If you were to get a dollar every time someone told you to add leafy greens to your diet, you’d probably be a millionaire by now. Leafy greens have received so much positive press in the past decade or two that they have become synonymous with good health. Almost a buzzword.
So, it is no surprise that we receive emails every now and then from curious pet parents who want to know whether their pooch can enjoy spinach in their diet as well.
The fact is that dogs and leafy greens are not a compatible mix. Dogs are carnivores and veggies are not a natural part of their diet. But, Spinach being a nutritional powerhouse can add some very useful and vital nutrients to your dog’s body provided that it is only an occasional addition to the diet.
We are sure that the nutritional perks of adding spinach to your diet needs no introduction. But for the uninitiated, the superfood is loaded with Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can energize, revitalize and protect your dog’s body from ailments. It boosts energy, helps prevent cancer, eases bowel movement and keeps the bones strong.
There’s calcium, iron, vitamins A, B, C, K, beta carotene, dietary fiber, potassium and folate.
And then there’s the ingredient that is being touted by a few overzealous pet parents and vets as the bete noir of canines. Its called Oxalates.
Spinach contains Oxalic acid as do many other human foods. Oxalic acid when consumed in large quantities can prevent the body’s absorption of calcium which in turn can contribute towards kidney stones. However, there is no direct evidence that links dietary oxalates to kidney stones.
Even if the possibility of this happening does exist in theory, the amount of oxalates that a dog can ingest by eating spinach is not significant enough to lead to kidney damage.
Also, how you prepare the spinach makes a lot of difference in the amount of nutrients that the dog is able to derive from it.
The ideal way is to steam the spinach so that it retains most of the nutrients which are lost when it is boiled instead. Rather than serving the leaves large, chop it into small pieces which make it easier for fido to digest.
As is the rule of thumb with any human food that you feed to doggies, keep the seasonings and spices away. That means that you don’t salt it or add garlic or anything else. Just plain old steamed spinach leaves.
Oh, never give your dog raw spinach by the way. It can trigger serious digestive problems in dogs.
Keep the spinach down to less than 25% of the doggie’s diet and you are good to go. Don’t let claims of oxalate related kidney damage worry you. Spinach can be a great snack for your pet when given in limited quantities occasionally.
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