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Can dogs eat cabbage?

Dog surrounded by cabbages

Knowing which foods your dog can and can’t eat is one of the most important things about being a dog owner. As everyone knows, dogs are quite capable of eating anything and everything! Dogs are naturally curious about different foods and will often eat first and think later—usually without you even noticing. Unfortunately, this means that he might happily sample something he finds that isn’t good for him, or may even make him sick.

Of course, it’s also possible for a dog owner to feed their precious companion a particular food that they think is okay, but it turns out to be harmful.

There are lots of foods out there that harbor nutritional benefits for both humans and dogs—some of which you can share at mealtimes together! In fact, you might be surprised to find out how many different human foods dogs can eat (and some that they definitely shouldn’t).

One food that regularly causes a lot of confusion is cabbage. Cabbages are a vegetable from the cruciferous family, which is the same as kale and broccoli. There are many varieties of cabbage, and their colors range from leafy green to red, or white. Cabbages are a biennial plant grown all over the world, often in crops. They’re revered for their dense, nutrient-packed heads.

But, can dogs eat cabbage or not?

Is cabbage safe for dogs to eat?

You may be surprised to learn that yes, dogs can eat cabbage! It’s actually a good source of natural nutrients and fiber, along with a variety of other benefits. If you’ve ever eaten cabbage yourself, you’ll know that they can lead to a little gas and bloating—especially in sensitive people. It’s for this reason that you should know how to give your dog cabbage without him suffering the same way.

The benefits of giving your dog cabbage

These leafy green vegetables are not only amazingly cost-efficient and easy to grow, but they’re super healthy for both you and your dog! Here are some of the benefits if you feed your dog cabbage:

  • Rich in antioxidants: Researchers have identified almost 20 different flavonoids and 15 different phenols in cabbage, all of which show important antioxidant activity. In humans, the impressive antioxidant capacity of cabbage has been linked to a decreased risk of several cardiovascular diseases. Your dog may also benefit from these amazing antioxidants!
  • Red is best: Cabbages of the red or purple variety contain the highest amount of nutrients. They’re also rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, which make up the majority of research studies on cabbage. Anthocyanins in red cabbage are a major factor in the cardiovascular protection provided by cabbages, particularly in protecting red blood cells. Studies have shown that eating red cabbages can improve blood levels of beta-carotene, lutein, and total blood antioxidant capacity in humans.
  • Packed with nutrients: Just half a cup of cooked cabbage provides your dog with a substantial amount of bioavailable vitamin C along with folate, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and K. All of these nutrients play a major role in your dog’s immune system function, cognition, cell repair, and energy production. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that has been shown to help protect against heart disease, some cancers, and vision loss.
  • Anti-inflammatory: The antioxidants in cabbage not only help ward off damaging free radicals, they also help reduce certain blood markers of inflammation. Research has shown that this is largely thanks to the antioxidants sulforaphane and kaempferol found in cruciferous vegetables.
  • Full of fiber: One of the cabbage’s best-known health properties is its rich fiber content—both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is ‘food’ for the healthy gut microbiota in your dog’s gut, while insoluble fiber is the ‘roughage’ that helps move food through his digestive system. This is important for keeping your dog regular!
  • Good source of vitamin K: Vitamin K is a type of fat-soluble vitamin required for many different functions in the body. Cabbage is a rich source of vitamin K1, which acts as an important cofactor for enzymes involved in blood clotting. Very important for an active doggo!

Can cabbage be bad for dogs?

As with any food, cabbage should be fed in moderation. There are a few reasons for this. For one, the high fiber content of cabbage means it can cause a lot of gas in the gut, which can be quite uncomfortable (and smelly!). Feeding your dog too much cabbage throughout the day can lead to bloating and even stomach pain.

Vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage also contain a natural compound called thiocyanate, which may affect the function of the thyroid gland if consumed in excess.

Another important point to note is that dogs need a high proportion of protein in their diet. While cabbage does contain protein, it's in small amounts that aren't enough for a dog!

The best way to prepare cabbage for dogs (easy recipes)

Although raw cabbage is safe for dogs in very small amounts, it can be a little harsh on their digestive system. The best way for your dog to enjoy cabbage is cooked. Simply steam or boil cabbage just as you would cook it for yourself. Steaming is the healthiest option as it allows the cabbage to retain all of its natural nutrients and flavor.

How should I serve cabbage to my dog?

To avoid your dog suffering from the effects of gas and bloating, be sure to add only a minimal amount of cabbage to your dog's diet to start off with. Cooked cabbage may be the best in the beginning as it’s a little easier to digest. Try mixing it into his regular food, small amounts at a time. Be sure to observe him for any adverse effects before giving more cabbage. If he seems uncomfortable or has to let off more gas than usual, perhaps cabbage isn’t the best food for your particular dog.

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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