Many people love salads so it’s probably only natural to wonder if it’s okay to feed your dog lettuce. You might have a dog that begs for greens when you’re making yourself a salad. But, is it safe to give him lettuce? And, are all varieties okay? We can answer those questions for you.
Dogs Love Greens!
It turns out that many dogs love lettuce! Whether it’s iceberg, romaine, or arugula, lots of dogs enjoy munching on lettuce. Some dogs even like mustard greens. These lettuces can be up to 90 percent water so most of them don’t contain anything that could be harmful to your dog. If your dog really likes lettuce, it can be a good low-calorie training treat for a dog that’s overweight. Dogs seem to love the crunch of lettuce and other greens.
Safety and Risks
While most greens are safe for your dog there are a few risks to be aware of before you let your dog graze too much. For one thing, if you let your dog eat too much of the green stuff, it can result in diarrhea.
Spinach, while it contains lots of Vitamin A, B, C, and K, also contains lots of oxalic acid. If your dog consumes too much oxalic acid, it can block the body’s ability to absorb calcium and result in kidney damage. In some cases it can also lead to kidney stones. Kale has several natural compounds that are potentially harmful such as calcium oxalate. Too much calcium oxalate can lead to kidney and bladder stones. It also contains isothiocyanates that can cause gastric irritation.
Lettuce and other greens are also very fibrous so they can be hard to digest in large chunks. It’s best to chop it up into smaller pieces than giving it to your dog as a head of lettuce or in big sections. That’s especially true for small dogs and dogs that are prone to gulping down their food.
Before giving your dog any greens you should always make sure they have been washed thoroughly. You should also know the source of your lettuce – where they originate. Unfortunately, lettuce has had several large recalls due to E. coli and listeria in recent years so you need to be cautious about your purchases to make sure no one in your home gets sick, including your dog.
Is Lettuce Nutritious for Dogs?
Lettuce is mostly water so its nutritional content is rather low. That’s especially true of the iceberg variety. However, it does contain beta-carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A. It’s also an excellent source of fiber. Other types of lettuce have different nutritional values.
In general, it’s okay to give your dog lettuce in moderation. We don’t recommend a vegetarian diet for dogs for many reasons, but a little lettuce occasionally as a treat or with meals is fine. This doesn’t mean that you should give your dog your own salad, however. Remember that your loaded salad is likely to contain many other ingredients, including the salad dressing, that might be harmful to your dog.