Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?

can dogs eat broccoli

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Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Broccoli is a vegetable and a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It has long been a nutritious component of our meals as humans and has a lot of health benefits. Today, with the sharing of meals between man and dog, many pet owners want to know, Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Find out the answer to this and many more in this article.

What is a Broccoli?

Broccoli is a green vegetable that vaguely resembles a miniature tree. It belongs to the plant species known as Brassica oleracea. It’s closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower — all edible plants collectively referred to as cruciferous vegetables.

Broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw — both are perfectly healthy but provide different nutrient profiles.

Different cooking methods, such as boiling, microwaving, stir-frying, and steaming, alter the vegetable’s nutrient composition, particularly reducing vitamin C, as well as soluble protein and sugar. Steaming appears to have the fewest negative effects.

Still, raw or cooked, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C. Just half a cup (78 grams) of cooked broccoli provides 84% of the reference daily intake (RDI) — more than one-half orange can offer.

broccoli
Broccoli

Is Broccoli Safe for Dogs?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli. Dogs can eat both cooked and raw broccoli. Remember that dogs are omnivores and can consume meat as well as vegetables. Because of the way canines traditionally consume vegetables, you should limit broccoli and any other treats to 10% of your dog’s total daily calories. 

When Is Broccoli Unsafe for Dogs?

Under normal circumstances, this vegetable poses no problems, however, care needs to be taken when giving them to your canine companions.

Excess Consumption

This vegetable should always be given in very small quantities, especially because the florets contain isothiocyanates, which can cause gastric irritation in dogs. If you’re worried your dog might have eaten too much broccoli, the symptoms you need to watch out for include an upset tummy or any other sign of digestive distress.

Choking Hazards

Also, broccoli stalks have been known to obstruct the esophagus, especially in small dogs, therefore, make sure you cut up the broccoli into bite-size chunks, and keep an eye on your dog as he eats.

Small bites also make it easier to measure the amount of broccoli your dog consumes. As with any new food, start with a very small piece of broccoli to make sure your dog has no negative reactions before feeding him more.

You can reduce the risk significantly by cutting the vegetable into bite-sized chunks for your dog. If you notice an unusual reaction, be prepared to contact the vet and ask for help if you fear your dog is in distress and you can’t help them.

Harmful Bacteria

If you serve broccoli to your pup raw, clean it thoroughly to eliminate any risk of lingering bacteria such as Salmonella. While it is true that cats and dogs are somewhat more resistant to Salmonella than humans, they’re not completely immune and can get very ill.

Allergic Reactions

Allergies are another thing that you should keep an eye out for. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Stomach issues like diarrhea and vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Scratching
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Dragging the bottom across the floor

Broccoli Nutritional Composition

Broccoli is a branched, green vegetable with either purple or more commonly green flower buds. It belongs to the brassica family, along with cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Broccoli is a high-fiber food, which for most of us is highly beneficial – it supports the digestive process and provides a fuel source for the healthy bacteria which reside in our gut.

One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli packs:

  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Protein: 2.6 gram
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 135% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 116% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): 14% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 3% of the RDI

Broccoli has an impressive nutritional profile. It is “high in fiber, very high in vitamin C and has potassium, B6 and vitamin A. A nonstarchy vegetable, it has a good amount of protein.

Broccoli is also packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals are chemicals in plants that are responsible for color, smell, and flavor. Research shows that they have numerous healthful benefits, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Phytochemicals in broccoli are good for the immune system. They include glucobrassicin; carotenoids, such as zeaxanthin and beta-carotene; and kaempferol, a flavonoid.

Broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw — both are perfectly healthy but provide different nutrient profiles.

The antioxidant content of broccoli may be one of its main boons for human health.

Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit or neutralize cell damage caused by free radicals. This can lead to reduced inflammation and an overall health-protective effect.

Broccoli has high levels of glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion.

broccoli garlic recipe
Broccoli recipe

Raw, steamed, or boiled: Which is more nutritious for Dogs?

The way that you prepare broccoli can affect the number of nutrients you get, and which ones.

A 2007 University of Warwick study found that boiling broccoli can undermine the effects of the food’s good, cancer-fighting enzymes. Researchers studied the effects of boiling, steaming, microwave cooking, and stir-fry cooking on fresh broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and green cabbage.

Boiling led to the biggest losses of cancer-fighting nutrients. Steaming for up to 20 minutes, microwave for up to three minutes, and stir-frying for up to five minutes produced no significant loss of cancer-preventive substances. Raw broccoli maintains all of its nutrients, but it is also more likely to irritate your bowels and cause gas.

steamed broccoli

Benefits of Broccoli for Dogs

While dogs don’t need large amounts of fruits and vegetables to live healthy lives, certain ones do make suitable treats on occasion and can even provide health benefits.

Broccoli is high in fiber and vitamin C and low in fat. It is safe for dogs to eat, raw or cooked, as long as no seasonings are added.

Here are a few benefits this vegetable can offer dogs:

  • Antioxidant benefits Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which are damaging molecules created during metabolism. The antioxidants in broccoli are vitamin C—which fights free radicals directly—and sulforaphane, which helps activate other systems in the body that then fight these molecules. 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties Sulforaphane is also an anti-inflammatory. It activates certain pathways that then release enzymes that help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation plays a role in everything from skin conditions to gastrointestinal problems, which is an especially beneficial property.
  • Eye and brain benefit Broccoli can help with eye health. It’s full of carotenoids—which help with retina health—and vitamin A—which helps protect cells in the eye. 
  • High-fiber Broccoli is one of the best high-fiber foods to feed your dog. Fiber can help with stomach and digestion problems, keeping stool firm, and regular defecation. If you’ve heard raw veggies have more fiber, you might be wondering, “Can dogs eat raw broccoli?” They sure can—but boiling or steaming it can bring out more nutrients.

How to Serve Broccoli to Dogs

Cooking, roasting, or steaming the broccoli might be a better option than serving it to your pooch raw as it reduces the chance of intestinal blockages or choking. This is also the best way to add it to your pup’s bowl as an addition to their regular food.

You can also puree broccoli along with some dog-friendly fruits like watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas or other vegetables such as carrots, green beans, cooked sweet potatoes, or cauliflower. Yogurt or fresh fruit juice (no sugar) can also be added to this mix for a refreshing treat on hot summer days.

Other precautions include:

Choose Organic. If you can, it’s always beneficial to opt for organic vegetables. Like other produce, organic broccoli will reduce your pet’s exposure to pesticides, which is healthier for any dog. Organic farming is also a much more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way to feed your pup.

Wash the Veggies. Before you prepare your vegetables, it’s important to wash them in the sink. Modern-day produce goes through a lot during its trip from the farm to the grocery store. It gets handled by a lot of people! You want to make sure you’re cleaning off any germs that may be remaining from the journey.

Skip the Seasoning. When it comes to humans eating vegetables, seasoning is your best friend — it makes them taste better and makes it easier to consume your daily greens. However, it’s important to avoid seasoning when preparing vegetables for dogs.

A dog’s stomach isn’t used to the intense flavors found in seasoning, and the foreign matter could make the dog sick.

Portion control. This is important for your dog’s diet and treats play an essential part when motivating or rewarding your pooch. As with any treat (and broccoli would be considered a treat like all fresh fruits and vegetables), it should comprise only 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Anything more and you risk obesity or upset stomachs.

dog eating broccoli

Broccoli facts

  • Broccoli originated in Italy, where it was developed from wild cabbage and has existed since about the sixth century B.C. 
  • The Italian name for broccoli is “broccolo,” meaning the flowering top of a cabbage. The word comes from the Latin word “brachium,” which means branch or arm, a reflection of the vegetable’s treelike shape.
  • The plant came to France in 1560. Until the early 1700s, broccoli was still not widely known in England and was called “sprout Colli-flower” or “Italian asparagus.”
  • Thomas Jefferson was a fan of broccoli and imported broccoli seeds from Italy, planting them at his home, Monticello, as early as May 1767.
  • Another president, George H.W. Bush, was not a fan. He used his distaste for broccoli as a punch line in dozens of speeches. He once said, “I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid, and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” In response, broccoli growers sent 10 tons of the vegetable to the White House.
  • In 2013, President Barack Obama announced that broccoli was his favorite food.
  • California produces 90 percent of the broccoli grown in the United States.
  • Vegetables related to broccoli are broccolini, a mix between broccoli and “gai-lin” (Chinese broccoli), and broccoflower, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
  • The average American eats over 4 lbs. of broccoli a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • The world record for eating broccoli is held by Tom “Broccoli” Landers. It took him just 92 seconds to eat a full pound of the vegetable. His secret: “Just swallow, don’t bother to chew.”
  • The United States is the world’s third-largest producer of broccoli. China, the top producer, grows over 8 million tons of vegetables a year.

Final Thoughts

Broccoli is nutritious and considered one of the safe vegetables for dogs. Just remember to start with small quantities to avoid any tummy or digestion issues. This cruciferous plant carries many health benefits for your dog, so it’s a worthwhile addition to your dog’s occasional treat list when you’re looking for a healthy snack or nutritious motivating treat for your beloved canine companion.

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