Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?
We tell children to eat more broccoli, but what about our pets? Is broccoli good for dogs?
This particular vegetable in dog food can be healthy in small amounts.
It's not always great by itself though. But why? Broccoli florets contain isothiocyanates which sometimes causes gastric irritation in dogs. In large quantities, it is dangerous for dogs. Strangely, for humans, it's this component in broccoli that makes it so good for us.
- Digestive blockages
- Gut irritation
In reality, dogs don't need lots of fruit or vegetables in their diet to be healthy. Nonetheless, in infrequent small doses, they do provide some health benefits. Broccoli, for example, is high in fibre and vitamin C, but low in fat.
Okay, so you decide you want to add broccoli to your dog's diet, but what's the safest way to do so?
Small pieces - When introducing a new food like broccoli, start slowly with small portions to make it easier to digest. Potential side effects when they are struggling a little include gas and diarrhoea.
Cook it - Before serving it, make sure it's soft and easy to chew. Broccoli can be fibrous, so check it's not a choking hazard or a risk to your dog's digestive system.
Isothiocyanate is present in other cruciferous vegetables, e.g. kale, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts. However, broccoli has an unusually large amount.
Despite this, if you're careful, and are only giving a small amount, this green veggie can be a great snack. It's safe for dogs to eat, but be cautious with the chunk size, and make sure it's cooked well.
- Whilst dogs can eat both cooked and raw broccoli; there mustn't be any seasoning or oils added
- To get the correct portion size, you can follow the 10% rule: your dog can eat 10% of their calories from fruits, veg and treats.
If your dog eats broccoli, don't worry. Small quantities of isothiocyanate aren't toxic. If they've eaten a lot, it can cause gut irritation.
The real problems start when around 25% of your dog's daily calories are from broccoli. The concentration of isothiocyanate would be so high; it would become a deadly toxin. If that's the case, visit your vet as soon as possible for advice.
The only other big problem with broccoli is their stalks. Known to cause blockages in the oesophagus, you must cut it up into bite-size chunks. It's more important for small dogs, as the risk is higher and when dogs eat raw broccoli. It's harder to digest.
If you're doubtful about feeding your dog broccoli, always check with your vet first.