Spinach, the leafy vegetable that loves to get stuck in between your teeth is making a strong case for getting stuck in your dog's teeth too. You might be surprised to learn that it packs a big punch in terms of health benefits for pups, and is especially unique in its diversity of essential and non-essential (but still super good-for-them) nutrients. Learn about why you should think about sharing spinach with your pup and how to do it in a way that is safe and delicious.
Why could spinach be a vital part of your dog’s diet
It helps with eye health.
Spinach contains a class of fat-soluble pigments called carotenoids, namely lutein, zeaxanthin and chlorophyll. These give spinach leaves that vibrant green color and have been shown to support healthy eyes, particularly their ability to interpret light and dark, which becomes especially important as dogs age.
Fights free radicals.
Spinach is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, which buffer cells from the damage of free radicals—those highly reactive molecules in the body that weaken and wear out cells, speeding up the aging process and leaving weakened cells vulnerable to disease.
Gets the blood pumping.
Spinach boasts high levels of vitamin K, which is an important player in keeping blood cells healthy, particularly in blood's ability to clot normally. Vitamin K also helps support strong bones and heart health.
May prevent cancer.
If you have a dog who’s breed is prone to certain cancers, adding spinach to their diet could be a good idea. Spinach has long been touted as a cancer preventer for humans, but new studies suggest that it can also aid in fighting cancerous tumors in animals. Researchers believe the rich supply of vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients do the job. The folate in spinach also helps the body produce new cells while repairing DNA.
Packed with vitamins and minerals.
While the vitamins and nutrients in spinach get most of the accolades, this veggie also contains some impressive trace minerals like copper (associated with red blood cell production) and magnesium (a necessary cofactor in cell performance and energy production). That's right, the more in your dog's teeth, the better. Just be sure to let him know before he heads out on a date. Also, he will need to actually digest all these leafy greens to get all of these great benefits!
When should you avoid offering spinach to your dog?
The AKC warns pet parents that Spinach is high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage. They also note that your pup would have to eat a LOT of spinach in order for this to happen. If you are feeding in moderation, you should not have a problem. If you have a pup with a history of kidney issues, consult your vet before offering spinach to your dog. As the amount that is considered a lot can vary across different breeds, you may also want to consult your vet about the appropriate serving size and frequency that will be best for your pup. As with any new food, starting slowly and working up to the optimal serving size is a good idea.
How do you actually get your dog to eat spinach?
Some pups might gobble up raw spinach and think it is a delicious treat. Others may turn up their noses at it. If you want your pup to try some spinach and they fall into the latter group, you might have to get a little creative if you want your pup to eat their veggies.
When feeding spinach to your dog, remember to chop it first. This will make it easier to digest. The healthiest way to feed spinach to your pup is steamed. You want to avoid sauteeing the spinach in oil. While it may add some flavor, it will also add fat and calories. Also, do not add salt or other seasonings to the spinach. Your pup likely doesn’t need the sodium and garlic or onions in a seasoning blend might make your pup sick.
If plain steamed spinach is still not enticing to your pup, you can try baking some treats at home. This recipe for carrot and spinach treats is grain-free and made with protein-rich nut butter and almond flour.
However you serve it, you can feel good about adding some spinach to your dog’s diet and helping them reap the benefits of this leafy green. Sharing food can be a great bonding experience for you and your pup, especially if you both get some spinach in your teeth! Don’t forget to take a selfie with your spinach smiles.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.