Even though dogs are thought to be carnivores, they really enjoy eating fruits and veggies, which makes them omnivores. You will find that many fruits and vegetables are included in quality dog foods. But can dogs eat asparagus?
It is crucial to find veggies and fruits that are safe for dogs to eat. Asparagus is one such veggie your dog can eat without fear of making them sick – when it is prepared properly.
You will have to take a few things into account before you begin feeding asparagus to your pet. So, what are some safe ways to feed asparagus? Should it be fed at all? Keep reading to find out.
Can Dogs Eat Asparagus?
Yes, dogs can eat asparagus. Although asparagus may cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and gastrointestinal upsets, it is safe and not toxic. Raw asparagus is tough to chew and digest but cooking or steaming it may help. Also, follow the recommendations on how to prepare asparagus for your dog to avoid any problems.
If your pooch happens to experience issues when eating asparagus, you should try him out on a different vegetable, such as carrots, celery, or even cucumber.
Keep this in mind also: Eating certain veggies can make a dog's (and person's) urine smell a bit different than you are used to smelling. Don't be alarmed if you notice a bit of an unusual odor when you take your dog out to the potty spot.
Keep reading to find out the benefits, risks, and the recommended ways to prepare asparagus for your dog.
As a side note, there can be some confusion about which asparagus is being talked about. Here we are referring to garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis). Some other plants carrying the word in their name, like asparagus fern (Asparagus aethiopicus), are actually toxic to dogs.
Health Benefits: Is Asparagus Good for Dogs?
To make the answer quick and painless - yes.
Asparagus is loaded with nutrients
Asparagus is loaded with nutrients like folic acid, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, thiamin, and potassium.
They are low in sugar and packed with vitamins, making them an excellent choice for dogs everywhere so long as they are prepared correctly.
It adds an exciting taste to your dog's diet
Dogs are omnivores, even though many people think they are carnivorous creatures. They greatly benefit from eating different veggies. Corn and potatoes, for instance, give dogs carbs that convert to energy, and plenty of good fiber and minerals.
Granted, dogs can get these nutrients from rice and grains, but fruits and veggies can make for an exciting taste to your dog's diet.
You don't have to necessarily add veggies to the food bowl as many commercial dog foods that are of good quality provide a balanced diet. Look for the AAFCO seal of approval on the food bag- this is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which indicates to you the food provides a complete and nutritious meal for your dog to enjoy.
Asparagus makes a great low-calorie treat
However, it is often fun for pet owners to serve up some veggies as treats. Some dogs really like them, with favorites among dog owners being carrots, broccoli, or green beans.
The great thing about veggies is that they are low in calories, which makes them a great snack if your pup is a bit on the heavier side.
That being said, veggies alone do not give your dog the appropriate amount of nutrients as you would find in your dog's food. They are treats after all, and experts suggest that only 10% of your dog's diet should be composed of treats.
Your best bet is to ask your dog's vet how many treats he or she is allowed. After all, 10% might be okay for a dog of average weight and high activity level but will be different for a dog who is a few pounds overweight and doesn't get much exercise.
You can even mix veggies into the overweight dog's food, and this will fill him up using fewer calories, which may help him lose weight.
If you plan on serving treats like asparagus to your dog, you should make the transition gradual, so it does not wreak havoc on your dog's digestive system. After all, most dogs are used to eating meaty little morsel treats, and going from those to a veggie-rich in fiber can be a bit hard for his body to handle!
Thus, make sure you soften up raw veggies before you feed them by simply steaming them up before serving. Pureeing them in a food processor or blender is another good idea.
Health Risks: Is Asparagus Bad for Dogs?
The fern is toxic for dogs
As garden asparagus grows, it starts to fern. At this stage, the stem is tough and inedible. The foliage and berries of the plant are toxic and should be treated with extreme caution.
Eating the the fern may result in skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the abdominal region.
If you grow your own asparagus on your property, or your dog has access to a place where asparagus grows, do make sure he or she cannot get to the asparagus fern. It is toxic for dogs. Vomiting, pain in the abdominal area, and diarrhea may result from your dog eating the fern.
May cause gastrointestinal symptoms
Some dogs are known to have complications when it comes to digesting asparagus. They may experience diarrhea, gas, or even vomiting after they consume raw asparagus.
Because raw asparagus is tough for the digestion, we recommend that you cook it before serving. It makes it worlds easier to chew and digest.
Avoid the berries
Be mindful that if asparagus plants are left to grow, they can sprout small berries that are red in color. These are not good for humans and especially not for dogs. Harvest asparagus while it is in the tender shoot growth stage. You may also want to put up a fence to make sure your dog stays out of the asparagus patch for good.
The shoots are safe
Asparagus shoots, the ones you see in stores and are edible to humans, are edible to dogs as well. This part of the plant is not toxic or harmful when prepared properly.
Serving Size and How to Feed?
Keep this in mind: Your dog's diet should only be composed of 10% treats, which includes raw veggies. You should only feed your dog small amounts of asparagus and keep in mind that there are many other veggies that may be more suitable to your furry friend.
This is how to prepare asparagus for your dog:
1. It's best to go with fresh asparagus. While tinned or canned asparagus can be perfectly safe for human beings to enjoy, manufacturers sometimes add spices, salt, or other preservatives to the vegetable. It is not ideal for dogs, as they require the vegetable to be prepared plain.
2. Look for asparagus that is bright green or violet in color. Choose When shopping for asparagus, it's also crucial that you choose some that are fresh and safe to eat. Look for asparagus that is bright green or violet in color and look for stems that are firm and not limp. Tips should be closed up and compact. Squeeze it gently, and if you hear a squeak, that is a signal of good, safe to eat asparagus. If a stalk looks to be a bit woody, put it back.
The thickness of a spear does not matter. Thick spears tend to be harvested toward the start of the season; meanwhile, thinner spears indicate they were taken toward the end of the growing season. It is only color and firmness that make the difference.
3. Steam or boil and cut into small pieces. You should also make sure you remove the fibers down at the bottom of the stalk and then cook it until it is tender.
Make sure that when you do prepare the vegetable, you refrain from using any butter, oils, or seasonings.
If you are feeding your dog asparagus for the first time, make sure you steam or boil it and then cut it up into small pieces. Give him just a few small pieces and see how he does with the sample.
4. Watch your dog to make sure they don't have any adverse reactions. Your dog may experience pain or even pass gas. Make sure your dog does not have diarrhea as a result of eating the asparagus.
You do not simply have to feed your dog plain asparagus cut up into small pieces. Granted, the best ways to prepare and serve are just plainly boiling it or steaming it and cutting it up, but there are other helpful and nutritious-not to mention safe- ways to serve the vegetable to your dog.
For instance, take the recipe Green Machine Treats.
This great recipe involves asparagus, not to mention other healthy foods for dogs like yogurt and spinach. The treat provides protein, fat, and carbs, so your dog benefits in many ways from this snack. It's also pretty cheap to make, too.
Let's learn how to make it!
You Will Need:
- 1 Asparagus stalk
- 1 green bean
- 1 cup spinach
- 2 tbsp fat-free yogurt
- 1/ 4 cup applesauce
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/ 2 cup whole wheat flour for rolling
- Cooking spray
For Kitchen Equipment:
- Food processor
- 1-inch cookie cutter
- Baking sheet
- Rolling Pin
- Large mixing bowl
- Begin by preheating the oven to 350 F. Cut the asparagus and spinach into 1-inch chunks.
- Then put the spinach, green beans, and asparagus into your food processor and process the veggies until they look like little flakes.
- Now put the veggies into your mixing bowl.
- Add in the yogurt and applesauce and mix thoroughly.
- Now add in flour a quarter cup at a time into the mix.
- Use clean hands to knead the flour and form a ball of dough. You may need to add a little flour here if required.
- Now spray the cookie sheet with the nonstick cooking spray.
- Make a floured surface and roll the dough into a sheet that is a half-inch thick.
- Now use the cookie cutter to cut small "cookies" out.
- Put the unbaked cookies a half-inch apart on the sprayed baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies at 350 F for 20 minutes.
- Now remove them from the oven and use a spatula to put them on a ceramic plate to cool off.
You can now serve them to your dog. They keep for three days, so go ahead and let your dogs go wild. At only 15 calories per snack, it is a fun way to help your dog feel special or provide a reward during training.
Let's suppose you cut up a half-cup of the asparagus stalk to give to your dog.
When cooked, this asparagus boasts the following nutrition facts:
- 20 calories
- 2.2 g of protein
- 1.8 g of fiber
- .2 g of fat
Some helpful nutrients you will find in asparagus that are good for your dog include Vitamin A (promotes healthy skin and coat), Vitamin K (helps with blood clotting), Vitamin C (supports the immune system), and folate (good for a healthy pregnancy).
Antioxidants are also part of asparagus. These protect the cells of your dog from the harmful effects of free radicals, and they actually help prevent cancer. Some antioxidants can help reduce blood pressure and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Asparagus is good for digestion
If your dog is experiencing a bit of constipation, it may not be a bad idea to serve up some asparagus to help your dog have an easier time "going." After all, asparagus is high in insoluble fiber—this aids in having regular bowel movements and adds bulk to one's stool.
Indeed, you can rest assured that it is okay to give your dog asparagus as part of their diet. It's a versatile and widely available vegetable that you can find at nearly any grocery store.
Asparagus is an easy way to help your dog fill up without breaking his or her daily calorie budget. Given that you can feed it on its own or baked into a tasty treat, it's easy for dogs to reap the benefits of this vegetable.
Why can't dogs eat asparagus?
Actually, dogs can eat asparagus, but there are a few things you need to consider before feeding any to your pet. Raw asparagus if tough to chew and may pose a choking hazard if your dog tries to swallow it whole. Raw asparagus is also difficult to digest, and your dog may experience vomiting, gas, and diarrhea after eating raw asparagus. Steaming or boiling the vegetable before serving will make it more digestible.
Asparagus fern, however, is inedible and something your dog should not eat. It contains dangerous toxins that are harmful to your dog.
Asparagus is a good vegetable that you can share with your dog as long as you cut this into very small pieces because it can easily cause your dog to choke.
I recommend cutting asparagus into 1 inch or smaller pieces before feeding them to your dog. Also, overcooking them, so they are very soft, is best to prevent your dog from choking.
- Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM
Sara Redding Ochoa, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, was raised in Calhoun, LA. She knew since she was a little girl that her dream was to become a veterinarian. Dr. Ochoa attended Louisiana Tech for her undergraduate school, and then attended St. George University to complete veterinary school. After graduating, Dr. Ochoa moved to east Texas and has been working as a small animal and exotic veterinarian.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your dog's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.