Spinach is a delicious and versatile vegetable that can be used in anything from a salad to soup. The leaves are even tasty enough for some to snack on just as they are.
Spinach has frequently been dubbed a superfood due to its high nutrient density and health benefits for humans. We know that spinach has some amazing health benefits for humans, and it often gets called a ‘superfood’ – for good reason! But what about dogs?
You might be wondering if spinach has the same health perks for your dog as it does for you and whether you can throw a few leaves into their bowl.
Can Dogs Eat Spinach?
The short answer is yes. Spinach is a safe vegetable for dogs as it’s non-toxic and packed full of nutrients, but only in small amounts. Although there is little to no evidence for it, we can assume that spinach may offer dogs the same health benefits it does for us. It’s packed full of iron, fiber, and vitamins B and K, which are all essential to maintain healthy bodily functions.
But spinach is only safe to feed dogs in small, infrequent amounts, so it’s likely that these health benefits may not be seen. Spinach contains a compound called oxalic acid which can have some negative impacts on your pet’s health – it could cause kidney damage and affects calcium absorption from the gut. As with all foods, it’s vital you speak to your usual veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
Is Spinach Good For Dogs?
This leafy vegetable is thought to have positive effects on the immune system and help protect us from heart disease and diabetes. There is little to no evidence to demonstrate that the same can be said for dogs, and if you’re already feeding your pet a complete and balanced diet, they’ll be getting everything they need to stay healthy. But a bit of spinach every so often could still have some positive impact on your dog!
Probably the nutrient that spinach is most renowned for, iron is essential for maintaining healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, so eating iron-rich foods will help keep the supply topped up to ensure that all the cells and tissues in the body receive oxygen and carbon dioxide is carried away.
Fiber is a key nutrient as it helps keep the gut healthy. It’s known that fiber is essential to reduce the risk of bowel cancer as well as chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes in humans. In dogs, fiber helps improve and maintain gut health.
Spinach is full of several vitamins and minerals. It’s a particularly good source of vitamin K, which is an essential component in the process of blood clotting. Spinach is also a great source of vitamin B, which has roles in metabolism and maintaining energy levels. Remember that if you feed your dog a complete and balanced commercial diet, they will be getting all the nutrients they need. Anything additional from veg like spinach is an added extra.
Chronic Disease Prevention
Spinach is packed with antioxidants that protect the body’s cells and tissues from oxidative damage. Spinach also contains something called phytochemicals that may have a role in preventing damage and chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. There is little to no evidence for this in dogs, but spinach is certainly a healthy veg that may have some similar health benefits in dogs.
Dangers Of Spinach For Dogs
So, we know that spinach is a great superfood with plenty of health benefits. But there are also some risks that you need to know about before feeding it to your dog.
Spinach contains a high amount of a substance called oxalic acid. The kidneys usually get rid of oxalic acid, but only in small portions. But if spinach is fed too often, then oxalic acid could build up in your dog’s bloodstream. This isn’t immediately dangerous, but it does have some negative impacts on your dog’s health that really are best avoided. It also means that your dog is unlikely to be eating enough spinach to reap the amazing health benefits that it might have.
High volumes of oxalic acid can decrease calcium absorption because it reacts with calcium in the gut, forming calcium oxalate – an insoluble compound that can’t be absorbed back into the bloodstream. As calcium is essential to maintain healthy bones and teeth, reduced absorption of calcium could be dangerous in the long term. Calcium oxalate can also form crystals that can lodge in the kidneys – otherwise known as kidney stones, a painful condition that can cause kidney damage.
Now it’s important to note that dogs would need to eat an extremely large amount of spinach to cause this type of damage. However, you still shouldn’t feed your dog spinach every day as long-term consumption of too much spinach could cause stress to the kidneys, muscle weakness, or an abnormal heart rhythm. Also, too much veg can give some dogs an upset tummy. Dogs with kidney problems or who have previously suffered from kidney or bladder stones should not be fed spinach as they are at higher risk of these problems becoming a concern. You should always discuss any changes or additions to your dog’s diet with your vet first to ensure it’s appropriate.
How To Feed Spinach To Your Dog
As we now know, spinach shouldn’t feature too heavily in your dog’s diet. But if you do want to add a bit to their food once in a while, you’ll be wondering exactly how to feed spinach to your dog.
Fresh spinach is always best as it’s the most nutrient-dense, but frozen spinach that’s been defrosted and cooked is also safe. Always make sure with frozen spinach, though that it doesn’t contain any added sugars or preservatives, as these could cause an upset tummy. Tinned spinach often contains additives, so make sure it’s only tinned with water.
How Much Spinach Can I Feed My Dog?
Spinach should only be fed 1-2 tablespoons of fresh or cooked spinach max. This could be added to your dog’s food as a treat, regardless of the size of your dog. This probably equates to a little handful of fresh spinach leaves.
How Often Can I Feed Spinach To My Dog?
Feeding spinach too often can reduce calcium absorption and increase the risk of kidney damage, so it should be fed in bite-sized, infrequent amounts. Adding it to your dog’s food once every few weeks is plenty, regardless of the size of your dog.
What About Other Foods Containing Spinach?
Fresh spinach on its own is certainly not the only you’ll find spinach in your kitchen. So, can dogs eat spinach in other dishes? Well, it depends on the dish and other ingredients. Most spinach dishes contain other foods that can be toxic, such as onions and garlic. But these might also be spicy or just very rich and likely to give your dog an upset tummy. So it’s best to avoid sharing these with your pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is spinach toxic to dogs?
Spinach is non-toxic to dogs and is safe to feed in moderation. But large amounts or if fed too often can reduce calcium absorption and lead to kidney damage.
Can dogs eat frozen spinach?
Dogs can eat frozen spinach as long as it doesn’t contain any additives or sugars. It should be thoroughly defrosted first. Also, be sure the package does not contain other toxic ingredients like garlic.
Which vegetables can I feed my dog?
Most vegetables are safe for dogs to eat. Carrots, potatoes, broccoli, sweet potato, and butternut squash can be fed safely to dogs when cooked.
How much spinach is safe for dogs?
A tiny serving of spinach is okay for dogs as an occasional treat but shouldn’t be fed every day or in large amounts. One or two tablespoons of spinach are plenty in one serving.
Spinach is a nutrient-rich vegetable that may have some great benefits for the immune system, energy levels, and maintaining iron levels, as well as preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Spinach is non-toxic and safe to feed to dogs, but only in small amounts and as an occasional treat, but it’s not a vegetable you want to be feeding your dog too often. Spinach is high in oxalic acid, which can decrease calcium absorption in the body and lead to kidney damage. A little bit (1-2 tablespoons) every so often is fine, but it should not be fed to dogs who already suffer from kidney problems.
Always check with your vet before changing your dog’s diet to make sure it’s appropriate for them.