A member of the nightshade family, eggplant is related to tomatoes, chili peppers, and potatoes. Eggplant can grow to be quite large but they are technically berries. They are typically purple, though some are white and other colors, depending on the variety. Find out if it’s safe to give your dog eggplant below.
Most of the eggplant found in supermarkets in North America are oval and broad with a dark purple skin. They can be up to 10 inches long and 3.5 inches wide. In other parts of the world, such as Asia where a large amount of eggplant is grown, you can find a wider variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Eggplant is also known as “aubergine” and as “brinjal” in other parts of the world.
Eggplant is a fruit (berry) that is used as a vegetable in cooking. It does not have especially high amounts of any vitamins or minerals. It is favored in many cuisines because it has a spongy texture and can soak up flavors from ingredients such as fat and sauces while cooking.
One cup of cubed eggplant contains 20 calories. It has 0.20 grams of protein, 0.1 grams of fat with 0 saturated fat, and 4.8 grams of carbohydrates. It has 2.9 grams of sugar and 2.5 grams of dietary fiber. It has 2 mg of sodium and 188 mg of potassium. It also has 5 percent vitamin B6, 3 percent vitamin C, 2 percent magnesium, and 1 percent iron. It also has small amounts of folate and vitamin K.
In addition, eggplant contains a number of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to help the body fight off free radicals that can be harmful. They may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Animal studies have suggested that eggplant may help protect the heart.
The purple color in eggplant is due to anthocyanin nasunin. This pigment has antioxidant properties which seem to be especially beneficial.
Eggplant is high in fiber and may help control blood sugar levels. The polyphenols or natural plant compounds in eggplant reduce your body’s absorption of sugar and increase the insulin that is secreted. This helps lower your blood sugar level. The high fiber and low calories of eggplant may also help you feel full and replace high calorie foods in your diet.
Several substances in eggplant may also help fight cancer. Solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs) are found in some nightshade plants, including eggplant. They may kill cancer cells – especially skin cancer. More research is needed.
There are some drawbacks to eating eggplant. When it’s raw, it can have a bitter taste. It only becomes tender when it’s cooked. Then it develops a richer, more complex flavor. You can also rinse, drain, and salt the eggplant before you cook it to get rid of the bitter taste. All of the fruit is edible, including the skin and seeds, with the exception of the calyx or the green part at the top of the eggplant.
There are countless ways to prepare eggplant. It can be fried, boiled, roasted, steamed, stewed, stuffed, and fixed other ways. You can also make it into a sauce by cooking and mashing the eggplant. People often add oil or fat to eggplant since it contains virtually none.
Because eggplant is a member of the nightshade family which has had a bad reputation since Medieval times, it was at one time thought to be poisonous. Eaten in moderate amounts, eggplant is not harmful. However, the flowers and leaves of the plant can be toxic if eaten in large amounts. This is due to the presence of solanines.
Solanine is a kind of glycoalkaloid found in some members of the nightshade family. It’s a natural pesticide for these plants. It helps them protect themselves from pests in their natural environment. When people eat parts of a plant that contains solanines, it can make them temporarily sick with nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, nightmares, headache, itching, eczema, and inflammation or pain in the joints. Severe cases can bring on hallucinations, paralysis, fever, dilated pupils, hypothermia, and death – though fatalities from solanine poisoning are rare.
Obviously, most people don’t have these reactions when they eat potatoes, tomatoes, or eggplant. As long as you don’t consume parts of nightshade vegetables that contain solanine or eat them in large amounts, you should not have these problems.
Other than solanine, it is also possible to be allergic to eggplant. Cases have been reported from India where eggplant is consumed in large amounts. Eggplant is high in histamines. When eggplant is thoroughly cooked it seems to reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions.
Can you give your dog eggplant to eat?
Yes, your dog should be able to eat small amounts of eggplant occasionally as long as you are careful. We suggest the following:
- Do not give your dog raw eggplant. It is bitter and your dog probably won’t like it.
- Cook eggplant before giving any to your dog.
- Do not add any spices to the eggplant you give your dog.
- Only give your dog the cooked eggplant. Cut off the green top of the eggplant. Make sure no leaves or eggplant flowers are included in the food.
Try roasting the eggplant. Or, you can stew it with some plain chicken. You may even want to add a little cooked rice to the food. Your dog should enjoy it.
Warning: Dogs that are allergic to one vegetable in the nightshade family, such as potatoes or tomatoes, are often allergic to others. If your dog is allergic to any of these vegetables, it’s best to avoid eggplant.
Eggplant allergy symptoms include
- Difficulty breathing
If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately.
If your dog has kidney problems such as kidney stones, you should not give him eggplant. Eggplant contains oxalates. They contain fewer than many other fruits and vegetables but they are still present. They can contribute to kidney stone formation if your dog is prone to absorbing oxalates.
How much eggplant can your dog eat?
Eggplant is low in calories but it is high in dietary fiber. That means that it won’t make him gain weight but too much of it could lead to some dietary distress (diarrhea). For this reason, it’s best to only give your dog a small amount of eggplant, especially in the beginning.
A small dog could eat one-quarter cup of cooked eggplant the first time he tries the food. You can increase it to one-half cup the next time, if things so well.
Medium and large dogs can eat one-half cup the first time. If they don’t show any signs of stomach problems, they can eat one cup the next time.
How often can you give your dog eggplant?
If your dog enjoys plain, cooked eggplant, you could give him some once per week as long as he doesn’t show any signs of gastrointestinal problems. This is a high fiber food so watch your dog for a day or two after he tries the eggplant for the first time to make sure it agrees with him.
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and that sometimes frightens people. However, as long as you don’t allow your dog to eat any leaves or flowers from the plant, eggplant is unlikely to be harmful to your dog in small amounts. This fruit is not especially high in vitamins or minerals but it does have some health benefits in the form of antioxidants, dietary fiber, and polyphenols.