Dogs can be just as much work as kids when it comes to feeding the right foods! Knowing what your pup can and can’t eat is one of the most important things about being a dog owner. And while you might not notice everything your dog puts into his mouth, you’re in charge of his meals and snacks.
What many pet parents don’t realize is that there are lots of whole foods that offer nutritional benefits for both humans and dogs. Adding ‘people’ food to your dog’s meals can provide him with a great variety—and plenty of vitamins and other nutrients.
One food that you might not have considered feeding your dog is asparagus! This green vegetable is known for its slender spears that appear in springtime. It’s a natural addition to many summer dishes and harbors a fresh, somewhat earthy flavor. Asparagus is also prized for its nutritional benefits and has been shown to have potential cancer-fighting and diuretic properties. But can dogs eat asparagus?
Yes! Asparagus is not only free from toxins, it’s a nutritious vegetable that your best friend can benefit from in lots of ways. But before you go serving up asparagus rolls to your doggo, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.
For a start, the stalks of asparagus stalks can be quite tough. This will depend on the age of the asparagus and how it was grown. We humans always cook asparagus before eating it because it brings out the flavor—and makes it easier to eat.
This is why dogs may not benefit so much from raw asparagus. To reduce the risk of a tough piece of asparagus becoming a choking hazard, either cook it first or chop it up into small pieces before you feed it to him.
There are quite a few benefits of asparagus for dogs.
Dogs need plenty of fiber—and asparagus is packed with it! This includes the two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is the type that can’t be broken down in the gut. Instead, it adds bulk to your dog’s stools, which helps to keep his bowel movements regular. Insoluble fiber also supports the renewal of the cells lining his intestines. Soluble fiber is a form of ‘food’ for the healthy bacteria living in your dog’s gut. These bacteria are very important in supporting his digestion and immune function. Like humans, up to 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is in his gut. A little fiber can go a long way!
Although dogs can make vitamin C on their own, it’s still an important addition to his diet. Vitamin C provides powerful antioxidant protection against harmful free radicals, which can damage cells and increase the risk of disease. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E help control the free radical damage while slowing the aging process.
Asparagus also provides powerful polyphenols and flavonoids. These also help control inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic disease
This little green veg is a kind of nutritional powerhouse, providing vitamins A, C, E, K, and B9. Vitamin K helps promote production of the protein, which is needed for stabilizing calcium in the bones. It also activates the body’s blood-clotting mechanisms and supports bone health. Vitamins C and D, potassium, and magnesium also play a role in maintaining healthy bones.
The excellent vitamin A content of asparagus is important for vision, immune health and reproduction. It also supports skin and bone health, too. Vitamin B9 (folate) plays an essential role in the growth of cells, amino acid metabolism, and DNA synthesis.
Asparagus is a great source of both vitamins and minerals. It contains good levels of potassium, copper, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Potassium is an important electrolyte required for healthy nerve impulses. It also helps with brain and muscle function. Copper forms collagen, bone, and connective tissue. It also supports red blood cell production and nerve cell maintenance. Iron makes up the protein hemoglobin which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Calcium is essential for your dog’s bone and cartilage development. It’s also vital for blood clotting and the health of his neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine function. Phosphorus works alongside calcium to support healthy bones and teeth.
As mentioned above, dogs can have difficulty chewing and digesting raw asparagus. Older asparagus is especially tough. As healthy as asparagus can be, a tough piece can cause vomiting, gas, or diarrhea—and a very upset tummy! The other potential risk is choking. Dogs often eat very quickly and seem to inhale their food rather than chew it properly. A tough asparagus stalk can easily get stuck in your pup’s esophagus.
If a piece of asparagus looks too tough for you to eat yourself, it’s probably too tough for your dog.
Cooking asparagus lightly makes it easier to chew. Avoid using butter or cooking oil as this adds unnecessary calories to your dog’s diet and can make him feel sick. Instead, steam or boil it—just as you would for yourself. Incorporate it into his meal or serve it on its own, if your dog will eat it that way.
If you really want to try feeding your dog raw asparagus, serve only young, fresh stalks. Chop them up into small pieces that can be easily chewed and digested.
Learn more about whether other foods are safe for dogs: