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Can Dogs Eat Spinach? Crave Risks to Consider

Similar to our guidance on spinach diets for bearded dragons and rabbits, dogs should only eat spinach in moderation as spinach has high oxalate content which can cause kidney issues when it builds up. Despite all the great nutrients that are beneficial to your pup, spinach should not be a go-to food for your pup. Try incorporating other veggies into their diet instead!

Dogs should not eat spinach despite its nutritional benefits as it contains high amounts of oxalate content – as high as 9.4% on a dry matter basis. Oxalates are compounds that can bind with calcium in the body resulting in low absorption of calcium and can lead to kidney stones.

Feeding your dog a spinach diet can lead to secondary hyperoxaluria where the body can’t properly excrete the oxalates and they build up in the body, causing serious health issues. So, while spinach may be a healthy vegetable for humans, it’s best to keep it out of your dog’s diet. Instead, try incorporating other nutrient-rich vegetables into their diet such as carrots.

What is spinach?

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is part of the Chenopodiaceae family, which also includes beets, Swiss chard, and quinoa. Spinach is native to central and southwestern Asia but is now found all over the world.

Below is an image showing spinach.

Fig. 1.

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse and is packed with vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, iron, and calcium. Spinach also contains fiber, protein, and a variety of other nutrients.

The health benefits of spinach are numerous; it has been shown to improve heart health, help with weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even improve brain function.

Below are scientific classification that spinach falls under;

Health benefits of spinach to dogs

  • Vitamin A:  crucial for vision, immunity, and cell growth
  • Vitamin C: an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and aids in wound healing
  • Vitamin K: necessary for blood clotting and bone health
  • Magnesium: needed for energy production, muscle and nerve function, and healthy bones
  • Iron: essential for making hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood
  • Calcium: necessary for bone and teeth health
  • Folate( vitamin B9): important for red cell production and healthy cell growth
  • Soluble fibers: Spinach has soluble fibers that can help lower cholesterol levels.

Below are the soluble fibers in spinach;

  • Nitrates: have been shown to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: these antioxidants help protect against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness
  • Kaempferol: an antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer
  • Quercetin: an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
  • Chlorophyll: has detoxifying and anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Spinach also contains insoluble fibers:

Insoluble fibers don’t dissolve in water and aids in digestion.

These are the insoluble fibers in spinach;

  • Cellulose: helps add bulk to stool and prevents constipation
  • Hemicellulose: another type of fiber that aids in digestion
  • Lignin: helps with bowel regularity
  • Pectins: a type of soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels

The big disappointment: High oxalates

Dogs, like people, need a variety of vitamins and minerals for good health. However, too much of a good thing can be bad, and that’s the case with spinach.

Below is a snapshot showing the oxalate content of fresh spinach leaves per 100 grams.

While spinach is packed with nutrients that are beneficial to your pup, it also has a high oxalate content. Oxalates are compounds found in plants that can bind with minerals such as calcium and magnesium, forming crystals that can build up in the kidneys and cause kidney stones.

When oxalates build up in the kidney, they can cause pain and inflammation. In severe cases, oxalate crystals can block the ureter, the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder, causing an obstruction.

While not all dogs will develop kidney stones from eating spinach, those with a history of stones or other urinary tract problems are at a higher risk. If your dog does develop oxalate crystals, they will need to be treated by a veterinarian.

If you decide to feed your dog spinach, do so in moderation and choose organic varieties whenever possible. You should also avoid giving your pup spinach that has been wilted or cooked, as this can increase the oxalate content.

Hyperoxaluria

Hyperoxaluria is a condition that occurs when there are high levels of oxalates in the urine. Oxalates are found in many foods, but they’re also produced by the liver.

It’s important to get rid of excess oxalates through urine because if they build up in the body, they can cause kidney stones and other health problems.

There are two types of hyperoxaluria: primary and secondary.

Primary hyperoxaluria is a rare genetic disorder that occurs when the liver produces too much oxalate. Secondary hyperoxaluria can be caused by a number of factors, including certain medications, diet, intestinal disorders, and liver disease.

If your dog has primary hyperoxaluria, he’ll need to be on a special diet that’s low in oxalates. If secondary hyperoxaluria is the cause, treatment will focus on the underlying condition.

While spinach is high in oxalates, it’s not the only food that contains them. Other foods that are high in oxalates include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Fruits (such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)
  • Vegetables (such as kale, collard greens, and sweet potatoes)

If your dog has hyperoxaluria, he’ll need to avoid all foods that are high in oxalates. In some cases, a special diet may be recommended.

Hyperoxaluria symptoms:

  • Increased urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain

Below are the symptoms of oxalate poisoning in dogs caused by spinach:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Lethargy
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Abdominal pain
  6. Dehydration
  7. Urinary problems
  8. Kidney stones

If your dogs has any of these symptoms above, give your dog a lot of water to flush the crystals out and take them to see the vet as soon as possible.

As much as we love our dogs, sometimes we have to say no to their begging eyes when they want a taste of our food. While spinach is a healthy vegetable for us, it’s not the best choice for our furry friends. Feeding your dog spinach inand bring him/her to the vet immediately.

If you are unsure whether your dog can have spinach, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian first. They will be able to give you the most accurate information based on your pup’s individual health needs.

For this reason, dogs should only eat spinach in moderation. If you’re looking for a nutrient-rich vegetable to add to your pup’s diet, try incorporating other veggies instead. Sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and squash are all great choices that are safe for dogs to eat.

Can I feed Spinach to a dog in moderation?

Some pet parents argue that the amount of oxalate in spinach is not that high and that feeding their dogs this leafy green vegetable in moderation will not cause any problems.

The problem is, that there is no definitive answer on how much oxalate is too much for dogs. Some dogs may be able to tolerate small amounts of spinach without any issues, while others may develop kidney stones after eating just a few leaves.

Two studies, one by Kitchen et al., (1964) and  Beiquan Mou(2008) found an amount of anhydrous oxalic acid to be ranging from 5.4% to 9.8% on a dry weight basis. This was from a sample of 39 spinach breeding lines, hybrids, and F2 populations.

The study also found that the oxalic content will differ depending on where the spinach is grown. Spinach that is grown in warm climates will generally have a higher oxalate content than those that are grown in cooler climates.

Another study by Jain et al. (2000), looked at the effect of cooking on the oxalate content of spinach. They found that boiling and steaming Spinach can lead to a significant reduction in the oxalate content.

While the exact amount of oxalate in spinach can vary, it’s generally accepted that this leafy green vegetable is high in oxalates. For this reason, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding your dog spinach altogether.

5 Ways to reduce oxalate content in spinach:

  1. Cooking: Boiling and steaming can lead to a significant reduction in the oxalate content of spinach.
  2. Soaking: Soaking spinach in water for 24 hours can also reduce the oxalate content.
  3. Frozen: Frozen spinach has been found to have lower levels of oxalates than fresh spinach.
  4. Blanching: Blanching spinach in boiling water for 3-4 minutes can also reduce the oxalate content.
  5. Pickling: Pickling spinach in vinegar can also help to reduce the oxalate content

While it is possible to reduce 5.4% to 9.8% of oxalate content in spinach by up to 50%, it is still best to avoid feeding your dog this leafy green vegetable altogether.

Low in calories

Another reason to avoid spinach is that it is a low-calorie food. While this may sound like a good thing, it’s actually not ideal for dogs.

Dogs need a certain number of calories each day to maintain their weight and energy levels. If they don’t get enough calories, they can become malnourished.

Overweight dogs need a high-protein, high-fat diet that is calorie-dense in order to lose weight. Feeding your dog a low-calorie food like spinach is not going to help them reach their weight-loss goals.

The benefits of its fibers don’t make up for the poison:

Spinach does have some health benefits. For example, it’s a good source of fiber. It contains both soluble and insoluble fibers. Insoluble fibers can help to add bulk to your dog’s stool and make it easier to pass.

Soluble fibers, on the other hand, dissolve in water and form a gel-like substance. This type of fiber can help to slow down digestion and keep your dog feeling full for longer.

While the fiber in spinach can offer some health benefits, it’s not worth feeding your dog this leafy green vegetable. The risks far outweigh the benefits.

There are much better sources of fiber that are safe for dogs to eat. Sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and squash are all great choices that are safe for dogs to eat.

How about puppies?

Puppies are even more sensitive to oxalates than adult dogs. Their kidneys have not matured and cannot properly process and remove oxalates from their bodies.

For this reason, it’s best to avoid feeding spinach to puppies altogether. If you’re looking for a way to add fiber to your puppy’s diet, there are much safer options available.

Pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots are all great choices that are safe for puppies to eat. You can also talk to your veterinarian about other options that may be suitable for your puppy.

Can dogs eat cooked spinach?

Yes, dogs can eat cooked spinach in moderation as they still contain some small amount of oxalate content. In fact, we discourage anyone from feeding their pup any spinach – raw, cooked, or frozen. While cooking and pickling can help to reduce the oxalate content, it’s still best to avoid feeding your dog spinach altogether. There are much safer and more nutritious options available.

Can dogs eat spinach and kale?

No, dogs should not eat spinach or kale as they are both high in oxalates. While there are ways to reduce the oxalate content in these leafy greens, it’s still best to avoid feeding them to your dog altogether. There are much safer and more nutritious options available.

Can dogs eat spinach dip?

No, dogs should not eat spinach dip such as artichoke dip as it is usually high in salt, fat, and spices that can be harmful to dogs. Spinach is also high in poisonous oxalate content that causes calcium malabsorption and kidney issues. If your dog does eat spinach dip, watch for signs of gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting or diarrhea. If your dog has any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

How about spinach pasta?

No, spinach pasta should not be fed to dogs since it is often high in salt, fat, and spices, which can all be detrimental to them. Spinach also has a high amount of toxic oxalate that causes calcium malabsorption and kidney issues. Ricotta or feta cheese-filled ravioli would be an even worse choice as these are both high in fat. If your dog ingests any of these foods, watch for vomiting or diarrhea and contact your veterinarian immediately if either of these occurs.

5 Ways dogs can have spinach: Cooking vs other ways

Your dog may be able to have spinach if it is:

  • 1. Cooked: Boiling and steaming can lead to a significant reduction in the oxalate content of spinach.
  • 2. Soaked: Soaking spinach in water for 24 hours can also reduce the oxalate content.
  • 3. Frozen: Frozen spinach has been found to have lower levels of oxalates than fresh spinach.
  • 4. Blanched: Blanching spinach in boiling water for 3-4 minutes can also reduce the oxalate content.
  • 5. Pickled: Pickling spinach in vinegar can also help to reduce the oxalate content. Serving a small amount: Feeding your dog a very small amount of spinach may be safe if it is cooked and the oxalate content is reduced.

While there are some ways that your dog may be able to have spinach, it’s still best to avoid feeding this leafy green vegetable to your dog altogether. The risks far outweigh the benefits.

  • Raw spinach: While it’s not ideal, dogs can eat small amounts of raw spinach.

4 Key risks of feeding spinach to dogs:

1. High levels of oxalate: Spinach is high in oxalates, which can cause calcium malabsorption and kidney issues in dogs.

2. Potential gastrointestinal distress: Dogs may experience vomiting or diarrhea if they eat too much spinach.

3. Allergic reactions: Roughly 10% of the population is allergic to spinach. The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, or tongue. If your dog has any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

4. Pesticide contamination

Reasons why your dog shouldn’t eat spinach:

  1. Spinach is high in oxalates, which can cause kidney stones in dogs.
  2. There is no definitive answer on how much oxalate is too much for dogs.
  3. Feeding your dog spinach in moderation may still pose a risk to their health.
  4. Other vegetables are a safer and healthier choice for dogs.
  5. Low in calories

When it comes to feeding your dog spinach, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid this leafy green vegetable altogether. There are plenty of other safe and healthy veggies that you can feed your pup instead. carrots, green beans, and squash are all great choices that are safe for dogs to eat.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s diet, always talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to give you specific advice based on your pup’s individual health needs.

Veggies your dog can eat:

  • Carrots: Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is important for maintaining healthy skin, coat, and vision. Carrots are also a good source of fiber, which can help to regulate digestion.
  • Green beans: Green beans are a nutritious option for dogs. They’re a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. Green beans are also low in calories, making them a great choice for dogs who are trying to lose weight.
  • Squash: Squash is a healthy vegetable for dogs. It’s a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as fiber. Squash is also low in calories and fat, making it a great choice for dogs who are trying to lose weight.
  • Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. They’re also a good source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes are a healthy option for dogs and can be fed cooked or raw.
  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a healthy vegetable for dogs. It’s a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as fiber. Zucchini is also low in calories and fat, making it a great choice for dogs who are trying to lose weight.

FAQs

Q: Can dogs eat broccoli?

A: Broccoli is safe for dogs to eat in moderation. This cruciferous vegetable is a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as fiber. However, broccoli is also high in sulfur, which can give it a strong smell. This can make some dogs reluctant to eat it. If your dog doesn’t seem interested in broccoli, try offering it in small pieces or mixing it with other foods.

Q: can dogs eat carrots?

A: Yes, carrots are safe for dogs to eat. This root vegetable is a good source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin, coat, and vision. Carrots are also a good source of fiber, which can help to regulate digestion.

Q: can dogs eat celery?

A: Celery is safe for dogs to eat in moderation. This crunchy vegetable is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. However, celery is also high in sodium, so it’s important to feed it in moderation. If your dog doesn’t seem interested in celery, try offering it in small pieces or mixing it with other foods.

Q: can dogs eat green beans?

A: Yes, green beans are safe for dogs to eat. This nutritious vegetable is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. Green beans are also low in calories, making them a great choice for dogs who are trying to lose weight.

Q: can dogs eat squash?

A: Yes, squash is safe for dogs to eat. This healthy vegetable is a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as fiber. Squash is also low in calories and fat, making it a great choice for dogs who are trying to lose weight.

Q: can dogs eat sweet potatoes?

A: Yes, sweet potatoes are safe for dogs to eat. This root vegetable is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.

Q: can dogs eat kale?

A: Kale is safe for dogs to eat in moderation. This leafy green is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. However, kale is also high in oxalates, which can bind with calcium and lead to kidney stones. Therefore, it’s important to feed kale in moderation. If your dog doesn’t seem interested in kale, try offering it in small pieces or mixing it with other foods.

Q: can dogs eat zucchini?

A: Yes, zucchini is safe for dogs to eat. This healthy vegetable is a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as fiber. Zucchini is also low in calories and fat, making it a great choice for dogs who are trying to lose weight.

Q: Can rabbits eat spinach?

A: Yes, rabbits can eat spinach. This leafy green is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. However, spinach is also high in oxalates, which can bind with calcium and lead to kidney stones. Therefore, it’s important to feed spinach in moderation.

Q: Can bearded dragons eat spinach?

A: No, the bearded dragon should eat spinach unless you’re feeding them in moderation. This leafy green is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. However, spinach is also high in oxalates, which can bind with calcium and lead to kidney stones. Therefore, it’s important to only feed bearded dragons spinach in moderation.

Q:can hedgehogs eat spinach?

A: Hedgehogs can eat spinach, but only in moderation as spinach is high in oxalates, which can bind with calcium and lead to kidney stones. Therefore, it’s important to only feed hedgehogs spinach in moderation.

Q: Can horses eat spinach?

A: Horses can occasionally feed on small amounts of spinach as treats because spinach is high in oxalate content. Oxalates can bind with calcium and lead to kidney stones. Therefore, it’s important to only feed horses spinach in moderation. Excessive intake of spinach can also cause digestive issues such as bloating and gas in horses.

Q: Can diabetic dogs eat spinach?

A: Absolutely not. The kidneys of a diabetic dog are already working hard to get rid of excess sugar in the bloodstream and adding more spinach will just add to the problem. With its high oxalate content, spinach will make your dog’s kidneys to work extra hard to remove the oxalates. This can eventually lead to kidney damage. Learn about diets to feed a dog with diabetes here.