Can Dogs Eat Lettuce? Here's What a Vet Says
When humans want to shed a few pounds, we often increase our consumption of 'rabbit food', such as healthy greens, fruits, and vegetables. But if you're trying to help your dog lose weight, let's face it: he'd rather play hide and seek with that cottontail than eat the same way!
Veterinary dietitians often recommend substituting a few-low calorie plant-based treats to help your pooch lose his, uh, pooch, so you might wonder what's safe for him to eat. For example, can dogs eat lettuce and other greens? Here's what you should know.
Is Lettuce Good for Dogs?
Canines are, in fact, omnivores, which means they're naturally inclined to eat both meat and plants. According to the University of Arizona, they have a row of teeth, the premolars and molars, "with more rounded cusps for grinding and crushing plant material."
Additionally, many types of packaged dog food contain some form of vegetable, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and even beets for added nutritional benefit. (Beets? We don't even eat those!) So if your doggo hasn't spit out that kind of kibble, he might be receptive to a salad-like snack occasionally—especially if he sees you eat it first!
Jamie Freyer, DVM, is an expert at Veterinarians.org. She tells Daily Paws that lettuce and other leafy greens can be good low-calorie treats for dogs that like them. "The crunch of varieties such as romaine, arugula, leaf lettuce, and even iceberg can be very satisfying for a dog, especially in the warmer months," she says. "Keep in mind that iceberg lettuce is mainly water, and has little nutritional value."
Can Dogs Eat Lettuce With Other Fruits and Vegetables?
Yes! Try adding nibbles of other plants to your pup's treat allotment, which is usually 10 percent or less of his daily diet. "Give just a couple small pieces to start, and see how your pup responds," Freyer says.
However, there are ingredients commonly added to salads that don't agree with dogs and might even be toxic to them. Freyer says these include:
"Salad dressings are also not good for your pet, so stick to the leafy greens!" she adds. Refrain from adding salt or other spices, too.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Lettuce
First, wash all lettuce greens thoroughly. Then chop or tear into small pieces.
"The high fiber content of lettuces may make large pieces difficult to digest," Freyer says. "Just as you would with any novel food, feeding too much of a new thing can give your pet an upset stomach or diarrhea."
Can Dogs Eat Other Greens?
In addition to being low-calorie treats, leafy greens are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as magnesium and potassium. Various forms of lettuce, along with kale, spinach, collard greens, cabbage, and Swiss chard are fine for your canine pal to have in small quantities, occasionally. After all, just because your eating plan might require large bowls of plants doesn't mean his food dish should be overflowing with them.
"Plus, [these greens] contain certain natural compounds could lead to stone formation or organ damage in some pups if fed in excess," Freyer says. "Cruciferous vegetables can also be gas producing, so should be fed in moderation."
And if your pooch completely turns his snoot away from plant-based snacks, no worries. You can always sneak a few into these homemade dog treats!