Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Safely?
Read this before giving your dog broccoli 🥦
If you’re enjoying a side of broccoli at dinner, you might be wondering if you can share a little bit with your pup.
While broccoli is typically considered a safe vegetable for your dog, there are still risks associated with it that you should know about.
The Dodo reached out to Sarah Lyman, a clinical pet nutritionist working with Sovereign Laboratories, and Dr. Aziza Glass, a veterinarian at Personal Touch Veterinary Clinic, to find out the answer to the question: Can dogs eat broccoli? And if so, how much can you share with your pup?
Is broccoli healthy for dogs?
Generally, yes, broccoli is safe and even beneficial for your dog to eat, but it’s still a vegetable that you should only feed to your dog in moderation.
Benefits of broccoli
When it comes to how healthy broccoli is for your dog, it has some benefits that you definitely want to take advantage of during snack time.
“Broccoli is filled with vitamins and minerals, low in calories and packed with fiber to help the digestive system,” Dr. Glass told The Dodo. “There’s a reason it’s just as good for us as it is for dogs!”
Some of the many benefits dogs can get from broccoli include:
Vitamin A helps to maintain skin, eyes and coat health.
Vitamin C is a great antioxidant for dogs and helps support your pup’s immune system.
Vitamin K and calcium work to support your dog’s bone health.
Fiber is good for maintaining a healthy balance in the gut, regulating bowels and keeping the colon healthy.
“Not only is [broccoli] packed with gut-friendly soluble fiber, broccoli is part of the cruciferous family and contains a critical compound called sulforaphane that is a potent phytochemical that has been purported to protect against cancer, inflammation and oxidative stress,” Lyman told The Dodo.
Potential risks of broccoli
When giving your dog broccoli (or any human food), it’s important that you always feed it to your dog plain — meaning you aren’t giving your dog broccoli that’s been seasoned or cooked in butter or oil. This is because spices and fats aren't good for your pup and can cause an upset stomach.
Additionally, broccoli should only be given to your dog in moderation and not in place of an entire meal.
“When thinking about broccoli in our dog’s diet, it’s best to limit broccoli consumption due to its concentration of isothiocyanate, a small molecule that, when ingested in large amounts, can irritate your dog’s [gastrointestinal] system, which may lead to bloating, gas, nausea and diarrhea,” Dr. Glass said.
Also, broccoli can also be a choking hazard if the pieces you feed your dog are too big — so make sure you’re only offering her broccoli in bite-sized servings.
Can dogs eat raw broccoli?
Broccoli given in its raw form is fine, but cooked broccoli is more widely recommended since it’s easier for a dog to digest.
“While raw broccoli still contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, it can also be more difficult to digest,” Dr. Glass said. “Raw broccoli can also be tough and dense to chew on.”
Even though your dog may have sharp teeth and a strong enough jaw to handle the job, it can be hard for your pup to efficiently chew raw broccoli, especially if it’s given in large pieces.
“Cutting the broccoli into smaller pieces, whether cooked or raw, will be much easier on your dog and ensure it passes through their digestive tract more smoothly,” Dr. Glass said.
Can dogs eat broccoli stems?
The sometimes forgotten and discarded part of broccoli is actually one of the most nutritious!
“The stems contain slightly more calcium, vitamin C and iron than their flowers,” Lyman said. “Chopping up the stems into small pieces makes excellent training treats for your dog.”
How much broccoli can dogs eat?
Portion control and moderation is key when considering a dog’s diet, so you should always be mindful of just how much you’re feeding your pet. “I always recommend starting slowly when introducing broccoli to your dog’s diet to see if they like the vegetable first and if it agrees with their stomach,” Dr. Glass said.
If your dog likes broccoli, it’s safe to let her have a small amount with her meals.
“You can add a few steamed pieces of broccoli as toppers to their kibble, canned or fresh meals,” Lyman said. “The general rule is 10 percent of their calories can come from fresh foods like fruits and vegetables.”
Of course, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before adding new foods to your pup’s diet. Your vet can give you a good idea on how much and how often your dog can enjoy broccoli.