Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower?
Besides broccoli or Brussels sprouts, is there a more controversial vegetable to the human taste bud than cauliflower? Some swear by it, others simply tolerate it smothered in some ranch dressing—while an unfortunate few of us still are haunted by our parents' "eat your vegetables" taunt in our nightmares. Nonetheless, one thing we can all agree on is wanting what's best for our pooches, and a balanced diet is key to a happy, healthy dog. So, can dogs eat cauliflower? In short, yes, but there are important considerations to keep in mind before preparing a portion for your pup.
Is Cauliflower Good or Bad for Dogs?
While cauliflower is generally safe for dogs to eat, Lindsey Bullen, DVM, DACVIM, a Board-certified veterinary nutritionist with BluePearl Pet Hospitals in North Carolina, says every pup will have a different tolerance level. Since it's a cruciferous vegetable full of fiber, you may find Fido is a bit gassier than normal after consuming cauliflower. The upside? It contains few calories.
"The benefits of using this as a treat is the low calorie density (calories per cup/gram) compared to commercial treats," Bullen says. "The pet can physically eat more without unbalancing their diet, as well as minimizing the risk of obesity."
Of course, if you have any concerns about introducing a new ingredient to your pup's palate, you should always consult with your veterinarian on what works best for your dog.
How to Prepare Cauliflower for Dogs to Eat Safely
Just like we might enjoy cauliflower in a variety of formats, there are several different ways to safely serve it to your pup. Bullen says both raw and cooked cauliflower are OK for dogs, but again, it's dependent on each dog's tolerance of the ingredient.
"Every pet is unique," Bullen says. "Those with sensitive tummies may benefit from cooked cauliflower over raw."
Dogs can eat the cauliflower leaves, but the stalk should be removed as it is especially fibrous and can cause gastrointestinal issues when ingested. Save your pup the pain and yourself a potentially messy situation!
To be on the safe side, the ASPCA recommends chopping veggies into bite-size portions for your pooch. We've all seen what a hungry dog is capable of when wolfing down his food—manageable portions protect him from potential choking hazards. One option your dog can enjoy is cauliflower rice, in moderation of course.
Remember, despite your own tastes (i.e., dipping in a certifiable puddle of ranch), cauliflower is best served plain for your pup, whether cooked or raw. Don't get fancy by adding seasoning—instead, to make the treat more tempting for your pup, VCA Hospitals suggests freezing cauliflower bits inside a KONG toy, a fun way for Fido to enjoy as the cauliflower melts and can thus be pulled from the toy for snack time.
However you decide to whip it up for your pup, it's important to be aware of serving size—cauliflower is not a treat to be eaten in excess.
How Much Cauliflower Can Dogs Eat?
Less really is more!
"In general, calories from treats (including human foods) should be less than or equal to 10 percent of total calorie intake," Bullen says. "But the tolerance to an ingredient/food/treat is going to be based on the individual."
As an example, Bullen estimates one cup of chopped raw cauliflower contains about 27 calories. To help determine your dog's ideal daily caloric intake, the Pet Nutrition Alliance Calorie Calculator is a tool available to help pet parents and industry experts get a general idea based on your dog's weight. However, this tool doesn't factor in other pertinent health factors about your pup that may influence his dietary needs. Always talk with your vet about what constitutes a healthy diet for your dog.
Other Healthy Vegetables for Dogs
Your dog can't get enough cauliflower? There are more veggies where that came from (so long as your dog is in good health)! Consider one of these dog-safe, parent-approved veggies for your pup's next treat (but still keep in mind: moderation is the name of the game!).
- Green bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
- Canned pumpkin (make sure it's 100 percent pure pumpkin—not pumpkin pie filling!)
- Corn (sans cob)
- Squash (but only certain kinds)
Just don't forget to check with your vet if you're unsure if your dog's health condition allows for the safe consumption of these leafy greens and their garden companions.