Finding its wild origins somewhere between ancient Greece and the Nile River Valley in 1,000 B.C., cabbage is among the most venerable crops that humans still cultivate. Whether it's taco Tuesday or a seasonal soup, cabbage still makes regular appearances in the weekly dishes of most Western homes.
Since canines explore the world with their mouths and stomachs, it's more than likely that family dogs everywhere will come into contact with this leafy green either while it's resting politely on kitchen counters or growing big and beautiful in vegetable patches.
Can dogs eat cabbage?
Yes, dogs can eat cabbage. Cabbage is nutritious and healthy for both dogs and puppies! Replete with essential vitamins and minerals, cabbage helps dogs maintain shiny coats and healthy bodies.
Benefits of cabbage for dogs
Cabbage is not an essential food for dogs. In fact, your dog can go through his or her entire life never tasting cabbage and still experience complete wellness. Nonetheless, cabbage is profoundly healthy for dogs in moderation. Cabbage is abundant in nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K—all of which help dogs reach their daily micronutrient needs for performance and longevity.
Cabbage is chock full of antioxidants that veterinary researchers and dietitians believe reduce chronic inflammation in dogs. Inflammation is associated with a variety of diseases in dogs including, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Weight Management and Constipation
Cabbage is high in insoluble fiber, which can help dogs maintain body weight by increasing the volume of food they eat without increasing their caloric intake. This make cabbage an ideal food for dogs who are suffering from obesity, or who are on pancreatic or diabetic diets.
Insoluble fiber also adds bulk to your dog's bowel movements, which can stimulate defecation during bouts of constipation.
About 40 percent of the fiber found in cabbage is soluble fiber, which can treat diarrhea by absorbing water in the large bowel to create solid stools. Soluble fiber is also a prebiotic that feeds healthy gut bacteria in your dog's gastrointestinal tract.
Regulate Blood Pressure While studies have not yet found a causal link, veterinary researchers are finding a promising and beneficial connection between the potassium in cabbage and dogs who suffering hypertension or high blood pressure. Essentially, there is evidence to suggest that increasing a dog's intake of dietary potassium can lower their blood pressure. Potassium is a vital mineral and electrolyte that helps dogs counter balance the effects of salts and excrete excess sodium through urine.
While potassium is present in all varieties of cabbage, red cabbage is substantially higher in potassium than either green cabbage, bok choy or napa cabbage.
How to prepare cabbage for dogs
It's never a good idea to feed dogs food that was prepared for humans. While your dog may successfully chomp on a bit of cabbage from your salad, the salts, fats and seasonings in the dressing are not optimal for their diet. Dogs simply aren't built to handle the punishing Western menu of refined, processed foods. Heck, humans aren't even built to handle the Western diet; so it's best not to pass along our legacy of obesity, diabetes and hormonal imbalances to our dogs. (Translation: Keep your gross food to yourself.)
Tips to prepare cabbage for your dog:
- Wash cabbage thoroughly to remove bacteria, debris and pesticides
- Cut cabbage into bite-sized pieces to mitigate risk of choking or digestional blockage
- Cooking reduces risk of gas or upset stomach, but dogs can eat raw cabbage too
Organic fruits and vegetables are best for dogs. Cabbage should be fed to dogs in small servings, around 1/8 to 1/4 cup.
Concerns about feeding cabbage to dogs
Cabbage is not toxic to dogs, and it's generally considered nutritious and healthy. But this doesn't mean some dogs won't experience complications like allergies. When introducing new foods to your dog's diet, always observe them for signs of allergic reactions for about 48 hours after consumption.
The same fiber found in cabbage that helps dogs manage constipation and diarrhea also causes gas. Insoluble and soluble fiber are a blessing and a smelly curse, but many pet parents report better result when they feed cabbage to their dogs in small amounts that gradually increase over time. Others recommend cooking cabbage before serving it to their dogs lessens the severity of gas or indigestion.
Leafy, cruciferous greens like cabbage are goitrogenic, which means that they lead to goiters and other metabolic diseases by interfering with the hormonal balance of your dog's thyroid. Essentially, the goitrogens in cabbage inhibit production of thyroid hormone, as well as a dog's ability to absorb iodine.
Many veterinarians point out that a dog would need to eat their body weight in goitrogenic foods over a period of time to develop metabolic or thyroid disorders, but its a risk that pet parents should be aware of when feeding their dogs cabbage or other greens.
Cabbage is healthy for dogs, but not a necessary part of their diets. Regardless, the vitamins and minerals in cabbage have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties that help dogs ward off diseases and experience optimal wellness.
Only feed dogs plain, unseasoned cabbage in small portions. Always observe your dog for signs of illness or allergies after eating new foods. While cabbage is not toxic for dogs and generally considered beneficial, be aware of the potential for thyroid disorders with leafy greens like cabbage.
Many pet parents recommend introducing cabbage to dogs slowly over a period of 1-4 weeks to reduce the severity of gas that often accompanies cruciferous greens.