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With a ton of nutritional benefits, broccoli is a great vegetable option for humans — though whether or not it’s well-liked is another story — but what about for dogs? Let’s consider the best ways to feed your dog broccoli and when it can become dangerous.
Yes — not only can dogs have broccoli, but it can actually improve your dog’s health when given in moderation. In fact, researchers found that you can maximize nutrient density if you let the broccoli sit for 40 to 90 minutes after chopping.2 But make sure the broccoli doesn’t have any extra oils, cheeses, spices, or seasonings if you feed it to your dog because they could cause an upset stomach.
Broccoli has innate properties that can improve dogs’:
● Digestion: Broccoli is high in fiber, which helps regulate digestion and weight management.
● Eye health: High in vitamin A, lutein, and beta-carotene, broccoli is one of the best vegetables you can feed your dog for their eye health.
● Inflammation: Broccoli is high in vitamin C, lutein, and sulforaphane, which are antioxidants that reduce inflammation and combat diseases caused by free radicals.
● Bone density: Rich in vitamin K, broccoli can be especially valuable for aging dogs that are feeling the effects of decreasing bone density.
Broccoli is especially known for its potency of an antioxidant known as sulforaphane, a type of isothiocyanate. Scientists have confirmed the cancer-fighting properties of sulforaphane in human studies. The sulforaphane found in broccoli suppresses tumor growth and reduces cancer risk overall.2
When Is Broccoli Bad for Dogs?
Like many good things, broccoli should be fed to dogs in moderation. You should talk to your veterinarian before making changes in your dog’s daily diet. In order to maximize the benefits of broccoli without exposing your dog to the harmful effects, make sure you do the following:
Cruciferous vegetables (i.e. veggies in the cabbage family) are known for causing gas, but the real culprit is isothiocyanates, organic compounds found in herbs. Dog owners should know that broccoli florets, the dark green cluster of small flowers atop the broccoli stem, contain isothiocyanates. It’s this property that limits how much broccoli a dog can eat.
When broccoli florets make up 25% or more of your dog’s daily calories, broccoli can be toxic to dogs.4 A good rule of thumb is to limit the amount of broccoli to less than 10% of your dog’s daily diet. Check your dog’s food to make sure you’re accounting for any broccoli that may already be in their diet.
Broccoli can present choking hazards for dogs, especially small dogs, when not cut up into bite-sized pieces. Not sure what’s bite-sized for your dog? Use their kibble as a reference point and keep an eye on your dog when introducing new foods.
Steamed broccoli does tend to be easier for dogs to digest. If you know your dog is a fast eater who may view chewing as optional, consider cooking the broccoli first or else chopping any raw broccoli snacks even smaller.
Puppies’ digestive systems are too underdeveloped to be able to break down the high fiber content found in broccoli. Unfortunately, this vegetable can cause serious digestive issues, like intestinal blockages, and should not be fed to puppies.
Dogs can eat raw broccoli, though it is harder to break down. Consider which health benefit is most important to your dog’s health. If your dog is struggling to have regular, firm movements, then the high fiber content of raw broccoli could be a good reason to start incorporating it into their diet.
Adult dogs can absolutely enjoy broccoli stems, which have higher fiber content than the nutritious florets. That said, they can pose a choking hazard and stomach upset risk. You can avoid this by cutting the stems into small, bite-sized pieces. Steaming the stem will also make it easier for your dog to digest.
Yes — dogs can eat broccoli sprouts and all their associated nutrients. In fact, broccoli sprouts can have 100 times more sulforaphane than its fully grown counterpart.3 Remember, sulforaphane can help protect dogs against cancer, treat pain, and can improve heart health. Just add a pinch to your dog’s dinner to turn their kibble into a superfood.
Broccoli is safe for dogs to eat in all forms, from floret to stem and raw to cooked. More than that, broccoli can help keep your dog’s cells healthy, keep their digestion moving, and even build strong bones. Make sure to always feed the florets in moderation — no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories — and make it fun. On hot summer days, your dog may enjoy chewing on a frozen broccoli whole or in a banana smoothie.
Try as we might, sometimes dogs get their paws onto something that is simply inedible. Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance1 for full-time peace of mind.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Broccoli Sprouts, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2022.