Like many foods that you like to eat in your own meals, you may have wondered if it’s okay for dogs to eat beets. The simple answer is yes, and many dogs love these these vegetables; but there are some things to be mindful of before you give your dog a bushel of beets for dinner.
Facts about Beets
Beets, or garden beets, are not the same thing as sugar beets. They belong to the same plant species but garden beets are smaller. They are red or yellow (sometimes called golden). And, they are eaten as a vegetable or root vegetable, like parsnips. Sugar beets are larger and they are grown and processed to make sugar. Sugar beets are white. You would not want to feed your dog sugar beets because of the high sugar content. However, garden beets (red or yellow) can be given to dogs as vegetables – in moderation.
The beet pulp that is often used in dog foods comes from sugar beets. Beet pulp in dog food is not harmful to your dog because the sugar has already been squeezed out of the product, leaving the pulp to act as a good source of digestible fiber.
There are a few dog food companies that use dehydrated garden beets in their formulas, including some raw food companies. In these foods the beets usually provide carbs and fiber.
Are Beets Good for Your Dog?
In general, yes. Most veterinarians won’t have a problem with you giving your dog some beets in small amounts. Giving your dog some beets occasionally won’t harm your dog and garden beets are considered to be a healthy vegetable for dogs. Obviously, if your dog has an allergy to beets or similar foods, you should avoid these vegetables. Otherwise, given in moderation, beets should not present a problem for most dogs.
Garden beets are a good source of vitamin, dietary fiber, folate, manganese, and potassium. These vitamins and minerals are good for your dog’s digestive system and immune system. They also help keep his skin and coat healthy.
In addition, garden beets contain high amounts of iron. Iron is good for your dog but please note that if your dog is anemic or iron-deficient, feeding him beets is not recommended as a course of treatment. Your dog needs to see a veterinarian for a diagnosis, treatment plan, and probably some supplements.
Garden beets are not toxic. You can feed your dog small pieces of garden beets. They can be fed raw (after washing) or you can cook them.
Are There Cautions about Beets?
There are some precautions to consider about beets, as there are about many vegetables.
If your dog has diabetes or problems with his blood sugar, you should avoid feeding him beets. Even the garden beets have enough sugar to cause problems.
Since beets provide a lot of dietary fiber, too many beets can lead to digestive upset. Your dog can have an upset stomach, become bloated, cramp, develop diarrhea, or lose his appetite. If you’re giving your dog beets, only give a small amount.
Give beets in fresh/raw form or cook them yourself. Don’t give your dog canned beets or pickled beets. Beets that have been canned or pickled are usually loaded with lots of sodium that is bad for your dog.
When giving your dog beets, make sure that the pieces are small, especially with raw beets. Chunks of raw beets can pose a choking hazard or become an obstruction in your dog’s gastrointestinal system. Chopping beets up in small pieces and cooking them will soften them and reduce any risk of choking or blockage. The last thing you want to do is have to take your dog to the emergency room because he has a hunk of beet stuck in his small intestine.
Like some other healthy foods (spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, etc.), the greens from beets are high in oxalates. Oxalates can prevent good mineral absorption. They can also lead to problems with bladder and kidney stones in some dogs. This is the greens from the beets and not the beets themselves, so just be careful not to let your dog eat the greens, especially if he has any urinary tract issues.
If you are feeding your dog a raw diet and wish to include beets, it’s a good idea to have a qualified nutritionist look at your recipes to make sure all of the intricacies of beets have been examined. They can be a little tricky in light of their fiber, sugar, and other issues.
One other thing to note about feeding your dog beets is that red beets contain a pigment called betalain that can sometimes be excreted in the urine as a harmless pink or red color. So, don’t be alarmed if your dog pees pink or red urine after eating beets. It’s not blood. It’s the betalain from the beets.
If you feed your dog a lot of beets or feed them regularly your dog can develop a reddish tone to his skin and fur. The same is true if your dog eats a lot of carrots. Your dog can begin to have some pigment changes and his skin and coat might take on an orange or reddish tint because of the beta carotene in the vegetable.
Feeding your dog a few slices or pieces of a beet occasionally is safe and it shouldn’t cause any pigment change.
Garden beets are a healthy vegetable for dogs to eat, in moderation. You can feed your dog beets raw or cooked but make sure that you only give your dog small pieces so they won’t be a choking hazard or cause any kind of intestinal blockage. Too many beets can lead to diarrhea or problems for dogs with diabetes. If your dog is eating a lot of beets, a pigment called betalain can make his urine pink or red. In some dogs it may even cause the skin and coat to take on a red tint. This is usually harmless but if it bothers you, try cutting back on the amount of beets you are feeding. Remember that you shouldn’t feed your dog canned or pickled beets because of the high sodium content in these products.