Kale, arugula, Swiss chard, and collard greens are heavy-hitters in terms of nutritious leafy greens. But spinach is another vegetable that tops the list. In fact, it’s sometimes considered a superfood.
You may be wondering: If spinach is so healthy for us, is it healthy for our four-legged friends? Can dogs eat spinach?
The answer is yes — dogs can eat spinach. This nutrient-rich veggie offers several health benefits. However, it is not without its risks. If you’re going to give your dog this leafy green, you need to do so in the proper way to avoid any health problems.
Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of spinach for dogs, the potential risks, and how to feed your dog spinach the right way.
What Are the Health Benefits of Spinach for Dogs?
Yes, dogs can eat spinach. And just like humans, dogs can glean a variety of nutritional benefits from this green vegetable. Spinach contains:
Spinach is a good source of Vitamin A and its precursor, beta carotene, which supports your dog’s eye health and improves coat quality. Spinach also contains Vitamin C, known for strengthening the immune system, as well as Vitamin K for healthy bones, heart function, and blood clotting. Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, helps with red blood cell production and is also found in spinach.
Spinach is also chock-full of minerals such as:
- Magnesium: beneficial for immune function, nerve and muscle function, energy level, and healthy blood pressure
- Manganese: helps your dog’s system produce energy, metabolize protein and carbs, and make fatty acids
- Iron: helpful for energy production and avoiding anemia
- Potassium: an electrolyte important for heart, nerve, and muscle function
- Copper: aids in red blood cell growth
Antioxidants are one reason spinach is considered a superfood for humans, and they’re great for our dogs, too. Antioxidants fight the oxidation damage caused by free radicals — they help to reduce inflammation around the body, support the immune system, and even help battle the cognitive effects of aging.
Spinach also contains plenty of fiber. There are two types of fiber, both of which are good for your dog’s diet.
Insoluble fiber helps digestion. Because it doesn’t get broken down in the digestive tract, this kind of fiber helps move waste through the system and prevents constipation. Insoluble fiber also helps your dog feel fuller for longer, which can help prevent overeating and aids in weight loss.
Soluble fiber gets broken down in your pooch’s digestive system. It helps to lower your dog’s bad cholesterol levels and support the good bacteria in the digestive system.
Another way to support your dog’s good gut bacteria? Give Native Pet’s Probiotic Powder a try. Our formula can help improve your dog’s intestinal health. Plus, using a probiotic can help balance your dog’s intestinal system when you introduce them to new foods.
We’ve learned how spinach can benefit your dog’s health. But this leafy vegetable isn’t 100% safe for dogs. Keep reading to learn about the risks of spinach for dogs.
What Are the Risks of Spinach for Dogs?
Can dogs eat spinach? Yes. But it’s important to recognize there are some risks when it comes to feeding your dog spinach.
Spinach contains high levels of oxalic acid. This compound blocks the absorption of calcium in the body by binding with soluble oxalates in the blood, which reduces the level of these nutrients that your dog has in their system. As you probably know, calcium is important for your dog — it helps with a number of essential functions, including bone density, blood pressure, and insulin secretion.
If calcium levels get too low, a metabolic imbalance occurs. The calcium-oxalate combination gets eliminated through the dog’s kidneys, but large amounts of this can cause kidney damage and even lead to kidney failure.
Note: Your dog would have to eat a very large quantity of spinach for kidney failure to occur, ans this isn’t particularly likely. But prolonged consumption of foods containing oxalates, such as spinach, could result in kidney problems, muscle weakness, and even respiratory paralysis over time.
Spinach also contains a relatively high level of sodium. Too much sodium isn’t good for your dog — a large amount can even lead to sodium ion poisoning, otherwise known as salt poisoning. Again, your dog would have to eat quite a lot of spinach to get to this point, but it’s good to be aware of this risk.
You shouldn’t feed your dog unwashed raw spinach, as it could have been sprayed with pesticides or insecticides. Obviously, these chemicals can be very dangerous for your canine friend. Only give your pet organic, washed spinach.
When we prepare spinach, we sometimes make it with butter, salt, or garlic — and these added ingredients aren’t good for your dog. We’ve already covered the dangers of salt. Garlic can be toxic to dogs even in small amounts, and too much butter can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Spinach
Can dogs eat spinach safely? Yes, you can safely give this human food to your dog by following a few steps:.
First, only offer small portions when feeding spinach to your dog. Too much of any new food can upset your dog’s stomach, and large amounts of spinach present health risks for your pooch that are simply not worth risking. Only let your dog eat a small handful of spinach at one time, and make this leafy green an occasional treat — not a regular part of your dog’s meals.
Next, only feed cooked spinach or very few bite-sized pieces of raw spinach. Raw spinach can be difficult for your dog to digest. If you’d like to give cooked spinach to your dog, make it plain, skipping the butter, salt, garlic, and other seasonings. Steaming fresh spinach is the best way to make it soft enough for your dog while retaining many of the key nutrients this vegetable offers.
A final note: A small amount of spinach on its own or added to dog food is fine for a healthy dog. But if your pet suffers from heart disease or kidney disease, avoid giving them any spinach. The risk is just not worth the potential benefits of this veggie.
Can Dogs Eat Spinach? What Dog Owners Should Know
Yes, dogs can eat spinach. It offers several important nutrients for our furry friends, including Vitamins A, C, K, and B9; minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron; powerful antioxidants; and fiber.
However, even spinach comes with risks. It contains high levels of oxalates, which can reduce the calcium levels in your dog’s blood and even lead to kidney failure over time. Plus, spinach contains a relatively high level of sodium. The veggie could also be sprayed with pesticides, so you should wash it before feeding it to your pet.
Pet parents can feed their dog spinach safely by keeping the portion size very small, only feeding plain spinach, and steaming the veggie to make it easier on your dog’s digestive tract. Lastly, think of spinach as a very occasional dog treat, not a regular part of your dog’s diet.
Keep learning about your dog’s health and diet by browsing more articles on the Native Pet blog.