As we each do our utmost to add more and more healthy goodness to our diets, we find ourselves turning to the good old fashioned benefits of fruit and vegetables more and more.
And with many of us just as concerned about helping our dogs lead long and healthy lives too, responsible dog owners find themselves asking just what kinds of things dogs can eat, and whether they’re worth putting into the canine diet.
With that being the case, can dogs eat spinach? More to the point, should dogs eat spinach? Let’s find out.
Is spinach good for dogs?
There has been a surprisingly high degree of lively debate between experts regarding whether or not dogs can eat spinach.
This is because many of the positives, including high vitamin and iron content, the fiber spinach can give us, and so forth, are offset by other risks more unique to how dogs digest food.
Nowadays, the key component in these conversations is more how much spinach to give your dog – and the answer is, quite simply, very little.
Any fussy eater children in your house are sure to be envious of this fact when it’s put forward, but it makes it no less true to say – dogs don’t need to eat vegetables in any way, and certainly don’t get the nutrition from them that people do.
Nevertheless, dogs can eat spinach and enjoy some nutritional benefits from it, even in very small degrees. In fact, very tiny and very infrequent portions are what’s recommended here.
Spinach will give your dog more in the way of beta carotene and fiber, for example, but also a great amount of iron.
These all help to make your dog more resistant and hardy to their environment, and add to long term strength and vitality.
The same can be said of vitamins found in spinach, of which there are plenty. That’s Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and antioxidants.
Your dog will recover from illness faster with these, as well as fend off infections and sickness more effectively overall.
Vitamins added to your dog’s diet also increase their long term energy and liveliness, and add visibly to their overall coat, wet nose, and glinting eyes.
However, it’s often best to understand your dog as an individual, and perhaps seek expert opinions from your vet, before introducing spinach to your dog’s diet.
Less than a quarter of a healthy dog’s diet ought to be vegetable matter, but even a small amount of spinach can have some surprising health effects over the long term.
Unfortunately, there are bad aspects to consider as much as good ones, as we shall see.
Dangers of spinach for dogs
The way that dogs and human beings evolved may have helped us become the very best of friends – lifelong companions through thick and thin, even – but it also has made it very clear that we each attain nutritional value from certain foods very differently.
In fact, despite this guide, you might find that your dog simply doesn’t want to eat spinach at all, or that you might have to dice it very finely and hide it among their regular food.
Dogs don’t have the same interest in vegetables as food as their human masters do, and even then might need extra persuading as far as spinach is concerned.
This is probably a good thing because if dogs were into eating spinach as fondly as they are eating meats and dog biscuits, they will have some startling health issues to contend with.
Experts warn that spinach can have radical detrimental effects on dogs’ long term health – it’s why the conversation on this subject has so often been divided between those who believe spinach is safe for dogs and those who don’t.
There is a great deal of oxalic acid in spinach, and one effect of that is that it adversely impacts your dog’s ability to interact with calcium.
Because calcium is prevented from being absorbed properly into the dog’s systems through these means, there can be the danger of low blood calcium, which in turn causes drastic changes in your pet’s metabolism.
This, in turn, affects the kidneys, and in the worst-case scenario can cause kidney failure over the long term – very old or very young dogs, as well as smaller dogs, are the most susceptible to this.
This is why spinach ought to be included as a dietary supplement to your dog’s eating habits very very infrequently.
How much spinach can a dog eat daily?
Raw spinach is very tough for dogs to digest, yet boiled spinach loses much of its nutritional value to your pet too.
It’s difficult to know how best to feed your dog spinach, let alone in what amount. However, when diced finely, it is in this way easier to add to other food your pet is eating.
It’s not necessary, or indeed advisable, to consider giving your dog spinach daily though. Although plenty of vitamins, iron and other health benefits will occur, so too will the build-up of oxalic acid.
Over time, this will accumulate to such a degree that any health advantages you might hope your dog is getting from their spinach will be overcome by the drawbacks.
Consider adding a couple of leaves of spinach, cut up finely, to your dog’s diet as little as once a week for the best results – perhaps even less frequently than that.
Again, a vet who has met your dog before and understands his or her needs may have the ability to know a timeframe that best suits the breed, size and digestive nature of your pup.
If you’re tempted to add flavor to the spinach to help your dog eat it, don’t be. Things like added salt and butter, or spinach mixed with other vegetables, can prove more hazardous than they’re worth.
That’s especially true if you’re mixing spinach with onions, garlic or fruit salads with grapes or the like to try and smuggle it past a picky canine’s palate.
Those fruit and vegetables can be toxic to dogs – keep things nice and separate to guarantee safety here.
What to do if your dog eats spinach
Leave it to our pets to find crafty, cunning but undeniably charming ways of sneaking food they’re not supposed to have.
This can leave many dog owners tearing out their hair in frustration though, especially because a lot of food that we human beings enjoy is remarkably dangerous for dogs.
Luckily, the damage that spinach can do to your dog is a more long term concern, so if your dog manages to get hold of a bulky load of the stuff, you need to be more concerned about the potential for choking and upset stomachs than kidney failure.
If in doubt though, or if you have a dog who has suffered kidney issues in the past, definitely contact your vet as fast as you can.
Dogs will be largely uninterested in spinach unless there is genuinely nothing more interesting to eat in their immediate vicinity, but they often surprise us with what they’ll sneak off with.
If your dog has eaten spinach, keep an eye on them to ensure the leafy greens and solid makeup of the plant hasn’t got lodged in their throat or internal digestive ways.
You might find a great deal of gurgling and fed up snorting coming from your pet after all this – a sure sign of an upset stomach.
Keep lots of fresh water close at hand for your pet – also a smart idea to help him or her if there’s a risk of choking – and be prepared for any sudden vomiting that might occur.
Dogs who have upset tummies from eating spinach or any number of other things they shouldn’t be eating often opt to nap off their discomfort, or go and curl up in their bed for a bit of a sulk.
Your pet is not suffering more than a little discomfort though, but if there are definitive signs of pain, internal discomfort or blockages, you’re once again advised to seek out the expertise of a professional.
Spinach might be one of the great superfoods when it comes to boosting the health of human beings, dogs have a bit more of a dicey relationship with this leafy green vegetable.
While many of the fantastic vitamins, iron, and antioxidants found in spinach can be extremely good for dogs’ health, there are also risks that too much spinach over a dog’s lifetime can contribute to difficulties in blood calcium levels and even overall kidney function.
Spinach should never really be given to dogs daily, and should certainly be served up as an occasional no-frills way of boosting dogs’ health.
It’s best diced up finely to avoid any complications going down – after all, dogs are far less adept at digesting these kinds of things than their masters, and we want to give them all the help we can.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.