Delicious, crunchy and refreshing, bamboo shoots are a common ingredient in classic Chinese and Korean dishes. First cultivated somewhere between 12,000 and 2,000 B.C. throughout China and Southeast Asia, the bamboo plant is a member of the grasses family.
Bamboo shoots are the soft, edible shoots of the bamboo plant. Bamboo shoots are frequently used in Asian dishes, and they are preserved and sold in a variety of forms including canned, dried and fresh. Dogs in predominantly Asian households come into contact with bamboo shoots at a greater frequency than non-Asian households. However, this dynamic is shifting as more people experiment with traditional Asian cuisine in their kitchens. While this fusion cooking is delicious, it's also led to more pet parents wondering if it's safe for dogs to eat bamboo.
Are bamboo shoots healthy for dogs?
Yes, dogs can eat bamboo shoots. Bamboo shoots are a nutrient-dense, low-calorie treat for dogs. While bamboo shoots are not a necessary part of a dog's diet, they are a healthy alternative for dogs who are overweight or dogs who are on strict pancreatic or diabetic diets.
Benefits of bamboo shoots for dogs
Bamboo shoots are replete with a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. All of these nutrients help dogs maintain healthy hearts, adequate blood circulation and strong immune systems.
Promote cardiovascular health
While not conclusive, there is some evidence that suggests bamboo shoots help strengthen a dog's heart health. One study reveals that the bamboo shoots contain phytosterols and phytonutrients that help dogs dissolve harmful LDL cholesterol, which allows for increased blood circulation through the arteries.
Balance cholesterol levels
Bamboo shoots also help dogs stabilize their glucose levels, which, in turn, decreases LDL cholesterol in their blood stream. A Washington State University study showed that bamboo shoots had positive effects on cholesterol and lipid levels.
In some societies, the juice of bamboo shoots is used as a topical agent to heal external wounds, as well as ingested to treat ulcers. One study found that bamboo shoots contain anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing) compounds that can ease the pain of dogs who are suffering joint pain, arthritis or other forms of chronic inflammation.
Strengthen immune system
Bamboo shoots are brimming with antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin A that reduce the damage free radicals wreak on your dog's cells by causing oxidative stress. Bamboo shoots are among the many antioxidant-rich foods that will strengthen your dog's immune system.
How to prepare bamboo shoots for dogs
It's important to introduce new foods to your dog slowly, over a period of 1-3 weeks. Dogs have a well-deserved reputation for eating anything, but, in truth, most new foods cause dogs gastrointestinal stress. Pet parents often don't realize that their dogs experience discomfort after ingesting new foods because the signs and symptoms of digestional problems are often subtle. Dogs may experience minor side effects from new foods like an upset stomach or nausea. Occasionally, the symptoms escalate to diarrhea or vomiting.
Mitigate the risk of discomfort from new foods by feeding your dog only a small amount of bamboo shoots initially, and then slowly increasing the frequency.
It's best to only serve your dog boiled or cooked bamboo shoots. Raw bamboo shoots are not healthy for humans, let alone dogs. Raw bamboo can actually cause cyanide poisoning, but cooking dulls the risk. If your dog has consumed bamboo shoots from your Chinese takeout, not to worry. Canned bamboo shoots — which are most common in the U.S. and in Asian cuisine — are cooked during the preserving process.
However, a trip to the veterinarian is warranted if your dog has eaten a decorative bamboo plant. Not only are the leaves, stalk and skin of the bamboo plant toxic to dogs, several species of non-culinary bamboo are as well, specifically a variety called heavenly bamboo.
Concerns with feeding bamboo shoots to dogs
For the most part, bamboo is safe and even healthy for dogs to consume, although there are concerns with dogs eating bamboo. As this article has mentioned, parts of the bamboo plant are toxic to dogs: the stalk, leaves, seeds and skin. Furthermore, some non-culinary varieties of bamboo — like heavenly bamboo — are toxic when dogs eat them.
Be sure to only serve cooked bamboo shoots to dogs, as raw bamboo contains chemicals that are precursors to cyanide poisoning. Cooking removes any threat of raw bamboo poisoning to dogs.
Bamboo has been cultivated and eaten by humans as early as 12,000 B.C. throughout China and Southeast Asia. There are hundreds of varieties of culinary bamboo, and dogs can safely eat all of them.
Bamboo shoots are brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help dogs maintain cardiovascular health, strong immune systems, and balanced cholesterol levels. However, the stalks, skin, leaves and seeds of the bamboo plant are toxic to dogs, as is raw bamboo. This is why dogs should only eat cooked bamboo shoots.
Want to know more about which foods are safe for your dog? Check out our list of everything your dog can and cannot eat.