The hardy, nutritious beetroot has become a cornerstone of a good rustic diet, and with people interested in healthy eating more than ever today, beets are showing up in ever more homes the world over.
Yet as we look to improve our own health, we often too look to help our beloved furry family members in enjoying happier, healthier lives alongside us too.
With such nutrition to be found within them, you may well ask – can dogs eat beets? There are pros and cons to consider, as we’ll see below.
Are beets good for dogs?
There’s lots of goodness, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, to be found in fruit and vegetables – and the beetroot is no exception.
And although your dog is not altogether designed by evolution to process plant materials in their diet anywhere near as competently as people are, the good news is that beets are not toxic to dogs.
That may come as no surprise, but it’s always wise to be cautious – after all, so many of the fruits and vegetables that we as human beings enjoy are often surprising in being dangerous or outright toxic to our pets.
It’s therefore always a smart dog owner who asks these questions of all new additions to their dog’s diet on a case by case basis.
The nutritional value of beets are not as well integrated into your dog’s system as they are in human beings, so it’s really not the kind of thing you ought to feel the need to serve up to your dog too often.
However, values such as the fibre content of beets when eaten by dogs can certainly play a role in boosting your pet’s health.
Fibre, however it’s entering your dog’s diet, helps to keep his or her digestive system ticking over to a steady rhythm.
It makes it easier to coordinate their toilet time, and also ensures that their output, so to speak, is of a healthy colour and consistency.
Fiber helps ease the digestion of dogs who have been suffering a rather messy stomach upset – although too much beetroot can cause as many such problems as it solves.
Nonetheless, there are vitamins to be found in beets too – ones that add some spark and vitality to your pet’s day to day lifestyle.
As more vitamins enter your dog’s diet, you’ll find that he or she shows lots of signs of energy and an overall spring in the step.
Eyes twinkle brighter, noses get good and soggy with good health, the tail keeps wagging and the immune system of your dog gets a superb boost against illness and disease.
That said, there are simply better ways of getting vitamins, minerals and fibre into your dog than beets – and there are issues to contend with feeding these rich red goodies to your pooch as well.
Dangers of beets for dogs
While we might consider beetroot as a healthy, nutritious addition to our dinner, your dog was built to gain his or her good stuff from far different food sources than human beings.
Because of that, there are numerous risks, dangers and just outright inconveniences to feeding beetroot to your dog that it’s smart to be aware of.
Often, they can outweigh the advantages in some dog owners’ eyes.
Firstly whole beets, or even cut up beets that are not cooked, can be quite a choking hazard for your dog.
This is true even of larger breeds who ordinarily do not struggle when contending with interesting new food.
And of course, young dogs and puppies are often notorious for gobbling down all that’s put in front of them without a second thought, and that only doubles the worry as far as many dog owners are concerned.
Chunks of beetroot can not only block the airways of your dog if gulped down too big, or clumped together and gathering in the throat.
There’s also the risk of those same kinds of blockages clogging up the digestive system overall of your pet – that includes their stomach, as well as his or her intestines.
This can be a nasty business to overcome, and might need the attention of a vet or a professional in extremely strong cases.
As a longer-term concern, beetroots also contain quite a high amount of carbohydrates. While those can have plenty of health benefits, dogs tend to turn carbohydrates into fats with an unfortunate level of efficiency.
In other words, those healthy beets you’re hoping will help keep your pooch perky and trim could well lead to weight gain and other health complications over a few months or years.
For dogs’ digestive systems, beets are also far more acidic than we as human beings are able to feel or sense in our own digestion of them.
That means that a dog who eats beets runs the risk of suffering an upset stomach, which can even lead to other more nasty issues, like diarrhoea and vomiting.
How many beets can a dog eat daily?
A few little chunks of a beetroot, certainly no more than the equivalent of a quarter of the veggie itself, will prove more than enough for your dog.
In fact, by and large there’s no real reason to be giving your dog beets daily at all – the nutritional gains they can experience from them are offset by lots of digestive complications. Plus, there are far easier ways to get vitamins and fibre into their diet.
Nevertheless, every dog is an individual, so do feel free to experiment as long as you aren’t handing over whole, uncooked beetroot and expecting your dog to gnaw at it and digest it efficiently.
And of course, thanks to the colour and the juices, beets can be a bit sloppy and messy to feed to your dog – who likely has no intentions of eating them tidily!
In fact, even if you encourage him or her to eat them over their dinner bowl, you’ll likely find more than a few dark red splotches covering your kitchen floor.
As you likely already know, dogs who are having something new added to their diet are best introduced to it on its own first, in small portions with your hand outstretched – preferably on their eye level.
Dogs trust their masters utterly, and if you’re offering something, he or she trusts you to know it’s safe.
Certainly don’t feel the need to consider beets a regular addition to your dog’s dining habits though. The benefits they can offer are not always worth the complications they can introduce, but don’t feel like they’re to be avoided altogether either.
What to do if your dog eats beets
Whether it’s upturning a bowl at the family dinner table or sneaking goodies from the vegetable patch in the garden, you can leave it to a peckish pooch to devise all manner of ways to get a snack behind your back.
There’s no malice in these acts of cheekiness, but it’s certainly one element of dog ownership that even the most loving of owners can find trying on their patience.
Luckily, beets are not toxic to dogs, so there aren’t any immediate health risks to your pet if he or she decides to chow down on them.
However, as we have been discussing, there aren’t really enough health benefits in beets compared to other foods to really allow your pet to continue this kind of misbehaviour, and you certainly don’t want them to think sneaking food without your say so is okay.
The big thing to be aware of is the potential for either choking or stomach upset, and both of these moments of discomfort can be capably handled by a compassionate owner.
Keep fresh water by for your dog, and be ready for any gurgles from within if their digestive systems start working overtime to clear through this strange new rich red substance they’ve introduced themselves to.
Unless your dog starts choking quite severely, or demonstrates the kind of spasms and general unease that comes with an internal digestive tract blockage, there is little need to involve your vet.
Nonetheless, certainly keep a close eye on your dog, as he or she likely won’t be feeling well after over indulging on the beets.
There are countless ways of getting healthy nutrients into our dog’s diets, and many owners are looking to rustic, classic and tasty fruit and vegetables to help that happen.
Yet dogs are not as well equipped within themselves to process the kind of material this nutrition comes in the form of.
As such, although dogs can safely eat beets without any fear of toxic reactions, dogs are not recommended to eat beetroot as a general rule because of how little nutrition it offers versus the hazards it presents.
Nonetheless, if you do fancy giving beets to your dog, do so sparingly, but keep your eye out for other means of boosting their fibre and vitamin intake as well.