Looking for a healthy snack you can share with your pup? While some fruits and vegetables are off limits for dogs (think: onions, garlic and grapes), others can make a nice addition to your dog’s diet.
If you want to reward your dog for her good behavior or just give her a little snack in between meals, consider giving her broccoli, says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian and author.
“It’s a much better option than processed snacks, which may contain dyes, sugars, synthetic vitamins or other potentially toxic ingredients,” she says.
Here’s everything you need to know about feeding your dog broccoli, including the health benefits and risks of broccoli for dogs and the best — and tastiest — ways to serve it.
The Health Benefits of Broccoli
In addition to being a low-calorie food, broccoli is also a good source of fiber, says Dr. Kelly Ryan, director of veterinary services at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America. Though the average dog doesn’t need a lot of fiber, she says, it generally won’t cause any trouble.
Broccoli is also a good source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including potassium, calcium and iron, says Morgan. It may even help fight disease in pets.
“The sulphur-containing compounds in broccoli have been shown to help reduce cancer,” she says. “Particularly, cancers associated with the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas and prostate, as well as melanoma.”
The Health Risks of Broccoli
Any hard, crunchy food, even a nutrient-rich vegetable, can be a choking hazard, says Morgan, so your dog should always be supervised while eating broccoli. Ryan agrees, adding that dogs should only be given bite-sized pieces of broccoli.
In addition, you’ll want to introduce broccoli (and any new food, for that matter) into your dog’s diet slowly, Ryan says. This will reduce the odds your dog will experience diarrhea and/or vomiting.
Broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale and cauliflower, may also cause gas and bloating if eaten in excess, says Morgan. If you notice those symptoms in your dog, ease up on her broccoli intake.
How to Give a Dog Broccoli
Like us, dogs may enjoy their broccoli steamed or sauteed. Steaming the broccoli helps soften the stalks and reduce your pup’s risk of choking, says Morgan. When sauteing, she recommends adding a small amount of coconut or olive oil to the pan for an extra-tasty treat.
You can also add broccoli directly to your dog’s regular food, Morgan says. Just cook it or chop it into fine bits first.
Unlike humans, who may prefer toppings like salt, ranch dressing or butter on their broccoli, dogs should eat theirs as plain as possible, says Ryan. Too many extra ingredients just add calories and increase the risk of the broccoli irritating your dog’s stomach, she adds.
Finally, keep in mind that vegetables for dogs, like broccoli, should be served as a snack and shouldn’t make up most of your pet’s diet. You want them to have enough energy and appetite to eat their regular food, Ryan says. Speak to your veterinarian about your individual dog’s dietary needs and restrictions to determine if and how to incorporate broccoli into their diet.