Ever wondered why dogs eat grass? Well as it turns out, they know what they’re doing. Grass, among other leafy greens (or cruciferous vegetables), contain nutrients that are missing in processed diets.
Besides providing fiber, grass also has phytonutrients and digestive enzymes to offer. If your dog is on a processed food, it’s a safe bet he doesn’t get enough (if any) of these beneficial nutrients.
Having said that, if you treat your lawn with chemical pesticides and fertilizer, it’s not the best idea to let Fido munch on it. That is when leafy greens come in handy.
Give Them Some Greens!
Supplementing with leafy greens is very beneficial. They provide lots of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Some of these nutrients include vitamins A, B, C, and K, and minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper. These nutrients aid in maintaining good eyesight, blood pressure, muscle strength, digestion, bone health, and brain function.
Greens are also a good source of fiber which is necessary for a healthy digestive tract and well-formed stools.
Lastly, they provide antioxidants like quercetin, useful in protecting your dog from inflammation and free radicals.
Now that we’ve discussed the general benefits of leafy greens let’s look at some of the best kinds to feed.
Spinach contains vitamins A, B, C, and K. It also contains carotenoids like beta-carotin and lutein, which support eyesight. Spinach’s high fiber content feeds the probiotics in your dog’s gut and can help prevent stool inconsistencies. Calcium, folic acid, and iron are abundant in spinach, and its flavonoids have antioxidant effects.
Kale is highly regarded as one of the healthiest greens for a good reason. Skip the menadione (synthetic vitamin K supplement commonly found in cheap dog foods), kale is rich in vitamin K which is necessary for normal blood clotting.
It’s also a good source of manganese, which supports joints, and is essential for proper bone development and healthy nerve function.
Perfectly safe to feed your dog, lettuce leaves are another healthy choice. While there are exceptions to this, a general rule is the darker the leaves, the more health benefits it has. So look for Bibb or Leaf over Iceberg varieties.
A healthy greens list would not be complete without this incredible plant. Yes, that pesky weed growing in your yard is a superfood! Dandelion is high in both vitamin C and the flavonoid Luteolin.
It’s been shown to be beneficial for the liver and even has some anti-carcinogenic properties. Dandelion is a green you’ll want to add to your dog’s bowl and maybe even yours as well.
Wait What About Oxalic Acid!: So you may or may not have read that spinach, chard, and kale are “high in oxalic acid which can cause kidney stones.” That’s bad right? Well, it would be, if it was true, but this claim is often an exaggeration.
Like many things, oxalates aren’t that black and white. While trying to give you a phobia of spinach they often neglect to tell you what other foods are “high” in oxalic acid.
Kale only contains about 2-13 mg of oxalates per cup, and while spinach is much higher at about 320 mg per cup, a dog weighing ten pounds would still have to eat 3 grams of oxalates (that’s almost 10 cups of spinach!) to cause any significant problems.
There are also studies that indicate foods that contain oxalic acid are beneficial for cancer patients. Bottom line: If you feed a variety of greens in moderation, oxalic acid is of no concern and may protect your dog from cancer.
This principle applies to many substances found in leafy greens. In large amounts, many different compounds can cause disorders. Remember to feed all things in moderation and use rotation to gain optimum benefits and avoid potential health risks.
How To Feed
As with any new food, when first introducing leafy greens, go slow to avoid any stomach upset.
Add a teaspoon of raw or steamed greens to your dog’s bowl a few times a week and gradually increase the amount you feed (up to 1/6 of the meal).
Ideally, add some fresh greens to your pup’s diet at least three times a week.
Here’s a fun way to include greens in your dog’s diet!
Spinach Yogurt Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt, Plain
- 1/4 Cup Blueberries or applesauce (no sugar added)
- 3 Oz Spinach, fresh, rinsed
- 1 Tsp. to 1 TB. Apple Cider Vinegar (see post below for more information!)
- 1/2 Cup Bone Broth
Add all ingredients except water to a blender and puree.
While blending at a low speed pour water or broth into mixture slowly until a liquid sauce consistency is reached.
Feed 1 TB per 10 pounds each meal.
Alternatively, you can freeze the sauce into Popsicles for a refreshing treat!
Feel free to adjust this recipe to your dog’s liking. Make sure you keep it healthy! 😉
Animal Wellness Magazine.com “Spinach: Super Food for Pets.” Web. Oct. 6, 2017. <https:/animalwellnessmagazine.com/spinach-super-food-for-pets/>
Becker, Karen. “Why Do Dogs Eat Grass” healthypets.mercola.com Dec. 23, 2009. Web Sept. 29, 2017. <http://healthypets.mercola.com/why-do-dogs-eat-grass.aspx>
Henriques, Julia. “10 Reasons to Feed Your Dog Vegetables And Fruits” <http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/10-reasons-to-feed-vegetables-for-dogs/>
Herrington, Diana. “Oxalic Acid Controversy” realfoodlife.com Aug. 11, 2012. Web Sept. 29, 2017. <http://www.realfoodforlife.com/oxalic-acid-controversy/>