You may have heard that mustard offers health benefits to dogs, but you may have also been told that mustard is harmful to dogs. So, which is true? As it turns out: both. Mustard in some forms is healthy for your pet and in other forms can be toxic. For example, dogs can safely eat mustard greens, as long as they are properly prepared. However, mustard seeds are toxic to dogs. Furthermore, mustard powder and the popular condiment (that we squirt over hot dogs!) are sometimes used on canines for medical purposes to induce vomiting -- though this should always be done under a vet's supervision.
Mustard Powder and Condiment Mustard
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When dogs ingest something poisonous, a vet may induce vomiting to get the poisonous substance out of the dog's body. Mustard, in both powder and condiment form, is a relatively safe product that can do this. A vet may allow you to administer it yourself using the following procedure: mix a couple teaspoons of mustard in either form with water, then get the dog to ingest it. Owners should make sure not to use any condiment mustard with seeds in it and should never try to induce vomiting without first talking to the vet.
Mustard greens and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, are healthy food options, but you should never feed them to your dog in raw form. Dogs don't chew their food in the same way that humans do, and therefore don't sufficiently break down the plants' cell walls prior to swallowing. Therefore, eating too many raw vegetables can suppress a dog's thyroid function. To make mustard greens safe for your dog to eat, either puree unseasoned greens with other approved dog foods or steam them until tender.
While prepared mustard greens are fine for dogs to eat, you should absolutely never feed your dog mustard seeds. Mustard seeds contain compounds that are toxic to dogs; consuming them can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. If you have a tendency to feed your dog scraps from the table, make sure the food does not contain any mustard with seeds in it. If you think your dog has accidentally consumed mustard seeds and appears to be ill, contact your vet.
Warnings About Mustard
While steamed mustard greens or a small amount of yellow mustard on a sandwich or hot dog bun will not seriously harm dogs, it is always better to avoid feeding dogs large amounts of foods that would not b e part of their natural diet, as this can cause digestive problems, diarrhea and vomiting. If you think your dog has eaten anything he shouldn't, such as mustard seeds or a quantity of condiment mustard, call your vet and ask how to proceed.
By Juliana Weiss-Roessler
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About the Author
Juliana Weiss-Roessler has been writing since 2000. She worked as the head of the Web content department for the star of an Emmy-nominated reality series. Her ghostwriting has appeared in "PARADE" and "People." Weiss-Roessler is a blogger for Resumark and an editor for Pink Raygun. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.