Broccoli: It's one of those vegetables that you might have turned your nose up to as a kid only to realize how delicious it is as an adult. Broccoli is also, of course, very healthy for humans because it's packed with nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin K, plus potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. It makes for a tasty, nutritious veggie.
Have you ever looked at the side of broccoli on your dinner plate and wondered whether or not you could give a piece to your dog? It turns out that the answer isn't a simple yes or no. Because our dogs are omnivores, they can derive nutrition from plant as well as animal sources. But while broccoli has many of the same health benefits for dogs as it does for humans, it also presents a few risks.
So, how can you give your dog the nutritional benefits of broccoli without causing them any harm? Can dogs eat broccoli in a safe way, or is it not worth the risk? Read on to find out more about the benefits and risks of this nutritious vegetable.
What Are the Health Benefits of Broccoli for Dogs?
You're well aware that broccoli is a nutritious human food. It’s also healthy for your furry friend. Some of the beneficial nutrients found in broccoli include:
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps support your dog's immune system to ward off diseases and even cancers. It also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. (Try Native Pet's Hip and Joint Chicken Chews to give your dog's system even more help with inflammation.) Even though dogs synthesize their own Vitamin C in their livers, a little supplementation doesn't hurt, especially as your pooch gets older.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K is essential for allowing your dog's blood to clot. It's also been linked to improvements in bone density.
- Potassium: Bananas aren't the only way to get potassium. Broccoli contains a lot of this important nutrient, too. This electrolyte is important for the normal functioning of nerves and muscles, including Fido's heart.
- Fiber: Broccoli is a high-fiber veggie, which promotes a healthy digestive system and bowel regularity. It also helps to maintain a healthy pH balance in the gut. Another way to support your dog's gut health is with Native Pet's all-natural probiotic mix. Our formula helps to promote a thriving environment in your dog's digestive tract to help prevent or manage digestive issues.
- Calcium: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli tend to be high in calcium. This nutrient has all sorts of benefits, including healthy bone and teeth growth, proper muscle building, and heart strength.
- Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin helps support your dog's vision, bone growth, and immune system response. It's an important nutrient in your dog's diet.
Additionally, broccoli is low-fat and low-calorie, and it doesn't contain much sugar. For these reasons, it can serve as a healthy snack for a dog.
But can dogs eat broccoli whenever they'd like, without any further considerations? No. Dog owners should take care to give broccoli to their dogs in the right way, because this veggie does present some risks.
What Are the Risks of Broccoli for Dogs?
We've learned that broccoli contains various nutrients that are beneficial for dogs. But that doesn't mean it's time to start adding broccoli to your pooch’s dog food at every meal.
Here are some of the risks of feeding broccoli to your dog:
Broccoli contains a naturally occurring compound known as isothiocyanate, which is also found in other cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. But broccoli contains the highest levels.
While a small amount of isothiocyanate won't prove harmful to your pup, too much can cause stomach upset. In large quantities, it can poison your dog. When a dog gets about 25% or more of their daily calories from broccoli, the risk of poisoning by isothiocyanate is high. Only feed your dog two or three pieces of broccoli at a time.
Raw broccoli, as you know, is hard and crunchy. Even when it's cooked and becomes softer, large pieces could present a choking hazard. And broccoli stalks can be large and dense — when a dog tries to swallow a broccoli stem whole, it might get lodged in the throat, causing a dangerous blockage. Even broccoli florets can prove hazardous, especially if they're large and your dog likes to swallow morsels whole.
Sometimes, we eat broccoli raw. But, when we cook the vegetable, we tend to do so in oil or butter. And we might add seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, or cheese. These additives and seasonings are not safe for our canine friends — broccoli for dogs should never contain any added seasonings or ingredients.
How to Feed Your Dog Broccoli
Can dogs eat broccoli? Yes, but there are a few stipulations to follow.
Here are some quick tips on feeding your dog broccoli in a safe manner:
- Practice portion control: In large quantities, broccoli can harm your pet. Follow the 10% rule: Your dog shouldn't get more than 10% of their daily calories from broccoli or other vegetables. Your pooch would have to eat quite a lot of broccoli to reach that threshold, but it’s always best to be careful. Feeding Fido broccoli in small quantities is always the safest choice, so stick to two or three pieces of broccoli at a time.
- Feed the florets, not broccoli stalks or stems. Broccoli stems are hard and dense, even when they're cooked. This raises the risk of your dog choking. So, when you feed your dog broccoli, stick to the floret.
- Cut broccoli into small pieces: While the florets are softer than the stems, if they’re too large, there’s still a risk of your dog choking, especially if they like to gobble morsels whole. Be sure to cut broccoli florets into small, bite-size pieces.
Can dogs eat broccoli raw? Yes, but if you're feeding your dog raw broccoli, cut it into very small pieces to make it easy for your pooch to swallow. If you've cooked broccoli in vegetable oil or olive oil, drain the oil away or dab the broccoli off with a paper towel (a bit of remnant oil won’t hurt your pet). And taste it yourself first to make sure the vegetable isn't too hot for your dog.
When you avoid feeding broccoli in large amounts, give your dog the florets rather than the stem, and cut the floret into small pieces, it's a safe way to give Fido a tasty and nutritious dog treat without adding any unnecessary risk.
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Safely?
Have you ever asked yourself, "Can dogs eat broccoli?" Technically, yes. It's a nutritious vegetable that can serve to supplement a balanced diet. Packed with vital nutrients like Vitamins C, K, and A, as well as potassium, calcium, and fiber, it provides a good nutritional value for your furry friend.
However, broccoli comes with some risks. It contains isothiocyanate, which can poison your pup in large quantities. And broccoli, whether cooked or raw, can present a choking hazard.
Here's the bottom line: If you're going to feed your dog broccoli, keep the portion size very small. Cut the florets into small, bite-size pieces. And leave the salt, pepper, cheese, and other seasonings for the human members of your family.
Would you like to learn more about your dog's diet, or their health and wellness needs? Check out the Native Pet blog today.