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Can dogs eat dandelions?

Health and Wellbeing

It’s natural to worry when your dog eats something they shouldn’t, especially since many plants in our homes and gardens are toxic to dogs including daffodils, tulips and lilies.

Can dogs eat dandelions?

One plant that you’re guaranteed to come across on walkies or find sprouting in your lawn is the dandelion. And the chances are if your dog has a habit of eating grass, they’ve probably tried to munch one of these plants too.

We humans think of these yellow flowers as nothing more than a weed. Unless you have a rabbit or guinea pig, then you probably know that small furries love to munch on these pesky plants. But can dogs eat dandelions too, or is it a hidden danger lurking in your lawn?

Can dogs eat dandelions?

Believe it or not, dogs can eat dandelions. Although dandelions aren’t the first thing that comes to mind as something your dog should be trying to snack on, they are non-toxic to canines.

But before you go weeding the garden hoping to feed Fido the spoils, just remember that it’s not as filling or appetising a snack as a piece of chicken or even a chunk of carrot. Your dog might not have any interest in eating dandelions!

If you’re wondering “can dogs eat dandelions?” It's probably because your beloved pooch has eaten one while roaming the garden and you need to know if they’ll get sick, rather than googling to see if it makes a tasty treat. So don’t worry, they shouldn’t be in any immediate danger.

Can dogs eat dandelion greens?

Yep, dogs can eat dandelion greens including the leaves and stem. In fact, even us humans can munch a dandelion leaf!

Dandelion leaves are little different to any other greenery you’d put in a salad and they can be used in much the same way. These leafy greens have no cholesterol and are fat-free, and they’re very low in calories. Dandelion greens also contain almost as much fibre as spinach, as well as double the protein. Yet we think of spinach as a su-paw food and dandelion as a weed!

Dandelion greens also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, A, C and E as well as some calcium and iron. In fact, one cup of dandelion greens contains double the amount of iron you’d find in a cup of spinach.

Vitamin K keeps your dog’s blood functioning and clotting correctly, whilst vitamin C boosts their immune system. Vitamin A is vital for eye health and eating plenty of this nutrient prevents all kinds of problems such as poor skin and coat condition and stunted growth.

Meanwhile, vitamin E is used in the body to create healthy cell membranes and to maintain cell respiration, and your pooch needs this vitamin to be able to metabolise fat. Several of these vitamins are also powerful antioxidants that have a number of brilliant benefits including reducing inflammation and even fighting cancer.

Dandelions, and their leaves in particular, have plenty of potential health benefits. They can aid digestion, support weight loss, reduce inflammation, manage diabetes, and they could even help to fight cancer because it can kill skin cancer and pancreatic cancer cells. Dandelions have also shown signs of preventing gastric ulcers in rats and improved growth and production in poultry. Although more research is needed into the effects of eating dandelions in dogs, it does look like there’s a lot of potential benefits for humans or hounds who munch on these leafy greens.

Dandelion leaves and roots have proven to be an effective herbal diuretic too and eating a dandelion tincture could benefit dogs suffering from swelling, high blood pressure, heart failure, and kidney disease. The efficacy of dandelion as a diuretic for dogs does need further investigation, but we already know it works in humans and a few other animals.

So yes, dogs can eat dandelion greens and these humble weeds are actually a surprisingly nutritious ingredient you’ve got growing in your garden.

Can dogs eat dandelion root?

Dogs can eat dandelion root because it is also considered non-toxic to dogs.

If you’re into herbalism, you might be aware of the fact that dandelion root is meant to have a lot of health benefits just like the leaves and flowers of the plant. Basically, all of the benefits of eating dandelion leaves can also come from eating the roots. The roots are often used to make dandelion tea which we humans enjoy as a detoxifying drink.

So yes, dogs can eat dandelion root and there are potential benefits to eating this nurturing herb.

Can dogs have dandelion flowers?

All parts of the dandelion are edible, including the flower, which means dogs can eat dandelion flowers.

Dandelion flowers are also pretty powerful herbs and they are often used to help cleanse the liver and the kidneys. It can also be used to just generally cleanse and detox the body.

Can dogs have dandelion tea?

Dandelion tea is made from either dandelion roots or from dried dandelion leaves. Both varieties are used as a kind of detox drink that’s meant to help cleanse the body, especially the liver and the kidneys. It’s also used as a herbal remedy for UTIs and to help reduce inflammation.

Technically dogs can have dandelion tea or dandelion coffee as long as it is made using dandelions as the only ingredient. Most products are 100% dandelion root or leaf, but you need to check that’s the case. If dandelion is the only ingredient, it’s non-toxic to your dog and so they can have a little bit as long as it’s cooled down. However, dogs aren’t exactly tea drinkers and offering them tea alone won’t prove very appetising for them.

There isn’t a great deal of study into the effect of dandelion leaf tea on dogs, but we do know that dried dandelion leaf, tincture, and tablets can all be used as an effective herbal remedy for dogs under the guidance of a vet.

Is dandelion poisonous to dogs?

Many plants can be toxic to dogs so it’s natural to worry if your pooch scoffs something they shouldn’t when you’re out and about. Luckily, dandelions are not poisonous to pooches.

No part of the dandelion plant is considered toxic to dogs, so your pup should be paw-fectly safe regardless of whether they’ve scoffed a flower or munched some leaves on their walk.

The problem is that we humans think of dandelions as weeds, a menace to our paw-fectly manicured lawns and flowerbeds. Because of that, we have a habit of spraying herbicide on them to kill them off. Unlike dandelions themselves, these herbicides can be harmful to dogs if they ingest any.

Herbicides and other chemicals we use in our gardens to control weeds and pests can be poisonous to our pooches. So if you’re not sure whether some grass or dandelions have been sprayed with any sort of chemical, it’s best to stay safe and stop your dog from eating them.

How much dandelion can dogs eat?

There are no strict rules on how much dandelion dogs can eat, and if your pup enjoys munching grass and greenery they might scoff quite a lot! Eating a lot of dandelion, like overeating any sort of plant or vegetable, can cause gastrointestinal upset.

If you’re using dandelion as a herbal remedy you must talk to your vet about the correct dosage for your dog, and whether it is safe for their individual needs. (Especially if they’re taking any other medications!) The safe dose of tablets, tinctures, and dried herbs will vary depending on the product you’re using, and the dosage must be calculated according to your pup’s weight.

A general rule of thumb is that a dog should have no more than one drop of tincture per kilogram of bodyweight. For example, a 20kg dog should have no more than 10 drops per day.

Dried leaves are more potent and dogs can only have a single teaspoonful a day per 10 kilograms of body weight. In other words, if your dog’s only 5kg, they can have no more than half a teaspoon of dandelion leaves per day.

Recap: Can dogs have dandelions?

Yes, dogs can eat dandelion and although we might think of this pesky plant as nothing more than a weed, it’s actually very nutritious and has a host of health benefits.

Every part of the dandelion plant is non-toxic to dogs and safe to eat, so it doesn’t matter if your dog munches a leaf, a root, or a flower. However, if the dandelion has been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, the contaminating chemicals could make your pooch sick.

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

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.

Sources
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  3. The Efficacy of Dandelion Root Extract in Inducing Apoptosis in Drug-Resistant Human Melanoma Cells Evidence Based Complement Alternative Medicine, 2011, doi:10.1155/2011/129045
  4. Selective induction of apoptosis and autophagy through treatment with dandelion root extract in human pancreatic cancer cells Pancreas, 41, (7), Oct 2012, doi:10.1097/MPA.0b013e31824b22a2
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