Can Dogs Eat Kale?
by Jessi Larson
Kale is quite the trendy health food these days. But can dogs eat kale just like their human counterparts?
As dog parents, we want to keep our pups healthy and happy. Everyone knows that kale is a superfood for people, so it makes sense to wonder if it’s true for dogs.
If you’ve been asking, “Can dogs eat kale?”, the answer is, well, complicated. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and our ultimate verdict.
What is Kale?
You’ve surely seen the leafy green vegetable in grocery stores and listed as an ingredient in salads. But what the heck is kale and how does it differ from lettuce?
A hardy, leafy vegetable, kale is part of the Brassica oleracea species, which includes common foods such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Kale comes in many varieties, although the two most popular types are classic curly-leafed and the flat-leafed Lacinato.
In recent years, kale has gained popularity as a superfood, and when you look at the nutritional facts, it’s not hard to tell why. The leafy vegetable is loaded with vitamins K and C, beta-carotene, calcium, carotenoids and sulforaphane.
Compared to lettuce, kale has a coarser texture and somewhat bitter taste, so it’s certainly not for everyone. But for many, it’s a healthy, wholesome staple in their diet, whether it’s in a salad, part of a green smoothie or in the form of kale chips.
Kale is certainly good for humans, but can dogs eat kale?
As mentioned above, kale is packed with many good-for-you nutrients that are great for humans – and yes, also for dogs.
The superfood is high in beta-carotene, vitamins C and K, magnesium and potassium. Human bodies are better designed to digest coniferous vegetables, and while dogs don’t absorb nearly as many nutrients as humans, they do get a healthy dose.
And while we’re talking about the good qualities, it should be noted that kale contains antioxidants known for their cancer-fighting abilities.
The problem with kale, however, is that it contains several potentially harmful natural compounds including calcium oxalate and isothiocyanates.
According to the AKC, calcium oxalate can cause health issues in dogs like kidney and bladder stones. Generally, these issues can be treated with help from your veterinarian. Even so, no one wants to see their pup in pain, and it’s certainly no fun to drop hundreds of dollars on vet bills.
And if your dog is already prone to kidney or bladder stones, they should stay far away from foods high in calcium oxalate, including spinach, collards, parsley, leeks, quinoa, and, of course, kale.
And if this wasn’t enough to worry about, you also have to consider that kale can interfere with thyroid function if fed on a regular basis.
So, just how much kale is too much? The AKC states if the amount is under 10 percent of your dog’s daily intake, you’re in the clear. If it’s over 25 percent, this could be considered toxic.
Another thing to think about: your dog’s digestion. Ultimately, dog digestive systems aren’t the best at breaking down vegetables. If you have a pup with stomach problems already, you shouldn’t risk it.
The Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Kale?
If you’re wondering, “Can dogs eat kale?”, here’s our short answer: yes, in very small doses.
But for the most part, any potential health benefits are far outweighed by the troubles the food can cause, from digestive problems to causing kidney and bladder stones.
If you are thinking about giving your dog kale, the best way to prepare it is by steaming it ahead of time, thus making it easier for your dog to digest.
Taking a step back, however, let’s talk about why you want to give your dog kale. If it’s because you feel like they are deficient in nutrients, there are many vegetables out there to give your dog, like green beans and cucumbers.
Or, you could feed them a supplement to ensure their all-around health is on the right track.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is talk to your vet. They know your dog best and can recommend a plan of action that best fits your dog.
What if My Dog Accidentally Eats Kale?
If your dog accidentally eats a little bit of kale, don’t sweat it. Especially if you have a larger dog. Just keep an eye on your dog afterward to make sure they’re doing OK.
If you have a small dog who ate a whole lot of kale, this is when you have to worry a bit more. In this scenario, it’s not a bad idea to call your vet just to be safe.