Can Dogs Eat Spinach?
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Spinach is a green leafy vegetable that is often used as an ingredient in many dishes and recipes, especially salads. It is considered very healthy, as it is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. If you have ever wondered if it is safe for dogs to eat spinach, the answer is yes. However, it is advisable to include it in your dog's diet in moderation in order to prevent spinach consumption from adversely affecting their health.
In this AnimalWised article, we will explain if dogs can eat spinach and how you can include it in your dog's diet.
Is spinach good for dogs?
Spinach is a plant of the Chenopodiaceae family, grown for its nutritious and tasty leaves. This vegetable, which is common in human diets, can also be included in the diets of dogs, since every part of the spinach plant is edible and non-toxic for your dog.
Its high vitamin and mineral content offers many benefits to our pets. In fact, spinach is a main ingredient in many commercial dog foods. However, while it may be included in your dog's diet, it should be done in moderation. Below, we explain why:
- Spinach contains oxalic acid: when oxalic acid combines with calcium, calcium oxalate crystals are formed. These crystals can cluster together and form urinary stones. Calcium oxalate stones are much more common in male dogs than in females, especially in small breeds such as Miniature Schnauzers, Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers.
- Spinach contains nitrates: Nitrates are relatively non-toxic on their own, but after ingestion they convert to nitrites, which can sometimes lead to methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder in which an abnormal amount of methemoglobin is produced.
If you decide to include spinach in your dog's diet, make sure you do so in moderation to avoid these detrimental effects on your pet's health. In the following sections, we will discuss how and how much to include this vegetable in your dog's diet.
Benefits of spinach for dogs
The nutritional value of spinach lies in its high content of vitamins and minerals. Below, we have compiled the main nutritional benefits of spinach for dogs:
- They provide large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B9 (folates). To a lesser extent, it also provides vitamin E, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and B2 (riboflavin).
- They have a high content of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body and has an antioxidant and stimulating effect on the immune system. In addition, they contain other carotenoids such as lutein or zeaxanthin, which are beneficial for maintaining visual acuity and preventing the development of cataracts.
- Among minerals, its high content of magnesium and iron stands out. The iron contained in spinach is non-heme iron, which is more difficult to absorb than the heme form found in animal foods. However, some nutrients, such as vitamin C (also found in spinach), can greatly enhance iron absorption Although to a lesser extent, spinach also contains potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.
- It contains a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fiber. Although dogs' digestive systems cannot digest fiber, it is an important nutrient in their diets. Among other things, dietary fiber adds volume to the ration, creates a feeling of satiety, helps maintain the gut microbiota, and regulates intestinal transit and stool consistency.
If your dog is overweight, and you would like to learn more about the best food for weight loss in dogs, read on this article on homemade recipes for obese dogs.
Spinach dosage for dogs
As we have already mentioned, spinach is a suitable vegetable for dogs. However, due to its oxalic acid and nitrate content, it should be included in your diet only in moderation. Due to these components, spinach can be harmful to dogs if given in excess. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the amount and frequency with which it is given.
As a guideline, you can include spinach in your dog's ration one day per week. For small dogs, about 5 leaves are enough. For large dogs it should be about 10 leaves.
How to give spinach to your dog
First of all, you should know that both fresh and frozen spinach is suitable for dogs. If you decide to use fresh spinach, remember to wash it in plenty of water to remove any impurities or pesticides that may be on its surface.
How to cook spinach for dogs?
Although you can offer it raw, it is likely that your dog will reject it. Therefore, we recommend that you steam it in order to preserve its nutritional properties.
Once cooked, you can mix it with the homemade ration, that is, you can add animal proteins, some more vegetables or some cereals to the dish, depending on what you usually offer your dog. Of course, it is very important to seek the advice of a veterinarian specialized in dog nutrition to make sure that the homemade food does not have any nutritional deficiencies. If you want to know more about how to give homemade food to your dog, do not miss our article on a natural diet for dogs.
Contraindications of spinach for dogs
Although dogs can eat spinach, there are certain situations in which its consumption may be contraindicated. In particular, the use of this ingredient should be avoided in the following cases:
- Dogs with kidney problems, especially dogs with urinary stones.
- Male dogs of small breeds (such as Miniature Schnauzers, Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers), as they have a greater tendency to form calcium oxalate stones.
- Dogs with anemia.
- Dogs with food allergies or intolerances.
- Dogs with a digestive system that is particularly sensitive to changes in diet.
If your dog suffers from anemia, and you are looking for the best food to give to your dog, keep reading this article on what to feed your dog with anemia.
If, on the other hand, your dog suffer from kidney problems, then do not miss this other article on homemade diet for dogs with kidney failure.
If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Eat Spinach?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
- Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN). Consumption recommendations for children due to the presence of nitrates in leafy vegetables .
- Basque Foundation for Food Safety (ELIKA). (2013). Undesirable substances in animal feed: nitrites
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA). Spinach , Spinacia oleracea L. Available at: https://formacion.intef.es/pluginfile.php/86689/mod_imscp/content/10/35-espinacas.pdf