Spinach is a dietary powerhouse of nutrients thanks to its antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, flavonoids, and digestive benefits. With all these nutrients, it’s no wonder dog parents are thinking of sharing the healthy goodness of spinach with their canine companion.
Dogs can eat spinach but with caution. Your pup probably wouldn’t beg for this nutrient-packed vegetable, but a tiny amount now and then is okay. Our furry companions do not have a real need for vegetables or fruits in their diet, but an occasional treat in moderation is okay.
When prepared correctly and in the recommended amount, the nutrient-dense leafy greens can enhance your dog’s health. Spinach offers beneficial nutrients to your pup and can serve as a great low-calorie snack. However, dogs with health issues including kidney stones and bladder problems should skip spinach unless the vet recommends it.
Health Benefits of Spinach for Dogs
Spinach is loaded with nutrients and can be an excellent supplement for your canine’s diet. They include:
- Vitamin A and beta carotene: Excellent sources of antioxidants that fight infections and diseases and support healthy vision.
- Vitamins C and E: Potent antioxidants that fortify your pup’s immune system, prevent inflammation and enhance optimal memory and cognitive function, especially in senior dogs.
- Vitamin K: Support the formation of proteins necessary for building strong bones and blood clotting.
- Folate: Also known as vitamin B9, folate is essential for healthy cell growth and red and white blood cell production.
- Minerals: Spinach contains minerals such as potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium, and copper. These minerals support proper cell function, muscle contraction, fluid balance, nervous system, skeletal structure, and energy metabolism.
- Antioxidants: Powerful army that fights free radicals causing diseases. They reduce inflammation and prevent certain cancers.
- Insoluble fiber: Unlike soluble fiber, the insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and bulks up poop, helping it move through the digestive system efficiently.
- Soluble fibers: These fiber components dissolve in water to form a gel-like substance that lowers your dog’s blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is also food for good GI bacteria and supports proper bowel movement.
Spinach contains a variety of soluble fibers, including:
- Kaempferol: Reduces risk of chronic diseases and cancer.
- Nitrates: Support heart health.
- Chlorophyll: Responsible for spinach’s green color and fights infections, cleanses the body cells and boosts immune health.
- Quercetin: Reduces risk of inflammation and infections.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Enhance good vision and protect eyes from sunlight damage.
However, keep in mind that different dogs react differently to any food. Puppies and smaller dogs are less likely to enjoy eating spinach than larger dogs because spinach is highly fibrous and can be challenging to digest.
Although spinach has numerous positive health benefits, it’s more complicated than it seems and can harm your dog.
How Can Spinach be Bad For Dogs?
Spinach is a controversial vegetable, especially for dogs. As much as it is rich in various nutrients, it contains compounds that can harm your dog.
Spinach is high in oxalic acid, disrupting your pup’s normal metabolism. Calcium is essential for bone integrity, secretion of insulin, and blood clot formation, but spinach interferes with calcium absorption in the body, leading to kidney damage.
The soluble oxalates in spinach contain oxalic acid, which binds with magnesium and calcium in the blood, limiting the availability of these essential electrolytes. Oxalates are also naturally occurring in kale, collards, beetroot, and quinoa.
Low levels of blood magnesium or calcium can disrupt metabolic functions. The kidney can flush out calcium oxalate crystals, but a high amount can eventually lead to bladder stones, kidney damage, and, if left unchecked, kidney failure.
Canines with healthy kidneys can excrete small quantities of soluble oxalates, but long-term consumption can lead to muscle weakness, kidney stress, abnormal heart rhythms, and respiratory paralysis. For this reason, if your furry companion has kidney disease, they should not eat spinach.
Spinach is high in sodium. One cup of spinach has around 24 mg of sodium. Dogs need sodium for proper muscle cell and nerve function, but if your dog has kidney, heart, or liver disease, you should offer spinach under the guidance of your vet.
Spinach is a low-ground vegetable and collects all kinds of insects. Farmers spray the greens with pesticides which can affect your dog’s health. We recommend you buy organic spinach, then rinse it adequately before preparing it for your pup.
Too Much Fiber
Spinach, primarily the stems, are very fibrous and can upset your dog’s tummy, causing bloating and gas. To reduce this risk, chop the stems into small chunks and only offer small amounts.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Spinach?
No. We don’t recommend feeding your pup raw spinach since it is difficult for your furry friend to digest. Chop it into bite-sized chunks to reduce the risk of choking.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Spinach?
Steaming is the ideal cooking option for spinach as it preserves most of its nutrients.
Give your pup blandly steamed spinach (no onions, garlic, butter, or pepper) to prevent problems such as dehydration, tummy upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and toxicity.
Boiling strips off most of the nutrients in spinach, so you’re better off steaming the greens until they are wilted before chopping them for your dog. Since Fido’s digestive system cannot break down spinach as effectively as your own, you must chop the greens into bite-size pieces before serving.
Can Dogs Eat Canned Spinach?
No. Canned spinach is not suitable for your dog. It is high in sodium which can cause vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, incoordination, lethargy, tremors, excessive urination and thirst, seizures, and coma. It is best to stick to plain spinach for your doggo.
Can Dogs Eat Creamed Spinach?
No. Creamed spinach is not safe for your pup. It contains seasoning like onions and garlic, which can interfere with your dog’s health. Also, creamed spinach will cause GI distress in dogs with lactose intolerance.
Can Dogs Eat Spinach Stems?
Yes, spinach stems are safe for dogs to eat if they are steamed. Raw spinach stems are hard to digest and unhealthy for your pup.
How Much Spinach Can My Dog Eat?
While spinach is loaded with nutrients, too much consumption can harm your dog. Dogs are carnivores in nature; ideally, 85% of their diet should be meat-based.
Keep spinach servings at 10% of your pup’s calorie requirements. Too much spinach can cause amino acid deficiencies as it is low in protein. So you need to ensure your dog’s diet is well-balanced. Remember to check with your vet to rule out any health issues or medical interactions that could harm your canine.
How to Prepare Spinach for Your Dog
Consider steaming, pureeing, and blanching your spinach before serving your pup to make it easier to digest. Other guidelines to consider when preparing spinach for Fido include:
- If possible, buy organic spinach that is pesticide-free and healthier for your dog. But if you buy non-organic spinach, ensure you thoroughly rinse the greens before serving your pup.
- No additives! Avoid spices and seasonings like onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil when preparing spinach for your dog.
- Give your dog plenty of water after feeding them spinach to help flush out the high sodium and oxalic acid.
- Start your dog on spinach gradually. Feeding too much at once can cause gastrointestinal distress in your furry friend. Start with small servings and increase the amount if your pup shows good tolerance.
Do not offer your dog spinach salad. The dressing, including the preservatives and condiments used like vinegar and mayonnaise, can cause tummy upset and weight gain.
Alternatives to Spinach
If you’d like to offer your pup spinach because of its numerous nutrients and benefits but are concerned about oxalates, consider feeding them alternative healthy vegetables such as
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
Mix up various fresh vegetables, and soon enough, you’ll find your dog’s favorite.
Spinach is chock-full of nutrients for your dog. But it would be best if you only fed it in small, infrequent amounts to lower the risk of calcium malabsorption and kidney damage.
High-quality, well-balanced commercial dog food is formulated to meet your pup’s nutritional needs, so spinach is not an essential addition or substitute to their diet.
Also, talk to your vet before starting your dog on spinach. If your vet approves, you can add it to their diet.
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