Can Your Dog Eat Kale?
Kale has taken the health world by storm with its reputation for being a superfood. Doctors, nutritionists, and fitness experts are all expounding on the benefits kale can offer you. Whether you like it pureed in a smoothie or served as a refreshing side, there are dozens of reasons why you should make kale a staple in your diet. Have you wondered whether or not kale is good for your dog?
Is Kale Safe for Your Dog?
Even though dogs are natural carnivores, kale does have some benefits for your pup. Some very high quality dog foods are beginning to use kale as an ingredient in their recipes.Kale is so rich in health benefits because of its high levels of antioxidant vitamins and phytonutrients, which are nutrients specific to plants. Antioxidants protect cells from becoming damaged from environmental factors like chemicals, bacteria, and viruses. When cells are damaged, it leads to a variety of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Research has linked kale to preventing certain cancers in the colon and bladder.
Kale also has high levels of lutein, which helps support the health of the eyes. People and dogs with aging eyes or failing eyesight could benefit from daily servings of kale. Combined with the beta carotenes (the nutrient found in carrots), kale has more of an effect on the eyesight than carrots do. If your dog is starting to lose their vision, you should talk to your vet about whether or not kale will help prolong their eyesight.
The only caution you should take with a kale-rich diet is adding additional calcium to the diet. The oxalates found in kale interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, so your dog might end up deficient in calcium if you aren’t supplementing their diet. Of course, before you start messing with your dog’s nutrition, you should definitely talk to your vet. Even the best intentions can cause more harm than good.
A Cautionary Tale
Some dogs are prone to developing kidney stones, and these dogs definitely shouldn’t eat kale. The oxalic acid has been shown to aid in the formation of kidney stones. If your dog has a history of kidney stones, it’s likely that they’re already on a specialized diet to help reduce how many minerals are being introduced into their diet. You shouldn’t add anything to their diet unless your veterinarian has specifically told you it’s okay. Even the slightest imbalance can lead to the development of stones.
A dog’s digestive system isn’t the best at digesting plants. Their organs are suited to breaking down meat, so too many vegetables are going to create some problems. Too much kale, no matter how good it is for them, is going to lead to diarrhea or loose stools. If this happens, you should stop feeding the kale and resume their regular diet.
Raw kale is always going to be harder to break down than cooked, so if you’re regularly feeding kale, you should probably give it to them cooked. Steamed will be the best way to feed it, but you need to be careful about what you’re adding to the kale. Never add salt, garlic, or onions. Salt leads to dehydration, while garlic and onions are toxic to dogs.
No matter how good kale is for your dog, a good quality dog food is going to give them all of the nutrition they need. If you are worried your dog is deficient in a certain nutrient or vitamin, you should discuss it with your veterinarian before you alter their diet. Sometimes less is more, and that’s certainly true in the case of vegetables and dogs.