Welcome to our complete guide to feeding dogs asparagus! Letting you know the answer to that important question – can dogs have asparagus safely?
As we all know, dogs are voracious beggars. Always trying to get just a bite of whatever we are eating.
If you experiment with fresh and grilled veggies during the summer months, then asparagus is more than likely on your menu.
If you are thinking about throwing a bit of the vegetable in your dog’s bowl, or open mouth, then you should understand whether or not the food is safe for consumption.
So, can dogs have asparagus safely, and should you be feeding it to your pup?
Is Asparagus Safe For Dogs?
Before we begin, you probably want to know the answer to the most important question, is asparagus safe for dogs?
The answer is yes, as long as you are giving your pup an asparagus spear.
What you need to be careful with is asparagus leaves.
This may raise even more questions in your mind, so let’s take a closer look at this issue.
If you are familiar with asparagus spears purchased from the grocery store, then you may think the small scales on the side and top of the vegetable look like leaves.
However, they are just a woody part of the spear. These are not the leaves. In fact, the vegetable does not have any at all.
When veterinarians and other pet experts say that asparagus leaves are toxic to dogs, they are referring to the leaves of a plant that is completely different from the asparagus one you are familiar with.
The plant you need to keep away from your canine is called asparagus fern.
Other common names include emerald feather and emerald fern.
The leaves of the plant are sharp, needle-like protrusions that grow from slim and small stems. Basically, it looks like your average fern.
Like asparagus spears, some people eat the fern, but it is more commonly kept as an ornamental plant.
You obviously would not mistake the fern for the vegetable, but the terminology can be very confusing. Especially if you want to keep your pup safe.
Just so you understand, the fern plant contains natural substances in the leaves called saponins. That have been linked to intestinal issues and liver toxicity in dogs.
So, you do not want your dog eating asparagus fern or coming into contact with it, but the asparagus spear vegetable is safe and free of toxins.
Is Asparagus Ok For Dogs?
Now that you know that asparagus spears are safe, you might want to know if it is OK to feed them to your canine.
Yes, you can, but you need to be careful in how you give your dog the vegetable.
Is Asparagus Bad For Dogs?
If you enjoy grilling or cooking your asparagus, then you like it tender. This type of asparagus is ideal for your dog.
However, if you like the vegetable raw, then this might pose a bit of a problem.
Raw asparagus is tough and can be difficult for your dog to digest.
This can lead to some vomiting, gas and diarrhea.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Asparagus?
Is your dog used to eating raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and celery? Especially as part of a raw food diet? Then go ahead and feed your dog a piece of raw asparagus to see if he tolerates it well.
Make sure to cut the asparagus into small pieces though, or choking may become an issue as your pup impatiently tries to swallow the tough spear whole.
If your canine is a bit gassy, vomits up an almost completely undigested piece of asparagus, or if he has never eaten a raw vegetable, then make sure to steam or grill the spear until tender. If you can easily prick the vegetable with your fork, then it is safe to feed to your pup.
Of course, you still want to cut the spear into small pieces to reduce choking concerns.
You can take it a step further and really make things easy on your dog. Use your knife to gently trim away the woody crown and the scales from the stalk before cutting it up.
Is Asparagus Good For Dogs?
Asparagus is an extremely healthy food, and your dog can gain some of the same benefits that you can when eating it. Asparagus contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
As you can see, asparagus offers a wide variety of nutrients your dog needs, and the inclusion of vitamin E is especially helpful to reduce deficiencies that can lead to eye problems. Specifically, studies show that a canine diet low in vitamin E can lead to retinopathy.
Retinopathy is a disease where the delicate tissues that sit in the back of the eye, called the retina, become damaged. When this happens, the eyesight is affected and blind spots develop in your canine’s visual field. Peripheral and night vision are often affected too.
This said, your dog should be getting all of these things from his normal diet. Asparagus is a nice treat, but shouldn’t be a substitute for their usual complete food or raw meat and bones diet.
Can Puppies Eat Asparagus?
Puppies, of course, need good nutrition too, but their needs differ greatly from those of adult dogs.
They also beg a whole lot more than their older counterparts, but this does not mean that you should give them more treats.
On the contrary, puppies should be given fewer treats, no matter how cute their sad little eyes are. Young dogs must eat foods that are high in fat, calories, and amino acids.
Since one asparagus spear has a whopping total of three calories and zero fat, it is best saved as a snack for older and chunkier dogs that do not need the fat or calories.
Asparagus does contain the amino acid asparagine, and the nutrient has been shown to support the synthesis of protein. However, the liver can create aspartic acid (broken down asparagine) on its own.
This is why asparagine is called a non-essential amino acid, so you do not need to feed it your puppy.
Asparagus spears can also be a choking hazard for puppies, and it can cause intestinal issues, as it sometimes does with older dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Asparagus?
We have touched a bit on asparagus and potential choking issues, so you may be wondering if dogs can physically chew the spears.
You probably understand that humans have premolars and molars that are used to grind tough foods, like the vegetables we eat.
While your dog has premolars and molars as well, the teeth are a bit sharper than the ones you are familiar with in your own mouth. This means your dog is not as equipped to grind tough foods.
This is another reason why you may want to hold off on the raw asparagus.
Can Dogs Have Asparagus?
Before you introduce asparagus into your dog’s diet, you should ask your veterinarian if it is OK for your pup. This is wise with any type of new food you introduce.
If the animal professional gives you the go ahead, then start sharing the asparagus as a sometimes treat. While adult dogs may need fewer calories and fat than puppies, they still need a great deal of protein and amino acids.
Cheryl Yull tells us that dog foods should meet Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines and contain at least 22% protein. This highlights exactly how much protein your dog should be consuming.
As long as your dog is eating a high quality food that meets the AAFCO guidelines, or a raw food diet equivalent, then a few cut up spears can be added as a healthy treat once or twice a week.
Do Dogs Like Asparagus?
So the answer to can dogs have asparagus is yes. But do they want to?
You may be wondering now whether or not your dog will actually like the asparagus. Well, he may or may not. Asparagus has a fresh and distinctive taste, but dogs have food preferences, just like people.
Even if your dog likes the vegetable, he may not be too keen on the odor it can create. The odor is caused by the asparagusic acid in the vegetable. When the compound breaks down, sulfur is released. This creates icky smelling urine and gas.
Studies show that some people cannot smell the sulphur compounds in their own urine after eating asparagus.
Unfortunately, your dog and his super smeller nose will definitely notice the odor. So, if you notice your dog urinating in an unusual spot after eating asparagus or avoiding his pee altogether, this is why.
Your canine is not going to make the connection between the asparagus and the unique urine smell, but you should keep the stinky odor in mind if you dog acts just a bit odd during potty breaks. If this causes potty issues either inside or outside the home, then it may be best to find another healthy snack for your pup.
Can Dogs Have Asparagus? – A Conclusion
Asparagus can be a great healthy addition to your canine’s summer diet. But you should make sure to cook the vegetable thoroughly and cut it up into small pieces. Especially if your pup does not usually eat raw vegetables.
As always, you should ask your veterinarian about the asparagus first. So make your local animal clinic your first stop before heading off to the farmer’s market. If you are concerned about the vegetable being too tough for your dog, then make sure to bring this up during the visit.
You also should keep in mind that stinky urine might be an issue, so do not be surprised if you notice some interesting potty behaviors after an asparagus treat session.
Have you given your dog asparagus, and have you noticed any asparagus odors yourself?
Does your canine have his own favorite vegetable snack, or do you have a doggie asparagus treat recipe to share?
Let us know in the comments below.
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- Riis RC, Sheffy BE, Loew E, Kern TJ, Smith JS. Vitamin E deficiency retinopathy in dogs. Am J Vet Res. 1981 Jan;42(1):74-86.