Can dogs eat eggplant?
The quick answer is yes. For most dogs, eggplants or aubergine, as it’s also known, are safe to feed your dog. This glossy, deep purple-colored fruit is meaty, versatile, and delicious when grilled, baked, or roasted.
However, eggplant is a member of the nightshade family of vegetables, with potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, and they are problematic for some people and dogs.
So, with that warning in mind, can a dog eat Eggplant? Is it safe to share aubergine with our furry friends?
The health benefits of Eggplant?
Eggplants are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins B1, B6, and K. Not only that, but they also contain good levels of manganese, potassium, copper, and folate. Eggplant contains a high level of dietary fiber, too, which is essential for good digestion.
Not to mention eggplants are also a source of phytonutrients such as nasunin, a potent antioxidant that protects the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes from free radicals and helps improve brain function.
What’s more, they also boast antioxidant phenolics. Phenols offer powerful protection from free radicals, which can aid in cancer prevention and heart disease.
If that wasn’t enough, eggplants are also low in calories, making them a healthy treat to feed your dog without adding lots of additional calories.
Are eggplants safe to eat?
Raw eggplant is not toxic but is exceptionally bitter, so make sure it’s cooked first. Fed in moderation, eggplant can add an interesting element to your dog’s diet. But care is needed as vegetables in the nightshade family are a common allergen.
If you do feed eggplant to your dog, it’s best to keep a close eye on them for any of the following symptoms of allergic reactions that usually appear within an hour of eating it.
Common signs of an allergic reaction include the following;
- Upset Stomach
- Facial swelling
- Sore or painful stomach
Although most minor reactions will pass by themselves, it’s worth contacting your veterinarian if you are worried or the symptoms seem severe.
Unfortunately, some dogs may experience such an extreme allergic reaction that they need antihistamine treatment, and your vet can provide immediate relief via injection.
If your dog has a history of allergies, it’s best to avoid offering any foods from the nightshade family to be on the safe side.
Preparing Eggplant for your dog
However, if you do want to share some eggplant with your dog, it’s much more palatable cooked. The raw fruit has a somewhat bitter taste that disappears once cooked. Grilling, baking, roasting are the best ways to cook it to bring out its complex flavors but make sure it’s plain.
Aubergine can absorb a huge amount of fat, oil, or sauce. So it’s worth taking this into account if you haven’t cooked the eggplant yourself before you give any to your dog. Excess fat and flavorings such as onion can be harmful to your dog’s health, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and only give your dog plain, cooked eggplant.
Adding a small amount of eggplant to a healthy dog’s diet will not cause an issue unless your dog is sensitive to it. Still, there are alternative vegetables that are safer and have a good nutritional profile, like sweet potato.
Can dogs eat eggplant – Precautions
While the eggplant’s fruit carries a small risk of causing an allergic reaction, the stems, leaves, and flowers need a bit more caution. The plants’ green parts contain a toxin called Solanine (Glycoalkaloid Poison) in high amounts, which, if eaten in large enough quantities, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and confusion.
So if you are a fan of homegrown produce and your dog keeps you company when harvesting your crops, keep your dog safe and away from all nightshade greenery.
If your dog already has kidney problems, it’s worth steering clear of all vegetables in the nightshade group. Eggplant can exacerbate their condition as the Oxalates in the vegetable block calcium absorption in the bloodstream and create crystals. When eaten in large amounts, this can lead to kidney and bladder stones.
The same is true if your dog already has arthritis. Giving your dog eggplant can increase inflammation because of the oxalates. This can lead to painful flare-ups for your dog.
Can dogs eat Eggplant?
The answer is yes, eggplant is safe but in moderation. Plain, cooked eggplant is fine to give your dog if they don’t experience any adverse side effects or have existing health problems.
Adding fruit and veg to your dog’s meals can boost the vitamin and mineral content of their diet as well as increase interest in food if your dog is a picky eater.
Having said that, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that have little or no known allergens associated with them and maybe a better choice if your dog is known to have food sensitivities or health issues.