Sometimes, these thoughts can cross our mind. While it’s common knowledge that chocolate is bad for dogs and that carrots make for a great doggy birthday cake, some ingredients are little more questionable. Broccoli is absolutely one of these items. After all, something that is so good for us humans couldn’t possibly be bad for dogs, right?
Whether you’ve got a little left over, your dog is giving you their most convincing puppy eyes or your broccoli has been stolen and you want you to be sure they’ll be safe, this article will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not dogs can eat broccoli.
Dog Nutrition Basics
All animals need a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. When these are eaten in moderation, you will come up with a healthy animal that can grow, run, rebuild its own cells, heal well and live happily. When you get too much of one over another, you can get problems with the liver, kidneys, weight gain and so on and so forth.
However, we as humans are, generally speaking, are a lot less active than dogs, who require a lot more protein than we do, with less carbs and a healthy dose of fat. In fact, too many carbs in dogs can cause diarrhea and excessive flatulence, which is a sure sign that you may be feeding a little too much of the good stuff.
Instead, dogs will need at least three times more than the average human requirement for protein. Dogs who are considered to be “working” or those who enjoy longer walks with us will need even more than this.
Broccoli itself is made up of mostly protein and carbs and is packed with a whole range of different vitamins and minerals. It’s one of the reasons why doctors and dietitians will often push these greens onto our plate with a heavy hand. But is it any good for your dog? Keep reading to find out.
Related Post: Best High Protein Dog Food
What is Broccoli Made up Of
The makeup of your broccoli’s nutritional value is important when you consider whether or not your dog is suited to have broccoli or not. For example, if your vet has told you that your dog needs a low carb diet or if they are allergic to any of the vitamins or minerals below, you should never give your dog broccoli. We discuss the risks of this in further detail, below.
- Protein: 2.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 6 grams
- Fats and Fatty Acids: 0.3 grams
- Water: 81.3 grams
- Vitamin A: 567 IU
- Vitamin C: 81.2mg
- Vitamin E: 0.7mg
- Vitamin K: 92.5mcg
- Thiamin: 0.1mg
- Riboflavin: 0.7mg
- Niacin: 0.6mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.2mg
- Folate: 57.3mcg
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.5mg
- Choline: 17mg
- Betaine: 0.1mg
- Calcium: 42.8mg
- Iron: 0.7mg
- Magnesium: 19.1mg
- Phosphorus: 60.1mg
- Potassium: 288mg
- Sodium: 30mg
- Zinc: 0.4mg
- Manganese: 0.2mg
- Selenium: 2.3mcg
Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Broccoli
The short answer to this question is; yes, dogs can eat broccoli. The main thing that makes this answer a “yes”, however, is that the broccoli MUST be cooked simply, with no added salt, pepper of flavorings to start. There are also a few added caveats if you do decide to give your dog broccoli:
- Never give your dog more too much broccoli. Like any human food, items should be given to your sparingly, or with the advice of your vet.
- Be aware of your dog’s overall diet and, if they have had too much of anything (for example, too much protein from a high protein dog food), then do not give your dog any broccoli.
- Always watch your dogs when they’re eating new food or dog treats, but this especially true when eating human food.
- Keep an eye out for any signs of allergies after they first try broccoli
- Watch for any signs of choking when your dogs first try their broccoli
The reasons for these extra precautions are given below, under “Risks With Dogs Eating Broccoli”.
Health Benefits of Dogs Eating Broccoli
The good news is that it isn’t all downsides with dogs eating broccoli. In fact there are many reasons why your dog should be eating the right vegetables, in the right amounts – including broccoli.
- Dogs can actually benefit from a good dose of variety – and fruit and vegetables make up a good part of this. In fact, you might see broccoli in some types of specialist dog food.
- Broccoli is high in fiber, which will help keep your dog’s digestive tract moving along at a healthy rate. This is ideal if you think your dog might be a little constipated.
- Broccoli has plenty of vitamin C which helps to improve the production of neurotransmitters, as well as helping to build a healthy immune system.
- Broccoli is low in fat, which makes it the perfect addition to dog food, for overweight dogs, as a filler that is packed full of vitamins and minerals.
- Adding in broccoli to your dog’s food is also a great way of topping-up any of the vitamins and minerals you see in their nutritional makeup (above).
Other than the health benefits, it’s also quite fun to give your dog a new food from time to time to see how they respond. It can be both amusing to watch them figure out the new textures and good for their overall health to have some variety in their food – as long as it isn’t too much!
Risks with Dogs Eating Broccoli
As with all new food for dogs, there are some risks associated with giving your dog new foods to try – especially when it comes to human food. Luckily, problems with vegetables and fruits are rare, but keep an eye out for the following to minimize these risks:
- Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates, which can be harmful to dogs by causing gastrointestinal irritation. This can range from mild to severe and potentially life threatening. For this reason, it’s best for any broccoli given to your dog to make up no more than 10% of their overall food, per day. Any more than 25% would be considered toxic for these reasons.
- Broccoli can be a choking hazard. Like any new food, your dog can struggle with the new textures and tastes, which may cause them to struggle with their swallowing. This can cause the broccoli to become caught in the esophagus, which is especially likely in smaller dogs. In order to avoid this, be sure to chop your broccoli up into small, bite-sized chunks.
- Always start with a small piece of broccoli first, as you should always do with new foods. This way, you can check and wait to see if there are any allergic or adverse reactions to the food, before feeding them larger amounts.
How to Cook Broccoli For Your Dog
While dogs can have broccoli raw, the risk of them choking or struggling with their new food is increased in these cases. Instead, you can try cooking your broccoli first, to make the entire experience more appetizing. If you’re interested in feeding your dog broccoli, and you have no reason not to try (such as advice from your vet), then follow these instructions to make a delicious little snack for your dog.
- Always wash your broccoli. For this, you can use either fresh or frozen, as either format will work well for your pooch.
- Only use the heads of the broccoli – you’ll need to throw away the stems as these are the parts that are most likely to be a choking hazard to your dog.
- You can steam the broccoli by placing them above boiling water and cooking until they are soft (or a little al dente, if you think your dog will prefer them that way).
- You can also place them into boiling water and let them boil for about 5-7 minutes until they are soft.
- Never add any salt, pepper or other seasonings, as these can be harmful to your dog.
- Ensure that all your dog’s broccoli is properly cooled before feeding to your pup, as hot food can cause burns on their tongue and throat – and they will likely soon vomit as their stomach will struggle to keep the hot food down.
If your dog likes their broccoli, then why not treat them to a full chicken dinner with rice and broccoli? This is a great, neutral meal for your dog that they will find exceptionally tasty as well as being a healthy meal for them. To do this, just make sure that the rice and chicken have been cooked properly before adding your broccoli and – as always – ensure that the food has thoroughly cooled before feeding to your dog.