Can Dogs Have Asparagus?
Veterinarians sound off on basic rules to follow if you're going to share this veggie snack with your pup.
It is the rare dog owner who thinks, "I know what my dog needs: asparagus." If that's you, congratulations. You are one of a kind.
For the rest of you, you might have panicked because Fido went to town on an uncooked asparagus stalk or two from your garden, or gobbled up a bunch of cooked asparagus spears you just dropped from the grill.
Either way, it's time to find out the dangers and delights of asparagus for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Asparagus Safely?
There's nothing particularly toxic for dogs in asparagus stalks, according to Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian toxicologist who works with Pet Poison Helpline.
Schmid hasn't heard of a case, even with a small-breed dog, of choking on asparagus either: "Asparagus is not a problem, raw or cooked. I think choking would be unlikely, even though the stalks are long. A dog would chew it up."
You can avoid the problem of your dog choking on a long stalk by cutting up asparagus into small pieces. You can also avoid the problem of difficult digestibility (why you don't eat raw asparagus either) by lightly cooking or steaming the asparagus before feeding it to your dog.
Asparagus is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, although it doesn't seem to be high on any veterinary nutritionist's top menu for canine wonder vegetables.
Schmid does warn that asparagus-loving pet parents should avoid adding extras to asparagus before letting Rover nibble.
"If dogs are eating it cooked, avoid seasonings that include onion or garlic products," she says, which are both toxic to cats and dogs. Onions and garlic are members of the Allium plant family, which also includes chives and leeks.
Additions like butter and salt should be avoided, too, according to board-certified veterinary nutritionist Sean Delaney, BS, DVM, MS, DACVN, whose website builds safe, complete recipes for pets, often using regular human foods like asparagus.
Butter adds unnecessary calories, and salt adds extra sodium most cats and dogs on complete balanced diets don't need.
A final, tiny warning: While the asparagus stalks are nontoxic, parts of the asparagus plant can be toxic, according to resources at Pet Poison Helpline. Keep asparagus ferns out of reach of your curious, will-eat-anything dog in your garden.
Other Healthy Vegetables Dogs Can Eat
Are you excited by the idea of introducing fresh, healthy vegetables into your dog's daily diet?
First, keep in mind that commercially produced dog food or a homemade diet prepared under veterinary guidance are nutritionally balanced to make sure dogs get all the nutrients and micronutrients they need to be healthy. Asparagus is safe, but that doesn't mean a lot of it is necessarily healthy.
Second, experts recommend that 10 percent or fewer of your dog's daily calories should come from incomplete sources of nutrition or snacks. Always check with your veterinarian if you have questions about changing your dog's diet or treat options, and always test out a little bit of a new food first to see whether it agrees with your dog's particular digestive system.
Below are a few other veggies your dog might dig:
Remember, if you're going to share any fruits or vegetables with your pup, offer them in smaller pieces to avoid a choking hazard and get rid of everything that might be hard to digest (like stems, rinds, seeds, etc.).