I love spinach because I see it as a superfood. I associate the leafy green vegetable with Popeye the Sailor, the comic strip character who acquires superhuman strength every time he gulps down the contents of a can of spinach. The stories are not really substantiated, but I don’t really care. I will always see spinach as a nutrient powerhouse – something that I’d like to share with my dog. So, can dogs eat spinach?
Yes. It has a load of nutrients including potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, and folate. It has Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K is loaded with antioxidants. However only feed your dog in moderation and with some considerations. Spinach is high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage
Read on to find out more about feeding this superfood to your pup.
Health Benefits of Spinach
The superhuman power attributed to spinach is highly improbable but the vegetable does have its own share of health benefits.
It has nitrates, quercetin, kaempferol, chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthrin, and other beneficial soluble fibers. It has insoluble fiber as well.
The nutrients present in spinach help do the following for your dog:
- Regulate metabolism
- Regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular rhythm
- Keep the immune system strong
- Maintain energy
- Promote healthy digestion
- Prevent constipation
- Prevent excessive weight gain
- Promote healthy eyesight
- Keep blood healthy
- Keep the heart strong and healthy
- Maintain strong muscles, bones, and nerves
- Reduce inflammation
- Fight infection
- Prevent chronic diseases
- Fight free radicals that weaken and damage cells
- Prevent cancer
- Fight early signs of aging
Because of the range of healthy benefits it gives, it is not surprising for people to refer to this leafy green vegetable as a superfood.
The Downside to Spinach
While spinach is undoubtedly good for your dog, you have to keep certain considerations in mind.
Dogs are by nature carnivorous; they need protein in their diet. Meat should make up 75% to 85% of their food intake. Spinach has insignificant amounts of protein. Making spinach a principal part of your dog’s diet may result in dietary deficiencies, particularly in essential amino acids.
Another thing you should consider is that spinach has fairly high levels of oxalates. This compound tends to make it difficult for the body to absorb calcium, a mineral responsible for healthy bone growth. It increases the probability of stones forming in both kidneys and bladder and causing damage to these organs.
It is especially important to watch the amount of spinach you give to puppies whose kidneys are still going through the developmental process. Puppies are not yet equipped with the ability to efficiently eliminate calcium oxalates. This increases their predisposition to urinary health issues.
Some of the more common symptoms of oxalate overload include the following:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Breathing difficulties
- Muscle weakness
- Kidney stones
Give your dog a lot of water to drink. Water helps to flush out the oxalates from the body. If your dog shows these symptoms, consult your veterinarian.
On the other hand, your dog will have to eat a significant amount of spinach in order for the vegetable to do serious damage. If you have an adult dog with healthy kidneys, he is not likely to experience any problem processing the oxalates present in spinach.
[Related Article: Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?What You Must Avoid At All Cost!]
Does Spinach Give Dogs Diarrhea?
Spinach is a vegetable that grows close to the ground. It attracts a lot of bugs, a condition that predisposes farmers to use pesticides. It is always best to buy organic spinach to avoid the adverse effects of pesticide on your pooch’s health.
The high fiber in spinach helps in your dog’s digestion. Too much fiber, however, can result in gas in the digestive tract leading to trapped gas, bloating, and stomach pain.
To avoid these problems, think of the vegetable as a treat. Give it to your dog in moderate amounts.
How Do You Make Spinach For Dogs?
When you include spinach to your pooch’s diet, consider doing the following:
Get organically grown spinach if you can. If only non-organic spinach is available, rinse the leaves well.
Rinse the spinach well to remove all traces of dirt and pesticide. Chop the leaves before you cook them so that the long fibers do not cause your dog any problem.
If you are just introducing spinach to your dog, do it slowly and gradually. Observe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pains. Stop feeding your dog the vegetable if you notice any of these symptoms. Consult your veterinarian if you notice unusual reactions to the vegetable.
It is okay to give your dog organic raw spinach. Prevent choking by cutting the leaves into bite sizes.
Can Dogs Eat Fresh Cooked Spinach?
Yes, they can. Blanch, steam, or puree spinach first helps to ease digestion.
You may want to make the spinach softer and easier to chew and swallow by boiling it. Remember, though, that this cooking method is likely to destroy most of the vegetable’s nutrients. Steaming the leafy vegetable works best. It softens the vegetable so that your dog is unlikely to choke on it, and preserves the vegetable’s nutrients.
If your dog has kidney problems, do not serve him spinach.
Get your dog to drink a lot of water. Water helps flush out oxalate crystals. It also helps to regulate the amount of sodium that the body absorbs.
If you have the habit of sharing food from your plate with your beloved dog, see to it that the vegetable you are eating is prepared plain. Bland spinach works best for dogs. Do not use oil, butter, garlic, onions, pepper, or salt with the spinach.
Use steamed spinach as toppings to your dog’s usual fare. He is likely to enjoy the treat.
When the day is hot, prepare a spinach smoothie for your dog. Puree the vegetable with Greek yogurt to make a refreshing and delicious smoothie. Add carrots, bananas, apples, or blueberries for great flavor and added nutrients.
When the weather is cold, make nutritious and comforting spinach soup. Add unseasoned meat, sweet potatoes, green beans, and unsalted chicken broth to jack up nutrition and taste.
[Related Article: Can Dogs Eat Mango?(4 Fun Ways To Feed Them)]
How Much Spinach Can I Give My Dog?
Use the 90/10 rule where your pooch gets 90% of his daily calories from nutritionally balanced dog food and 10% from healthy dog treats (like spinach). Remember that if you increase the percentage of treats that you give your dog, he is likely to gain unwanted weight.
Your dog does not need a lot of spinach to enjoy its health benefits. Two tablespoons of the chopped vegetable added to your dog’s diet once in a while is plenty.
In general, the nutritional benefits that your dog gets from spinach outweigh the risks. As long as you serve spinach according to prescribed amounts and prepare it with love and care, your dog is likely to benefit from the occasional addition of the vegetable to his regular meals.