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December 28, 2020 4 min read
Broccoli: you can't name another food that I detested more when I was a kid. It smelled weird, tasted weirder, and was always a source of contention between my parents and me.
There was some good news about broccoli, though - if I could sneak it under the table, I could always count on the dog to dispose of it for me. At the time, I was thinking a lot less about whether it was nutritious for him and a lot more about how I wasn't going to have to eat it (of course this didn't last especially long before my mom caught on and dogs stopped being allowed under the table at meal times).
But if you've got hungry eyes staring up at you while you've got a broccoli floret on your fork, you might be wondering - can dogs eat broccoli?
For the most part, yes, dogs can have broccoli. With that in mind, there are some important distinctions between the two parts of the broccoli plant (the stalk and the florets). All is not equal between the two, so it's critical to understand the difference between the two if you're going to give your dog broccoli.
That said, broccoli is a generally healthy and nutritious snack for dogs, and it carries a number of benefits. As long as you know what you're doing, you can definitely give broccoli to dogs.
And of course, dishes with broccoli are a different beast entirely - for the most part, you should only serve your dog broccoli by itself, avoiding foods that contain broccoli but also other not-so-good things like salt and oil.
Yes, broccoli is in fact good for dogs. It is full of vitamins and minerals that are great for dogs - vitamin K, which helps to improve bone density and joint health, vitamin C, which is beneficial for the immune system and also has anti-inflammatory properties, and minerals like magnesium and potassium that strengthen your dog's nervous system as well as his immune system.
Broccoli is also low in calories and full of fiber, which make it an ideal treat if your dog needs to shed a few pounds. Fiber is not only important for dogs' digestive health, it also makes them feel fuller.
So yes, broccoli is definitely good for dogs, and not just because it has a satisfying crunch that they love!
As I mentioned earlier, it's important to distinguish between the broccoli stem and its florets. While both are generally healthy, the florets contain isothiocyanate, which can be tough on your dog's digestive system. It's not toxic or poisonous, but its presence means you should restrict your dog's intake of broccoli florets in particular to make sure she doesn't get too much of it in her system.
While broccoli stalks don't have isothiocyanate, they do present a different risk. Because they are solid and tough, they can present a choking hazard to dogs. That means that you should serve them safely, ideally cut into bite-sized chunks, and watch your dog while she chows down on them to ensure that none of them get stuck in her throat.
Dogs can eat both raw broccoli and cooked broccoli. In fact, because cooking broccoli softens it up a bit, it also reduce the risk of your dog choking on broccoli stalks.
Of course, they key to cooking broccoli is the same as the key to cooking most other fruits and vegetables for your dog - keep it simple and plain! There's absolutely no need to add anything for your dog. Don't cook broccoli in oil or add things like salt, pepper or other spices to it. You can put some cut-up broccoli in a pan and cook it on the stove or spread it out on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven. The method of cooking doesn't matter much as long as the broccoli is kept in its natural state.
And needless to say, just because you can give your dog cooked broccoli doesn't mean you should give your dog other dishes that contain broccoli. That beef and broccoli from your favorite Chinese place is a definitely no-no, and your leftover broccoli and cheddar soup will inevitably lead to the kinds of stomach issues that will leave both you and your dog unhappy.
Dogs can definitely eat broccoli - it's a healthy snack that contains vitamins, minerals and fiber, so from a nutritional perspective it really does have a lot of beneficial stuff to offer. It also has a delightful crunch that makes it appealing to most vegetable-loving dogs. The fact that it's low in calories means that you don't have to worry too much about giving too much of it to your dog, but as always you should make sure that all doggy snacks, including broccoli, make up no more than 10% of your dog's diet (and are accompanied by a healthy, nutritious dog food).
The key is to distinguish between the florets, which can cause an upset stomach in large enough quantities, and the stalks, which don't have that same problem. We know a lot of home cooks prefer to serve the broccoli florets to humans, so that presents a great opportunity to cut off the stalks, put them to the side and put them on top of your dog's dinner. Of course, because the stalks are tough and dense, they do present a choking hazard, so they should be cut into small enough pieces that that isn't a worry.
So yes, as long as you cook your broccoli plain (or just go ahead and serve it raw), you can definitely give it to your dog and feel great about it - even if you're a 10 year old who's just trying to get it off his plate so he doesn't have to eat it! If you have any questions or concerns about giving broccoli to your dog, though, the best resources is always your veterinarian.
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