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Dog Diet 101: Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?

by Joan Newsome
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When looking for a healthy treat for their canine friends, many owners turn to vegetables as the best option. While some vegetables are off-limits (e.g., onions, tomatoes, asparagus), others make for a great addition to your dog’s diet. How about broccoli, you may ask? This healthy vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, but can dogs eat broccoli?

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?

In short: yes, dogs can snack on broccoli florets in moderation. However, while there are numerous health benefits to this vegetable, there are also some health risks to consider when feeding it to your pooch.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli is high in fiber and low in fat. Also, it’s a great source of vitamins D and K, as well as potassium and calcium. Dogs, just like humans, can benefit from these nutrients. Vitamin K and calcium contribute to strong bones and higher bone density, which are equally important for young and elderly dogs.

The abundance of vitamin C in broccoli helps older dogs replenish the amount they often lack. Dogs, unlike humans, produce Vitamin C naturally. But as they get older, their ability to produce an adequate quantity decreases. That is why broccoli can help them live a healthier, longer life.

Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound that helps prevent various types of cancer — such as gastrointestinal and pancreatic cancer and melanoma. More importantly, the compound acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and prevents joint erosion.

You can treat your dog to steamed, sauteed, or roasted broccoli. However, you should avoid adding any salt, oil, or dressing. You might like your broccoli with some extra ranch, but it can cause serious stomach irritation in canines and add extra calories your dog doesn’t need.

Health Risks of Broccoli

Although broccoli might seem like a great snack, there are some potential hazards to keep in mind before letting your pooch munch on some green florets.

The main concern with broccoli is a potentially toxic substance called isothiocyanate. This naturally-occurring compound acts as a defense mechanism, protecting the plant from bacteria and insects. However, it can be hard on your dog’s gut and cause mild to severe gastric irritation if consumed in large quantities.

A small amount of isothiocyanate is harmless and poses no threat to dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, the real risk occurs if broccoli makes up more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. Life-threatening danger begins when a dog consumes more than 25% of calories from broccoli. Such a high concentration of isothiocyanate is toxic and can be deadly.

Furthermore, broccoli florets can cause esophagus obstruction and are a choking hazard. Therefore, make sure to cut the florets into bite-size pieces, remove the stems, and cook them before you feed them to your pooch.

In Summary

Broccoli is a healthy alternative to processed treats loaded with sugars, dyes, and potentially toxic substances. It’s jam-packed with nutrients that help your dog live a healthy, long life. However, due to the high concentration of isothiocyanate, it can be potentially toxic for your pooch.

So, can dogs eat broccoli? The answer is yes, in moderation. Chop up a floret or two, and treat your dogs to a healthy, nutritious snack (but don’t overdo it!).

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