Beets are often a dinnertime staple because they keep for months and can be prepared in a variety of different ways, but can our canine companions also eat these tender red veggies?
The short answer is yes, but with some caution.
There are far better food options out there for your dog, says Dr. John Gicking, a board-certified veterinary emergency and critical care veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida.
“There’s no reason a dog can’t eat beets,” he says. “But they can potentially pose some problems.”
Health Concerns of Feeding Your Dog Beets
Beets can be a potential choking hazard, and chunks of raw beets could also cause an obstruction in the small intestine, says Gicking. If you’re going to serve your dog beets, it’s best to chop them up and cook them first, he says. This will help soften them and reduce the risk of choking.
In addition, beets can be messy to feed to your dog. The dye can get caught in your dog’s fur, and if you can’t clean her up in time, that red dye could end up on your floors and furniture, Gicking says. Beets will also turn your animal’s feces a blood-like red, he says. The color is harmless, but it can be distressing to owners.
The biggest con of beets? They can cause health problems for your dog.
Beets are high in oxalates, says Gicking, which could cause issues for dogs who are predisposed to bladder and kidney stones. They’re also acidic, which can cause gastrointestinal upset resulting in gas and diarrhea, he says.
For these reasons, he says it’s probably best to avoid feeding your dog beets regardless of whether or not they can eat them.
Health Benefits of Beets for Dogs
While beets do contain fiber and vitamins, your dog would need to eat a large amount of beets to get the maximum health and nutrition benefits out of them, says Gicking. Beets are also rich in carbohydrates, which means they also contain sugar, and that isn’t ideal for dogs.
“There are other foods [besides beets] that are easier to serve and have less negative side effects on dogs,” he says.
Instead of beets, dogs are more likely to prefer a meat-flavored dog biscuit or jerky, he says. However, If you do want to give your dog vegetables, try cut-up pieces of carrots, celery or zucchini instead. These are less likely to make a mess and are also less likely to cause stomach problems or issues for dogs prone to urinary and bladder stones.
If you make your own dog food and want to incorporate beets into your recipes, be sure to work with a veterinarian to ensure you’re feeding your dog a balanced diet that meets all her nutritional needs, Gicking says.
And if you’re just looking for a crunchy human food to share, think outside the beet.
“I think there are other treats out there that are far better,” he says.