You might be thinking of feeding your dog homemade food, or you want to treat him to some human foods from time to time. But before you do this, it is important to know which fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs.
In this article, we will focus on Popeye’s favorite food – the green, leafy vegetable called spinach.
Can Dogs Eat Spinach?
The short answer is yes, dogs can eat spinach. However, this is perhaps the most controversial vegetable when it comes to its safety to dogs. That’s why it’s important to cover all its benefits and dangers to answer this question.
Advantages of Spinach for Dogs
Spinach is one of the nutritionally richest vegetables since it contains vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Also, it contains antioxidants, iron, potassium, manganese, beta carotene and other nutrients. It also has fiber, which can aid digestion and invigorate your dog’s digestive tract.
Additionally, spinach is low in calories, so it is a good choice for an occasional snack. Spinach can even boost your dog’s immune system and his energy levels. According to Raw Bistro, occasionally feeding your dog spinach can help in cancer prevention and provide heart benefits.
Disadvantages of Spinach for Dogs
One of the main reasons for the “spinach controversy” lies in the fact that it is high in oxalic acids (oxalates). These acids are also found in other vegetables like kale or beetroots and they can cause certain health issues. Especially dangerous is kidney damage, which oxalates cause by blocking your dog’s body from absorbing calcium. However, your dog would have to eat spinach in large quantities to actually be in danger.
That being said, dogs with certain health conditions like kidney stones or bladder problems shouldn’t eat spinach at all. Additionally, regularly feeding your dog spinach in significant amounts can cause long-term damage, like kidney stress, abnormal heart rhythms and muscle weakness.
Even if your dog is healthy, you should still consult with your vet before you add spinach to his diet or at the very least feed him spinach in small amounts and only from time to time. A dog’s diet should only contain up to 25% of vegetables since dogs need to consume plenty of meat proteins to get enough amino acids.
Since the canine digestive system doesn’t process green and leafy vegetables that well, spinach may not suit your pooch. If you notice that your dog has an upset stomach after eating spinach, avoid it in the future.
How to Prepare Spinach for Dogs
If you decide to feed your dog spinach, it is crucial to prepare it the right way since raw spinach is difficult for dogs to digest. The best way to prepare the spinach is to steam it. Boiling is also an option but the spinach will lose many nutrients if boiled.
Before you steam it, make sure to wash it thoroughly first. You may also reduce the risk of pesticides by buying organic spinach. Chop it well or puree it before steaming because your dog’s digestive tract can’t break vegetables down properly.
When you steam the spinach, don’t add any oil, butter, salt, pepper, herbs and spices. Also, don’t add any garlic or onion since they can be toxic to dogs. It is best to serve bland spinach to your dog to make it easy to eat and to stay on the safe side.
If your dog is not delighted with the taste of spinach, serve it with meat or other safe vegetables, like green beans or carrots. You can also incorporate it into his regular dog food to make it easier to chew and swallow. Just add spinach to his food bowl and mix it with his food.
Make sure to slowly introduce spinach, or any other new food. If you add new foods to your dog’s regular diet too quickly and in large amounts, it can cause diarrhea or vomiting when your dog eats it. Use a food scale to measure the amount of spinach. Also, some dogs are fast eaters, in which case it is best to use a slow-feeding bowl.
Spinach can be good for dogs and it is a perfectly safe vegetable for them. While spinach does contain potentially harmful oxalates, your dog would have to ingest a huge amount to get in danger.
This nutrient-rich vegetable can be very beneficial for your dog’s health, as long as you prepare it properly and give it to your dog infrequently and stick to a small amount of spinach.
If you enjoyed reading this article please make sure to also read another important article on the benefits and risks of dogs eating another popular vegetable, the celery.