Broccoli has been dubbed “The Crown Jewel of Nutrition” by the health community. Not surprisingly, either! Broccoli is a superfood because of its high nutrient density. That’s why broccoli is a great vegetable to include in your dog’s diet.
Furthermore, it’s usefulness in combating cancer is well-known, but that’s not all it does. In addition to the health benefits already mentioned, eating this cruciferous vegetable is a good choice for a number of other reasons.
Can My Dog Eat Broccoli?
Raw feeding advocates will almost unanimously respond “yes” if you ask whether or not your dog can eat broccoli. Broccoli is safe for our dogs, of course.
Nonetheless, I believe that moderation is crucial. Fruits and vegetables may be good for humans, but I don’t think our dogs need to eat them every day.
Therefore, I only use broccoli and other vegetables as treats, not as staples, in my dogs’ diet.
Nutrients in Broccoli
Fiber is a great addition to the bowl for overweight dogs because it helps them feel full while also supporting their digestive system.
Vitamin C is an extremely effective antioxidant that has been shown to benefit the immune system, the cardiovascular system, iron absorption, and mental function.
Vitamin K helps make clotting proteins, stops blood loss during surgery, moves calcium into bone tissue, and is sometimes used to treat poisoning with vitamin K therapy.
RED BLOOD CELLS, ENERGY, DIGESTION, and IMMUNE FUNCTION are all bolstered by IRON.
POTASSIUM: a crucial mineral that keeps you going by controlling your heart rate, maintaining healthy muscles and nerves, and aiding in the breakdown of protein and carbs.
Is Broccoli Good For Dogs?
It’s true that broccoli is a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Even better are broccoli sprouts.
In terms of what you feed your dog, broccoli is a fantastic option due to its high nutrient density. It has more protein than most vegetables and is low in fat and sugar.
However, these aren’t the real benefits of feeding your dog broccoli…
10 Important Reasons Your Dog Should Eat Broccoli
So, without further ado, let’s discuss the benefits of feeding your dog broccoli and the proper way to incorporate it into his diet.
1. Prevents Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is a key factor in the development of cancer and other chronic diseases.
When free radicals accumulate, this is called oxidative stress. Instable molecules called free radicals are a metabolic byproduct. External factors, such as pollution and second-hand smoke, also contribute to their formation.
These molecules are stabilized by antioxidants, which protect the cells in your dog’s body.
Too few antioxidants in your dog’s diet could lead to… To put it another way, free radicals will be running amok. His cells will be attacked, and his DNA, proteins, and cell membranes will all be damaged as a result. It’s possible that this could cause…
- Delaying of Ageing
- Coronary illness
- Diseases of the Brain
- Additional Chronic Illnesses
Broccoli’s high levels of these two compounds make it a potent antioxidant.
Vitamin C is the first.
Antioxidant vitamin C helps neutralize harmful free radicals. The immune system is another area where this tool excels.
Although canines have their own vitamin C production mechanisms, they may benefit from a supplement in times of illness, stress, or old age.
You should look elsewhere for your vitamin C needs if oranges were your go-to solution. The vitamin C content of one-third of a pound of broccoli is equivalent to that of two-and-a-half pounds of oranges.
Sulforaphane is the second major component of broccoli.
The antioxidant effects of sulforaphane are more subtle. Unlike vitamin C, it doesn’t neutralize free radicals by binding to them. Instead, it kicks off the production of antioxidants in your dog’s body.
The term “Nrf2 pathway” describes this system.
Each cell in your dog contains a messenger called Nrf2. When it detects cellular damage (for example, that caused by free radicals), it sounds an alarm. Antioxidant enzyme production increases as a result.
This maintains a stable level of free radicals, which helps stop…
- Toxic levels of oxygen
- Alternate Chronic Illnesses
2. Helps Prevent Cancer
Just one of broccoli’s many cancer-fighting properties is its ability to neutralize the free radicals that would otherwise damage your dog’s cells.
Broccoli’s sulforaphane can help with…
- Eliminates or greatly reduces inflammation, a potential cause of cell damage.
- Eliminates Cancer-Causing Substances (I’ll elaborate on this when I discuss broccoli’s positive effects on the liver.)
- Boosts apoptosis, which kills off abnormal cells, including the ones responsible for your dog’s cancer.
- Prevents further metastasis (spread) of the cancer.
- prevents the development of blood vessels necessary for tumor growth
Because sulforaphane blocks the action of enzymes essential for DNA transcription, this occurs. Specifically methyltransferases and histone deacetylase (HDAC). Your dog has tumor suppressor genes that are triggered during periods of restraint.
Such genes aid in restraining tumor development. They prevent uncontrolled cell division, correct errors in damaged DNA, and signal when cells should die. That’s a great way to cut down on cancer’s spread and progression.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Dogs naturally undergo a healing process known as inflammation. In contrast, inflammation that persists over time can result in conditions such as…
The immune system can benefit from the regulation provided by anti-inflammatory foods. The risk of inflammation and other long-term health problems is thus reduced.
Sulforaphane and vitamin C are just two of the many anti-inflammatory compounds found in broccoli.
Sulforaphane’s role in stimulating Nrf2 pathways makes it a particularly valuable compound. As I said before, this process releases enzymes that fight free radicals. Eliminating inflammation requires the help of these enzymes.
As an added bonus, sulforaphane is one of the few nutrients that can make it to the brain. As a result, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the brain may be enhanced.
4. Balance The Microbiome
There are trillions of bacteria, both good and bad, in your dog’s gut. Your dog’s microbiome consists of this collection of bacteria and other microorganisms.
By taking good care of your dog, you can promote a healthy microbiome. You can accomplish this in a number of ways, but one is with prebiotics…
Prebiotics are soluble fibers that your dog’s gut bacteria can’t break down, so they get to the colon undigested. Furthermore, bacteria produce compounds that are critical to your dog’s immune system. SCFAs, or short-chain fatty acids, are a prime example of this.
- Suppress the Multiplication of Dangerous Bacteria
- Sustain the energy of colon cells.
- Keep your body’s fluids and electrolytes in check.
- Strengthen your defenses
- Eliminate Food Allergies
- Facilitate the digestion of food
- Reduce swelling and inflammation
Broccoli is an excellent source of fiber. It’s possible that feeding your dog broccoli on a regular basis will help nourish his microbiome (and keep him regular).
5. Helps Manage Leaky Gut
Unfortunately, canine leaky gut syndrome is on the rise.
An individual cell layer is all that divides your dog’s digestive tract from the rest of his body. Like the teeth of a zipper, these cells interlock tightly with one another. It’s a physical obstruction. Your dog will be able to get the nutrients it needs to stay alive thanks to this barrier. Furthermore, it prevents potentially harmful microorganisms and undigested food from passing through the intestinal wall.
It’s a problem that the gut can get irritated at times. There is an enlargement of the intercellular gaps when this occurs. Your dog’s bloodstream is being polluted by allergens, toxins, bacteria, and yeast.
It’s a case of leaky gut. Worse, it can cause systemic inflammation and disease throughout your dog’s body.
Main Goals To Prevent Leaky Gut
- Lower the level of inflammation
- Preserve a sound intestinal lining
You can accomplish both of these aims by feeding your dog broccoli. Now, let’s take a look at inflammation.
I already mentioned that vitamin C and sulforaphane, two compounds found in broccoli, are anti-inflammatory. Your dog’s inflammation, including digestive tract inflammation, may benefit from these. Generally speaking, the less inflammation there is in your dog’s digestive tract, the more tightly the cells are able to communicate with one another.
The same holds true for the SCFAs that broccoli fiber aids in creating. They might also have anti-inflammatory effects.
Finally, broccoli has been shown to increase the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes.
Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes bacteria can be found in your dog’s digestive tract. However, inflammation can be exacerbated by Firmicutes, which is a major problem. They also lower levels of proteins that normally keep intestinal cells tight together. Changing the proportion of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes may help heal a leaky gut and lessen inflammation.
Broccoli is an excellent food to feed your dog because it strengthens the lining of the digestive tract, which in turn helps prevent leaky gut.
It may do this by stimulating the production of SCFAs that have a more direct effect on the intestinal lining. Butyrate is a good case in point. To lessen the occurrence of leaky gut, it stimulates the production of proteins that bind cells together.
Moreover, indole glucosinolates can be found in broccoli. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain these organic compounds. The indol glucosinolates are a class of compounds derived from the amino acid tryptophan.
Indole glucosinolates are converted to indolocarbazole (ICZ) during digestion. When ICZ is used, the intestinal barrier is strengthened, which reduces the risk of developing leaky gut.
To what end does this function?
Aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AHR) are bound and activated by ICZ. An AHR is a signaling pathway in the intestinal lining of your dog that aids in…
- Protect a balanced microbiome
- Increase the quality of the intestinal lining
- Enhance monitoring of the immune system
Penn State University researchers have found that this has the potential to treat digestive issues like leaky gut.
6. Detoxes The Liver
That poor dog of yours is constantly exposed to carcinogens, toxins, and other chemical hazards.
In many cases, you will be able to safeguard your dog from harm. He will, however, always be slightly vulnerable. This is because we inhale them every day.
The majority of these toxins are fat soluble, meaning they accumulate in your dog’s adipose tissue. Your dog will slowly fill up with them over time. Constant low-level exposure causes inflammation and chronic illness.
Fortunately, your dog’s liver serves as an inbuilt filtration system. One that can help the gallbladder and kidneys flush these poisons out.
The procedure consists of two stages…
- Initial Detoxification Phase
Toxins are converted into compounds that are more easily dissolved in water by enzymes.
- Second-Phase Detoxification
The newly synthesized compounds undergo additional processing to render them fully water soluble. Then, they can spread via your dog’s urine.
The problem with Phase I is that it produces compounds that are even more toxic than the original toxin. Therefore, it is important that your dog’s body enter Phase II of detoxification as quickly as possible so that they can be discharged.
Sulforaphane in broccoli, which I mentioned earlier, stimulates Nrf2 pathways. That antioxidant production is boosted by these mechanisms.
However, Nrf2 is also in charge of turning on genes involved in Phase II detoxification. Your dog can help with Phase II detoxification and liver protection by turning on Nrf2.
Sulforaphane boosts the detox of airborne carcinogens by as much as 61%, according to studies. Furthermore, the improved liver function was accompanied by a decrease in oxidative stress in experimental rats.
7. Improves Eye Health
Both lutein and zeaxanthin, two important carotenoids for eye health, can be found in broccoli. Carotenoid pigments can be found in plants. They’re what give plants and animals their vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges.
Also powerful antioxidants, like vitamin C and sulforaphane.
Beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are the three primary carotenoids in broccoli. Carotenoids like these can be found in leafy greens like kale.
For healthy eyes, vitamin A is essential. Lack of vitamin A can lead to a host of issues, including blindness, in your dog. In addition, vitamin A is accountable for…
- The assembly of molecules (called visual pigments) capable of absorbing light and aiding vision.
- Preserving the health of your dog’s corneal lining
Your dog’s body will transform beta-carotene into vitamin A. As such, it is crucial to your dog’s eye health.
Avoid giving your dog excessive amounts of vitamin A because it can be toxic to them. If you’re feeding a premade raw diet that already contains added vitamin A, you shouldn’t feed your pet a lot of vitamin A-rich foods.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, like beta-carotene, are beneficial to your dog’s eyesight. Of course, no one else has them…
Only two dietary carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, are stored in the retina. Because of this, they are great for maintaining healthy retinas.
8. Brain Health
Sulforaphane has shown promise in studies as a potential Alzheimer’s disease and dementia preventative. Since sulforaphane raises BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), this is the result. And this aids in the survival and expansion of neurons. It also enhances the efficiency of the brain’s signaling pathways.
Sulforaphane has also been studied as a possible therapy for traumatic brain injuries. Sulforaphane was administered to injured rats 1 hour after the injury in one study. The results they achieved on tests were better than those of the control group.
9. Anxiety And Depression
There are compounds in broccoli that have been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Reducing inflammation could help alleviate depression. Sulforaphane’s anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for treating and preventing mood swings. In mice, sulforaphane alleviated anxiety by acting as an antidepressant.
To add insult to injury, your dog’s body will produce stress hormones whenever he feels worried or anxious. Hormone production requires a lot of zinc, vitamin C, and B vitamins, all of which are quickly depleted.
If your dog is acting more anxious than usual, he may benefit from an extra nutritional boost. You can get some of these nutrients from eating broccoli.
10. Reduces Risk Of Zinc Deficiency
To stay healthy, your dog requires specific vitamins and minerals. Your dog will quickly become ill with a chronic condition if he or she is lacking in any of these nutrients.
Certain breeds tend to have problems with zinc deficiency. Dogs from the north, like Huskies and Malamutes, are the hardest hit. Large and giant breeds may be more susceptible than smaller ones.
A dog outside of these risk groups, however, should still get plenty of zinc. Moreover, deficiencies in zinc can lead to…
- Coronary illness
- Symptoms related to the digestive system
- Problems with the skin
There are primarily three causes of deficiencies in dogs. The first is that it could be too difficult for his body to digest or absorb. The other possibility is that he doesn’t get enough zinc in his diet. Your dog requires consistent zinc supplementation because the mineral is not stored in the body. Last but not least, his diet might be preventing him from getting enough zinc.
Zinc deficiency often manifests as…
- Intestinal problems
- Crusted skin condition
- Having a weakened immune system
- Diseases of the thyroid gland
- Dysfunction of an organ
Zinc is easily absorbed by the body from foods like broccoli. Broccoli, if fed to your dog on a regular basis, can raise his zinc levels and lower his risk of zinc deficiency.
More Ways Broccoli Can Benefit Your Dog
When I said there are many advantages to giving your dog broccoli, I wasn’t joking. Other benefits of feeding your dog broccoli include…
Sulforaphane has shown promise in studies for preserving arterial function and warding off cardiovascular disease. This is due to sulforaphane’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Recent research suggests sulforaphane may have anticonvulsant properties. That means it has the potential to both lessen the severity of seizures and prevent them altogether.
Sulforaphane has been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. It may also help the body use sugar more efficiently.
If your dog has diabetes and you are using insulin to control it, consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes.
Vitamin K, which is abundant in broccoli, is beneficial for bone health.
Downsides to Feeding Broccoli to Dogs
Broccoli’s downsides are hard to fathom, but they do exist. Isothiocyanate, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, may alter the body’s iodine absorption and contribute to thyroid problems if consumed in large quantities.
Can dogs have broccoli? If so, how much is safe?
Multiple websites advise that cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage make up no more than 10 percent of a dog’s diet. Avoid giving your dog gas by giving them only a small amount of broccoli at first, or try feeding them broccoli sprouts instead.
In addition to the risk of food poisoning, eating raw broccoli sprouts is not recommended. Humidity promotes the growth of bacteria, which can be a problem when cultivating sprouts. I buy broccoli sprouts from the store and keep them in the fridge; the above video shows how to safely grow them at home.
However, I haven’t been able to find specific amounts that may lead to the above “downsides,” so I’m guessing that, like the risk of garlic, you have to feed a lot (far more than a pet parent would reasonably feed) to experience the risks. So far, what I’ve learned is:
- Feeding cruciferous vegetables like broccoli to a dog with thyroid problems requires consulting a veterinarian (ideally one with extensive experience in animal nutrition).
- Storing broccoli sprouts properly can prevent the growth of bacteria, making them unfit for human consumption.
To start, I’ll be giving my dogs broccoli.
Broccoli Sprouts are Better
Try feeding your dog some broccoli sprouts if it doesn’t like the real thing. Every day, I put some in my dogs’ food. They can be found in the natural foods section of some supermarkets, or they can be grown at home with little effort. My initial batch is about to begin.
Sulforaphane levels in broccoli sprouts are one hundred times higher than in fully grown broccoli. Sprouts’ nutrients are readily absorbed because they are more bioavailable.
Benefits associated with regular broccoli also apply to broccoli sprouts.
What You Need To Know Before You Give Broccoli To Your Dog
Isothiocyanates, like sulforaphane, are a type of sulfur-containing heterocyclic compound.
When ingested by dogs, isothiocyanates can cause gastrointestinal distress ranging from mild to life-threatening. They are potentially toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities.
However, you shouldn’t let this deter you from giving your dog this nutritious vegetable. In this case, moderation is essential.
Be cautious when introducing broccoli to your dog for the first time. A small dog should start with 1 tsp and a large dog with 1 tbsp. You could either give it to him as a snack or mix a little into his food.
Keep an eye on his reaction. You can give him a little more next time if he doesn’t experience any gastrointestinal distress.
However, keep in mind that your dog’s diet shouldn’t consist of more than 10% vegetables (broccoli included). Additionally, due to their high nutrient density, sprouts should not exceed 5% of the total diet.
How To Safely Feed Broccoli To Your Dog
The dangers of giving your dog broccoli have been covered; now we’ll discuss how to give it to him.
Sulforaphane is one of the nutrients in broccoli that contributes to its health benefits. The chemical compound sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate.
When sulfur-containing compounds (called glucosinolates) decompose, isothiocyanates are produced. Sulforaphane develops in broccoli when glucoraphanin is broken down.
Digestive enzyme myrosinase converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane after your dog eats it. Enzymes in dog food aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.
There are digestive enzymes that your dog produces naturally. The food he eats contains other people. Cruciferous vegetables contain the enzyme myrosinase.
However, myrosinase is only produced by damaged broccoli. This typically occurs during the chewing process of the broccoli. Dogs, as you may have noticed, typically do not engage in extensive chewing prior to swallowing.
The only way for your dog to benefit from the sulforaphane in the broccoli he consumes is if you “chew” it for him.
The best outcomes can be achieved by blending or mulching the broccoli and broccoli sprouts. In doing so, the digestive enzymes responsible for converting glucoraphanin into sulforaphane will be activated. In addition, this will lessen the possibility that your dog will swallow too much broccoli stem and choke.
The broccoli and sprouts should also be served raw. The sulforaphane content of raw broccoli is higher than that of cooked broccoli. Nutrients can be lost if they are heated to high temperatures.
Light steaming for no more than three minutes at 158 F is recommended. Because of this, the majority of the nutrients will be preserved.
And if you want to avoid pesticides and other chemicals, go for the organic option whenever possible.
Keep in mind that vegetables shouldn’t make up more than 10% (5% for sprouts) of his daily caloric intake.
If you follow these guidelines, your dog can reap the many health benefits that broccoli provides.
What to Do If My Dog Ate Too Much Broccoli?
Some pet owners report that their dogs exhibit symptoms like excessive drooling, loss of appetite, mild abdominal pain, vomiting, and constipation after consuming excessive amounts of broccoli.
If your furry friend is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s probably best to take them to the vet. Be sure to keep track of how long they’ve been experiencing symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting. The veterinarian will benefit from knowing this.
As for whether or not dogs can safely consume broccoli, the answer is “yes,” but only in moderation.
Broccoli is a healthy and delicious way to diversify your dog’s diet and introduce them to new flavors. There is no doubting the healthy advantages of this vegetable.
But before you do, check out our blog for information on how much broccoli is safe for dogs, what happens if they eat too much, and other similar concerns.
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We also suggest researching additional vegetable options for their diet.