Can Dogs Have Spinach?

Alex Seilis
can dogs have spinach

Given spinach’s reputation as a nutrition powerhouse, it’s no wonder this leafy green often catches our attention as a potential healthy food for dogs. But when it comes to sharing food with your pup, it's important to be cautious and informed. 

So ... can dogs have spinach leaves safely? 

The answer is yes, it’s safe for most dogs to eat spinach in moderation. 

But in spite of the many spinach benefits for dogs, there are a few things you need to know before feeding your dog this nutritious leafy green. Keep reading to find out how to make spinach as beneficial as possible for your canine companion.

The key word here, though, is moderation. Spinach is a nutrient-rich vegetable that can offer some health benefits to our four-legged friends, but that doesn’t mean you want to overfeed it either. 

So before we get into the benefits, exactly how much spinach can a dog eat?

How Much Spinach Can A Dog Eat?

Before we answer, the better question is “how much spinach should a dog eat?” 

Since spinach is nutrient-rich, your dog doesn’t need to eat a ton of it to get the benefits. Simply adding 1-2 tablespoons of cooked or raw spinach to your dog’s regular meals on occasion is plenty.

Some spinach-loving dog owners prefer to follow the 10% rule ... meaning veggies like spinach should be no more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake. This rule can work well with other veggies, but the reason we don’t recommend it with spinach is because spinach is so low in calories. So even 10% of your dog’s calories coming just from spinach will be way too much spinach for most dogs. 

Spinach should be part of a balanced diet and not the main focus of your dog’s meals. Variety is key to providing your pup with a wide range of nutrients from different sources. 

So even though spinach can be a nutritious addition to any meal, make sure your dog is eating a well-rounded diet that includes other vegetables and fruit, as well as animal proteins, organ meats and bones. 

The Nutritional Benefits Of Spinach For Dogs

Spinach’s benefits mostly come from its wide variety of essential nutrients, which can contribute to your dog's overall health when fed appropriately. 

Here are some of the major nutritional benefits of spinach for dogs:

  1. Vitamins: Spinach is packed with vitamins A, C, and K. These vitamins support various functions in your dog's body, including vision, immune system health, and blood clotting.
  2. Minerals: Spinach contains important minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium. These minerals play a crucial role in maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and overall body function.
  3. Fiber: Lastly, spinach is a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in healthy digestion and can help regulate your pup’s bowel movements.

Can Dogs Have Raw Spinach? 

The next thing you’re probably asking is what kind of spinach can dogs have, or what kind of spinach is best for dogs? 

Luckily, dogs can eat all kinds of spinach as long as it doesn’t have added ingredients, spices, or excess salt. With those caveats in mind, raw spinach is an easy and obvious choice, and you’ll be happy to know that most dogs can have raw spinach safely in moderation. 

The key to feeding dogs raw spinach is to prepare it properly. Some dogs will do fine eating raw spinach as is, but for others the leaves can be challenging to digest. Some people also argue that dogs may not receive the full nutritional benefits from the vegetable in its raw form. If you want to give your dog raw spinach, it's best to purée or mulch it for better digestibility.

Caution About Thyroid Effects
One other caution is that spinach (like other cruciferous veggies) is a goitrogen. That means it can interfere with thyroid function. So people worry that hypothyroid dogs shouldn’t have spinach. Here’s what veterinarian Jean Dodds DVM says about that …

“Cruciferous vegetables if fed raw have goitrogenic properties and can lower thyroid activity. But, once they are cooked, even lightly steamed, the goitrogenic activity is minimized.”

So, as with most other leafy greens, it’s a good idea to lightly steam or blanch spinach to make it more digestible and avoid affecting your dog's thyroid activity.

Can Dogs Have Cooked Spinach? 

Yes, dogs can have cooked spinach, but it’s best prepared without a lot of added seasonings, oils, or other ingredients that may be harmful to dogs. Plain, cooked spinach, perhaps with some healthy fat like olive oil, pastured butter or ghee, or some turmeric for its many health benefits, can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your dog’s diet.

You can also feed your dog frozen spinach as long as it’s plain, without cream or other rich extras. 

Can Dogs Have Canned Spinach? 

Dogs can have canned spinach, but be aware that canned vegetables often contain added sodium and preservatives, which can be harmful to dogs. 

You’ll want to read the fine print on the nutrition label on canned spinach before feeding it to your dog, to make sure it doesn’t contain excess salt, added ingredients, or spices. A lot of canned spinach will contain one or more of these things.

Additionally, the cooking process and prolonged storage in cans may cause a loss of some of the valuable nutrients found in fresh spinach. 

So while dogs can technically have canned spinach, it's better to opt for high quality fresh or frozen spinach when including it in your dog's meals.

Feeding Spinach To Dogs | Final Notes & Cautions

A few final things to remember as you introduce spinach to your dog's diet:

Choosing, Preparing & Serving Spinach

There's one more caution when it comes to spinach. Spinach appears on the Environmental Working Group's “Dirty Dozen” list every year … meaning it's known to contain high pesticide and chemical residues. That’s why you should always opt for organic spinach if possible, and wash it thoroughly. 

As mentioned earlier, lightly steaming or blanching the spinach is recommended to improve digestibility for dogs. Also, either use baby spinach or be sure to chop your spinach into small, manageable pieces to prevent a choking hazard.  

Observing Your Dog's Response 

Every dog is unique, and while spinach is generally safe, some dogs may have individual sensitivities or allergies. It’s also possible that your dog won’t care for the taste of spinach or doesn’t digest it well. 

So monitor your dog's reaction after he eats spinach for the first time. If you notice any adverse symptoms, consider feeding another vegetable instead (there are plenty!) You'll find some more veggies that are good for dogs in this article).

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