Doctors, nutritionists, and your grandma tell you how important your dark greens are for overall health. Leafy greens are some of the most nutritionally dense foods found anywhere. They’re exploding with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that boost your immune system, aid in digestion, reduce the risk of cancer, and improve heart health. Many health experts are insisting you fill your diet with spinach for optimal health, but does your dog benefit from this powerful food?
Can Dogs Safely Eat Spinach?
Spinach is safe for your dog as long as it’s eaten in moderation. However, some experts say that spinach is toxic to dogs in large amounts because they contain oxalates. Eaten in significantly large amounts, oxalates can cause problems with a dog’s kidneys and they can even result in bladder stones. This generally isn’t too much of a concern with dogs unless they’re eating spinach every day or they gorge themselves on a huge amount in one sitting. It is actually quite hard for them to eat enough spinach that it would become toxic to them, so spinach toxicities are actually very rare. However, this stresses the importance of your dog only getting certain foods in moderation. While something is very good for you, the same isn’t quite true for your canine.
As for the benefits of spinach, it contains high levels of both folate and iron. These are essential for good blood circulation and in the treatment of anemia. Research has shown that spinach is also high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. They’re good for protecting the retinas from damage and improving a dog’s vision.
Overall, spinach won’t harm your dog like grapes or onions do. If you are giving your dog a lot of spinach, they’ll likely only end up with diarrhea or they’ll have a short round of vomiting. When your dog has never had spinach before, start with small amounts to avoid any digestive upset. Stop feeding spinach if your dog has any stomach problems or any other negative symptoms after eating it.
The Best Way to Feed Spinach to Dogs
Raw spinach can be hard for dogs to chew and digest. They don’t have the proper teeth for chewing raw vegetables, so it’s unlikely they’ll eat very much if they’re given raw spinach. Instead, try steaming the spinach and mixing a small amount in their dog food. Chop it first so it’s more digestible to their carnivorous digestive systems. You can also juice the spinach, but it’s not very likely your dog will drink it. Remember that a lot of the ingredients you like to flavor your food aren’t good for your dog or even necessary. If you’re steaming it, skip things like salt, garlic powder, or lemon. Don’t give them spinach that has been cooked with onions, either.
If you juice your greens or add them to smoothies, you probably shouldn’t share either of these with your dogs. Smoothies contain dairy (either milk or yogurt) and a lot of sugar, both of which are hard for dogs to digest.
Before you get your dog onto your healthy eating plan, remember that your dog gets all of the nutrition they need from their quality dog food. Spinach should be a small addition to their diet, not a main component.