Some people love them, some people hate them. The Brussels sprout, named after the city of Brussels, Belgium where it’s believed to have originated from, is one of those veggies that society is rather divided on.
Whether you’re a fan of the Brussels sprout or not, you might be wondering: Can dogs eat Brussels sprouts? Or are these little vegetables dangerous for our pets?
Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family alongside cousins like cabbage, broccoli, and radishes. And like those vegetables, they actually offer some health benefits for our canine companions.
Yes, dogs can eat Brussels sprouts. However, like many human foods, Brussels sprouts should not be given to your dog without taking a few precautions first. Learn about the health benefits that Brussels sprouts offer to our four-legged friends, the risks presented, and how to give them to your pooch safely.
Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts for Dogs
Yes, dogs can eat Brussels sprouts and gain nutritional value from them. These veggies are low in calories and carbohydrates, so you don’t have to worry about them adding extra pounds to your dog’s waistline. In fact, they can even serve as a good dog treat substitute for overweight pups or dogs with diabetes. Let’s take a look at some of the other health benefits that Brussels sprouts can provide for our dogs.
Brussels sprouts are full of essential vitamins that may help your dog’s immune system, various bodily functions, and overall health. Brussels sprouts contain:
- Vitamin K: This vitamin promotes regulated blood calcium levels and assists with blood circulation, along with helping blood clot properly.
- Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6: These vitamins help your dog gain energy from the food they eat, as well as support the nervous system and help make new cells.
- Vitamin B9: Also known as folate, vitamin B9 helps with blood cell formation, nucleic acid production, and amino acid utilization in the body.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for your dog’s eye health and supports bone growth and immune system strength.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin has anti-inflammatory properties that may foster a healthy immune system.
Brussels sprouts also contain a lot of important minerals, including potassium, calcium, and manganese. Minerals like these help to support a variety of body systems and aid in your dog’s nerve and muscle function, bone health, and teeth strength.
Antioxidants are an important part of your dog’s diet because they fight free radicals, which cause damage to the cells through oxidation. Brussels sprouts provide antioxidants like kaempferol, as well as vitamins with antioxidant properties like Vitamins C and A. In addition to fighting oxidation, antioxidants play a role in combating problems like heart disease, cancer, and even cognitive dysfunction as dogs get older.
Another benefit of Brussels sprouts: They’re high in dietary fiber, which your dog needs to maintain a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements. Having the proper amount of fiber in the diet lets your dog avoid occurrences of digestive tract and stomach issues like constipation and diarrhea.
If you’d like to help regulate your dog’s bowel movements and promote a healthy digestive system, try Native Pet’s Pumpkin Powder. Our targeted formula can help give your dog relief from diarrhea while absorbing essential nutrients in the gut.
Isothiocyanates are phytonutrients that fight oxidation, much like antioxidants. Thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, slow cancer growth, and fight the effects of aging in your dog’s brain, isothiocyanates are found in all dark green veggies and can be a good addition to your pup’s diet.
Risks of Brussels Sprouts
Are Brussels sprouts good for dogs? Yes, dogs can eat Brussels sprouts and get plenty of nutritional value from them. But it’s important to recognize that feeding your dog these cruciferous vegetables doesn’t come without some risks.
One of the primary dangers of feeding your dog Brussels sprouts is that they can be a choking hazard. The head of the sprout, as well as the tough, fibrous stalk, can easily get lodged in your dog's windpipe. It’s more likely depending on the size of your dog — tinier dogs with smaller, narrower windpipes are at an even greater risk for choking, although dogs of any size can choke.
Remember isothiocyanates, the phytonutrients that can be beneficial for your dog’s health? One side effect of these nutrients is that they build up excess bacteria in your dog’s digestive system. If a dog eats a large amount of Brussels sprouts, you’re probably going to be dealing with a lot of gas. And while your dog’s flatulence isn’t necessarily a health concern, it’s not worth the trouble, either.
Flatulence isn’t the only digestive issue that Brussels sprouts can cause. Raw Brussels sprouts in particular can be difficult for your dog’s system to digest. Although fiber is essential in the diet, excessive amounts can cause side effects like an upset stomach, bloating, or diarrhea.
Here’s How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts for Dogs
We’ve learned about the nutritional benefits of serving Brussels sprouts to your dog, as well as some of the risks. So, how can dog owners prepare Brussels sprouts in the right way for their furry friends?
- Give your dog plain, cooked Brussels sprouts. Leave off seasonings like salt, pepper, and garlic, and don’t cook your sprouts in butter, oil, or fat. Steam or microwave Brussels sprouts to soften them and preserve the nutrients while reducing the risk of choking. (Don’t forget to let them cool off before feeding them to your dog!)
- Cut off the stalk. Only feed your dog the head of the sprout, not the hard stalk. Consider cutting the head into smaller bite-sized pieces depending on your dog’s stature.
- Keep the serving size small. Too much of any new food can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea when your dog has it for the first time. Only give your pup a few Brussels sprouts at a time to make sure there are no adverse side effects. Most vets recommend that treats, including human foods like Brussels sprouts, should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake. The remaining 90% of Fido’s diet should consist of well-balanced dog food.
Can Dogs Eat Brussels Sprouts? Yes, Just Prepare Them Correctly
Still asking yourself, “Can dogs eat Brussels sprouts?” The answer is yes, they can. Whether you love or hate these little cabbage-like vegetables, they can provide nutritional value to our canine friends.
Brussels sprouts may give dogs important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and phytonutrients known as isothiocyanates. All of these are important for your dog’s immune function, bodily systems, and overall health. Plus, Brussels sprouts are low-calorie and low-carbohydrate treats.
Brussels sprouts do present a few risks for dogs, though. They can be a choking hazard, and because of their high levels of fiber and isothiocyanates, too much can cause excessive gas, bloating, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
Feed Fido some Brussels sprouts in a safe manner by cutting off the stalks, steaming or microwaving to soften, and keeping the serving size small so as to not cause any digestive issues. This way, your dog gets to enjoy Brussels sprouts — and get the most nutritional value from them — without any of the adverse side effects.
Would you like to know more about foods your dog can and can’t eat? Visit the Native Pet blog to read more articles like this one.