We all love a healthy meal and we all love sharing a healthy meal with our dogs. An easy go-to healthy dish will always be broccoli — it’s easy to find in most grocery stores and it’s just as easy to prepare.
But not all of the meals we have are safe to share with our dogs. There are a lot of foods that we humans eat that are not suitable for dogs for one reason or another. Some of these foods are just not good for their diets, while others can actually make them sick.
Dogs are generally described as carnivores, but they aren’t really carnivores in the most strict sense. Meat should generally take up the majority of their diet, but certain vegetables are necessary to incorporate the correct balance for your dog to be healthy.
While they don’t need nearly the amount of fruits and vegetables that humans require to stay healthy, it does seem that adding a certain amount of color to your dog’s diet supports their health and wellness.
Today, we’ll break down one veggie in particular: broccoli.
Is Broccoli Good For Dogs?
Broccoli is one vegetable that is safe for dogs to eat and can support a healthy canine diet.
Broccoli has a lot of the vitamins and minerals your dog needs, like fiber which supports a regular digestive system. It is also low in calories and safe for dogs to eat.
Here are some of the many benefits of broccoli that could support the health of your dog:
- Vitamin C: Broccoli contains a fair amount of vitamin C, which supports your dog’s immune system. Dogs’ bodies are capable of producing vitamin C naturally, but they begin to produce less and less with age. Broccoli can be a great way to supplement this decline so that your dog has an adequate amount.
- Great source of fiber: Broccoli is a great source of fiber for dogs, which they need to maintain a healthy digestive system. However, be careful about feeding stems to your dog, because they can be a bit more difficult to digest.
- Lots of minerals: Broccoli contains a lot of important minerals that dogs need, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chromium. Many of these minerals are important in contributing to a dog’s healthy immune system and nervous system.
- Folic acid: The folic acid in broccoli helps cells grow and stay healthy, which can be particularly beneficial to dogs that are pregnant.
All of this said, it’s a whole different story when it comes to feeding broccoli to puppies. Puppies have different nutritional requirements than grown dogs, so it’s generally better to hold off on sharing this nutritious veggie as a treat until your pup is over a year old — this will prevent you from accidentally giving your puppy too much broccoli and causing an imbalance in their nutrient intake.
How Should I Prepare Broccoli For My Dog?
There are multiple ways you can prepare meals for your dog that include broccoli. The way that the broccoli is prepared, though, should be taken into consideration.
Fresh broccoli is great for your dog, but because of some of the molecules and properties fresh broccoli contains, you may want to be careful about how much you are serving.
The stalks on the ends of fresh broccoli can be fed to dogs, but they can be a choking hazard if they are given in too big of a piece. It may be best to cut them up, as they can be quite fibrous, which can cause GI upset for your dog if they do not chew them well enough.
Broccoli florets, however, are very safe to eat, although you should still cut them up into smaller pieces to reduce the risk of choking, especially for young pups and smaller breeds.
It is also important to portion the serving size of the broccoli florets you give your dog because broccoli florets contain a molecule that can make your dog gassy if consumed in large quantities. The molecule is called isothiocyanate, and it can be found in vegetables similar to broccoli, including cauliflower, kale, and cabbage).
In small quantities, isothiocyanate is fine for your dog. Too much of it, though, can cause digestive discomfort. Symptoms may arise such as gas, nausea, diarrhea, and bloating.
Dogs can eat broccoli fresh or cooked. With broccoli being cooked, it presents less of a chance of it becoming a choking hazard or causing intestinal blockages, especially if it is cut into smaller pieces before cooking. Mixing cooked broccoli into your dog’s regular meals can be a great way for your pup to benefit from its many nutrients.
Portion sizing will still be important because of the risk of over isothiocyanate exposure.
You also will want to avoid combining the broccoli with ingredients typically added to human broccoli dishes like cheese or dressings. Cooking the broccoli with seasoning or oils should also be avoided, so try to set aside the dog’s broccoli from yours if you are cooking for the both of you.
Getting the right proportions in your dogs’ meals will go a long way in ensuring they are in good health. As with anything, even healthy foods like broccoli must be taken in moderation.
When adding broccoli to a dog’s meal, the amount of broccoli served should not take up more than 10% of the dog’s daily calories. Because of the risk of isothiocyanate mentioned earlier, anything more than 25% can be toxic and risks sickness.
All dogs are different, so the exact amount of broccoli your dog can take will vary. The size of your dog, or even the type of dog you have can make a difference as to exactly how much broccoli would be good for them and how much would be too much and make them sick. It is best to start with small portions and see how they react before you add more.
Be careful with feeding broccoli to puppies. Puppies have a very specific diet they need that differs wholly from that of an adult dog. It is better to not feed broccoli to puppies, since their small size and smaller diets would make it much easier for you to inadvertently give the puppy too much broccoli.
Tossing them a few florets when they’re already a few months old is generally OK, but their puppy food should have all the nutrients they need.
Feeding Your Dog Broccoli
All in all, it is safe to feed your adult dog portioned amounts of broccoli. Broccoli has a lot of nutrients that support a dog’s healthy lifestyle, including vitamins C and A and minerals like phosphorus and zinc. It can be served to dogs cooked or fresh, and regardless it is better to serve it in smaller pieces to avoid the risk of choking.
Too large of a portion, though, can be dangerous for your dog and will outweigh the benefits your dog would otherwise need. The molecule isothiocyanate is prevalent in broccoli, and in large enough quantities can cause digestive trouble if your pup has too much.
Broccoli is a healthy treat that your dog will likely enjoy, but start out with small portions first to see how they will react. Not only do you need to see if they are opposed to eating it, but you must also consider how their bodies will digest it. If you give them a small amount and they turn out to be fine, then you can consider scaling their portion size up. Be sure that the portion size does not make up more than 10% of their daily caloric intake, and they should be fine.
For more articles to help guide you in pet parenting, explore VETCBD Hemp’s blog here!
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