We have all watched Popeye the Sailor Man and seen how he gets his super strength and boundless energy after chugging down a can of spinach. Spinach is packed full of vitamins and minerals. It is, therefore, great for us but can dogs have spinach too? In fact, they can despite popular belief.
Debunking the Spinach Myth
Before we continue, let’s just set the record straight in regards to a myth about spinach being toxic for dogs. Many people think that dogs cannot have spinach because of the high levels of oxalates in spinach will cause kidney stones or bladder problems and that it prevents calcium from being absorbed.
Yes, this is true but if you moderate how much spinach your canine eats, there is really no concern.
Your pooch will have to have tons of spinach every day for this to really become an issue. The long-term benefits of feeding dogs spinach from time to time totally outweigh this con.
Please note that some pets may have a rare medical condition where their diets must be restricted in regards to their oxalate intake. Make sure to consult with your vet in this case before attempting to feed your dog spinach.
Understanding Your Dog’s Digestive System
Firstly, it needs to be understood that dogs are primarily carnivores. In the wild, a dog may only eat plants if there is no other food source available. Canine digestive systems are actually unable to break down raw vegetables, particularly the leafy kind.
This does not mean that dogs cannot have spinach, though and nowadays, due to their domestication and that we share our foods with them, dogs are omnivores that are able to tolerate more foods than their wild counterparts.
Before you begin feeding your dog spinach or any other veggies or fruit, you will need to test the waters. Some pooches simply don’t like it while others may experience an upset stomach or an allergic reaction.
Try feeding your dog a small amount first and see how he/she reacts to determine whether spinach is acceptable for your pet’s diet. You may also want to mention this addition to your vet at his/her next checkup. Serving Your Dog Spinach As stated, raw greens are not ideal for dogs.
In addition, your dog should be eating only about 25% or less plant matter within their overall diet. This will also depend on the size and breed of your dog though. Cooked spinach is the best and you can either chop it up or serve it pureed. For the latter, you can even pour this over their kibble or whatever you are feeding them or do the same with juiced spinach.
Some dogs don’t like the taste of spinach so you may need to disguise it in wet food. Considering steaming or stir fry when preparing the spinach as boiling will cause a lot of the nutrients to be lost. Moreover, do not add salt, herbs, oil, onion, or garlic when cooking the spinach for your dog. There are some premium dog foods on the market that include spinach.
Another option is to bake up spinach in a very healthy treat. Make sure that your wash the spinach thoroughly before preparation so as to remove any pesticides that may make your dog ill.
How Much Spinach Can Dogs Have?
As with most things in life the golden rule is everything in moderation. Besides the oxalate issue, too much may cause your dog’s tummy to run. You won’t be feeding your dog only spinach either. It should be added to their regular diets every second day at the most as a booster to the nutrients that they are already getting from their regular meals.
Benefits in Feeding Your Dog Spinach
Spinach is truly a super food and although it functions a little differently for dogs than for humans there are still numerous benefits to giving this to your dog:
- Vitamin A is great for your dog’s coat, skin and overall metabolism.
- Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B5 and B12) which helps with hair loss, appetite stimulation, reflexes, diarrhea, eyesight and nerve control amongst others.
- Vitamin C boosts the immune system.
- Vitamin E is awesome for healing, circulation and muscles.
- Vitamin K prevents the blood from clotting and hemorrhaging.
- Various nutrients improve bone strength and health making spinach wonderful for pooches that are getting on in their years.
- Beta-carotene and the dietary fiber of spinach is a good source of roughage that lessens the chance of constipation and aids bowel movement. Cancer is also prevented by beta-carotene.
- Iron and folate improve the circulation of blood. Spinach is perfect for dogs that suffer from anemia.
- Cell production is promoted due to the amino acids of the proteins within spinach.
- Zeaxanthin and lutein are both beneficial for your dog’s vision and eye health.
- The antioxidants help with cell rejuvenation and aging particularly of the retina.
So where spinach does wonders for Popeye and humans, there is no doubt that the limited and regulated intake of this super food can only be good for dogs as well. Please share the methods in which you include spinach in your dog’s diet and what they like the most in the common section below.