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Can dogs eat spinach?

Dog licking his nose

As most dog owners are all too familiar with, dogs can (and will!) eat just about anything. Of course, that in no way means that everything they try to consume is good for them—or even safe.

Your dog’s diet plays a significant role in his overall health and well being, so it’s important to get it right. Questions about what ‘human foods’ dogs can and cannot eat are common among pet parents. It’s not uncommon for well-meaning pet parents to feed their dogs something (grapes, for example) only to later find out that perhaps it wasn’t ideal.

Just like with people, some dogs tolerate specific foods better than others. Generally speaking, though, there’s a good long list of fruits and vegetables that are excellent for dogs and beneficial to their health. So, can dogs eat spinach?

Is spinach safe for dogs to eat?

Leafy greens are incredibly nutritious for humans—and, as it turns out, for dogs too! A good rule of thumb when it comes to leafy greens is that your dog can consume what you would consume. You can feed your dog greens like lettuce, kale, chard, and cabbage. Spinach, of course, is also a good choice.

The benefits of giving your dog spinach

  • Strengthens bones: Spinach is rich in vitamin K, which helps promote production of the protein responsible for stabilizing calcium in the bones. It also has calcium, vitamins C and D, potassium, and magnesium, which all play a role in maintaining healthy bones.
  • Reduces free radicals: Spinach is a good source of vitamin C, which is responsible for scavenging potentially harmful free radicals and can reduce inflammation and cognitive aging.
  • Supports muscle function: The high vitamin A content of spinach supports proper muscle and nerve function, as well as healthy skin and coat.
  • Delivers a dose of magnesium: Magnesium is one of those essential nutrients that plays a critical role in so many processes—and spinach delivers a good dose of it. Magnesium helps with cellular energy production, hormonal and metabolic functions, proper nervous system transmissions, and absorption of numerous vitamins and minerals.

Can spinach be bad for dogs?

Well, it depends. Some people worry about the fact that spinach is fairly high in oxalates, which interferes with the ability of the body to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage. Most experts agree, though, that a dog would need to eat quite a lot of spinach on a regular basis for this to have any significant impact.

The solution is to feed spinach only on occasion, and not in large amounts. If you’re regularly feeding your dogs vegetables—and if they tolerate them well, you should be!—rotate through a few different greens so your recipe differs a bit each time. That way, your dog gets the benefits of different types of leafy greens and you reduce the risk of overdoing it with the oxalates.

How should I serve spinach to my dog?

Like other leafy greens, spinach is most nutritious for your dog when consumed raw. But if you know dogs, you know that few of them will willingly chow down on leafy green anything! So, if you want to give your dog raw spinach for maximum nutrition, your best bet is probably to blend it up with a bit of water into a thick, smoothie-like texture and add it to his food as a topper. You can also add other veggies such as carrots, zucchini, cucumber, beets, mushrooms, and berries.

Alternatively, you can lightly steam spinach. You’ll need to be a little creative when it comes to serving it to your dog, as he’s unlikely to be thrilled with it this way. Some pup parents like to bake spinach into a crispy treat. If you do this, be mindful of the type of oil you’re using (and how much).

The best way to prepare spinach for dogs

Here is an easy recipe to give your pup a boost of all the nutrients that spinach has to offer.

Spinach ‘smoothie’

  • 1–2 cups spinach (or lettuce, dandelion greens, kale, etc.)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 beet
  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½-inch piece fresh ginger or turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Water

Add all ingredients except water to a blender. Add water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze into molds to add to meals.

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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