Can Dogs Eat Arugula? Is Arugula Safe for Dogs?

Arugula is the go-to leafy green to put in a summer salad, adding a delicious peppery taste that most of us love. But is arugula safe for dogs? Can dogs eat arugula?

Yes! Arugula is perfectly safe for dogs to eat in moderation — if they’ll eat it, of course. Arugula is packed with vitamins and minerals that can add important benefits to your pooch’s diet and is non-toxic, so moderate amounts will not have any detrimental effects on your dog’s health. In this article, we’ll take a look at the potential benefits of arugula for your pooch, as well as the potential health risks to be mindful of.

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What is arugula?

Jack Russell terrier eating parsley and salad
Image Credit: Albina Gavrilovic, Shutterstock

Also commonly known as “rocket,” arugula is a peppery, leafy green that is commonly used in salads, pasta, and pizzas. Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region, where it is often used in local cuisine. It was originally used as a medicinal herb and aphrodisiac but has now become a popular addition to many dishes, especially in Italian cuisine. It is a member of the same family as cabbage and mustard, which explains its peppery flavor!

The leaves are deep green in color, with notches running up both sides and some leaves being full and round and others thinner and sharper. It is typically eaten raw in salads or pasta but can be used in cooked dishes too. It is widely available, easy to grow, and inexpensive.

Potential health benefits of arugula for dogs

While dogs certainly do not require arugula as a part of their normal diet, it can have positive health benefits when eaten in moderation. This leafy green herb is high in vitamins A and K, which can help with eyesight, and calcium and potassium, for good bone health.

Arugula is also low in calories and fat, making it an excellent low-calorie snack for your pooch. Like any other leafy green vegetable, such as kale or spinach, arugula contains fairly high amounts of chlorophyll, which improves digestion and bad breath in your pooch and aids in strengthening their immune system.

While still early in the research and not conclusive, early indications show that the phytochemicals contained in herbs like arugula may help slow the progression of cancer in humans and may potentially do the same for your pooch.

fresh arugula leaves on wooden board
Image Credit: Sergey Fatin, Shutterstock

Are there any potential health concerns?

Moderation is key when feeding your dogs any human foods, and the same goes for arugula. Always introduce new food gradually over a few weeks, and look out for any signs of allergic reactions. In larger amounts, arugula has a few concerns to be aware of, including the following.

  • Oxalic acid. While arugula is not as high in oxalic acid as its leafy-green cousins, kale and spinach, it is still present in moderate amounts. Oxalic acid binds with essential minerals and may prevent your dog’s body from properly absorbing them. Cooking or steaming arugula mostly mitigates this effect, though.
  • A goitrogen is a compound that suppresses your dog’s thyroid gland; in large amounts, it may affect the uptake of iodine, an essential part of a healthy thyroid. These compounds are found in almost all cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, and arugula.

These potential health concerns are nothing to worry about if you feed your dog only small amounts of arugula and make sure you lightly cook the herb first.

How to prepare arugula for dogs?

Arugula has a spicy and peppery flavor, and chances are high that your dog will not enjoy it. This peppery flavor is largely reduced by cooking and when combined with other enjoyable foods. Any cruciferous vegetables should be lightly cooked before being eaten, as this cooking process reduces the number of goitrogens and makes them safer to eat.

We recommend simply chopping it up and adding it to their existing food or adding it to lean meats or canned food to disguise the flavor.

young Jack Russell Terrier dog near bag with organic herbs and vegetables_simonvera_shutterstock
Image credit: Simon Vera, Shutterstock

Other beneficial leafy greens

If your pooch will not eat arugula due to its pungent flavor, there are several other leafy greens to try that have similar benefits. These include:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Green Beans

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Final Thoughts

Arugula is an affordable, low-caloric herb that can add important health benefits to your dog’s diet. It is non-toxic, easily available, and simple to prepare, so it makes an ideal additional snack mixed in with your dog’s regular food. It does have a strong, peppery flavor that some dogs may not enjoy, so you may need to disguise it in tastier food. Lastly, be sure to boil or steam it before feeding it to your dog, as this will mostly mitigate any potential harmful effects.