Great Dane looking at some broccoli.

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Fact Checked By Our Vet

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 9th January 2024

Most of us grew up being told to eat out veggies. And broccoli was high up on the list! But should your dog eat broccoli? Is it healthy for them? Here’s what experts have to say about it:


Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?

Yes. Dogs can eat broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Dogs are omnivorous creatures and can digest the carbohydrates in broccoli without much trouble. However, moderation is key. No dog can live off of broccoli alone, so consider this veggie as a small part of a balanced diet.

Related: What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?


Should Dogs Eat Broccoli? Possible Benefits

Broccoli is a known superfood: rich in minerals and vitamins, most people would say broccoli is healthy. Luckily, vets agree. Unlike other foods that are toxic to dogs, broccoli might have some positive effects. Here’s what the latest research has found out:

  • Broccoli could help your dog fight heart disease: Like bananas, broccoli is rich in potassium, an essential mineral that helps regulate your dog’s heart rate. Low potassium levels were associated with an irregular heartbeat in a recent study [1]. Potassium also regulates kidney function and fluid retention, ensuring your dog’s body works as best as it can.

PRO TIP: Does your dog get out of breath easily? They might need a heart check-up. If you suspect something is going on, DO NOT treat it at home and call your vet ASAP.

  • It’s a powerful antioxidant: This cruciferous vegetable is rich in lutein, a nutrient that specifically improves eye and heart health. Broccoli is also rich in other antioxidants like lycopene and beta-carotene, that lower chronic inflammation. When consumed over long periods, consistent antioxidant consumption can lower your dog’s chances of suffering from chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis.
  • Improved digestion: Since it is rich in fibre, adding a little bit of broccoli into your dog’s diet will improve their digestion and maintain their gut healthy. Researchers have also linked a diet with enough insoluble fibre (like the one in broccoli) with more stable blood sugar and a lower risk of heart disease in other animals [2]. While diet won’t single-handedly cure any disease, it can improve your dog’s chances if used as a preventative.
  • Stronger bones: Broccoli is one of the very few foods rich in vitamin K. This is an essential vitamin that improves bone density and makes their entire skeletal system stronger. This is especially useful for older pups that are more prone to demineralisation.
  • Reinforced immune system: The vitamin C in broccoli will boost your dog’s immune health. Moreover, eaten vitamin C is more easily absorbed by the body, especially among older dogs that might have issues producing it from normal metabolism. A small study pointed out that nutrients found in broccoli could help senior dogs ward off conditions that would be otherwise too strong for their immune system [3]

How Often Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?

Although broccoli is considered safe for dogs, there is such a thing as too much of a good food. We recommend sticking to general veterinarian advice: don’t feed broccoli more than a couple of times a week.

As with any other treat or snack, broccoli should only represent up to 10% of your dog’s weekly intake.


What Are The Risks of Feeding Broccoli To Dogs?

Like with any other food, there’s always a percentage of risk involved. Although broccoli is generally safe, keep an eye out for these issues:

  • Careful of choking hazards: This is generally an issue with smaller dogs and pups that don’t chew on their food. Raw broccoli stems can obstruct your dog’s oesophagus and pose a deadly risk to your dog. Give this veggie in small bite-sized pieces and keep an eye on your dog while they eat to prevent an emergency.
  • Always wash your broccoli: As with any other vegetable, sometimes broccoli is contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella. The intricate nooks and crannies of broccoli make it even easier for bacteria to hide. Although we recommend feeding cooked broccoli, if you choose to serve it raw always clean broccoli beforehand.

PRO TIP: Use a solution of vinegar and water to soak broccoli before feeding it to your dog. It will kill the bacteria but won’t be absorbed by the broccoli. A bleach solution also works, but be careful since bleach is highly toxic if used indiscriminately.

  • Avoid if your dog has colitis or an irritable colon: Broccoli is known to cause increased gas and bloating when consumed in large amounts. While most dogs will be fine if you ease up on the frequency, a dog with a history of gastroenteritis or other GI problems are more sensitive. If that’s the case, skip broccoli altogether.

How To Feed Broccoli To A Dog

Want to give broccoli a try? Here’s how we recommend you go about it:

Step 1. Wash and cut your broccoli

Broccoli usually has some dirt residue, and it’s usual for bacteria to be present in vegetables. We recommend washing broccoli in vinegar water to prevent contamination.

After the broccoli has been washed, cut it up into florets.

Step 2. Boil, steam or cut up even further

At this point you’ll be prepping your broccoli for your dog to eat. Although dogs can eat raw broccoli, it’s less appetising for them and might be a choking hazard.

Boiling might destroy too many of the broccoli’s vitamins, so we recommend steaming it.

Step 3. Offer only a small piece

Even if your dog has shown an interest in broccoli before, don’t start with a full plate. Only offer a small piece and see how they react. If they like it, great! You can offer a second piece.

Step 4. Start small

As we’ve established above, too much broccoli can be harmful and cause gas. Start by giving only a couple of broccoli pieces to your dog, then wait a couple of days. If they still feel ok, then you can repeat.

Step 5. Keep it occasional

Although it is healthy, broccoli should be considered a treat. Try to stick to feeding broccoli a couple of times a week at most, as a complement to a balanced diet.

Are you wondering if your dog can eat other common foods? Check out our full list below:

FAQ

Can dogs eat cauliflower?

Yes. Cauliflower is also healthy for dogs and has some pretty nice health benefits. Feed cauliflower as you would do broccoli: steamed or boiled and as a treat.

Can dogs eat buttered or seasoned broccoli?

No. If you want to feed broccoli to your dog, stick to plain, unsalted, unseasoned broccoli. Condiments are often too greasy and have other additives that can be harmful to your dog.

References

  1. Kim HW et al (2000) Dietary lutein stimulates immune response in the canine. Vet Immunol Immunopath 74:315–327, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10802297/
  2. Sechi, S., et al (2015). An antioxidant dietary supplement improves brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in serum of aged dogs: preliminary results. Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 2015. https://pubblicazioni.unicam.it/retrieve/handle/11581/431023/118513/JVM2015-412501.pdf
  3. Davidson, RK. Et al (2016). Do bioactive compounds from cruciferous vegetables reach the knee joint?. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 24, S459.  https://www.oarsijournal.com/article/S1063-4584(16)00857-8/fulltext

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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