Spinach is a superfood that offers immense benefits for your dog's health. In this article, we’ll compare some positives and negatives of feeding spinach to a dog and the best ways of incorporating it into your dog’s diet.
Let’s look into what spinach is, why it’s controversial, and how it benefits your dog’s health.
6 Health Benefits of Spinach for Dogs
There are some people who advocate that vegetables aren’t necessary for a dog’s diet. In reality, vegetables can provide many nutrients and vitamins that are required for proper growth and development.
Adding a few spinach leaves or finding dog food with it as an ingredient can have many amazing health benefits. Let’s explore 6 reasons that you may want to add spinach to your dog’s diet.
1. Packed with Vitamins and Minerals
Spinach contains a rich amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Each of these has an important function in boosting your dog’s overall health.in nerve and muscle function, heart health, and blood pressure. It also contains copper which is associated with the growth of red blood cells and iron which is beneficial for anemia and helps the body use energy.
Spinach also contains many vitamins like vitamin C which can strengthen your dog’s immune system, beta-carotene which may help increase antibody levels in the blood, and vitamin A which can improve eyesight. It also contains vitamin K that can help support a healthy heart and calcium absorption.
Being a plant, spinach also contains phytochemicals that can protect your dog against chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
2. Contains Antioxidants
Spinach is also rich in antioxidants that help fight the free radicals that cause oxidation in cells. These free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can easily weaken and destroy cells in your dog’s body.
Antioxidants can also help lower glucose levels, reduce inflammation, increase insulin sensitivity, boost the immune system, and prevent aging.
3. Good for Digestion
Spinach contains insoluble fiber that aids digestion. It doesn’t dissolve in water and stays intact. This assists the waste in the dog’s stomach to move through the digestive tract preventing constipation. It can also add bulk to your dog's stool which prevents diarrhea.
Another lesser-known benefit of fiber is that it makes your dog feel fuller for longer. Hence it might be a great option for dogs who are trying to lose some weight.
4. Contains Soluble Fibers
Apart from in-soluble fibers, spinach also contains soluble fibers like nitrates, kaempferol, quercetin, chlorophyll, and zeaxanthin. These fiber components turn into a gel-like substance after dissolving in water. This gel can help lower your dog’s bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
There are also many other benefits of soluble fibers as they can promote heart health, prevent chronic diseases, reduce inflammation, cleanse body cells, and boost the immune system.
5. Improves Eye Health
Spinach can help to improve your dog’s eye health. While it contains vitamin A which is an antioxidant that supports eye health, spinach also includes soluble fibers like zeaxanthin, lutein, and chlorophyll. These can help in protecting the eyes against oxidation and sunlight damage, whilst enhancing the dog’s ability to interpret contrasts between light and dark.
6. Supports Healthy Skin
The condition of your dog's skin is a great indicator of their health. Ideally, their skin should be shiny and smooth without any brittle, greasiness, or bumps.
Vitamin A present in spinach can help your dog get healthy skin. This vitamin plays many roles in your dog's health. It can support good vision, the formation of organs, immune function, and bone health. It also allows the skin follicles to produce oils that keep the skin and hair of a dog properly moisturized.
If your dog suffers from skin allergies or has sensitive skin, they might benefit from spinach in their diet.
Risks Involved With Spinach
Veterinarians recommend serving spinach with caution. That’s because, with some amazing benefits, spinach can have some negative effects if not served in moderation.
1. Low Protein Content
Due to it’s low protein content, spinach should be fed in moderate amounts. It's a supplement to a complete and balanced diet and hence doesn't contain all the necessary nutrients for the dog. It shouldn’t be fed as a diet substitution to your dog.
2. High in Oxalic Acid
Pet owners can be reluctant to serve spinach to their dogs because it contains a high level of oxalic acid. It’s a compound that blocks the body from absorbing calcium and can cause kidney damage.
But it happens only when your dog eats an extremely large amount of spinach. If you moderate the amount of spinach you feed to your dog, it shouldn't cause any issues. But if you have any doubts, you can consult your vet before feeding spinach to your dog.
Furthermore, dogs with healthy kidneys will easily process small quantities of oxalates. On the other hand, it isn’t recommended that you feed your dog spinach if they have any preexisting kidney damage.
How Much Spinach for Dogs?
The exact amount of spinach a dog can eat depends on its breed, size, and age. But ideally, you should add only 1-3 tablespoons of chopped and cooked spinach to your dog’s diet and serve it once or twice a week.
Also, make sure your dog drinks lots of water after eating spinach. It’ll help their body flush out the oxalic acid and sodium from its system.
Spinach For Puppies
While spinach has many benefits for a dog, it can be harmful to a puppy. That’s because their kidneys are still developing and hence they struggle to eliminate calcium oxalates properly. As a result, they can get urinary health problems and kidney stones.
That's why instead of feeding raw or home-cooked spinach, you can feed them market-bought food that contains the right amount of spinach for a puppy - labeled as a puppy recipe or all life-stages.
Healthy food = happy puppy
How to Feed Spinach to Dogs?
For humans spinach is a versatile food, we can use it to make salads, pasta, soup, and so much more. But for our dogs, the options are more limited.
Some popular methods of feeding your dog spinach are:
You can simply serve raw spinach to your dog but make sure it's washed properly and chopped into small bite-sized pieces. And only feed the leaves of the spinach as the stem can be a little hard and fibrous for your dog.
This is a convenient method to feed spinach but it isn’t strongly recommended as raw spinach can be hard to digest for some dogs.
Boiling spinach can help remove bacteria and other toxins but it can also destroy nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
Steaming, blanching, or pureeing spinach is the best way to feed your dog. It makes the vegetable easier to digest while retaining all its nutrients. But make sure you serve bland spinach after steaming. Any additional ingredient like onion, garlic, herbs, salt, oil, butter, or spices can be toxic for your dog.
If your dog is a picky eater, it can be hard to feed them spinach. Like little kids they might turn up their nose to green healthy vegetables. In this case, you can search online for homemade dog treat recipes of baked treats or cookies to lure them into eating spinach.
Apart from these, there are many creative ways to feed spinach to your dog. In summers, you can use spinach and yogurt to make smoothies and in winter you can make a hot soup for your pup.
Also note that some market-bought dog foods already contain spinach. If that's the case, then you should refrain from feeding additional spinach to your dog. You should get in touch with your veterinarian before adding more spinach to their food.
Final Thoughts: Can Dogs Eat Spinach?
After analyzing all the pros and cons, we can say that spinach can be a good supplement to a complete and balanced diet. But it requires caution about a few things, like:
- Properly wash the spinach before feeding as it might contain pesticides.
- Consider your dog’s health issues and avoid feeding them spinach if they suffer from kidney diseases.
- Introduce spinach slowly into your dog's diet. It’s a fibrous vegetable that might cause diarrhea and vomiting if digested in large amounts.
- Avoid adding onion, garlic, herbs, butter, oil, or any other spices or seasonings as they might be toxic for your dog. Also, avoid adding salt while preparing spinach as it’s already rich in sodium.
If you follow all these precautions, you can maximize the nutrient-dense properties of spinach for your dog. It’ll become a healthy addition that will supplement your dog's diet.
To avoid any potential health issues, always consult a vet before adding spinach to your dog’s diet.
1. Does spinach give dogs diarrhea?
If your dog eats spinach moderately (1-3 tablespoons once or twice a week) it probably won’t cause diarrhea. Spinach contains in-soluble fiber that can help add bulk to your dog's poop which can help prevent diarrhea.
2. What vegetables are good for dogs?
Apart from spinach, carrots, peas, green beans, celery, broccoli, kale, beets, and cucumbers are good for dogs. These are rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that contribute to the overall well-being of your dog.
3. Is spinach good for diabetic dogs?
If your dog is suffering from any pre-existing diseases including diabetes, you should consult a veterinarian before adding any new food to your dog's diet.
4. Can a dog eat raw spinach?
Raw spinach can be hard to digest for your dog. It’s recommended that you steam or blanch spinach before feeding it to your dog. Also while preparing make sure you don’t add any butter, oil, salt, or spices as they can be toxic for the dogs.
5. Can a puppy eat spinach?
You shouldn’t feed raw or home-cooked spinach to a puppy. Instead, you can feed them market-bought food that contains the right amount of spinach for a puppy - labeled as a puppy recipe or all life-stages.
6. Is spinach a good dog food for sensitive stomachs?
If your dog has a mildly sensitive stomach, you can start adding spinach to their diet in very small amounts. Feed them 1-2 tablespoons of steamed spinach leaves once or twice a week.
But if your dog has trouble managing their sensitive stomach or they suffer from any pre-existing health condition, it’s recommended that you contact your veterinarian before adding spinach to their diet.