Is Spinach Good For Our Dogs?
Yes, absolutely! While spinach may not be the iron powerhouse we think it is (a German chemist called Von Wolf actually added in the wrong decimal point when he calculated the amount of iron in spinach stating it had 35 mg of iron in 100mg of food mass, when in fact it only had 3.5mg!) but it still has a lot to offer nutritionally.
Spinach contains at least 20 different nutrients. It is extremely high in anti-oxidants, containing 13 flavonoids, which include lutein and zeaxanthin. These are so important in all our dogs but especially our elderly pets who benefit from as many anti-oxidants as we can give them to delay the onset of doggy dementia and cataracts!
Just a few leaves of spinach contain enough daily doses for an average dog of vitamins K1 and A, manganese, and folic acid. It will also contribute around half of their daily magnesium needs. Plus, spinach is a great source of potassium, iron (even at 1/10th its previously advertised concentration!), and vitamin C. It’s also a surprisingly decent source of protein.
Despite its numerous health benefits, it has only one downside – spinach contains oxalates
Oxalates, or oxalic acid, bind to minerals like iron and calcium, making them less bioavailable for your dog’s body to use.
While oxalic acid doesn’t pose a risk for most dogs at the levels in which they’re normally fed, there are some concerns that they may increase the risk of kidney stones in dogs prone to them such as Dalmatians.
Oxalates may also pose concerns for dogs who have a history of frequent antibiotic need. This is because some of the oxalates your dogs eat are broken down by bacteria in the gut. But some dogs may lack those bacteria due to antibiotic overuse, and therefore may benefit from a lower-oxalate diet.
The bottom line? Spinach is a highly nutritious food. If you have concerns about your dog’s iron or calcium levels and don’t feed them a supplement with extra calcium and iron when homecooking, or if they are prone to kidney stones (Dalmatians) or regular infections that require antibiotic use, you may want to not feed them spinach. But feeding spinach in moderation is perfect in the healthy diets of your homefed dogs!
Choose organically grown spinach (or homegrown is the best) to minimise any pesticide contaminated produce. If you buy fresh spinach that’s not organic, wash it with water and a bit of baking soda when you’re ready to use it. This combination has been shown to be more effective for removing pesticides on the surface of produce than water alone. Frozen spinach is also ideal.
An Easy Spinach Recipe
This very easy recipe is so delicious and healthy (for you and your dog!) – Simply mix a little oil to some baby spinach leaves. Lay it out in a roasting tin and cover with nutritional yeast. Bake for 30 minutes until leaves are crunchy and serve – even fussy dogs will not even notice that they are eating their greens!
What about Beet Greens and Swiss Chard?
These are all so easy to grow in your garden and can definitely be included in your dog’s homemade diet as they are all full of nutrients and belong to the same family as spinach. We do advise however, that like spinach, you do not cook beet greens and swiss chard for every meal that you make for your dog – just use them occasionally as they too are high in oxalates.