We're all familiar with asparagus – a highly nutritious vegetable that can be eaten as a stand-alone food or added to many lunches, dinners, and soups. Low in calories and full of nutritional goodness, you can’t go wrong adding this vegetable to a healthy meal. But can dogs eat asparagus, and is asparagus good for dogs?
If you've been wondering, “can my dog eat asparagus,” the answer is – YES, dogs can have asparagus because it's not toxic to them. However, dogs can only eat asparagus in very small amounts. Raw asparagus in particular can be tough for them to digest.
In this article we'll discuss more of the benefits of asparagus and potential side effects of consuming too much of this vegetable. We'll talk about why is asparagus good for dogs, how much to feed it, when is asparagus bad for dogs and can dogs have asparagus as part of their regular diet.
What is asparagus?
Asparagus is a hardy, perennial vegetable that contains many vital vitamins and minerals. This vegetable can be eaten raw, but asparagus tends to be tough to chew in its natural form. Therefore, it's usually cooked in some fashion, often roasted, sauteed, boiled, steamed, or grilled, and then typically served alongside meat or fish.
This is what raw asparagus looks like:
Asparagus is one of the most famous vegetables, well-known as a superfood with tons of health benefits. This vegetable has a high fiber content, and is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, making it a great nutritional addition to any plate. That said, can dogs eat asparagus just as we can? And is asparagus good for dogs to include in their diet?
Asparagus for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Asparagus?
So, can dogs eat asparagus the same way humans consume it? Because this vegetable is non-toxic to our canine companions, it's generally fine for dogs to eat asparagus. But the vegetable should only be fed to your dog in strict moderation. Some pets may have difficulty digesting raw asparagus because of its tough skin and stringy interior.
Preparing asparagus for dogs: most dogs will find it difficult to chew on raw asparagus, just like we do. They might to swallow the whole piece, but this opens up the risk of your dog choking. To avoid this, asparagus for dogs can be cut into smaller pieces and given like that, or sprinkled on your dog's food or into his homemade meal.
Cooking asparagus for dogs: another problem with feeding asparagus to dogs is their inability to digest it properly, in some cases. After you give it to your pooch and notice any signs of diarrhea, vomiting, gas or other GI issues, try cooking the vegetable next time. Do not grill or fry asparagus for dogs in oil or butter. Instead, steam or boil it.
It’s also important to note that dogs' digestive systems are not meant to handle a significant amount of vegetable matter, but just like with many other veggies, there's always a healthy amount that helps you achieve proper balance. Although with recent views on dogs becoming vegans, the veterinarians' stance on this may change.
While there are no studies on feeding asparagus for dogs, we do have some research on its health benefits for humans. Here's what we know thus far:
- Asparagus may help stop the growth of cancer (1, 2, 3)
- Asparagus protects brain health and reduces anxiety (4, 5)
- Asparagus may prevent birth defects thanks to folate (6, 7)
- Asparagus may protect liver against toxicity (8)
The above health benefits of asparagus were only shown in human clinical trials and in some cases in studies with mice, and we haven't seen any research on feeding asparagus for dogs. In theory, it is possible that some of these benefits can also be applied to dogs as is the proven case with many other foods, and vegetables in particular. So, what are the potential benefits of asparagus for dogs, and can dogs eat asparagus safely?
5 Potential Benefits of Asparagus for Dogs
1. Asparagus may improve digestive processes and regulate weight.
Asparagus contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, and that helps a dog have healthy, regular bowel movements. In this way, fiber can control and alleviate upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation in dogs. Fiber is also an essential part of weight management in dogs. Extra fiber can help prevent and reduce obesity among its many other health benefits.
That said, too much fiber can also do the opposite and upset the dog's stomach and cause digestive issues. The same can be said about feeding asparagus for dogs in itself – some dogs simply cannot process this vegetable well, so even if after cooking your Fido seems to have GI problems, try another vegetable instead like pumpkin or potatoes.
2. Asparagus may assist in diabetes management.
The amount of fiber in asparagus may help control diabetes mellitus in dogs, a common canine metabolic disease. A diet high in fiber will make it easier to manage the condition because the fiber prevents spikes and fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
3. Asparagus contains selenium, a crucial mineral for preventative health.
Selenium is necessary for normal functioning of the thyroid gland and immune system in humans and dogs. Providing a sufficient amount of selenium (which asparagus is known for) may even help prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases in your dog. Additionally, selenium helps fight dementia and cognitive decline.
4. The antioxidants in asparagus promote healthy body functions.
Asparagus has plenty of Vitamins A, C, K and E, four vital antioxidants for overall body health. More importantly, it contains glutathione, the smallest but most potent antioxidant of this vegetable. All other antioxidants rely on glutathione to function correctly, and without this super antioxidant, your dog’s cells would die from excess oxidation, the immune system would fail, and the liver would become toxified.
5. Asparagus has inulin, a prebiotic that helps prevent stomach disorders, allergies, and cancer.
Inulin is a critical fiber/carbohydrate that serves a prebiotic for dogs once it reaches the pet's large intestine. Prebiotics help dogs take advantage of probiotics, which are the beneficial good bacteria that coat the digestive tract. These live microorganisms help reduce allergies, promote nutrient absorption, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
So, can dogs have asparagus?
Yes, your dog can eat asparagus in small amounts. All things considered, we know that the edible parts of asparagus for dogs are safe and may even be healthy. All you need to do is make sure your dog can first consume it and then digest it. If your pooch has problems with any of this, make sure to prepare asparagus for dogs by cutting it into smaller pieces and, if needed, steaming or boiling asparagus for easier digestion.
3 Potential Side Effects of Asparagus for Dogs
You now know that asparagus is generally safe for dogs to consume, but is asparagus bad for dogs at any time? What are the potential dangers of feeding too much asparagus to dogs? Here's what you should know.
1. Asparagus may cause stomach upset and can pose a choking hazard.
Asparagus is a tough vegetable to chew and digest, and that difficulty can make it rough on a dog’s stomach if fed to him raw. Additionally, overeating asparagus may result in diarrhea, vomiting, gas, and moderate to severe stomach pains. Lightly cooking the asparagus can make it easier to chew, swallow, and digest.
Some dogs may attempt to swallow asparagus whole because of how hard and stringy it is to chew. This can result in choking. Make sure that the asparagus is cut up into small enough pieces where choking won’t occur.
2. Asparagus causes smelly, discolored urine.
Consuming asparagus results in some smelly by-products (both in humans and dogs). Primarily, the smell of urine is made more odorous, and occasionally, stools may turn green as well when eating too much of this vegetable. Neither of these occurrences is cause for alarm, but your house may have an unpleasant odor to it for awhile.
3. Asparagus is often cooked in extra oils and condiments.
Be careful if you feed your dog cooked asparagus if it has been cooked in or with other food items. Some other cooking additives, like oils and butter, may not sit well with your pup’s stomach. Those foods also often have high-fat contents and are very high in calories, something that you want to avoid feeding to your dog.
An important note of caution
While asparagus is not harmful to your dog, the asparagus fern plant is toxic and can cause serious health problems, including death. This is not something you would normally buy in the store but rather grow as a plant or can find in the nature.
Here's what asparagus fern looks like:
If you own one of these plants, don’t let your dog consume its leaves. Ingestion of these leaves can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, including cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Take your dog to a veterinarian for further examination if he eats asparagus fern leaves.
Can Dogs Have Asparagus?
In conclusion, can dogs eat asparagus and is asparagus good for dogs to consume as part of their diet? Yes, dogs can eat asparagus, although appropriate cautionary measure should be taken. You should only give this vegetable in strict moderation.
As always, if this is you trying for the first time, don't give too much of a new food to your dog at once. Be aware that although asparagus is highly nutritious, it is a tough vegetable and may be difficult for your dog to chew or swallow, and even digest.
Always prepare asparagus for dogs by cutting into smaller pieces, and even steaming or boiling it so that it's easier to both consume and digest for your pooch.