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Can dogs eat beets?

Spaniel with his head in a food bowl

Dogs can eat anything, right? Well, they might try to, but that doesn’t mean everything is good for them—or safe!

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know how important it is to feed him the right foods. You’ll also know that dogs are naturally curious about different ‘edible’ items. They often eat first and think later—usually without you even noticing. Unfortunately, this means that he might happily chow down on something that isn’t healthy or safe for him.

In other cases, a dog owner may unknowingly feed their precious companion a particular food that they think is okay, but it turns out to be a very bad idea.

There are lots of human foods dogs eat that harbor nutritional benefits for them, too. Some of them might surprise you!

One of the foods that many dog owners might not have considered giving their dog is beets. Beets are fantastic for humans—but can dogs eat beets, too?

Are beets good for dogs to eat?

Red beets are a root vegetable and they are safe for dogs. Recent research has hailed them as a ‘superfood’ thanks to their enormous range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While beets are mostly eaten for their root, their leaves can also be eaten either raw or cooked. So yes, dogs can eat beets—the entire plant, in fact!

The benefits of adding beets to your dog's diet:

  • Powerful antioxidants: Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in beets may help reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. Beets get their bright red color from betacyanin, a plant pigment that has been found to help defend cells against harmful carcinogens.
  • Full of fiber: Beets contain plenty of healthy fiber that keeps food moving through your dog’s digestive system. They contain good amounts of both insoluble hemicellulose and soluble pectin, and also small amounts of cellulose and lignin, which have been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer in humans.
  • Healthy greens: Beet greens can also be cooked and added to your dog’s meal—and they should, because they’re an excellent source of lutein. Lutein is a super antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain a huge variety of phytochemicals that can boost the health and function of your doggo’s eyes and nerve tissues.
  • Energy-boosting: Many athletes drink beet juice to support their endurance levels. It’s been found that beets not only helps them work out for longer, but helps to maintain a lower resting blood pressure. This performance boost is thought to be from the high nitrate content, which is also great for your dog’s energy and recovery!

Can beets be bad for dogs?

While beets are abundant in health benefits, there are a few things to be mindful of before serving them up to your pet.

Like any root vegetable, beets can be a potential choking hazard if not chopped up properly. Chunks of raw beet may be quite tough to digest, and could cause an obstruction in the small intestine—the last thing you want your dog to endure!

Beets can also be somewhat messy! The bright red dye can seep into your dog’s fur, or end up on the carpet or furniture. Take care to keep them in the dish, or serve them outdoors only.

And here’s one thing to watch out for: beets can also turn your dog’s feces bright red. If you feed your dog beets, don’t panic when you see blood-colored stools. It’s quite harmless, but it can be quite alarming to see.

Another concern is that beets are high in oxalates. This can cause health problems in dogs who are prone to bladder infections or kidney stones. Beets also tend to be highly acidic, which means that too many can lead to gastrointestinal distress such as gas and diarrhea. Check with your vet if you aren’t sure whether beets are safe for your particular breed of dog.

Last but not least, beets have the highest sugar content of nearly every other vegetable. That’s why moderation is key.

For these reasons, it’s probably best to limit your dog’s intake of beets if he has some health issues.

The best way to prepare beets for dogs

Dogs can eat raw beets just fine. But if you want to try serving your dog beets, it’s recommended that you start with cooked beets. Choose fresh beets and wash thoroughly, then chop them into small chunks before cooking.

Boiling beets is the best way to make them tender, which will help with chewing and digestion. Steaming is also a good option. This involves cooking the beets in a closed pot or vessel with minimal water, which allows the vegetable to retain all of its nutrients. You should also remove the tough peel from the beet before giving it to your dog. This can be done simply by using a paper towel to wipe the skin off.

As with any vegetable, make sure the beets are cooked all the way through before adding to your dog’s dinner. Observe his response after introducing him to this new vegetable, and if all his well, you should be fine to continue adding them on occasion.

Learn about more human foods that dogs can or can't eat

The article was written by Katie Stone on August 28, 2020.

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