Can Dogs Eat Spinach?

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You've heard that many fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs, so the next time you make a salad, you might wonder, "Can dogs eat spinach?" In short, dogs can eat spinach; it's non-toxic and safe. However, dogs don't need spinach in their diets like you do; instead, they get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need from their regular kibble or canned food. 

Still, spinach can make a healthier alternative to high-fat treats, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily good for them. In addition, many people are concerned that spinach is high in oxalic acid, which prevents the body from absorbing calcium and may lead to kidney damage. Still, a dog would have to eat a large quantity of spinach for the oxalic acid to affect them.1 Can dogs have spinach? Yes, but it's typically best to feed them human foods in moderation. 

Nutritional benefits of spinach

Is Spinach Good For Dogs?

Spinach for dogs contains several beneficial nutrients. It's high in vitamins A, B, C, and K and contains iron, antioxidants, and roughage, which stimulates the digestive tract.1 Of course, dogs should already get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from their regular diets, but feeding them spinach now and then can provide some benefits, including the following:

  • Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E support the immune system, reduce inflammation, and prevent free radical damage. They're an essential part of every dog's regular diet. 
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A and beta-carotene are antioxidants that support eye health and vision. 
  • Minerals: Spinach contains potassium, magnesium, and iron to support your dog's nervous system, muscles, and total body health. 
  • Fiber: Spinach is a leafy green with fiber that can improve your dog's digestive health while lowering cholesterol. Spinach contains soluble and insoluble fiber to improve digestion and bulk up feces to prevent constipation. 
  • Low calorie: Spinach is low in calories, making it a great snack for dogs with diabetes. Of course, the diabetic dog diet may not allow your dog to eat any human foods since your vet will create a specialized plan based on their needs. Therefore, it's always best to consult a vet before feeding your dog anything new, especially if they have a diagnosed health condition. 

Is spinach good for dogs? It can be. However, there are also downsides to feeding your dog spinach, including:

  • High fiber content: While spinach is low in calories and high in fiber, too much fiber can cause GI issues in dogs, such as constipation. Remember, not enough fiber in your dog's diet can cause constipation, but too much can have the same effect. In addition, dogs that eat too much spinach may experience gas since fiber isn't easily digested. Therefore, you should only feed dogs a few spinach leaves at a time.
  • Sodium: Some dogs shouldn't eat spinach because it contains high sodium levels. Since your dog's food already contains all the sodium they need, adding too much salt to their diet could be dangerous, especially for dogs with underlying health problems like kidney disease.  
  • Oxalates: We've already briefly discussed oxalates, but since spinach has a high level of them, it's important to understand what they are. Oxalate levels in your dog's body can cause them to form calcium oxalate crystals, which prevent the body from properly absorbing calcium. These crystals can also lead to kidney damage.1 However, it's important to note that dogs would have to eat a lot of spinach or spinach over a long period for their oxalate levels to increase enough to cause harm. Still, long-term spinach consumption can cause kidney, respiratory, muscle, and heart issues. Therefore, some dogs, including those with kidney or bladder stones, shouldn't eat spinach.1

Tips for feeding spinach to your dog

Tips For Feeding Spinach To Your Dog

Most dogs can safely consume spinach, and it doesn't require too much preparation to let your dog enjoy a snack. Here are some tips for feeding spinach to dogs:

  • Serve raw or steamed: You don't need to cook spinach, but if your dog likes to eat soft foods, you may steam it to make it more palatable. Before serving them spinach, always rinse it to remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticides. 
  • No added oils or seasoning: Dogs don't need oils or seasoning for spinach to taste great. In addition, oils and seasoning can be dangerous to your dog's health, so they're best avoided. Never add salt, pepper, or salad dressing to your dog's spinach. Salt can lead to dehydration, so dogs shouldn't consume too much salt. In addition, salad dressings can contain harmful ingredients like sugar, onion, or garlic. 
  • Chop to promote healthy digestion: Spinach is a fibrous vegetable, so it's difficult for dogs to digest. In addition, because it's thin and long, some dogs may have difficulty chewing and swallowing an entire leaf. Therefore, you should chop your dog's spinach into smaller pieces to promote healthy digestion and make chewing their snack easier. 

What Other Fruits & Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?

Spinach is a safe vegetable to share with most healthy adult dogs. However, you might wonder what else you can share with your dog. While your dog may love bacon, ham, and other meats, they're not healthy. However, there are many non-toxic and delicious fruits and vegetables safe for dogs that may provide some health benefits, including: 

  • Apples: Apples are a healthy snack for dogs when fed in moderation because they contain Vitamins A and C and fiber.2 However, like spinach for dogs, they have a high amount of fiber, which can cause digestive issues like gas. Therefore, it's best to feed them apples in moderation and always toss the seeds and pit, which contain trace amounts of cyanide. 
  • Bananas: If your dog has difficulty chewing hard foods, they may like bananas. When fed in moderation, bananas are a healthy, low-calorie snack for dogs.2 However, they're high in sugar, so they should only be given as a treat, and some dogs should not eat bananas, especially those with diabetes or weight issues.
  • Pumpkin: Many pet parents use plain, canned pumpkin as a home remedy for GI issues like constipation and diarrhea in dogs because it's full of fiber that adds bulk to stool. Pumpkin also contains prebiotics to support probiotics, the healthy bacteria that live in your dog's guts and support overall GI health. However, when feeding your dog pumpkin, only give them plain, canned pumpkin. They should never eat raw pumpkins or pumpkin pie filling.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli is another healthy vegetable for dogs, but it should only be fed in moderation. It's low in fat and calories and high in vitamin C and fiber. However, florets contain isothiocyanates, which can cause GI issues in some dogs. In addition, stalks can cause esophageal obstructions.2
  • Carrots: Carrots are one of the healthiest snacks for dogs because they're low in calories and high in fiber. In addition, they're crunchy, which may help remove plaque from your dog's mouth to promote fresher breath.2
  • Celery: Celery is another healthy snack that has oral health benefits. Celery is low-calorie and contains vitamins A, B, and C.2 In addition, it freshens breath, and the fibrous strands in celery may act as natural floss. However, always cut your dog's celery before feeding it to them since the fibrous strands can make it difficult to swallow. 
  • Green beans: Green beans are one of the healthiest human foods to share with your dog because they're low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.2 Many vets recommend green beans for dogs on weight loss diets because they're filling and low-calorie to prevent dogs from overeating.  
  • Lettuce: Lettuce is similar to spinach, and both are typically used together when making a salad or sandwich. Lettuce has low nutritional content because it consists of 90% water, but it contains fiber to aid digestion, so it's a good weight management treat to share with dogs of all kinds. 

Remember, while there are many foods safe for dogs, there are several foods dogs can't eat. Therefore, you should do your research and consult a vet before feeding your dog anything new if you're unsure whether it's safe for them. 

Shiba Inu jumping on owner who is holding a plate of food in kitchen

Final Notes

Can dogs eat spinach? Yes. Spinach is non-toxic to dogs and safe in moderation. While many pet parents are worried about the high levels of oxalic acid, your dog would have to eat large quantities for it to have an effect. Still, dogs don't need spinach in their diets. Instead, they get everything they need, from calories to vitamins and minerals, from their regular food. However, we understand the human-animal bond and why pet parents want to share food with their pets. Therefore, giving your dog a few small pieces of spinach from time to time is safe as long as it's not seasoned. 

Of course, some dogs shouldn't eat spinach. Because this leafy green contains high sodium levels, dogs with kidney disease shouldn't eat it. In addition, you should always consult a vet before feeding your dog anything new. Wondering what foods are safe for your dog? Talk to a Dutch vet for diet and nutrition advice to ensure your dog's health and wellness. 

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References

  1. Reisen, Jan. “Can Dogs Eat Spinach?” American Kennel Club, 3 Aug. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-my-dog-eat-spinach/.

  2. "Fruits and Vegetables Dogs Can or Can't Eat." American Kennel Club, 24 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/fruits-vegetables-dogs-can-and-cant-eat/.

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