Can dogs eat kale – the King of cruciferous veg

Can dogs eat kale?

Love it or hate it, kale has become the poster vegetable for super-foods. Full of vitamins and antioxidants, it’s hard to beat kale regarding nutritional benefits.

Not only does kale have a proven record in cutting cancer risk but it also helps prevent heart disease.

As a member of the cruciferous family that includes broccoli cauliflower and cabbage. It’s a versatile vegetable that can be cooked, eaten raw or pureed and hidden in your daily smoothie.

What’s more, there are over a dozen different varieties, including;

  • Lacinto
  • Redbor
  • White Russian
  • Chinese
  • Siberian
  • Walking stick
  • Red Russian
  • Kamome Red

But is it as good for our dogs as it is for us? Can our dogs gain the same nutritional benefits that we can from this green powerhouse of food? Can dogs eat kale?

The benefits of kale

Kale’s reputation as a super-food is well earned. Not only is it very low in calories but it’s an excellent source of;

  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C and K
  • Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Rich in Lutein
  • Bullet Point 2

Also rich in fibre, Kale contains sulforaphane which has been linked to lowering the risk of cancer.

What’s more, it also contains lutein,  nicknamed the eye vitamin a carotenoid antioxidant that supports eye function and health.

But Kale’s secret weapon is its antioxidants or phytonutrients which help prevent inflammation, protect cells from stress and assist the liver with its detox ability.

But can our dogs reap the same benefits that we do by adding kale to their diet? The simple answer is yes, just like some other super-foods kale can be a great addition to your dog’s diet in moderate amounts.

In fact, because of the health benefits of kale it has already made its way into some commercial dog foods as well as healthy treats.

How do I give my dog kale

Kale is a versatile vegetable so it can be eaten raw, cooked or even dried and sprinkled over a meal. But it’s best to finely chop it as it can be tough to chew in larger pieces.

If your dog isn’t keen on the taste of kale on its own, why not have a go at making some homemade treats that disguise the flavour.

This tasty recipe is from Three Olives Branch  and not only includes kale but uses apples as well.

Kale, apple and oat dog treats

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 2 apples
  • 2 cups kale chopped
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Instructions:

  1. Place 2 cups of the oats in a food processor and grind until it has a flour-like consistency. Put the ground oats in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Roughly chop the apples, removing the seeds and core. Grind in the food processor until it begins to resemble applesauce. You may need to scrape down the sides. Some chunks are okay. Scoop the apple mixture into the mixing bowl.
  3. To the mixing bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of whole oats, kale, and honey. Mix to combine. Add additional oats or kale if the mixture is too wet, and honey or water if it is too dry.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly flour your surface as the mixture will be sticky. Roll out the dough to approximately 1/4″ thick. Using your desired cookie cutter, cut out the treat shapes and place them on a sil pad or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake treats at 350F for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, leaving the cookies inside, and let them sit for two hours. This will make the cookies crunchier. For soft cookies, remove them after the 15 minutes to cool at room temperature.
  6. Store soft treats in an airtight container, kept in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks. Hard treats can be kept at room temperature up to 3 weeks.
Kale for dogs

The risks of kale

Despite kale being such a healthy vegetable, there are some things to consider before we share it with our dogs.

Firstly, although this green powerhouse of a vegetable is an unlikely source,  some dogs do suffer from food allergies so introduce any new food slowly, a little at a time.  And while kale certainly isn’t toxic it can cause an upset tummy and diarrhoea.

Secondly, like all members of the cruciferous family kale can increase the likelihood of wind. Which is another reason for introducing it slowly as it helps minimise any problems in this area.

Even though wind isn’t a major cause for concern in most dogs, it can become uncomfortable when it’s excessive.

Lastly, and most importantly kale should be avoided if your dog has any problems with their kidneys or bladder.

Due to the high levels of calcium oxalate that kale contains it can interfere with the absorption of certain minerals including calcium, iron and magnesium.

In excess, oxalic acid can lead to joint inflammation and increase the risk of kidney stones.

However, having said that, for a healthy dog to be affected, they would need to consume a lot of kale, so if it’s given as part of a healthy diet, there should be minimal risk.

Can dogs eat kale?

Kale can be a great addition to a dog’s diet when used in moderation. The health benefits of this green powerhouse of nutrition are huge and the risk small.

Although not appropriate for all dogs, kale is finding its way into more and more commercial dog foods and offers anti-cancer and healthy heart benefits to our dogs.

Despite this, kale wouldn’t naturally be part of our dog’s diet, so it’s worth remembering that although our dogs are primarily scavengers, their primary source of food is meat.

Human and dog digestive systems are different, so moderation is key. And organic kale is the best choice as it is one of the most likely vegetables to contain residual pesticides.