They might be one of the more dividing vegetables, you’re either a lover or a hater, but Brussels sprouts are a veggie that commonly crop up on our Christmas dinner whether you like them or not.
With the festive season just around the corner, you might be wondering if your dog can have some sprouts on the side of their dinner so that they can enjoy a festive feast alongside you.
Keep reading to find out if your dog can eat sprouts, if they’re good or bad for dogs, how to cook them for your dog and most of all, if your dog will actually enjoy them!
With a pungent scent and a pretty bitter taste, it’s no surprise as to why many people are averse to the simple sprout. However, some people would totally disagree, scoffing all the sprouts on Christmas day like they’re sweets.
Usually, dogs aren’t as fussy as us humans, willing to try anything that gets put in their food bowl, and sprouts can be a great little addition to your dog’s dinner.
Sprouts are cruciferous vegetables, which are a family of veggies which take their name from the shape of their flower petals, which resembles a cross, or a crucifix. Cruciferous veggies include cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, all rich in vitamins, fibre and antioxidants, making them the perfect superfood snack for people and pooches. Sprouts are basically just cabbages made miniature, having pretty much all the same health benefits.
The best way to serve up a sprout to your dog is by steaming or boiling the Brussels, however, we would recommend steaming as this preserves the most nutrients, whereas boiling holds not so many. All you need to do is wash the sprouts, cut off the tough stalks and cook them ready to plate up for your pooch.
One thing to note however, skip the spices. For us humans, we make our sprouts tastier by adding herbs and spices, along with unhealthy extras such as butter, oil, salt and even bacon to make them super indulgent!
All these additions will not only make the sprouts extremely unhealthy for your dog, but they might cause them to have a few tummy troubles, as the canine stomach is much more sensitive to fats and salt than we humans are.
Technically, yes, your dog can eat Brussels sprouts raw, but we would definitely advise against this. Firstly, raw sprouts will be difficult on the doggy digestive system, as they’re much tougher for your dog to break down once ingested, and for the pint-sized pooches, such as Chihuahuas, raw sprouts can be a choking hazard.
Also, as we know, sprouts have a very distinctive taste, that not everyone is partial to, and this is even more potent when they’re raw. So, even if you did drop an uncooked sprout and your dog quickly hoovered it up, they might spit it straight back out due to its nasty taste!
Sprouts, like most green veggies, are full of fibre to support good digestive health and encourage regular bowel movements.
Also, they’re packed with various vitamins that have a wealth of health benefits for both humans and hounds, including:
Vitamin K for helping the blood clot properly, building bones and encouraging a healthy heart
Vitamin C for boosting the immune system and helping to ease inflammation
Vitamin A for healthy skin and a glossy coat, alongside aiding neurological function
Vitamin B1 to promote proper metabolism and good brain and nerve health
Vitamin B6 to maintain balanced blood sugar levels
Alongside all those vitamins, sprouts are packed with minerals such as potassium and manganese which work together to help support brain, muscle, bone, heart and metabolic function. Who knew that the humble sprout had so much goodness inside it?
To continue adding to the extensive list of things that the sprout is good for, they’re also bursting with antioxidants such as selenium and carotene, which are key in helping keep our pooches happy and healthy.
Antioxidants help fight diseases, ease inflammation and combat free radicals, which are atoms that attempt to create significant cell damage.
So, to answer that question, yes sprouts can be extremely good for dogs.
Served in moderation, brussels sprouts are definitely not bad for dogs. However, there’s one big downside to letting your dog snack on your sprouts, and it’s one that affects the owner more than the pooch. Gas.
Sprouts have a high concentration of a substance named isothiocyanate, which helps food and waste be driven through the gastrointestinal tract. This also creates an accumulation of bacteria, escaping the body as flatulence.
Although extra gas is healthy, helping to support bowel movements, too many sprouts and too much gas can cause your dog to have an upset tummy and unfortunately for you, a really stinky house. Feed your dog too many sprouts and expect for them to be clearing rooms.
Other than some extra wind, sprouts will only really be bad for your dog if you’re serving them up with the fatty, salty extras like butter and bacon that we usually add to our veggies on our festive feast.
Dogs can’t handle these tasty additions, so if you want your dog to enjoy some sprouts alongside you, keep them totally plain.
Generally, dogs can eat sprouts and they can actually be a really healthy snack, similar to other veggies like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. The only time we wouldn’t recommend feeding sprouts is if your dog has an extremely sensitive stomach, as you don’t want the extra gas to cause any extra problems.
However, most dogs will be delighted if you give them the chance to have a bite of a Brussels. We suggest always sticking to the 90/10 rule, ensuring that 90% of your dog’s daily food is their normal food, and the other 10% can be alternative snacks.
So, on Christmas day this year, why not dish up some Brussels sprouts for your dog to enjoy alongside their normal meal. If you’re feeding your dog a complete and balanced meal like Pure, which already contains tons of fruit and veggies and is bursting with natural goodness, a side of sprouts isn’t really necessary for supplementing their daily calories. However, extra nutrients are never a bad thing!
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.