Although it was once the bane of children’s dinner plates everywhere, nowadays broccoli has seen something of a resurgence in popularity and appreciation.
With so many of us nowadays preoccupied with ensuring that we lead healthy lifestyles, this hugely nutritious veggie is being found on more plates than ever.
But you know how it goes – if you’re eating it, your dog wants to be eating it too. With that being the case, can dogs eat broccoli? Do dogs get any health benefits from eating broccoli? Find out with us below.
Is broccoli good for dogs?
While dogs are far less inclined towards eating plant-based food than we are, and certainly nowhere near as good at digesting it, dogs indeed can get some goodness from chowing down on broccoli.
Rich in vitamins, iron, and other goodness, broccoli can be eaten by dogs in sensible moderation as a way to boost their immune system and overall health.
However, much like their human masters, dogs ought to be encouraged only to eat the head of a piece of broccoli – there’s next to no goodness waiting for them in the stem, and that same stem is likely to prove a nasty choking hazard.
It’s worth keeping in mind that we make this recommendation under the assumption that the broccoli being fed to your dog is fed and largely untouched.
In other words, while broccoli is often prepared with salt or butter for our dinner, these ingredients are best avoided for your dog.
Dogs have a very lower tolerance for salt, and the salt likewise found in butter, to say nothing of its dairy and fat content, can have some nasty side effects in the long term health of your pet.
Having these kinds of issues overshadow the nutritional value of broccoli is best avoided.
Because broccoli is that much harder to digest for dogs, it can be used as a supplement in food to help give your dog’s digestive system a bit of a workout.
It’s valuable fiber, in other words, but is complex enough for dogs to deal with that it’s best not used too heavily.
Good advice tends to agree that no more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet ought to be made up of plant-based foods such as broccoli because the cons of the veggie will begin to outweigh the pros in times like this.
Dangers of broccoli for dogs
The dangers of broccoli for dogs largely come from the structure of broccoli itself. It’s busy and dense at the top, and hard and rigid along the stem.
Both of those things make it something of a choking hazard for dogs, so when first introducing broccoli to their diet, you’re wise to supervise your dog eating it.
Likewise, a dog who has stolen some broccoli from a dinner plate or similarly helped themselves to an entire piece is best interrupted before he or she can do themselves too much risk by gobbling that stem.
Eating too much broccoli, even if it’s prepared properly, can clog up your dog’s digestive system also.
Dogs do badly at processing plant-based material, and your pet might experience constipation, tummy aches and general grouchiness and stomach upset while processing a lot of broccoli or veggies at once.
This is why it’s so important to find the right balance between broccoli and the rest of your dog’s diet.
Our pets are often so much a part of our family that we can very easily forget just how different their nutritional needs are to our own.
In many cases, dog owners and experts in the field often advise that Isothiocyanate poisoning can be a risk from a dog eating too much broccoli too.
Surprisingly enough, it’s even a risk to human beings, but you’d need to eat vast gobs of broccoli to suffer from it.
Dogs are that much more sensitive to Isothiocyanate poisoning though, and in its worst instances, it can be fatal.
However, for it to be a risk factor in your dog’s diet, you’d have to be feeding your pet broccoli heads as basically the cornerstone of his or her meals – which isn’t the right way to approach things anyway.
How much broccoli can a dog eat daily?
Every dog is an individual, but on the whole, it’s best you only feed a dog one or two broccoli heads daily – their digestive systems are sensitive enough that they will pick up plenty of vitamins and nutrition from that without becoming too bogged down by the drawbacks.
Portion size is important, and it can either be raw or cooked broccoli that you feed your pet – as you experiment with this more, you might find that your dog has a preference here, but it has no effect overall on the nutritional and health benefits of the broccoli you’re feeding to them.
Instead, it’s perhaps more important that the broccoli is diced up finely enough, or in small enough pieces, that your dog isn’t just chewing uselessly at a big bushy head of it.
Some pets get frustrated at this and just won’t bother, so if you’re adamant about getting broccoli into their diet, don’t be scared to be a bit sneaky!
For instance, you can dice up the broccoli head finely enough that it can be scattered among the regular dog food and kibble you’d ordinarily feed your pet, and avoid a lot of the problems that way.
What to do if your dog eats broccoli
Dogs, no matter how well behaved they usually are, just can’t help but get into mischief when it comes to finding out they can sneak food they normally would not be allowed to eat.
While this can be risky if there is loose chocolate or garlic lying around, this can be just as true of ordinarily healthy options like broccoli too!
The most immediate concern you are likely to have when catching the dog eating broccoli is overcoming the risk for your pet choking or otherwise getting clogged up inside.
This is especially true if your dog it trying to eat the stem of the broccoli, which is tough and frustrating for them to gnaw at and break down.
This is very likely to be swallowed in chunks big enough to cause internal blockages, upset or even injury.
However, even big bushels of the head of broccoli can cause similar concerns – and you also need to identify if your dog is easting broccoli from some leftovers, which is, therefore, more likely to be salted, buttered or covered in condiments.
The most likely outcome of all this, assuming this is the first offense for your dog, is an upset stomach and a great deal of constipation for your animal.
This won’t be much fun to deal with for either of you but hopefully will do a little to dissuade your dog from helping him or herself in the future.
It’s a good idea to reinforce this negative behavior in your dog and let him or her known that sneaking food is very bad, and even dangerous.
Relating to that, it’s a good idea to identify how your dog got to that broccoli unexpectedly, and find ways to ensure it can’t happen again.
You might just find that there’s a common way your dog is using to sneak food – sneaking into garbage bags, or rifling through shopping left unattended on a countertop – that you can nip in the bud before your pet eats something much more dangerous in the future.
While it’s never going to become the central ingredient in every meal, a healthily balanced canine diet has some room for broccoli if it’s dished up in moderation.
Prepared either raw or cooked, cut up into small pieces and kept free of condiments, this veggie can prove a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals to your dog.
It will strengthen against disease, keep energy consistent throughout your dog’s day, and also help to even out digestion if it’s been a little lacking in oomph lately.
Much like their human masters, some dogs might be more predisposed to broccoli than others – and just as a parent might with stubborn children, you might have to find some inventive ways to help your dog eat broccoli if you’re convinced that doing so will help your pet and his or her health.
Ensure that this is served up in small portions though, and also ensure that you stick more with the head than the stem of the plant overall.
Your dog will thank you, and you’ll have far fewer complications to deal with if your dog is prone to coughing back up those things he or she eats far too fast.
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.