Kale might not be the tastiest or most exciting food in the world, but it’s certainly one of the healthiest. You’ve probably wondered if dogs can eat kale and benefit from all the paw-some nutrition in this su-paw-food.
Vegetables are usually a great addition to a dog’s diet as they provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fibre which all help to keep your pup happy and healthy, so is kale a safe snack you can offer a peckish pooch or should it be kept out of your dog’s dinner?
Yes, dogs can eat kale in small amounts without too much risk of illness. As long as the kale your dog eats is plain and fed in moderation, it should be perfectly safe because it isn’t considered toxic, is packed full of nutrients and provides plenty of positive benefits for your furry friend.
However, there are a few risks and rules about feeding kale which mean that not every dog can eat it safely, and your pup definitely shouldn’t eat it with every meal.
Yes, raw kale is safe for dogs to eat, but it’s more difficult for them to digest compared to cooked kale. If your dog has a sensitive stomach you might find that raw kale gives them some tummy trouble and gas.
You can make raw kale easier for your dog to digest by simply pureeing it before feeding it to them. Otherwise, cooked kale is much gentler on their gut and easier to digest, so it’s often best to lightly steam, boil, or bake kale before feeding it to your pooch.
Dogs can eat curly kale in the same way that they can eat regular kale, but the same rules apply. Curly kale is the most common kind of kale and your pooch can eat a little raw or steamed curly kale as a healthy addition to their diet. But just like regular kale, it must be served in moderation and it isn’t safe for all dogs to eat all the time.
Kale stems or kale ribs are edible, but they’re very tough, fibrous, and bitter. We humans normally cut them off because they’re not nice to eat. However, some people will toss the stem to the dog thinking they’ll enjoy them as a crunchy snack.
Your pup might like them, and it does still have some nutrition, but it also has the same risks as kale leaves because of the high oxalate content.
Cooked stems should be okay for your dog to eat, but raw can be a choking hazard. And whichever way they’re served, they might simply seem unappetising to your dog.
Kale is a sup-aw food for us humans and one of the most nutritious veggies on the planet, with tons of positive benefits for our health. There aren’t many studies on the effects and benefits it has for dogs, but given the level of vitamins and minerals inside these leafy greens, it’s sure to contribute some goodness.
After all, kale is packed full of vitamin A, K, and C which are all im-paw-tent for boosting your pup’s immune system, their ability to heal, maintaining healthy eyes, and making sure their blood clots properly.
These vitamins are also powerful antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals, reverse the ageing process, and stop oxidative damage to cells. They also have anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Kale also contains a good dose of manganese which is useful for creating enzymes and producing energy within the body. There’s also some calcium, copper, magnesium, and potassium. These all help to maintain strong bones and connective tissue, and calcium and potassium also provide electrolytes to keep your pup active and keep their organs working correctly.
Your dog can benefit from all these nutrients, but they should be eating a complete diet that provides all the vitamins and minerals they require to stay healthy without the need for any supplements. Kale and other veggies make great healthy snacks to top up your pup’s vitamins and allow your pooch to eat more food and feel fuller without bulking out their calories and fat.
Although kale has a lot of positives, it should still always be fed to your dog in moderation and served plain to prevent sickness.
Like most foods, kale does have the potential to make your pooch poorly if they eat too much of it, or if they have a particularly sensitive stomach.
Like most veggies, eating a large amount of kale will probably give your pup gut ache, gas, and diarrhoea. Some dogs with more sensitive stomachs might be unwell if they eat even a little bit of kale.
Kale contains a natural compound called isothiocyanates which can also be found in other veggies like broccoli. It’s safe to eat in small amounts, but if your dog eats too much it can cause irritation to their gut and can become toxic in very large amounts.
As long as the amount of kale your dog eats makes up less than 10% of their recommended daily allowance of calories, they’ll be perfectly fine. However, if your dog eats more than this, they might start to feel sick, and eating as much as ¼ of their calorie RDA in kale can become toxic.
That’s a truckload of kale though and your pup shouldn’t eat more than 10% of their daily calories in treats and extra tidbits anyway, as the majority of their diet and nutrients must come from healthy dog food. Limiting treats and extra snacks is also im-paw-tent to prevent overfeeding and unhealthy weight gain.
As well as watching out for isothiocyanates, kale also contains soluble oxalates. Soluble oxalates are natural and usually safe, but they’re another compound you need to limit in your dog’s diet.
This is because soluble oxalates can bind with calcium and lead to certain kinds of bladder and kidney stones, so if your pup is prone to stones, or has issues with their bladder or kidneys, it’s best to avoid kale, spinach, and other oxalate-rich foods in their diet.
You can also minimise the oxalate content by simply cooking your greens, but it’s still best to keep the amount of kale in your dog’s diet under strict moderation.
Dogs need some iodine in their diet to stay healthy and prevent hypothyroidism, a condition that affects their metabolism. However, too much iodine can also cause problems ranging from stomach upset to cancer. If your dog suffers from a thyroid condition, it’s best to avoid feeding them kale because the iodine levels in this leafy green could interfere with their medication or thyroid function.
However, for an otherwise healthy dog, it’s perfectly safe as long as they only eat a little every now and then.
You should always speak to your vet about how safe a new food is for your dog and their individual needs. And if kale is a-ok for your furry friend, remember to introduce it to their diet slowly.
Generally, kale is safe and nutritious, and shouldn’t make your dog sick as long as they’re a healthy adult and only eating a little bit of this leafy veg.
Your dog can eat kale safely as long as you follow the 10% rule. That means your dog’s treats, snacks, and other complementary foods should make up no more than 10% of their recommended daily allowance of calories. This includes kale.
The other 90% of their calories should come from complete dog food to ensure they’re getting the perfect balance and amount of nutrients to stay happy and healthy.
As long as your dog eats less than 10% of their daily calories in kale, they should be perfectly fine. Just keep an eye on them and if they get a bit windy or show any other signs of stomach upset, don’t feed them any more and in future feed them smaller amounts of kale. As always, if you’re concerned you should call your vet for advice.
Most healthy, adult dogs can eat kale as long as it is served plain and in small amounts. Like many veggies, kale can provide a lot of nutrition, but you can have too much of a good thing, and overfeeding can cause sickness.
Pooches with bladder or kidney problems should steer clear of kale though because of the high oxalate content which can lead to kidney stones and bladder stones. Kale isn’t suitable for dogs with thyroid issues either as the high levels of iodine can interfere with their medication and impact their thyroid function.
Generally, kale is perfectly safe and healthy for a dog to eat as long as they are otherwise healthy and they’re only eating kale in small amounts. Instead of overdoing it with the kale, why not feed your dog a complete and balanced dog food that already has a perfectly portioned amount of veggies in already? Pure is packed with protein, fruit and vegetables, such as peas, carrots and another leafy green, cabbage. This takes all the guesswork out of overfeeding your dog kale, allowing them to get the right balance of nutrients everytime.
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.