These four vegetables are some of the healthiest and most popular vegetables for us humans to eat. Rich in various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients they are a healthy choice as part of a nutritious diet. Is it the same for dogs? Do they get the same benefits from them? Let's take a closer look!
Broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower – these four green, leafy vegetables are called “cruciferous vegetables”.
They are all considered to be very healthy for us humans so it’s normal that we wonder if we should share some with our dogs. Considering the fact that dog’s nutritional requirements are slightly different from ours and they digest their food differently, maybe some of the health benefits may not be the same.
In this text we’re exploring if these vegetables are safe for dogs to eat and if there are nutritional benefits for dogs, but also if there are any possible downsides for dogs consuming them.
Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower?
The first of the four vegetables we are taking a look at in this text is cauliflower. It is among the most healthy veggies that humans often eat, but…
Is cauliflower good for dogs?
The answer is – yes! However, Cauliflower has isothiocyanates which if consumed in excess can cause gastrointestinal problems. Cauliflower contains less of this ingredient than broccoli. Therefore, too much cauliflower, can lead to mild digestive upset. Feeding too much cauliflower can also lead to the production of excess gases.(1) So, don’t overdo it, small portions a few times a week are perfectly fine!
When fed in small amounts, cauliflower is safe to share with dogs.
What Benefits Can Come From Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is, as many vegetables, rich in different vitamins, including antioxidants. (2) They can help keep your dog’s immune system healthy and can sometimes even reduce inflammation. They may also help with arthritis which many older dogs suffer from.
Cauliflower contains phytonutrients, which are said to be helpful in preventing cancer and some other diseases.(3) However, don’t expect it to cure it and do miracles, it can only help to a certain point! Most importantly, this vegetable is very low in calories and therefore makes a great snack for your pet.
Cauliflower will promote your dog’s immune system and help in preventing serious diseases like cancer. It can also be helpful for dogs with arthritis.
How Do I Serve Cauliflower?
Cauliflower can be served plain. Just cut it into small pieces in order to prevent choking. If you’re choosing between cooking and steaming, the latter is a better alternative, as you want to retain as much nutrients as possible. (4)
One question you still may have is:
What do I do with the leaves and the stem?
It’s recommended to remove the stems, as there are no benefits from it. The leaves, on the other hand, are fine. They are surprisingly very tasty and don’t present any concern.
The best way to serve Cauliflower is: steamed or cooked and cut into small pieces. Don’t add salt or other spices to it.
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?
Let’s continue with the famous broccoli, considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables for us humans! What’s the situation in the dog world?
As we all know, broccoli is one of the healthiest things to eat for us humans as it contains many important vitamins and nutrients. Therefore, you might think that giving some to your dog could be beneficial as well. So….Is it as healthy for dogs as it is for humans?
Do dogs need vegetables as much as we do?
The truth is that dogs don’t need green, leafy vegetables as much as us humans. However, this doesn’t mean that giving some broccoli, or some other safe vegetable, to your dog is necessarily bad. Your dog can gain extra nutritional value in his diet from being fed some safe vegetables such as broccoli.
Can I give my dog broccoli?
The answer is yes! Giving your dog broccoli is completely safe, and can even be healthy, if given in moderation. It can be served plain, cooked or raw.
Is Broccoli Poisonous For Dogs?
Broccoli isn’t poisonous for your dog. It is safe to feed it if given in moderation. If your dog eats too much broccoli, then he might suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms. Florets of broccoli contain isothiocyanates, which can be irritant to the stomach if eaten in large quantities despite having some beneficial properties for mammals. (5) Poisoning is possible only if your dog has a very large amount of broccoli, due to Isothiocyanate. Read more about which foods you should definitely avoid in your dogs diet here.
However, apart from this possible threat, broccoli seems to be very appealing because of its many benefits. Let’s take a look at these benefits!
You can safely feed your dog with broccoli. Remember that if not given in moderation, broccoli can irritate your dog’s stomach.
Benefits That May Come From Broccoli
What are some good effects from broccoli?
Broccoli provides a dog with excellent sources of Vitamin C and K, with moderate amounts of B Vitamins and the mineral manganese. It is also very low in fat and calories and can therefore be a good addition to your dog’s regular food. This is just the start of it!
Broccoli has a high level of cancer fighting antioxidants, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory agents. (6, 7) It is thought that it can also help protect against dangerous bacteria and viruses, and all that while boosting the immune system.
Broccoli may even be able to help repair DNA in the cells and have some anti-aging properties too. Last but not least, it can help to clean their teeth!
These are the reasons why more and more dog food companies are starting to incorporate broccoli into their products. Some examples of these products are broccoli-flavored wet food with brown rice and beef and treats made of chicken liver, sweet potato and broccoli.
Broccoli is a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It can promote your dog’s immune system, and help protect against dangerous bacteria and viruses. Broccoli is also good for teeth.
Are There Some Downsides To Broccoli?
There is one downside to broccoli, in that it can be a gastric irritant for dogs if eaten in large amounts. Namely, the florets of broccoli contains an ingredient called Isothiocyanate which can be toxic. This is why you should limit the consumption of broccoli. Since the head is the part of broccoli containing the possibly harmful ingredients, the stems are the safest part for your dog to eat. If your dog consumes too much broccoli, then it may cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
How Should I Serve Broccoli To My Dog?
Among four most common ways to prepare broccoli – high pressure boiling, low pressure boiling, microwaving and steaming – steaming is the best option when it comes to Broccoli too. It was found that steaming broccoli florets had the lowest loss rate of Vitamin C and glucosinolates when compared to other cooking processes. (8)
How do I know how much broccoli I should give my dog?
The key thing that decides how much broccoli you should give your dog is the size of your pet. The smaller your dog is, the more careful and realistic you should be when deciding on the amount. Broccoli shouldn’t make up more than 5 to 10% of your dog’s overall food intake.
The most important thing to remember when giving broccoli to your pet is that it should be given in small and moderate portions. As you know, dogs tend to overindulge in something, so you have to be the one who decides how much it should eat. As nutritionally beneficial as broccoli can be in boosting your dog’s health, it shouldn’t be over eaten!
In order to avoid downsides of broccoli, feed it in small amounts. Don’t give more than 5 to 10% of your dog’s daily food intake.
Conclusion On Broccoli
As we can see, broccoli is very healthy for dogs as well! Vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy agents are only some of the beneficial ingredients hiding in broccoli. Served either cooked, steamed or raw, just make sure to give it to your dog in small portions in order to avoid gastrointestinal problems! It should make up no more than 5-10% of your dog’s daily diet! It can be added to your dog’s diet a few times a week.
Cauliflower VS Broccoli
As we now know, both of these vegetables can be a very healthy addition to your dog’s diet. You can serve both of them to mix it up a bit, but if you had to choose one– which would it be?
Tough call, but it seems that broccoli is a bit healthier than its cousin! The biggest difference is that broccoli has higher levels of vitamins A, C, K and B.
One category in which cauliflower wins would be the calorie level, which is a bit lower than in broccoli. This is great because you don’t want to overwhelm your dog with too much calories on the side of their regular dog food.
Can Dogs Eat Cabbage?
Yes! Cabbage is not only safe to eat, but very healthy as well. Your dog can eat all types of cabbage without any problems.
Why Is Cabbage So Healthy?
Cabbage is a great source of Vitamins C and K. These are important for a good functioning immune system and to help with the blood clotting process. Cabbage is rich in antioxidants; which canines can benefit from as well as humans. Antioxidants work against free radicals that want to harm the body. That’s why cabbage is thought to help prevent certain cancers and other degenerative diseases. (9)
It can help to maintain the gastrointestinal system in order, due to it’s vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber content. Cabbage may also help to improve your dog’s skin, if it is dry or irritated.
Cabbage is not only safe for dogs, but it’s healthy too. It is rich in vitamin C and K, minerals and antioxidants. It will support your dog’s immune system, help in preventing certain cancers and work to improve your dog’s skin health.
Check out this funny video of dogs eating cabbage in all its different forms!
How Should I Serve Cabbage To My Dog?
As we all know, cabbage is a real gas inducer. Therefore, when introducing cabbage to your dog’s diet for the first time you should do it gradually and in small amounts. Giving your dog too much cabbage at one time, may cause him to have an upset stomach.
Cabbage is a great addition to your dog’s meal. You can either chop it up or sprinkle some on top of its food. Everything in moderation – the golden rule when it comes to feeding vegetables to your dog.
Raw vs. cooked cabbage
As humans, we are aware of the fact that eating raw vegetables are usually healthier than cooked ones. This is because most vegetables lose some of their nutritional value when cooked, meaning we don’t get to absorb all the possible vitamins and minerals. However, when it comes to dogs, and cabbage in particular, lightly cooked or steamed is usually a better option. This is because of the compound Thiocyanate. If you cook the cabbage a bit before giving it to your dog, you can help prevent this from happening. But don’t cook the cabbage too much, or it will lose its nutritional value!
Scroll down to learn more about Thiocyanate!
When serving cabbage to your dog, steaming or cooking it is actually better than feeding it raw.
Are There Any Downsides To Cabbage?
Why should I limit the intake of cabbage if it’s so healthy?
A potential bad smell from excess gas production isn’t the only reason to control your dog’s intake of cabbage. Another reason is the natural compound Thiocyanate mentioned above. Raw cabbage contains small amounts of this compound which over a long period of time can suppress the thyroid gland and lead to Hypothyroidism. (10)
However, hypothyroidism is highly unlikely to develop.
Downsides to cabbage include excessive gas production and potential developing of hypothyroidism (only if fed over a long period of time).
Conclusion On Cabbage
Yes, your dog can eat cabbage as it is a very healthy vegetable with many benefits. Cabbage can often be found within dog food because of its many perks. Just make sure to moderate the intake, lightly cook it and avoid seasoning or spices. It can be added to your dog’s diet a few times a week. If you follow these instructions, the only downside may be bad smell if your dog produces some excess gases!
Can Dogs Eat Kale?
Kale is another healthy, green, leafy vegetable that we humans find very nutritionally beneficial. However, humans can utilize the nutritional aspects of Kale better than a dog can. This is because human’s intestines are better adapted to digest vegetables and absorb their nutrients when compared to the intestines of dogs.
So is kale safe to give to my dog?
Like with broccoli, in small portions and combined with their regular food, kale is safe for your dog. But the real question is whether dogs need it or not?
Your dog’s body will probably not completely break it down, so the same nutritional benefits will probably not be obtained. This doesn’t mean that your dog is missing out on something; pets usually don’t require the same kind of nutrients as we do. However, kale isn’t without benefits and can actually be good in small portions!
Kale is safe for dogs when shared in small portions and occasionally.
Benefits That Can Come From Kale
Kale is a great source of Vitamins A, B, C and K, which help to boost the immune system, help blood clotting and are important for vision and eye health. It is also rich in minerals such as calcium, manganese and iron. These are important for things such as bone health and oxygen transport within the body.
Kale may also help your body fight cancer, for example colon cancer. Like all this wasn’t enough, kale is a good source of soluble fiber and is very low on calories and fat. Therefore, it is suitable as a treat or as an addition to the regular dog food, without having to worry about your dog’s weight.
Is Kale Toxic To Dogs?
Kale isn’t toxic and shouldn’t cause any negative effects, unless it doesn’t agree with your dog’s digestive system. However, if your dog eats a lot of kale, it may cause some digestive troubles, such as diarrhea or excess gases. It is best to introduce it into your dog’s diet slowly and in small amounts.
Kale will boost your dog’s immune system, improve it’s eye health and enhance body’s cancer-fighting abilities.
Conclusion On Kale
To sum it up, kale isn’t toxic and can be healthy in regulated amounts. Full of vitamins, fibers and minerals it is a perfectly safe vegetable for your dog.
Conclusion On Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage and Kale
As we can see, all four of these green vegetables are perfectly safe for your dog to eat! Not only are they safe, but they are packed with vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals, which make them a great addition to their regular dog food. Even though dogs don’t need as many vegetables in their diet, the same way we do, these “cruciferous vegetables”, have many perks and advantages.
However, it is important to remember not to feed these vegetables in excess, they should make up no more than 10% of the diet. It is best to feed them a few times a week or as a treat, in order to enjoy the nutritional benefits, they offer! Hope you found this article helpful. If so, feel free to spread the word!
Hope you found this article helpful. If so, feel free to spread the word!
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.
Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool, earning a Bachelor in Veterinary Science with distinction. She worked in small animal and equine practice for a few years, before choosing to focus solely on companion animals. She has developed a special interest in internal medicine and ophthalmology.