March 24, 2021

Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower? And How to Avoid Digestive Issues

dog thinking of cauliflower
Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Cauliflower is a versatile and delicious veggie. It is considered very healthy for humans and an excellent addition to your daily veggies mix. Whether raw and crunchy, soft and steamed or baked into a delicious gratin, this diverse veggie is a good addition to any wholesome diet.

But can dogs enjoy it along with us humans? If you have some cauliflower at hand, can you toss your furry friend a piece, or are there health risks involved in doing so? Let's dig a little deeper so you know you're not feeding your doggo anything that might harm them.

Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower?

Yes, dogs can eat cauliflower. It is a low-calorie food with many vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids to keep your dog's coat healthy and glossy. However, follow the feeding guidelines, as cauliflower may cause gastrointestinal issues to your dog when fed raw.

That said, there are lots of benefits associated with feeding your dog cauliflower. It is not a staple food for dogs, as they need a balanced and nutritionally sound diet based on high-quality dog food, but some cauliflower is OK to offer your dog once in a while.

From the tiny Chihuahua to the gigantic Newfoundland, all dogs can enjoy the taste of cauliflower.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Some dogs like cauliflower, but not all dogs. It's safe for your pet to eat, and it is healthy for them, too – when fed in moderation. However, stems and leaves should be avoided. They could have pesticides and other harmful chemicals on them that could make your dog sick.

Just remember that 90% of the daily food intake should consist of complete and balanced dog food that provides all the essential nutrients. Other foods and treats, such as cauliflower, should only make up 10% of what your dog eats every day to keep him or her in the best possible health.

Puppies can eat cauliflower, too. However, puppies should only have this in small amounts because they need to follow their vet-prescribed diet above all else to ensure proper growth. Also, as small pups have sensitive digestive systems, cauliflower might be too gassy for them and needs extra careful monitoring.

So, it seems that cauliflower is an excellent thing for your pet… but is it?

Read on to see why it's not as straightforward as you might think when it comes to giving your dog cauliflower. There are some risks involved which you should be aware of before feeding. But first, let's learn more about the benefits cauliflower may have for your pet.

Health Benefits: Is Cauliflower Good for Dogs?

Cauliflower contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, folate, potassium, and Vitamin K. Dogs synthesize their own Vitamin C, but they get some extra from this veggie when they eat it.

Cauliflower does contain many healthy nutrients, and it's very low on sugar and fats. It can be considered a healthy food.

Let's roundup the healthy aspects of cauliflower and discuss them now.

Excellent Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Dogs need omega-3 fatty acids for various reasons, most importantly for the well-being of their brains and the health of their skin and coat. Cauliflower is an excellent source of this nutrient, so feel confident about giving it to your dog.

Omega-3's are necessary for dogs of all ages. For puppies, they support the development of the brain. They also boost the immune system of your dog and increase the ability of your dog to fight off cancer.

They can help your dog with arthritis feel relief by reducing inflammation. Even dogs that are suffering from anxiety, hyperactivity, or depression can benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diets.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for that beautiful, glossy, and healthy coat.

cauliflower

Loaded with Fiber

With 3g of fiber in a single cup of cauliflower, your dog can feel fuller longer. It feeds healthy gut bacteria that lowers inflammation and is excellent for digestive system health.

Fiber is great for digestion as it regulates nutrient absorption, waste disposal, and digestion speed. So if you're looking for a high-fiber treat for your dog to keep his bowel movements regular, cauliflower can be a good additional snack to an otherwise healthy diet.

Potassium and Calcium

If you need an easy way to boost your dog's strength and bone health, cauliflower is a nice treat because it contains calcium, which is necessary for bone health and maintenance.

It also contains potassium, which is great for the development of bones and teeth; helps regulate critical body functions in your sogs body like the muscle, nerve, and hormone functions.

Great for Boosting the Immune System

Dogs can fight infections and reduce inflammation better when you include cauliflower in their diet. It's loaded with antioxidants, which are known to guard cells against damaging free radicals.

It also has flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants, which are anti-cancer agents, and are known to reduce heart disease risk and boost the immune system.

Great for Eyes and Muscles

For the eyes, sulforaphane in cauliflower is what helps your dog see better, specifically helping retinal tissues to grow. It could help reduce macular degeneration and cataracts, too.

Great for Heavy Dogs

Thanks to cauliflower being naturally low in calories, you can safely serve it as a treat to your overweight dog without worrying about them gaining extra weight. It's an excellent treat for dogs of all shapes and sizes, and owners don't have to worry about the calories.

Obesity is a growing problem with dogs. Although cauliflower may be a low-calorie treat, it’s still better to contact a vet to discuss your dog’s diet if your pet is overweight. Obesity may cause severe health complications, so it’s important to keep your pup to a healthy weight.

Other nutrients for your dog's benefit

Cauliflower also contains many other nutrients that have advantages like folic acid, which is helpful for amino acid metabolism, and Vitamin K, which is good for the health of the bones and good for activating blood clotting.

Choline is another excellent nutrient in cauliflower. It is excellent for liver detox and cognitive function.

As you can see, cauliflower can be very nutritious and have many health advantages for your dog. But what about the risks we were talking about earlier? Although cauliflower seems to be an excellent snack for your dog, are there potential problems you need to know about? Let's find out.

Health Risks: Is Cauliflower Bad for Dogs?

Risk of GI Problems

Because cauliflower is a gassy food, your dog can experience loose stools, gas, and nausea if raw cauliflower is given too often or in too large amounts. Especially dogs with sensitive digestion may need to avoid cauliflower completely if the gastrointestinal upsets follow eating it.

Not all dogs can manage the tummy problems cauliflower may cause.

Cooking the vegetable may help, so if you want your dog to enjoy the benefits of cauliflower but their digestion is not agreeing with it, roasting, boiling, or steaming it before you serve it to your pet may help.

Be Mindful of How You Cook It

Do not prepare the cauliflower using onions or garlic. Also, avoid using ingredients derived from these as well, such as onion flakes or powder, garlic powder, etc. These ingredients are toxic to dogs, so don't attempt to spice up the flavor by adding these in.

Any other flavorings or additives like butter or salt are also a no-no because they are not a healthy addition to your dog's diet.

Avoid Serving Big, Raw Chunks

As dogs often tend to quickly gobble up any treat that is thrown their way, it's better to ensure the pieces are not too big.

Raw cauliflower is actually quite hard to chew and digest, and especially if it's swallowed as a big piece, it poses a choking hazard.

Make sure your cauliflower pieces are cut into small, manageable sizes that your dog can easily and safely chew.

Avoid Canned and Frozen Cauliflower

It may seem convenient, but these often come with preservatives or other harmful chemicals that might harm your dog. For example, salt is used as a preservative when cauliflower is pickled, so just avoid it.

Often, it's better to stick with the fresh cauliflower you find at your farmer's market or grocery store for the best results and optimal nutritional value.

Although if you have freshly frozen cauliflower with no additives, it's totally OK for your dog after being thawed to room temperature. Just make sure it is not mixed with vegetables that are dangerous or toxic to dogs.

Feeding Guidelines: Cauliflower for Dogs

Now to the feeding guidelines – how much cauliflower is OK for your dog, and how often should it be fed?

Limit the cauliflower-treats frequency to once or twice per week as overeating cauliflower may result in digestive upset.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

How Much Cauliflower Can My Dog Eat?

It's better to serve it in small amounts because large amounts of this veggie can cause some negative health effects on your dog like gas, diarrhea, and stomach upset. The amount you can serve is dependent on your pet's size and weight. 

It's best to keep it in strict moderation, however. For small dogs, a few tablespoons are OK. Meanwhile, a very large dog could probably enjoy a full cup without too much trouble.

And it's not just the size of your dog that matters. Some dogs have very sensitive digestive systems when it comes to gassy foods, while others can eat larger quantities without feeling the adverse effects.

The main thing to remember is that only 10% of your dog's daily food intake should be other foods and treats than the high-quality dog food you are feeding them to keep their diet complete and balanced.

Keep a close eye on your dog for 24 hours when they eat their cauliflower (especially for the first time)- you want to make sure they like the veggie and that they don't experience any negative side effects.

How Often Can I Feed My Dog Cauliflower?

You want to keep this limited to a once per week treat so your dog can not only appreciate the taste and enjoy a fun weekly treat, but also to ensure that your pet doesn't experience any gastrointestinal trouble such as gas, diarrhea, or nausea.

How to Prepare Cauliflower for Dogs?

Firstly, always remove and discard the stem and leaves.

The way to offer your dog cauliflower is to boil, steam or cook it. Again, raw won't hurt your pet, but it can lead them to become quite gassy or even experience diarrhea, so it's best to take the extra step and cook it first.

Roasting is another option that will make it easier to chew and cut down on the gassy side effects.

Stick with small amounts. Large amounts can cause upset to your dog's digestive system, which would be unpleasant for both you and your pet. Make sure you keep the cauliflower free of any butter, oil, or seasonings. These are not good for dogs.

Lastly, make sure you do not prepare the cauliflower using onion or garlic, or any derivatives, as these are toxic to dogs.

cauliflower on table

Nutrition Facts

Here are the nutrition facts for 100g of cauliflower:

  • 25 calories
  • 0mg Cholesterol
  • 30mg sodium
  • 299mg potassium
  • 5g Total Carbohydrate
  • 2g Dietary Fiber
  • 9g sugar
  • 9g protein

The following vitamins and minerals are also found in cauliflower:

  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

As we have seen, cauliflower does contain many healthy nutrients, and it's very low on sugar and fats. It can be considered a healthy food, although not all dogs can manage the tummy problems it may cause.

Still, you don’t need to worry. If you're feeding your dog an otherwise balanced diet, they certainly won't need cauliflower in their diet. On the other hand, if they like it and there are no negative effects, there is no reason to treat your pup to a small piece occasionally.

Summing up – Can Dogs Have Cauliflower?

Dogs are OK to have cauliflower, but only if owners can follow the guidelines for feeding. First, you must stick with fresh cauliflower. Cauliflower with any seasonings or canned cauliflower (or the pickled kind, for that matter) is to be avoided at all costs. They don't have the same nutritional value, and the preservatives and spices used could harm your pet.

Secondly, usually, it's good to make sure the cauliflower is steamed, boiled, or roasted. Raw won't be fatal to your dog, but their GI systems could be affected, and your dog (and you) won't like those side effects at all!

Lastly, understand that cauliflower is not a staple food for dogs or puppies. Keep cauliflower as something you serve as a treat or as part of a home-cooked diet. Make sure your dog mainly eats his vet-recommended food and has access to unlimited, clean water for best results.

Vet's Comment

If wondering whether dogs can eat cauliflower, the answer is yes. From the tiny Chihuahua to the gigantic Newfoundland, all dogs can enjoy the taste of cauliflower. That is as long as they actually like how the cauliflower tastes.

If your dog is fond of the cauliflower's unique taste and texture, you can safely offer cauliflower chunks in the form of occasional treats. Just make sure the cauliflower is cooked, chopped into bite-sized pieces, and served without stems and leaves.

Limit the cauliflower-treats frequency to once or twice per week as overeating cauliflower may result in digestive upset.

- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Ivana Crnec doctor of veterinary medicine

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Ivana Crnec

DVM

Ivana Crnec is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine specialized in domestic carnivores. She graduated from the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. Ivana is a certified canine nutritionist and also certified in HAACP food safety system implementation. She currently works as a veterinarian while completing her postgraduate studies. Her research has been published in international journals.

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.

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