Are Leafy Vegetables Advisable for Dogs?

"You expect me to eat this stuff?"
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While your pooch might not salivate as he watches you chow down on your sauteed spinach, adding a bit of leafy greens to his diet can be as healthy for him as it is for you. The trick is getting him to eat the greens without turning up his nose.

Why Greens Are Healthy

Although Bruiser needs mostly protein in his diet, dogs aren't strictly carnivorous. They need a diet balanced with carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Leafy greens provide fiber to help his tummy function properly, and they are chock full of healthy nutrients. Most leafy greens offer vitamins A, K and C, and many offer calcium as well as other helpful nutrients such as folate, iron and potassium.

Greens On The Menu

If there's a leafy green that you enjoy, it's likely you can share it with your pooch. It's safe to feed dogs a variety of leafy greens including spinach, kale, swiss chard, collards, turnip greens and lettuce. Keep the portions small, especially at first -- too much of a good thing can still upset your pup's tummy. Also, if you're feeding Bruiser a complete, balanced, commercial dog food, he's already getting many of the nutrients found in leafy greens, so you don't want to overdo it. Ask your vet about proper portion sizes for your pup.

How To Cook Them

Raw vegetables are more likely to upset Bruiser's tummy than cooked ones, so steam the greens before you share them with him. You can also saute them with a tasty meat such as bacon, but remember to calculate the added fat to make sure you don't give your dog too many calories -- one of the reasons greens are so healthy is because they are low in calories, so try not to jeopardize that with too much fatty meat. Mixing the cooked greens with his existing food helps ensure he won't pick them out, or you can puree them in a food processor and pour them over his dinner.

What To Avoid

A good rule to remember about greens is that if it's not one you would feel comfortable eating, don't give it to your dog. For example, don't pull the greens off your backyard tomato plants and feed them to Bruiser. According to the ASPCA, those types of greens -- the kind you don't normally eat -- can cause loss of appetite, excessive salivation, weakness and slow heart rates in your pup. Also, don't cook the greens with onions or add garlic to spice them up. Onions and garlic can be toxic to your pooch.

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