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Can Dogs Eat Brussels Sprouts? A Vet’s Analysis of Risks and Benefits

Are you trying to figure out if Brussels Sprouts are safe to feed your dog? If so, how should you prepare them? Our Veterinarian takes a deep dive into the health benefits and risks that come with feeding dogs different parts of this vegetable. She also explores alternative vegetables that might make a better choice.

Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

Last Updated: October 27, 2021 | 7 min read

Dog snout in pile of Brussels sprouts

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not serve as a substitute for a discussion with a trained professional. If your dog ate a food item and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are featured at many household meals, especially during the holidays.

You might be wondering if you can share any leftover sprouts with your pet or sneak them some off your plate. Let’s look at this vegetable in more detail and whether it is safe for your dog to eat.

We also take a look at some of the benefits and risks of eating Brussels, as well as other safe and toxic vegetables for dogs to eat.

What Are Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts look like mini-cabbages, but while they do come from the Gemmifera Cabbage group, they are not simply small cabbages. If you have seen them growing in a garden, you know that as many as 50 buds per plant can grow on a tall stalk.

And if you wondered about their name, they first rose to culinary fame in Brussels, Belgium, and still carry its biggest fans’ name.

Are Brussels Sprouts Safe For Dogs?

In moderation, sprouts are usually safe for dogs to eat as an occasional treat. As with any new food, there is always the potential to cause tummy troubles, so you should only offer your pet a small amount to start. Non-balanced foods, including sprouts, treats, and other human foods, should only ever make up 10% of your dog’s overall daily calorie allowance. Any more than this could mean your dog’s diet becomes unbalanced, risking nutritional deficiencies. They’re also more likely to end up with digestive issues, especially if they have a sensitive stomach.

These small cabbage-like vegetable buds are best fed cooked, but leave off any additional ingredients or dressings. Steamed vegetables retain the most nutrients, but boiled, steamed, or microwaved sprouts are also acceptable. Raw Brussels might be a bit tough for your dog to eat and could be a choking hazard if they try and swallow them whole.

Are Brussels Sprouts Good for Dogs?

Bowl of Brussels sprouts
They are packed full of nutrients, but the bitter taste may be off-putting.

If your dog is on a complete diet appropriate for his age and size, he should be getting all of the nutrients he needs, but a little boost now and then is not going to do any harm. Brussels sprouts contain the following:

Vitamins

Sprouts contain multiple vitamins. Vitamin K is one of these and is essential for blood clotting and building strong, healthy bones.

Sprouts are also rich in vitamin C. This helps to maintain a healthy immune system, plus healthy skin and connective tissue. While dogs don’t need an external source of vitamin C (humans and guinea pigs are the only animals that can’t manufacture their own source), a little extra is no bad thing.

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining skin and coat health. It also helps with muscle conditions and a healthy nervous system.

There are a few different B vitamins in sprouts, too, including vitamin B1 (thiamine), which helps with carbohydrate metabolism and aids the health of the brain and nervous system.

Minerals

Brussels sprouts are also an excellent source of many essential minerals. Manganese is one of these, which helps with healthy bones and cartilage, as well as the metabolism of other nutrients like carbohydrates. Potassium is also present, which is needed for the heart, muscles, and nerves to function effectively.

Fiber

Sprouts, along with many other fruits and vegetables, contain fiber, which helps to maintain healthy digestion. In dogs, fiber is associated with improving stool quality and helping with anal gland problems. Fiber can also help your pet feel fuller, which can help when they are on a weight loss regime. So a little extra fiber from some Brussels sprouts may aid your pet’s digestion. Just bear in mind that too much could cause problems.

Antioxidants

Brussels sprouts are a rich source of antioxidants. One of these is kaempferol, which has many benefits, including lowering inflammation in the body and preventing oxidative damage.

Can Brussels Sprouts Be Poisonous?

Stalk of Brussels sprouts
It’s not advised to let dogs eat raw Brussels sprouts, including those in your garden.

While not toxic, Brussels sprouts do contain large amounts of isothiocyanate, which affects the muscles in the intestines. If eaten in excess, this can cause digested food material to be expelled too quickly through the digestive tract, leaving behind an excess of bacteria that causes gas build-up. This leads to flatulence but could also cause tummy upsets like diarrhea.

If your dog has overindulged on sprouts and is feeling poorly, then get them checked out by your veterinarian to make sure there is nothing more serious going on. So, while they are not poisonous, you should only give them in moderation. You shouldn’t give them daily. Save them as an occasional treat.

Vegetables That Are Unsafe For Dogs

However, some vegetables are pretty dangerous to dogs, so you must avoid feeding your pet the following:

Onions, Leeks, Shallots, and Garlic

These are all members of the allium family, and are all toxic to dogs. These vegetables can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition that affects the red blood cells causing them to become damaged. The broken red blood cells can no longer carry oxygen around the body leading to weakness and other side effects such as an elevated heart rate, paleness of the gums, and collapse.

Corn on the Cob

While corn on the cob is not toxic to dogs, it could obstruct your dog’s digestive tract if they were to swallow the cob or a large chunk of it. This could result in your dog requiring emergency surgery to extract it.

Raw Potatoes

Uncooked potatoes contain solanine, which is a glycoalkaloid poison. Raw potatoes or potato peelings could cause a slow heart rate, digestive upset, and possible vision issues. Green or sprouted potatoes are very high in solanine. Cooked potatoes, however, are safe to feed your dog in small quantities.

Chili Peppers

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, something that could irritate your dog’s stomach. While not poisonous to dogs, they cause tummy upset with vomiting and diarrhea. You should avoid feeding these as they won’t add much nutritionally to your pet’s diet and could just cause a lot of discomfort.

What Other Vegetables Are Safe For Dogs?

black and white dog eating broccoli
There are many other vegetables that make a better treat for your dog. So why not mix it up? 

Dog-safe vegetables include the following:

  • Bell Peppers – Bell peppers make an excellent crunchy snack for dogs. They are best served in slices, either cooked or raw. Red or yellow peppers tend to be sweeter or more palatable than green ones. All bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. While dogs don’t necessarily need this source (as they manufacture their own vitamin C), the occasional boost is no bad thing.
  • Broccoli – Your dog can enjoy this fibrous vegetable in small amounts, either cooked or raw. Many dogs enjoy its texture but take care not to feed too much as broccoli, like sprouts, contains isothiocyanate that can irritate the digestive tract at high levels.
  • Butternut Squash – Butternut squash is a safe vegetable to feed dogs if you remove the seeds and skin. The orange flesh is quite sweet and best served cooked, which makes it more digestible. Butternut squash is also a good source of vitamin A and carotenoids (which are good for eyesight).
  • Carrots – Carrots can be served both raw and cooked and make an excellent crunchy treat. However, they are quite high in natural sugars, so large amounts could contribute to weight gain. Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin K, and potassium.
  • Cucumber – Cucumbers are very low in calories due to their high moisture content. They contain fewer vitamins and minerals than other vegetables, but many dogs enjoy their refreshing, crunchy texture.
  • Green Beans – Your dog can enjoy green beans raw or cooked, as long as they haven’t been processed or canned in saltwater. They are a good source of fiber, which helps with digestion, as well as vitamins.
  • Sweet Potato – Sweet potato is best served cooked as it can be hard to digest raw. It is an excellent source of fiber and minerals but is also a starchy carbohydrate, so eating a lot of them could lead to weight gain.
  • Peas – Peas are high in protein, and an antioxidant called lutein which is good for the heart, skin, and eyes. All types of peas are safe for dogs to eat, including garden peas, petit pois, and sugar snaps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Brussels Sprouts can a dog eat?

It is best to give your dog only a couple of sprouts, and they should make up no more than 10% of the volume of their daily rations. Too many sprouts can lead to digestive upsets and excess gas. Don’t feed sprouts daily – you could try one of the other vegetables on our safe list instead!

Why do dogs love them?

Some dogs do, and some dogs don’t – a bit like people. If your dog enjoys them, then, by all means, give them as an occasional treat. Never force a dog to eat them that doesn’t like them, though.

Can dogs eat Brussels sprouts raw?

It’s not advised to feed them raw. Sprouts can be tough and harder to digest when fed raw. Being small, firm, and round they could also be a choking hazard for dogs, especially if your pet tries to swallow them whole.

My dog ate some Brussels sprouts – should I be worried?

If your dog ate a few plain cooked Brussels sprouts, then they should be fine. Sprouts aren’t toxic but eating a large quantity of them could cause tummy troubles and flatulence. Keep an eye on your pet and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Final Thoughts

Brussels sprouts are not toxic, so they are okay to give as an occasional treat. You should only feed them to your dog cooked, with steamed sprouts retaining more nutrients than boiled ones. Vegetables should never make up more than 10% of the volume of your dog’s daily rations. Otherwise, they could cause tummy upset and affect the balance of your dog’s diet.

Ensure your pet is on good-quality complete dog food to get all the nutrients he needs – the vegetables are just an added treat. So next time you’re wondering if you can slip your dog one of your sprouts at the holidays, the answer is yes, just as long as all of your family members aren’t secretly doing the same.

Health Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

Food Safety Disclaimer: The information published on this website is for reference only. The only clear option for ensuring your pet’s health is to feed commercial-grade dog foods and treats only. Feeding human foods of any sort carries some degree of risk and is not under this website’s control.

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