People seem to either love spinach or hate it. But what about dogs? Do they like spinach? And is it okay for your dog to eat spinach? The truth is that spinach is rather controversial. The answer to whether you can give it to your dog can depend on who you ask.
Facts about spinach
Here are the facts about spinach – which are not in dispute. Spinach contains lots of vitamin A, vitamin B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K which are all good for your dog. It also has plenty of iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, beta carotene, zinc, antioxidants, and, since it’s a leafy green, it provides a good source of dietary fiber. It also contains a lot of protein, especially for a leafy green. Popeye was absolutely right about the nutritional virtues of spinach.
Is spinach good for your dog?
Your dog doesn’t really need to have vegetables added to his diet if he is eating a good quality, balanced dog food. However, many dogs do enjoy eating small amounts of vegetables as treats or to add a little variety to their meals. You can add small amounts of spinach to your dog’s diet – with a few caveats. There are some concerns about spinach (see below), so you should only give your dog a small amount of this green at any one time. It’s also best not to give your dog spinach too often. We also recommend that you check with your veterinarian before adding any spinach to your dog’s diet, especially if he has any kidney or urinary tract issues.
If your vet says your dog can eat some spinach, the way you prepare it is important. Raw spinach can be difficult for dogs to digest (though most of them like it raw). Steaming spinach for a couple of minutes is usually the best way to cook it. You can also boil it but that will cause the spinach to lose most of its nutrients. The longer you cook any vegetable, the more nutrients are leached into the water. We do recommend that you chop spinach before giving it to your dog, no matter how it is prepared. A dog’s digestive tract doesn’t break down greens and vegetables very thoroughly so chopping helps.
Remember that you shouldn’t add spices, salt, herbs, oil, garlic, or onion to spinach or other vegetables that you prepare for your dog. Some of these ingredients can be harmful or have unintended side effects.
Are there concerns about spinach?
The major concern about spinach is that it is very high in a substance called oxalic acid. Oxalates occur in a number of foods that we usually consider very healthy such as:
- Beet greens
- Swiss chard
- Cocoa powder
- Sweet potatoes
- Turnip greens
- Star fruit
Oxalates or oxalic acid are known to block the body’s ability to absorb calcium. They can also bind with magnesium and calcium in the blood so the body is unable to use these minerals. In some cases oxalic acid leads to low levels of blood calcium and metabolic imbalance. Crystals can form in the kidneys and urinary tract resulting in kidney damage and kidney failure.
Your dog might have to eat lots and lots of spinach over a long period of time to experience these problems but oxalates are something that you should be mindful of if you are considering giving your dog spinach.
If your dog has any kind of kidney or urinary tract problems, you should avoid giving him spinach. If he has healthy kidneys, check with your veterinarian before you give him spinach.
Many dogs like spinach but there are pros and cons about letting your dog eat this green. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals but it’s best to check with your veterinarian before giving it to your dog.