Many dog owners sometimes feel a bit guilty about offering their dog the same old kibble, day after day.
One way to break the monotony for your dog is to occasionally offer a healthy snack as a special treat. While many “people foods” are not okay for dogs, there are plenty of safe snack options to choose from. So, what about broccoli?
Is Broccoli Safe For Dogs?
Broccoli can indeed be a healthy snack option for your furry friend. Both the florets and stalks are edible and safe for dogs to eat.
To avoid the possibility of choking, it is important to only offer small bites and always supervise your pup when he is eating. A lot of people enjoy dipping their broccoli in a salad dressing or adding a bit of salt or other seasonings. For dogs, this is not necessary nor recommended. Some ingredients in salad dressings could be harmful to your dog and dogs, just like people, simply do not need all that extra salt. Plain, unseasoned broccoli will suffice just fine.
How Healthy is Broccoli for Dogs?
The list of nutrients that are found in broccoli is quite impressive. In fact, broccoli is known as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Some of the more abundant nutrients include:
- Vitamin A
- B-complex vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Broccoli is also packed full of anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. It is true that broccoli contains a bit of almost everything needed for a healthy body. That’s impressive! This is one treat that you can feel great about giving to your dog.
Should Broccoli for Dogs be Raw or Cooked?
Either way is fine! The choice is really up to you and your dog. Some dogs may prefer the crunchiness of raw broccoli, while others may enjoy the tenderness of cooked broccoli. Some dogs will enjoy it any way they can get it! Older dogs and those with any mouth sensitivities will most likely appreciate the softer, cooked version. Your dog will let you know which version he is partial to.
How Should Raw Broccoli be Prepared for Dogs?
If you are feeding raw broccoli, first be sure to thoroughly wash it. The goal here is to remove any nasty germs, pesticides and dirt. It is always a good idea to cut up any “people food” for your dog into tiny, bite size pieces. This is especially true for the broccoli stalks, which can be quite fibrous and require a good bit of chewing.
In his excitement at being given a new treat, your pup may attempt to wolf down large pieces without taking the time to chew properly. This could lead to an upset tummy or even an intestinal blockage. To ensure your dog’s safety, keep those pieces small. You can then feed the treat by hand or mix it into his kibble at mealtime.
How Should Broccoli be Cooked for Dogs?
There are several ways to cook broccoli for both you and your dog.
- Steaming is a quick and easy option that does not involve any added fats. Simply add an inch or two of water to a pot and bring to a boil. Place a steamer basket inside the pot and add broccoli. Cover and cook for three to four minutes.
- Boiling is another easy option. Just add the broccoli to a pot of boiling water and cook for three to four minutes.
- Sauteing broccoli involves adding a bit of healthy oil, like coconut oil to a pan. Heat and add broccoli. Allow to cook for two or three minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Microwaving broccoli, surprisingly, can be a healthy cooking method. To a microwave safe bowl, add about an inch of water, then the broccoli. Cover loosely and cook for two or three minutes.
Regardless of how you cook your broccoli, keep in mind that the shorter the cook time is, the more nutrients will be retained. High heat can quickly destroy some of those incredible nutrients. The longer broccoli sits in water, the more water-soluble vitamins will be dissolved. So, keep the cook times as short as possible in order to preserve all the goodness that broccoli has to offer.
How Much Broccoli Can Dogs Have?
The general rule is that any broccoli given to a dog should be no more than 5-10% of his daily food intake. The reason for this is that although broccoli is packed with goodness, it also contains isothiocyanates, which can cause gastric irritation in some dogs. As with anything else, moderation is key.
What About Other Cruciferous Vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables, like broccoli, that prefer to grow in cooler weather. Broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, radishes, and turnips are all cruciferous vegetables, to name a few. It is perfectly fine for dogs to eat cruciferous vegetables, as long as only a small portion is given. Remember the 5 – 10% rule. A little goes a long way.
A Quick Recap
Broccoli can be a great way to add some variety and nutrients to your dogs diet. It is safe, provided that just a little bit is offered. It can be fed either raw or lightly cooked. Just be sure to carefully cut it up into manageable pieces before serving.
When cooking broccoli, keep in mind that the longer it cooks, the more nutrients are destroyed. Do not let dogs eat as much as they want to, as this could cause harm. The amount of broccoli offered should not be more than 5 – 10% of the dog’s total daily intake. Close relatives of broccoli, like cabbage and cauliflower, are safe for dogs too.
Always be sure that any new food you offer your dog is actually safe for him to eat.