Can dogs eat parsnips?

Health and Wellbeing

A staple of every Sunday roast is the humble parsnip. Hearty and healthy, they’re pup-ular in plenty of meals from Christmas dinner to soups and stews thanks to their scrumptiously sweet taste. This root vegetable looks a lot like a carrot, and carrots are safe for dogs, so can dogs eat parsnips too?

Can dogs eat parsnips?

CAN DOGS EAT PARSNIPS?

Yes, your dog can eat parsnips. Most root vegetables, including carrots and parsnips, are paw-fectly safe and even healthy for your dog to eat in moderation.

Although if your dog has diabetes, you should double-check with your vet if parsnips are safe for your pooch. This is because parsnips are a high glycemic index food, and they cause spikes in your dog’s blood sugar shortly after they are eaten. But, they do have low sugar and calories, so they don’t have a great impact after the initial spike. This means that for some diabetic dogs, a little parsnip isn’t a bad thing, but it’s definitely something you will need to confirm with the vet first.

Your dog can eat any sort of cooked parsnip in theory, but it’s best to avoid any that have been cooked in oil or with lots of seasoning. So if you’ve roasted parsnips in the same pan as some oily potatoes covered in fat, it’s best not to offer those to your dog. (Although, a tiny piece on a rare occasion for a healthy dog shouldn’t cause them any significant harm.) Because oil and some seasonings can irritate a dog’s stomach, you should avoid feeding them to your pooch. Paw-ticularly if your pup has a sensitive stomach.

Your dog can eat parsnips whether they are raw, boiled, steamed, pureed, roasted, or mashed. Keeping parsnips plain is pretty much the only rule there is when it comes to feeding them to your pup.

CAN DOGS EAT PARSNIPS RAW?

Your dog can eat parsnips raw. A raw parsnip has a completely different taste and texture to a cooked one, tasting something like a cross between a carrot and a potato. (I’d not advise you take a bite!) However, dogs don’t seem to mind the taste and definitely enjoy the paw-some crunch this healthy snack offers.

CAN DOGS EAT PARSNIP PEELINGS?

Yes, your dog can eat parsnip peelings. You can feed your pup a few peelings on their own, or offer them some parsnip with the skin still on. Just like with carrots, a lot of the parsnip’s fibre and minerals are found in the skin, so offering your pooch some peelings is a good way to boost their nutrients.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

Don’t go pouring all your family’s parsnip peelings on the pooch though, it’s im-paw-tent to keep it in moderation. As I said, there’s a lot of fibre in the skin so you can’t feed your dog too much otherwise it can make them sick. Dogs, just like humans, can have too much fibre in their diet. And a bit like if we eat too much of the stuff, your pup will feel pretty ruff and suffer similar symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, stomach cramps, as well as constipation or diarrhoea.

If your dog regularly eats too much fibre, their body can begin to struggle to absorb the nutrients from their food properly. Over time, this can cause nutritional deficiencies which will impact your pup’s health. One of the first signs your dog isn’t absorbing their food properly is a dull, thinning coat, and they might lose weight.

So while parsnips and fibre are all healthy, as the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing. That’s why it’s important your pooch has a balanced diet.

KEEP IT CLEAN

You will also want to wash your parsnip before peeling it if the skins are destined for the dog bowl. There could be traces of pesticides, dirt, or bacteria lurking on the skin which you’ll want to wash off before letting your pooch eat it up. There’s only a small chance anything on there will make your pup sick, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

CAN DOGS EAT HONEY ROASTED PARSNIPS?

No, they shouldn’t. Although home-made honey roasted parsnips don’t usually contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs they really aren’t a suitable snack for your furry friend.

If you have a healthy, larger breed of dog they can probably eat a tiny bit on a rare occasion and usually not see any side-effects. However, it definitely shouldn’t be a lot or fed regularly. Plus, little dogs will be more likely to become ill even if they only eat a bit. So why shouldn’t dogs eat honey roasted parsnips?

TOO SWEET FOR HOUNDS TEETH

Your dog shouldn’t eat honey roasted parsnips because they contain a lot of sugar and fat. Dogs can safely eat honey in small amounts, much smaller than the amount slathered on your parsnips. The sugar packed in honey could lead to hyperactivity and can quickly contribute to poor oral health and weight gain. Over time, it could even lead to them developing diabetes.

HEAVY ON THE STOMACH AND THE HIPS

Roasted parsnips usually use several tablespoons of oil and of butter, making them very fatty which isn’t good for dogs. Eating a lot of fat will make your dog more likely to become obese. Meanwhile, oil and fat is heavy on the stomach and can easily upset a dog’s gut and cause gastrointestinal issues.

Excess fat also runs the risk of triggering pancreatitis. Because pancreatitis can be chronic or acute, it means your dog shouldn’t eat lots of fatty food at once or it can trigger a sudden flare-up. They also need to avoid eating fatty foods regularly because this can lead to them developing chronic pancreatitis.

But why are little dogs more at risk? Simply because they’re smaller and can tolerate smaller amounts before it makes them sick. A lot of small breeds like Yorkshire Terriers are also prone to sensitive stomachs, so they are simply more likely to be poorly if they eat something that disagrees with them.

ARE PARSNIPS GOOD FOR DOGS?

Yes, parsnips are packed with vitamins and minerals and they can have a positive effect on your dog’s health.

Firstly, parsnips have a healthy dose of soluble fibre in them. This helps to slow down digestion and make your pooch feel full, while also helping to keep their bowel movements regular and their gut healthy.

You might be surprised to find that parsnips are also packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C is super for your dog’s health as it is an antioxidant, combatting free radicals and preventing damage to their cells. It’s also proven to help prevent cancer. Vitamin C can also slow down cognitive ageing and acts as an anti-inflammatory, so it's an amazing addition to a senior dog’s diet to help keep their brain and joints healthy.

The humble root veggie also has a lot of vitamin K inside too, which helps to maintain the blood’s ability to coagulate and clot normally. By snacking on some parsnip, your dog will also get a helping of folate, which is vital for lots of different metabolic processes, like creating new blood cells.

On top of all that, a parsnip can offer your pup some vitamin E and B6 as well as minerals like thiamine, magnesium, and phosphorus. So yes, parsnips are good for dogs.

HOW MANY PARSNIPS CAN A DOG EAT?

There’s no hard and fast rule about how many parsnips your dog an eat. One guide has mentioned 1-4 parsnips per dog, but that seems excessive. It also would not be suitable for a small dog because even just one whole parsnip could be too much for them and make them unwell.

I’d say if you have a medium or large breed of dog, they can probably eat one small or medium-size parsnip at the most, and shouldn’t have one every day. You should still keep an eye on your dog because even that much parsnip could paw-tentially cause stomach upset. If you’ve got a small dog, go for half a parsnip at most.

The best rule of thumb for determining how much of anything your dog should eat is the 10% rule. All of your dogs snacks, treats, and titbits for the day should make up no more than 10% of their daily calorie intake. (The other 90% must come from their meals.)

Giving your pooch a whole parsnip might make a healthy and tasty chew toy, but you do need to make sure they chew it properly or it can become a choking hazard. If your dog is a gulper, better to cut that veggie up.

If you want to feed your dog parsnip, the best way to do it is to cut it into small pieces and slowly introduce it to your pooch. Feed them a few pieces and see if they like it first, (and to make sure it doesn’t upset their stomach.) Then if they seem to enjoy it, you can give them a bit more.

RECAP: CAN DOGS EAT PARSNIPS?

Yes, your dog can eat parsnips. It doesn’t matter whether they are raw or cooked, your pooch can eat them. It’s more important that any parsnips your pup eats are kept plain, so there’s no oil, fat, or seasoning on them that could make them sick. Otherwise, your pooch can eat a parsnip, peel and all, as a crunchy and healthy treat.

Carrots are very similar to parnsips, being another type of root veg, and we put the exact right amount of carrot into Pure to ensure your dog is getting everything they need in perfect quantities. Alongside carrots, Pure also contains totally natural ingredients, the main protein, fruit, veggies and extra added vitamins and minerals so your dog is eating a complete, balanced and nutrient-dense dinner every day.

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.