that including broccoli into your dog’s meal plan brings up a few concerns.
Too Much Broccoli Causes Sickness
Even though broccoli has some positive health benefits, the majority of your dog's diet should be well-balanced dog food. When a dog consumes more than 10% of its calories from broccoli, health issues can occur. Isothiocyanate is a compound found in broccoli florets and other cruciferous vegetables. If dogs consume too much of this compound, it aggravates their gastrointestinal tract. This can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, other signs of stomach upset such as whimpering, and overall pain for your pup after overeating broccoli. A small amount of isothiocyanate is harmless, but gut irritation can occur if a dog eats more than 10% of its calories from broccoli.
Broccoli Chunks Are a Choking Hazard
Large, raw chunks of broccoli are hard for dogs to chew, and they're difficult to swallow, which puts your pup at risk for choking. Broccoli stalks are also highly fibrous; so, when large pieces are consumed, they can cause gastrointestinal obstruction. While serving raw broccoli to your dog, it's a good idea to stick around and supervise the situation.
Broccoli Might Cause an Allergic Reaction
Like people, dogs can have food allergies. It’s possible that – similar to any other food – your dog may have an allergic reaction to broccoli. If that’s the case, you might see symptoms such as extreme sneezing, scratching, breathing difficulties, diarrhea or vomiting. It’s important to immediately contact your veterinarian if you see any of these symptoms in your dog.
Feeding Recommendations for Your Dog
Before feeding broccoli to your dog, it's helpful to give your veterinarian a call to assist you in deciding how much broccoli is safe and appropriate for your dog. Afterward, when you're ready to prepare this superfood for your pup, keep the following recommendations in mind:
- Wash the broccoli to remove unhealthy bacteria or insecticide remnants.
- Chop the broccoli into small pieces or bite sized chunks so that your pup can easily chew and swallow. If you opt for feeding your dog raw broccoli, it's best to puree or blend it in a blender or food processor.
- Dogs can eat both raw and cooked broccoli. And you can even feed your dog puree broccoli or make a vegetable smoothie. Some people like to blend green beans, carrots, or cooked sweet potatoes with fresh fruit juice together when they feel like their dog needs a nutritional boost or as a refreshing treat.
- Present the broccoli as a raw, cooked, puree, or frozen treat; or, incorporate it into your pup's regular meals.
- Raw and frozen broccoli can be helpful in removing tartar and plaque from your dog's teeth; however, if your dog has dental concerns, it's not recommended to serve broccoli this way. The tough stalks can harm sensitive teeth.
- Only service as an occasional treat and in small quantities.
So, the next time you're crunching on broccoli and your dog whines at you to share the food, you can go ahead and feed a bite-sized portion to your dog. Although your pup is exposed to a few risks from consuming the veggie, dogs can reap the same health benefits from broccoli that you can. As long as you check in with your veterinarian and follow feeding recommendations, you and your dog can both enjoy the tasty superfood and its health advantages for years to come.