Yes, dogs can eat spinach- BUT it's not without controversy. That's because it's high in oxalic acid which inhibits calcium absorption, and may contribute to kidney damage or stress. If in doubt, check with your vet to see if spinach is right for your dog. You can serve raw spinach, but steamed is the preferred method to cook as nutrient loss is minimal and it makes it easier to digest.
Are there any benefits to dogs eating spinach?
Spinach is a fantastic source of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, potassium, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, selenium, vitamin K and dietary fiber. These nutrients help build muscles and bones, improve eyesight, maintain skin health and boost immunity.
5 Benefits of Spinach For Your Dog
1. Builds Strong Bones & Muscles
Iron is an element found in hemoglobin which helps transport oxygen from lungs to cells. Iron deficiency leads to fatigue, weakness and poor growth. Spinach is rich in iron and thus, helps build strong bones and muscles.
2. Improves Eyesight
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps improve/maintain vision. Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness, dry eye, corneal ulcers, cataracts, and even death. Spinach is a rich source of vitamin A and thus, helps improve eyesight.
3. Boosts Immunity
Calcium is an essential mineral for bone development. Calcium deficiency can cause muscle cramps, convulsions, depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, and in the direst situations, death.
4. Helps Maintain Skin Health
Folate or vitamin B9, is important for normal blood formation, tissue growth, immune function and cell division. Folate deficiency can result in hair loss problems, digestive disorders, seizures, and even brain damage.
5. Promotes Healthy Hair And Nail Growth
Zinc is an essential trace mineral needed for normal cell function. Zinc deficiency results in brittle nails and hair loss. Spinach is rich with zinc and helps promotes healthy hair growth.
How to Prepare Spinach For Dogs
Remember that fresh fruit and veggie treats should at a maximum equate to 10% of your dog's daily food caloric intake. Ideally, no more than a few leaves will do give your dog a nutrient boost. Your dogs body digests fruits and vegetables differently than humans, so any spinach you choose to serve will need to be chopped into manageable pieces, after thoroughly washing.
If you are scratch making food with spinach for your dog vs. a treat, 2-3 tablespoons of shredded fresh spinach per serving is ideal.
Perhaps your dog isn't convinced that eating this green vegetable raw is for them. Steaming spinach makes it more palatable for some, but don't use any seasonings and keep an eye on your portion sizes as spinach condenses as it is steamed.
If you are unsure about the suitability of this super human food for your pup, get in touch with your veterinarian to confirm if it's worth feeding.
Oxalic Acid and your dog
Spinach contains a fairly high level of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid, or Oxalates, are compounds found in plants that disrupt your dog's normal metabolism.
Calcium oxalate crystals can form when oxalate levels in a dog's body are too high. These crystals reduce calcium uptake and lower the overall levels in your dog's body of calcium. This can be very dangerous.
When oxalates do build-up in your dog, they build up within the kidneys. The kidneys can eliminate them, but too much can cause bladder stones or kidney damage. Left unchecked, kidney failure and even death may result. Because of this, dogs with kidney disease shouldn't eat spinach.
Here are the signs of oxalate overload:
Abnormal heart rhythm
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, provide them lots with lots of fresh water to flush the oxalates from their system and contact your vet as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts on Spinach
Some dog parents believe the risk of eating spinach is minimal, while others think the risk for dogs with health problems is too great. For that reason, before offering spinach to your dog, ask your vet first.
If you're worried about oxalic acid in your dog's diet, consider feeding them another leafy green vegetable like kale, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, or swiss chard.