Dr Tracy Douglas
Your guide to this article today is by veterinarian Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 13:45 pm

Considered a staple in most homes, beets can be stored for months and prepared in a variety of ways. If you’re a fur-parent, you may be thinking of adding this as part of your pet’s diet. But can dogs have beets?

You want the best for your pet. Regular dog food is intended to give the best nutritional value for their daily needs. However, by adding some vegetables and fruits, you are giving them supplemental nutrients. Most plants have micronutrients to aid in the digestion and improve the immune system to keep your dogs in tip-top shape.

Colorful vegetables are packed with phytonutrients, a component that helps improve eye and brain function. They also have antioxidants that help improve immunity. Vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, parsley, asparagus, and zucchini are commonly added by most fur parents in their pet’s diet. And yes, beets (particularly Roman Kale), may also be given.

Dog sitting near empty bowl

Are Beets Good for Dogs?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), beets are generally safe for dogs. They have vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and folate which can improve muscle and heart function, digestion, and immune system. However, just like any food, everything needs to be taken in moderation.

Some dogs develop allergies towards beef, soy, egg, pork, and fish. In this case, using beets for dog allergies may help in its prevention. Anti-inflammatory components in beets also prevent arthritis and narrowing of arteries in older dogs.

Fur-parents should give in small servings. This means occasional few pieces added in their meal will be enough. Beets may be given raw or cooked and mashed depending on your dog’s preference. If your dog prefers to eat them raw, scrub any dirt debris from its skin, peel off the skin, and serve in small bite sizes.

Give your pet organic beets. Canned or pickled ones usually have high sodium content. Remember, some food we consider ‘healthy’ may not be as healthy for our pets.

Overweight dogs may greatly benefit from this fiber-packed vegetable. Beets are low in calories and high in fiber. Adding a few pieces to their meal would mean they are full for longer periods of time hence keeping hunger at bay.

Preparing dog food for your pets is cost-efficient. A protein-based diet is an ideal way to prepare food for them. Fresh meat such as beef, ostrich, pork, and chicken with roughly 15-18% fat is recommended. Ideally, serve the protein-based meal and vegetables separately. Give them vegetables first before the protein-based meal since protein takes a longer time to digest. Incorporating them together in their meal might give your doggos digestive problems.

Fish may be occasionally given but shouldn’t be considered a staple for their diet. A quarter of their meal should be composed of vegetables.

As mentioned above, colorful vegetables that are steamed, pureed, or chopped are ideal (beets can be given raw in this case). Red beets, Cylindra beet, striped beets, baby beets, golden beets, and Mangel-wurzel beets are acceptable for dog consumption. You can add this with other dog-friendly vegetables and fruits. But bell peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes, and raw beans should be avoided at all cost.

Carbohydrate-rich food such as rice, corn, and wheat should also be avoided since dogs don’t have the digestive juices to break these down into nutrients they need. This is ‘garbage’ for their body and can cause obesity, allergies, and kidney problems. Commercial pet food has high carbohydrate content so only give these as occasional treats. If you’re not sure how to proceed with preparing dog food at home, consider asking a vet.

Ripe beets on a plate

Are Beets Toxic to Dogs?

Generally, beets are safe for dog consumption. However, not all parts of it are safe for your pet. Beet stems and beet greens shouldn’t be given raw. Since dogs don’t chew like us, it should be cooked in light oil before incorporating in their meal.

Beets should be given in small pieces, preferably mashed.  Again, dogs swallow and doesn’t chew like us. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Adding beetroot once or twice a day to their diet is acceptable.

Introducing new food to your dog should always be done with caution. While it’s rare, a few dogs develop allergies after consuming beets. Food sensitivities may cause your dog to develop itchiness, bald patches, swelling, lumps, or rashes. Introduce a small amount first and observe for any adverse reactions. To be sure, certain procedures such as blood allergy test and intradermal allergy testing may be requested from your vet prior introduction.

Beets have high oxalic acid content. If your pets love beets, it doesn’t mean you have to keep feeding it to them. Oxalic acid may build up in their body, particularly in their kidneys. It can cause kidney stones, vomiting, heart problems, tremors, and blood in the urine. It may kick their digestive system into overdrive hence develop diarrhea which causes electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Calcium will also be excreted out of the system which leads to osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become fragile. For dogs with weak stomachs, it is advisable to avoid beets altogether.

To treat oxalic poisoning at home, encourage your pet to increase water intake or any fluid such as milk to facilitate excretion of oxalic acid from the system. Immediately stop feeding them plant-based food, organic plants, and fruits. If your dog insists on eating plants (especially unsupervised ones), give them wheat grass instead.

Oxalic poisoning, though rare, require an emesis for treatment. Vets are likely to do further evaluation for other treatments as well.

If your dog’s urine or poop becomes red, it’s normal. Betanin, a component found in beets, cannot be broken down by your dog’s digestive system. This usually persists after a few days or weeks depending on the amount of feeding. However, always consult a professional if you find any distinctive blood stain in their poop or urine. This may signal kidney problems that need further assessments and treatments.

Fur-parents need to be aware that not all dogs are created equal. Always do your research first before introducing ANY food or product for your dogs. While beets are generally safe for dogs, it’s always best to have dogs consume them in moderation.

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Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

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