As dog owners, we want our furry friends to receive the best nutrition possible. While most dogs are content with their usual meals, adding some variety to their diet can give them the essential vitamins and minerals they need to thrive. Plus, who can say no to those puppy dog eyes? The thing to keep in mind, however, is that foods that are healthy for humans are not always good for dogs. In fact, some food can really cause a lot of harm!
If you're enjoying a healthy salad and your dog starts begging, you might wonder - can dogs eat spinach? Is spinach safe for dogs? Is feeding dogs spinach a safe and healthy thing to do? Which is better for them, raw spinach or cooked spinach? Wonder no longer because we have the answer. Below, we'll tell you all you need to know about whether you should let your dog eat spinach and health considerations to keep in mind.
Can Dogs Eat Spinach?
Yes, dogs can eat spinach! This leafy green vegetable can actually be beneficial to your dog's health. However, it's important to keep in mind that no dog's diet requires the addition of spinach since they are naturally carnivorous. In fact, dogs with health concerns or underlying health conditions may need to avoid spinach.
If your dog never had spinach before, it's recommended that you monitor your pet closely to see if there are any allergic reactions or other issues. Just with any new food, it's always best to check with your veterinarian first to ensure no health issues can harm your dog.
Health Benefits Of Eating Spinach
Dogs can benefit from eating nutritious leafy green vegetables, and this includes:
Spinach is a great source of many essential vitamins, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. These vitamins boost energy levels, strengthen the immune system, and promote a healthy heart. Spinach also contains folic acid, a specific type of B vitamin. The anti-inflammatory properties of folic acid have been proven to help prevent cancer.
This leafy vegetable contains magnesium, copper, and a large amount of iron! Your dog needs these minerals for healthy red blood cell production, nerve function, and blood pressure regulation.
Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and collard greens, are a good source of amino acids. This plant-based protein is important to muscle development.
The Downside To Dogs Eating Spinach
Although spinach is often referred to as a "superfood" due to its amazing nutritional benefits, it does contain some compounds that might make a pet parent reconsider.
Spinach is high in oxalic acid, which can prevent your digestive system from absorbing calcium. This weakens bones, but it doesn't stop there. Too much oxalic acid can affect your dog's metabolism due to the lower blood calcium level. Furthermore, since calcium oxalate is removed from the body by the kidneys, a build-up of oxalic acid can also lead to kidney damage and bladder stones. Even a small amount of spinach can spiral into kidney failure for dogs with kidney problems.
Here are signs of oxalate overload:
Abnormal heart rhythms
However, if your dog has healthy kidneys and no indication of any sort of kidney disease, you won't need to worry. Your healthy dog would have to consume an exorbitant amount of spinach to cause kidney damage, and this is mostly a concern for owners of dogs with existing kidney disease.
High In Fiber
Fiber is typically considered a good thing! However, a dog's natural diet is low in fiber, and it does take much to cause a problem. Feeding your dog too much spinach can overstimulate the digestive tract, leading to an upset stomach.
What Is The Best Way For Dogs To Eat Spinach?
In moderation! Feeding your dog too much spinach can lead to nutrient deficiencies and a whole myriad of health issues. Remember that 90% of your dog's daily calories should come from well-formulated dog food. The remaining 10% can come from treats, such as healthy human foods. However, small dog breeds have a much different daily caloric need than large breeds! Consider your specific pet when deciding to incorporate spinach into its diet.
It's important that any spinach you feed your pet needs to be prepared correctly.
How do you prepare spinach for dogs?
Wash It - Wash your fresh spinach thoroughly before feeding it to your pet (or yourself, for that matter!). Spinach leaves can be contaminated with listeria and E. coli and often have residual traces of pesticides. Opt for organic spinach if the budget allows.
Chop it - We recommend using chopped spinach as it is easier to serve and add to food. Chop the spinach leaves into small pieces and then add them to a pot or steam basket.
Cook It - Raw spinach can be hard for dogs to digest, and it could contain harmful bacteria. Therefore, it's best to provide your dog with cooked spinach. The spinach should be cooked for 3-5 minutes or until it becomes soft and tender.
Keep It Plain - This means that spinach from your salad is a no-go. Salad dressings can cause health problems for dogs, and some salad toppings (such as onions, garlic, and salt) are outright toxic to our pets. Only plain spinach should be fed to your dog.
You can offer your dog spinach as a small addition to their food bowl, but you can also have some fun with it! Make a doggie smoothie with spinach, berries, yogurt, and sweet potatoes. Spread it on a lick mat, or freeze it in an ice cube tray for cool dog treats on hot summer days.
How To Cook Spinach for Dogs
We recommend using fresh spinach for cooking, but you can also use frozen spinach if it is thawed and cooked properly.
The best methods to cook spinach for your dog are steaming or boiling it until it's soft. Steaming is generally considered the healthier option as it helps preserve more of the nutrients in the spinach. Boiled spinach can cause some nutrients to leach out into the cooking water. Additionally, overcooking spinach can also cause a loss of nutrients. Avoid adding salt, seasoning, or other ingredients, as they can harm your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Dogs Eat Raw Spinach?
Yes, healthy dogs can eat raw spinach. However, uncooked spinach can be hard for a dog to digest fully, leading to stomach upset. While raw spinach is safe for dogs, it's best to steam the spinach leaves for a couple of minutes before feeding them to your furry friend.
Can Dogs Eat Baby Spinach?
Yes, your dog can enjoy baby spinach as a healthy snack, and baby spinach is simply spinach that has been harvested early.
Can Dogs Eat Creamed Spinach?
No, dogs should not eat creamed spinach or any kind of canned spinach food item. These foods are frequently high in sodium, and many have added ingredients that can be toxic to dogs.