Broccoli is not always the most popular food in the vegetable section but if you ask many dogs, they would tell you that it’s a favorite. As long as you don’t add a lot of seasonings or oils, there’s no reason why you can’t give your dog small amounts of broccoli. It’s safe for dogs to eat it either cooked or raw. Giving your dog larger amounts is not a good idea.
Is Broccoli Good for Your Dog?
Your dog doesn’t need a lot of fruits and vegetables to be healthy but they do seem to enjoy them as treats. Fruits and vegetables can also contain vitamins and other nutrients that are beneficial to your dog’s health.
Broccoli, for example, is high in vitamin C. In fact, broccoli (along with several other vegetables) has more vitamin C than oranges. It provides a natural source of vitamin K, and it contains folate (folic acid), and potassium. Broccoli is also high in fiber.
Can Broccoli Be Bad for Your Dog?
If your dog eats too much broccoli, yes, it could be harmful. Broccoli florets contain a substance called isothiocyanates. Isothiobyanates are a naturally-occurring sulfur-based plant compound that is often found in dark green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and others. Eating vegetables that contain isothiocyanates is believed to be very good for humans and may protect against some forms of cancer.
However, isothiocyanates appear to cause gastrointestinal irritation in dogs. This upset can be mild to potentially severe.
According to research, it’s considered safe for your dog to eat broccoli if it makes up less than 10 percent of his daily food intake. However, if the broccoli is more than 25 percent of his daily food intake, it can be toxic. So, you need to limit how much broccoli you allow your dog to eat.
If your dog has hypothyroidism, you should also note that raw cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli can suppress thyroid function if your dog eats them often or in larger amounts. Even if your dog is taking thyroxine (synthetic thyroid medication), if he eats a lot of these vegetables, it can affect his thyroid function. Small amounts of broccoli given occasionally should be okay, but use discretion.
Small Pieces, Please
One more word of caution, especially if you are giving your dog raw broccoli. Be sure to cut the broccoli up into small pieces. Broccoli stalks can be tough and hard to chew. It’s possible for a large piece of broccoli to become a choking hazard so make sure you only give your dog small pieces that are safer.
How to Give Your Dog Broccoli
Since dogs do seem to like broccoli so much, you can give it to them several different ways. Dogs usually love raw broccoli but they don’t digest most raw vegetables very well. You can give your dog some small, cut up pieces of raw broccoli as snacks or treats and your dog will definitely enjoy their “crunch.” But, he won’t get many nutrients from eating broccoli this way.
If you want your dog to get more of the nutrients from broccoli you will need to chop it into very small pieces, purée it in a food processor or blender, or cook it in your oven (barbecue, or stovetop) for just a few minutes until it begins to soften. Otherwise the plant cell structures in the broccoli are too tough for your dog’s G.I. system to completely break down. Your dog will pass most of the broccoli in a semi-digested form. So, purée or lightly cook the broccoli for your dog to get more nutrients. But don’t cook the broccoli too long or you’ll cook all of the nutrients away!
Many dogs love broccoli and they are happy to get small pieces as a treat, snack, or training reward. Use care and don’t let your dog have too much broccoli at one time.