If you’re a big fan of Mediterranean and South Asian cuisines, eggplants might make it onto your dinner table often. Eggplants are also loved by most vegans and vegetarians for their mild and bittersweet taste. If you’re a dog owner who enjoys this love-it or hate-it veggie, it’s natural to wonder whether you could share a bite with your dog.
The short answer is yes- dogs can eat eggplants. However, like other fruits and veggies, it’s important to feed eggplant in moderation to avoid health problems like indigestion.
Additionally, some dogs may be allergic to eggplant or may have pre-existing health conditions that worsen if they’re fed anything outside the vet-recommended diet. We’ll discuss these later in the article, along with how to prepare and feed eggplants.
What is eggplant?
Eggplant (or aubergine for people on the other side of the ocean) is a bright purple veggie in the nightshade family- aka tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Originally from Asia, eggplants are easily available in most department stores and farmers’ markets. They’re mildly sweet and have a distinct bitter flavor when raw.
While the long, glossy, dark-purple eggplants are more recognizable, eggplants do come in a variety of colors and shapes. Eggplants may be long and slender or round like a melon. White eggplants are also common, while the yellow, pink, and striped varieties are rare. Eggplants must have white flesh inside- if it’s brown, it’s gone bad.
Can dogs eat eggplant safely?
Figuring out what fruits and veggies dogs can and can’t eat can be tricky. Some, like onions and garlic, are a big no-no, while others like pumpkin and carrots are added to dog food regularly and make their meals more filling and yummy.
Eggplants fall in the latter category. When it comes to picking veggie snacks, eggplants for dogs are a safe option, as long as its fed in moderation.
Can dogs eat eggplant leaves?
This is a big no- dogs can not have eggplant leaves. Leaves of many plants, especially those in the nightshade family, are poisonous to dogs. Eggplant leaves have a large number of pesticides called solanine, and eating a bunch of them can trigger solanine poisoning.
Severe solanine poisoning has scary symptoms like seizures, shock, and tremors. Eggplant stem is also unsafe for dogs to eat.
If you grow eggplant in your yard and find a few leaves missing, monitor your dog for any reaction, like vomiting or an upset stomach. If your dog is feeling sick, take him to the vet. Discourage him from eating the leaves again.
Is eggplant a good snack?
Eggplants make a great snack for your dogs- they’re natural, nutritious, free from nasty additives and sugar, and full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. When prepared correctly and fed in moderation, they carry various health benefits.
Plus, eggplants are low in calories- if your dog is overweight and you’re trying to introduce a healthy snack, eggplants are a fantastic option.
Can eggplants be bad for my dog?
No, eggplants for dogs aren’t bad, unless your dog has existing health issues. Vets advise against feeding dogs with arthritis or kidney issues eggplants. It’s due to the presence of oxalates in eggplants.
Oxalates are found in most nightshades and other veggies like rhubarb, spinach, kale, and okra. They inhibit the absorption of calcium in the blood and can collect as gallstones or kidney stones on excessive consumption.
Because a normal serving of eggplant doesn’t have a huge amount of oxalates, eggplants are safe for dogs to consume. However, dogs already suffering from kidney stones or bladder issues must avoid oxalates to avoid worsening the condition.
Aside from this, large servings of eggplants are also bad- dogs aren’t meant to eat a diet with more than 15-20% of vegetables and fruits.
Eating great amounts of eggplant can give dogs an upset stomach, nausea, and even diarrhea. And as with other foods, the eggplant should also be served in bite-sized pieces to avoid gobbling and choking hazards.
Here’s the takeaway- is eggplant good for dogs? Yes. Is too much eggplant safe for dogs to consume? No.
Nutritional Facts of Eggplants
Here’s a breakdown of nutrition in a 100-gram serving of eggplant.
Eggplant also has vitamins C, B3, and B6. Vitamins A, B1, B2, and E are present in very small quantities, along with folates.
Overall, eggplant is low in sugar and calories but is quite filling. It carries a good amount of potassium (almost as much as a banana) and is a good source of fiber.
Benefits of Eggplant for Dogs
Let’s get into the benefits of this nutritious veggie. Eggplants contain a good amount of vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and K. They also have a great deal of fiber and minerals like potassium, magnesium, folate, calcium, and phosphorus. Antioxidants like phenol are also present. All of these are super im-paw-tant for your doggy’s metabolism.
Eggplants primarily contain vitamins B1 and B6. Vitamin B1 is an essential component of a dog’s diet as it supports nerve and muscle function, keeping them healthy and active. It’s also needed for converting sugar to energy- a lack of B1 can make pups sluggish.
Meanwhile, vitamin B6 promotes healthy growth, blood production, and brain function. It’s needed to form neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that regulate body activity.
As mentioned earlier, eggplants contain phenols, vitamin C, and other antioxidants. Antioxidants remove harmful free radicals from the body- free radicals that disrupt metabolism.
Antioxidants play a major role in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol in the body and preventing heart problems. Antioxidants also help fight cancers and tumors, while also slowing down the cellular aging process, helping prolong lifespan.
Onto minerals, eggplants carry a great deal of potassium. Potassium is essential for regulating heartbeat and organ function (it helps carry the electrical current around the heart and muscles).
Eggplants also have magnesium and manganese. Magnesium is needed by the body to use energy effectively while manganese serves as an activator for many metabolic enzymes and promotes joint health (osteoarthritis is something most elderly dogs suffer from).
Fun fact- one eggplant snack gives your dog 10-15% of its daily potassium and manganese requirements.
Eggplants are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber regulates your dog’s digestion and ensures they have regular, healthy bowel movements.
Fiber absorbs water enough to keep the stool nice and firm- easy to remove and clean. However, remember feeding your pup too much fiber can lead to cramps, constipation, and abdominal bloating.
The natural compounds in eggplants have been found to provide several benefits to humans in terms of cancer prevention, lower hypertension (blood pressure), lower cholesterol, improved sugar absorption, improved cognitive function, etc.
There’s a lack of research on their benefit in dogs so these results aren’t conclusive, but it’s highly likely canines reap the same benefits by consuming the same compounds.
Hazards of feeding eggplants to dogs
Some hazards of feeding your dog eggplant regularly include;
As mentioned previously, eggplants contain oxalate. If your dogs eat eggplants in a higher quantity daily, the oxalate concentration may increase in the body.
Oxalates combine with calcium in the kidney to form kidney stones, which are painful and can lead to major problems like kidney failure unless treated when they’re small. Recurring UTIs or blood in the urine indicates the presence of these pesky stones.
Solanine poisoning is a dangerous poisoning caused by excessive consumption of solanine, an alkaloid compound present in all nightshades. It’s present in decreased amounts in the flesh and skin of eggplants, but more in the stem and leaves. As such, only the white flesh and purply skin are edible for dogs.
Solanine collects in the body’s tissues and prevents the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, disrupting nervous function. This can lead to tremors, shortness of breath, heart and kidney problems, and abdominal pain.
Severe poisoning, caused by the consumption of many eggplant leaves in a short amount of time can swell up your dog’s tongue, lower body temperature, trembling, weakness, and even shock.
Some dogs can simply be allergic to eggplant. While there’s no way of knowing until they get an allergic reaction. But if your dog is allergic to tomatoes or potatoes, the likelihood increases. Unlike tomatoes and potatoes though, eggplants have less solanine and are better for canines, and can be fed more often.
So what are the clinical signs of an eggplant allergy? Most commonly dogs get a rash or get itchy. They may puke or have an upset stomach. More serious allergic reactions can cause food poisoning, painful abdominal cramps, and facial swelling.
Typical signs of an upset stomach include loss of appetite, fatigue, inability to drink water, etc. Dogs might like the air, their lips, or ears more often. A prompt veterinary checkup is important after an allergic reaction.
Additionally, eggplant skin contains nasunin, a compound linked to growing iron deficiency. However, it’s found in trace amounts, so you’ll need to feed your dog a lot of eggplants for that to affect him. And solanine poisoning and indigestion are more likely to occur by then.
Feeding Eggplant to Your Dog
With all that aside, let’s get into how you should feed your dog eggplants. A single serving of eggplant for large dogs shouldn’t be more than half an eggplant (which is about 50 calories).
This makes up some 8-10% of their daily food consumption. Small dogs should only have a few bites- 1/6th of an average eggplant. Medium-sized dogs can have a quarter of an eggplant, somewhere around 80-100 grams.
Bland is better
While a bland eggplant may ruin your dinner, it’s better for the pup. Dogs need to avoid seasonings like chili, garlic, and salt. Dogs can’t eat onions either. As such, it’s better to feed your dog bland eggplant. If you’re grilling eggplant for the doggo and need seasoning, try adding some ginger or cinnamon.
Raw eggplants make for a crunchy snack
You can always try serving your dog raw eggplant. But be warned, eggplants are notoriously bitter and your dog may develop a dislike for the veggie. When feeding raw, chop up the eggplant into bite-sized chunks to protect it from choking.
Raw eggplant should be fed in less quantity than cooked, especially if it’s the first try. It’s harder to digest and may cause a sore stomach in sensitive dogs.
Try some cooking methods
Soft, cooked forms of eggplant are ideal for dogs. You can try preparing eggplant for your pup in different ways- baking, grilling, roasting- they all work perfectly fine. Cool the eggplant before serving but make sure it’s still a little warm. You can also mash the eggplant and make a puree (like pumpkins).
Hold the oil
Crispy breaded and fried eggplants with parmesan cheese on top- truly an appetizer you can’t get enough of. Unfortunately for dogs, they can’t enjoy this deliciousness. Fats and oils are simply unhealthy for dogs and can cause weight gain and obesity. If dogs eat oily foods regularly, they can even get pancreatitis. Though if your pup has sneakily taken a piece of your fried eggplant, no worries, one slip-up won’t make him sick.
To summarize, if you were curious whether or not can dogs eat eggplants, the answer is yes. Eggplants are healthy, low-calorie snacks that carry vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and digestive fiber. All of these nutrients are essential for metabolic functions and the healthy growth of your pup. Bland-cooked eggplant is the best option.
That being said, eggplants must be fed in moderation (depending on the size of your pup). The veggie shouldn’t be fed to dogs with an allergy, arthritis, or kidney stones either.