Can My Dog Eat Spinach? What are the Benefits of Spinach?

If you’ve ever wondered if you can feed spinach to your pup, the answer is yes! Your dog can eat spinach. In addition, human foods can be a source of additional nutrients and flavor for your pet’s meals. 

Although spinach stirs up quite a bit of controversy as there are some benefits and a few cons to consider when adding these green leaves to your dog’s diet. 

Pomeranian dog waiting for a yummy food

Keep reading to find out if spinach is safe for your dog.

Is Spinach Safe for Dogs to Eat? 

Labrador watching the spinach plant
A happy Labrador Retriever dog watching the spinach plant – Image source

Dogs in the wild eat meat, only using vegetables as supplementary food. As canines are naturally carnivorous, their diet should only contain around 25% or less vegetable matter.

That said, spinach is safe for your dog to eat in small quantities

Dog owners need to be aware of oxalates, a natural chemical found in spinach that can lead to kidney problems, but there are also numerous benefits to be found when feeding your dog spinach.

Check out this video of a super cute dog munching down on some spinach: 

Health Benefits of Spinach

While dogs don’t need to eat vegetables, these leafy greens have some beneficial nutrients for your pet. Spinach is rich in Vitamins A, E, B, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.

This superfood is also rich in iron, which prevents anemia; magnesium for metabolism and muscle function; and beta-carotene, which is vital for good vision.

Spinach also contains antioxidants that help lower glucose levels, manganese that helps in bone formation and blood clotting, potassium which assists with nerve function, and folate, which helps create blood cells and convert carbs into energy. 

Spinach also has anti-inflammatory properties and can assist in maintaining blood pressure levels.

Because of all the nutrients it contains, spinach can help to boost your pooch’s immune system and energy levels while helping fight cancer and prevent heart disease. 

In addition, the Vitamin A present in spinach can build healthy skin and coat through the moderation of oil production in the skin. It is also a healthy source of fiber and can assist in creating a healthy digestive system.

What parts of Spinach can dogs eat?

Spinach puree in a bowl
Bowl of homemade spinach puree

Dogs digest vegetables differently from how humans do. So while the leaves of the spinach plant can be digested by dogs when chopped up or pureed, the stems are too hard and fibrous for your dog.

Spinach stems should thus be discarded before cooking the leaves for your pet.

How should you prepare Spinach for your dog? 

The best way to prepare spinach for your dog is to steam it. Dogs can’t eat raw spinach, and boiling this vegetable will cause it to lose most of its nutrients.

Steaming, blanching, and even pureeing spinach make it easier for your dog to digest.

Never add any salt, pepper, spices, herbs, butter, oil, onion, or garlic to the spinach, as these can be toxic for your dogs. Also, try to buy organic spinach for your pup.

If you can’t find organic vegetables, be sure to rinse before preparation to wash off any pesticides. 

When feeding spinach to your dog, ensure your pet also drinks a lot of water to help battle the high sodium levels of spinach and clear away the oxalic acid. 

How much Spinach can your dog eat?

A dog’s diet should be 75-85% meat-based. Feeding large amounts of spinach or any vegetable to your dog can lead to nutrient deficiencies, like amino acids, as veggies are low in protein.

Also, all dogs react differently to foods, so too much of a good thing can be harmful. 

While spinach does have many health benefits, too much spinach in your dog’s diet could cause an upset stomach and lead to vomiting or diarrhea.

The exact amount of spinach you can feed your dog will depend on the breed and size of your dog but aim for infrequent small amounts. Serve it sparingly and occasionally, around once or twice a week

Also, avoid giving spinach to your dog when he is still a puppy. A puppy’s kidneys are still developing, and as they aren’t fully functional, they may struggle to eliminate the calcium oxalates found in spinach.

This could lead to your dog developing urinary issues later on in life. 

What are Spinach dog treats you can make at home?

French Bulldog and other dog excited for the spinach treats
Two dogs excited for the spinach treats – Image source

Steamed spinach can be served as is a great low-calorie snack for your pup. You can also try making a healthy homemade treat for your pooch by following this recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 carrot

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet
  2. Peel and shred the carrots and zucchini and chop the spinach
  3. Mix the eggs, pumpkin, and peanut butter until a smooth consistency
  4. Gradually add the oats until well mixed
  5. Slowly beat in the flour
  6. Finally, mix in the chopped spinach and shredded carrots, and zucchini until everything is incorporated into the dough
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll out the mixture to a quarter-inch thickness
  8. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough and place it on the lined baking sheet
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 24 minutes
  10. Allow to cool completely before giving to your pet

When is Spinach bad for dogs? 

Spinach leaves in a bowl
A bowl full of spinach leaves

According to AKC, fresh spinach is very high in oxalic acid. This blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and magnesium. Too much oxalic acid could lead to a low blood calcium level and metabolic imbalance. 

Calcium is vital for many bodily functions, including bone growth, controlling insulin and blood sugar levels, regulating blood pressure and blood vessel constriction, helping blood clot, regulating heartbeat, and releasing neurotransmitters in the brain and muscles.

Also, as calcium oxalate is excreted through the kidneys, large volumes of oxalic acid can lead to kidney damage or even kidney failure. Calcium oxalate crystals can also build up to form bladder stones.

Alongside kidney stress, long-term exposure to oxalic acid could lead to abnormal heart rhythms, muscle weakness, and respiratory paralysis.

That said, your dog would have to consume a considerable amount of spinach, almost his entire body weight, to be affected. Healthy dogs with normal kidneys can efficiently process small volumes of soluble oxalates. 

Also, spinach contains very high levels of sodium, as much as 24 milligrams per 30 grams. This high sodium content can cause your pet to develop a variety of health problems. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Confused dachshund dog
A Dachshund dog looking confused – Image source

Should you give commercial dog food with Spinach to your dog?

Many commercial dog foods contain vegetables dogs can eat, and this may include spinach. The formula should be designed to include this leafy vegetable so that it is safe for dogs to eat. 

You can also add spinach to your dog’s daily kibble to bolster the nutrition value. As with any new food, be sure to introduce it slowly and avoid large quantities.

If your dog develops any adverse side effects, be sure to stop feeding them spinach immediately. 

What should you do if your dog won’t eat spinach?

Some dogs simply don’t like the taste of spinach.

If you still want to reap the benefits of this vegetable, you can try mixing spinach with some other vegetables your pet enjoys, such as carrot or sweet potatoes, along with some tasty meat.

You can also try giving your pet other dog-friendly greens like kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, or lettuce.

Consult your veterinarian before adding spinach to your dog’s diet

Adorable dog waiting for the veggies food
Meet Shiloh, a vegetarian dog – Image source

This article should never substitute for a consultation with a veterinary professional.

Before adding any new food to your dog’s diet, be sure to consult with your local vet, as they will be able to provide the best advice for your four-legged friend.

In addition, feeding spinach to a dog with other health ailments, particularly kidney disease, can be detrimental. 

Does your pup enjoy eating spinach? Let us know in the comments below!

Do note that while a veterinary technician wrote this article, it should not substitute for medical advice. If your dog ate spinach and has an adverse reaction, please immediately seek professional assistance or a DVM vet.

Further reading: What other vegetables can dogs eat?

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