Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Effects of Broccoli for Dogs as a Dog Food

can dogs eat broccoli

Dogs can eat broccoli safely. Dogs can consume small amounts of broccoli without being negatively affected. In addition to healthy vitamins and minerals, broccoli is also packed with fiber to benefit dogs’ digestive systems. Some dog food brands even list broccoli as an ingredient. Dog owners can feed their dogs this low-calorie, tasty treat. Dogs will be just fine if owners consider the risks posed by the naturally occurring compound isothiocyanate present in the broccoli florets.

What are the Benefits of Broccoli for Dogs?

The benefits of broccoli for dogs are listed below:

  • Heart Health: As a source of vitamin B3, broccoli provides various nutrients and is particularly beneficial for dogs’ heart health. They contain oleic acid, a compound good for heart health and a potent anti-inflammatory. Potassium also helps regulate the heart rate of dogs.
  • Strong Muscles: Broccoli is rich in high-quality protein and contains 18 amino acids that are useful for the growth of new muscles in dogs.
  • Improved Digestion: Fiber regulates the dog’s digestive process, maintaining gut health, and decreasing the risk of high blood sugar and heart disease.
  • Prevent High Cholesterol: Broccoli contains high levels of soluble fiber, which extracts cholesterol from a dog’s body.
  • Healthy Coat: Broccoli bursts with vitamin E and omega fatty acids. Water is distributed throughout the dog’s body and hair via fatty acids. The fat-soluble Vitamin E helps bring out the luster in a dog’s coat.
  • Prevent Inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids in broccoli help reduce the effects of arthritis and other types of inflammation in dogs.
  • Healthy Skin: Vitamin E, vitamin A, and fatty acids work together to keep a dog’s skin healthy.
  • Vision: Vitamin A maintains dogs’ sight.
  • Prevent Joint Erosion: Broccoli is rich in a sulfur-rich compound, sulforaphane, which blocks joint erosion-creating enzymes in dogs.
  • Improved Nutrient Absorption: Broccoli helps dogs to get optimal nutrition out of all the food they eat.
  • Bone Density: Vitamin K gives dogs stronger bones.

For heart health, strong muscles, and improved digestion system, the vegetables like broccoli are beneficial for dogs. As human food, broccoli can be given to dogs frequently. Like broccoli, other human foods can be eaten by dogs.

How Can Broccoli Harm Dogs?

The harm Broccoli can cause to dogs are listed below:

  • Toxicity: Broccoli florets contain isothiocyanate, which naturally occurs in the florets of broccoli and could harm dogs.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: The isothiocyanate, coupled with complex sugars and fiber could cause mild to extreme digestive distress, in dogs, including stomach upset, blockages, gas, and diarrhea.
  • Choking Hazard: Although dogs can eat broccoli stems safely, they pose a high choking risk to dogs. Broccoli stems can cause esophagus obstructions, especially in puppies or small breed dogs.

When Can a Dog Eat Broccoli?

Dogs can eat broccoli at any time, regardless of the time of day, and at any age.

Broccoli is one of the healthiest sources of dietary protein for dogs. Compared to other fruits dogs can eat, they contain greater amounts of protein and fewer sugars. High-quality proteins in broccoli help build healthy dogs’ bodies and maintain and repair cells, hormones, and enzymes. Bedtime is a good time for broccoli treats for all dogs because it contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that increases the brain’s production of the super sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

How Much Broccoli Can a Dog Eat per Day

The number of broccoli treats a dog can have per day depends on the dog’s size, age, and overall health condition. The general rule is that smaller dogs should eat fewer broccoli treats than a large dog and that broccoli treats should not exceed 10% of the puppy’s daily calorie intake. Due to the isothiocyanates toxicity in broccoli florets, giving a dog 25% of its daily caloric intake could be fatal. 

How to calculate a safe daily portion of broccoli for a dog

Approximate Daily Caloric Needs for Average Dogs

Dog’s Weight

Total Calories per day – including treats 

Allowed Calories of all Treats per day

10 lbs.

200 to 275 calories

20 to 27 calories

20 lbs

325 to 400 calories

32 to 40 calories

50 lbs

700 to 900 calories

70 to 90 calories

70 lbs

900 to 1050 calories

90 to 105 calories

90 lbs

1100 to 1350 calories

110 to 135 calories

One cup of broccoli (about 3 ounces) contains 31 calories 

Using this table could help dog owners determine how to ensure treats are healthy additives for their dogs and not just ways to spoil a dog and possibly cause weight gain or other health problems.

Broccoli is packed with nutrients that can benefit a dog; giving them to the dog for the first time requires caution. Test the dog’s reaction, and if the dog has no adverse reactions, Broccoli treats might be beneficial for a dog’s health.

Which Nutrients in Broccoli are Beneficial for Dogs’ Health?

A few reasons why this crunchy, green vegetable makes a nutritional dog treat include its many health benefits listed below:

  • Fiber: Broccoli has a lot of fiber which helps your dog’s digestive system to keep moving along. The stems can be problematic though because they are harder to digest.
  • Vitamin K: This is a vitamin powerhouse that improves bone density and provides a host of other benefits. If your dog is active, bone strength can keep him active longer. Bone density decreases as dogs age and can reduce their mobility. It also has coagulating properties. Broccoli carries the highest amount of Vitamin K found in vegetables.
  • Vitamin C: Broccoli boosts the immune system of your dog and provides anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C is produced naturally in a dog’s body, but that ability decreases as they age. It’s also a water-soluble vitamin, so it passes in their urine if they receive too much.
  • Synthesized Vitamin C: A dog’s liver synthesizes vitamin C naturally, but the process could be jeopardized if the dog has high activity or anxiety levels. If the liver is not doing that job properly, Broccoli treats could give the puppy’s liver the necessary boost of vitamin C to support liver synthesis.
  • Minerals: Broccoli contains magnesium, sodium, chromium potassium, and several others that all work together to strengthen your dog’s immune and nervous systems.
  • Folic Acid: Helps produce and maintain healthy cells, especially for pregnant dogs.
  • Sulforaphane: Broccoli is packed with the compound sulforaphane, which slows cartilage destruction in dogs’ joints. The anti-inflammatory properties keep joints active and functioning.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids help with reducing inflammation in dogs. Broccoli treats can help keep dogs’ mobility levels up.
  • Vitamin A: Broccoli contains high levels of beta-carotene, which promotes dogs’ eyesight and healthy vision. Once beta-carotene enters the dog’s body, it changes into vitamin A to support a dog’s cell function, immune and reproductive system. 
  • Lycopene and beta carotene: These carotenoids are antioxidants that are invaluable for a dog’s health. When dogs eat broccoli, these powerful antioxidants help prevent cell damage by free radicals. Lycopene and beta carotene are also believed to reduce stroke and heart disease risks in dogs.
  • Potassium: A dog’s heart and kidney functions will benefit from the potassium in broccoli. Further benefits of potassium include regulated fluid levels, bone density, and muscle development. In case a dog lacks the necessary amount of electrolytes provided by potassium, hypokalemia will develop, resulting in symptoms such as vomiting, weight loss, muscle pain, lethargy, and appetite loss.

A nutritional profile of 1 cup of broccoli (about 3 ounces) or 90 grams is listed below:

  • Energy: 24 kcal
  • Protein: 2.35g
  • Total fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrate (by difference): 4.71g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Sugars: 1.18g
  • Calcium: 59mg
  • Iron: .82mg
  • Potassium: 212mg
  • Sodium: 24mg
  • Vitamin C: 56.5mg

What Nutrients in Broccoli are Harmful to Dogs’ Health?

Contrary to popular belief, broccoli cannot harm dogs, and most canines tolerate them well.

Any potential harm to a dog would be linked to the matters listed below:

  • Safety: Never feed a dog a new type of human food without checking with the vet that it would be safe for the specific dog’s unique constitution.
  • Moderation: Dogs do best on diets that are 100% balanced. Although broccoli is regarded as a superfood, it must be seen as a treat when given to dogs. The owner must consider the dog’s breed, age, size, and lifestyle, and then the number of broccoli treats must never exceed 10% of a dog’s daily diet.
  • Choking and blockage risk: Broccoli stalks pose choking hazards if they are not cut into small chunks.
  • Toxicity: Broccoli florets contain Isothiocyanate, which naturally occurs in the florets of broccoli and could harm dogs. Along with fiber and complex sugars, too much broccoli can cause mild to extreme digestive distress, including gas, stomach upset, diarrhea, and blockages.
  • Chemical hazards: Herbicides and pesticides on store-bought broccoli could adversely affect a dog. Buying broccoli that is sustainably raised is safest. A thorough rinse to remove chemical residues, manure, dirt, and germs is essential.
  • Digestive issues and Gas: Excess gas may indicate a digestive problem for a dog. So, dog owners should be alert for gassiness when giving their dogs broccoli for the first time. It might be a good idea to discuss the issue with a vet. 

What is Isothiocyanate?

Isothiocyanate is a sulfur-based compound that occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. It is important to note that broccoli florets pose some level of risk that could cause dogs to suffer mild to severe gastric irritation from isothiocyanate ingestion.

Can Isothiocyanate Kill Dogs?

Yes, isothiocyanates can kill a dog. Isothiocyanates are small molecules contained in broccoli florets. Isothiocyanates can irritate the gastrointestinal systems of dogs. Therefore, it’s very important to control the number of broccoli treats dogs get. It is possible for dogs to get bloated, gassy, nauseous, and have diarrhea from eating too many florets. After having a significant amount of broccoli, a dog could develop severe stomach upsets, serious health conditions, and even death.

How Much Isothiocyanate Does Broccoli Contain?

The toxic level of isothiocyanate is reasonably low. Dogs can suffer from gut irritation if they consume more than 10% of their daily calories from broccoli. However, if dogs consume only small amounts of broccoli florets, the isothiocyanate is harmless. If dogs consume more than 25% of their daily calories from broccoli, then real danger occurs. When it reaches that high concentration, it can be deadly.

Can Broccoli Affect a Dog’s Mood?

Yes, broccoli can affect a dog’s mood. Broccoli contains high levels of tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that dogs cannot produce themselves. When dogs eat broccoli, the tryptophan will promote serotonin production. Serotonin is a mood-boosting hormone or neurotransmitter primarily responsible for happiness and feelings of well-being.

Can Baby Dogs (Puppies) Eat Broccoli?

Yes, puppies can eat broccoli, but in small portions. Their immune systems are still developing, and puppies are more susceptible to gastrointestinal issues. Their developing bodies require a diet tailored to their needs. Thus, it’s best to wait until the puppies’ bodies mature before offering broccoli as treats. After the gradual introduction, broccoli could relieve sore joints of growing puppies. Young dogs can also benefit from the extra fiber, minerals, and vitamins in broccoli.

Can Old Dogs Eat Broccoli?

Yes, older dogs can eat broccoli. The vitamin K in broccoli is especially helpful for older dogs who have started to lose bone density and have limited mobility as a result. Several of the nutrients in broccoli are particularly beneficial for senior dogs.

Vitamin C in broccoli optimizes the immune systems of dogs and reduces inflammation risks. Additional vitamin C benefits for old dogs include fighting some cancers and slowing down cognitive decline. As dogs get older, dogs tend to have a more difficult time producing an adequate amount of Vitamin C on their own. This is where dark, leafy green vegetables like broccoli can help.

Senior dogs can further benefit from the vitamin A in broccoli treats. Many older dogs experience macular degeneration, which affects the retina’s central area. Aging dogs could experience mild vision impairment, night blindness, and even complete loss of vision. However, vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant in broccoli that could prevent or slow down macular degeneration in old dogs.

Can Different Dog Breeds Eat Different Amounts of Broccoli?

All dog breeds can eat broccoli in amounts to suit their size and health condition. Too much broccoli could cause gastrointestinal problems in any breed of dog. 

A small Japanese Chin dog weighing 10 pounds or less can have about three-quarters of a cup of broccoli, which is about 25 calories.

Bearded Collie dogs weighing about 50 pounds can eat about 3 cups of broccoli totaling 80 to 90 calories.

A Bullmastiff dog weighing about 90 pounds can safely eat 4 cups of broccoli, which is 120 to 135 calories.

For Which Dog Breeds are Broccoli More Beneficial?

Broccoli is beneficial for all dog breeds. Broccoli is one of the healthiest sources of nutrition for dogs. However, certain breeds can benefit from the potassium in broccoli. Insufficient levels of potassium in dogs could cause arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. Dog breeds with short snouts are particularly susceptible to arrhythmia. They include Shih Tzus, Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boxers. All dogs risk arrhythmia as they age.

For Which Dog Breeds are Broccoli Less Beneficial?

Broccoli is not less beneficial for some dog breeds. It is only less beneficial if dog owners feed their dogs too many broccoli treats. 

Which Broccoli Recipes and Parts can be Eaten Safely by Dogs?

A dog is most at risk from broccoli if it over consumes the florets. Broccoli’s high fiber content helps with dogs’ weight management and digestion. Furthermore, broccoli is full of vitamins, including A, C, B, E, D, and K, to help improve overall well-being. In addition to lutein, broccoli also contains antioxidants that fight inflammation and promote eye and heart health.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Broccoli Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat raw broccoli; without any added fats like processed cheese, seasonings or oils. These add extra calories and fats a dog doesn’t need, and it might cause an upset stomach. Raw broccoli must be cut into small chunks to avoid choking.

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Stems Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli stems safely. For ease of digestion, dog owners may want to remove the outermost skin before steaming or boiling the broccoli stems.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Broccoli Safely?

Yes, cooked broccoli is safe for your dog. There’s less risk of intestinal blockages or choking hazards if the cooked broccoli is cut into pieces.

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Stalks Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli stalks safely. Broccoli stalks are highly fibrous, and they can cause dogs to choke if they are not chopped into small pieces. 

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Rabe Safely?

Yes, broccoli rabe is safe for dogs to eat. Like regular broccoli, broccoli rabe is packed with antioxidants. Additionally, it is anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory. These nutrients boost canines’ immune systems while also protecting dogs against allergies. 

Can Dogs Eat Chinese Broccoli Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat Chinese broccoli, as long as it has no oils or seasonings added. Dog owners must not lose sight of the risk of gastric irritation due to the Isothiocyanates in the broccoli florets. 

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Florets Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli florets safely. The florets are nutritious, and the protective phytochemicals, sulforaphane, and carotenoids are more concentrated in the florets than the other parts of the broccoli. However, they contain isothiocyanates that could have a toxic effect on dogs that overeat broccoli.

Can Dogs Eat Boiled Broccoli Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat boiled broccoli safely. Boiled broccoli is softer and easier to chew, often the recommended way for dogs to eat broccoli. When dog owners boil broccoli for their dogs, they should keep it free of added seasoning, butter, oil, or cheese. Along with potential gastrointestinal issues caused by additives, added fats could cause weight gain.

Can Dogs Eat Spicy Broccoli Safely?

No, dogs cannot eat spicy broccoli safely. Any spicy dog treat puts them at risk. Spice added to dog foods can pose toxicity risks that might lead to abdominal pain, excessive thirst, diarrhea, gas, and vomiting. 

Can Dogs Eat Spicy Sprouts Safely?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli sprouts safely. They are the new growth that pops out of the soil before they turn into the broccoli bushel. Broccoli sprouts are packed with nutrients, beneficial to all breeds of dogs. Steamed or pureed, they are the perfect ingredient for dog treats, containing proteins, vitamins, enzymes, folate, and antioxidants. 

Which Dog Food Brands Add Broccoli to their Dog Foods?

Dog food brands that use broccoli in their dog foods are listed below.

  1. Bison Entrée: Frozen Raw Bison Entree for Dogs

  2. Applaws Taste Toppers Chicken, Broccoli, Apple, and Quinoa Broth Wet Dog Food

  3. Wellness CORE 95% Natural Wet Grain-Free Canned Dog Food Chicken and Broccoli

Can Eating Broccoli Cause Diseases in dogs?

Yes, Broccoli can cause adverse health to dogs, not necessarily diseases. The common adverse reactions are listed below:

  • Puppies are prone to stomach upsets if broccoli is not gradually introduced. Young dogs’ immune systems take time to develop, and they could experience gastrointestinal problems.
  • Like most cruciferous vegetables, broccoli can cause flatulence and bloating in dogs if consumed in large amounts.
  • Dogs with gastroenteritis or other GI problems should not receive broccoli treats that can aggravate stomach sensitivity until they have recovered.
  • The florets of broccoli contain Isothiocyanate, which, if dogs eat large quantities, could lead to stomach problems such as diarrhea.
  • Raw broccoli that is not thoroughly cleaned before giving it to the dog could expose the dog to lingering Salmonella bacteria, which can cause severe illness.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Allergies: Rarely, dogs have allergic reactions to broccoli. When that happens, the dog owner should immediately stop giving the dog broccoli since severe allergies can lead to anaphylaxis and possible death. Hives, swelling, and breathing difficulties could lead to anaphylaxis.

Other less severe symptoms of Broccoli allergy are listed below:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itching
  • Skin rash
  • Gas,
  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

To ensure a dog’s safety, owners must introduce broccoli gradually and be vigilant for any reactions. Furthermore, broccoli should be regarded as occasional treats and not form part of a dog’s overall diet.

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli When Sick?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli when they are sick, except if their illness is gastrointestinal. Moderation in broccoli treat portions is crucial for sick dogs.

Can An Anemic Dog Eat Broccoli?

Yes, anemic dogs can eat broccoli. Broccoli is a very nutritious vegetable. A 1-cup serving of boiled broccoli contains 1 mg of iron. A dog with anemia needs iron, and although broccoli is not a strong iron carrier, the vitamin C content acts as active iron absorbers. That means the high level of vitamin C broccoli contains increases the iron absorption rate.

Can Dogs With Kidney Disease Eat Broccoli?

Yes, dogs with kidney disease can eat broccoli. Broccoli is regarded as a kidney-friendly superfood because it is a rich source of vitamin A, C, K, and calcium, folate, potassium, fiber, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants.

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli to Help With Diarrhea?

Yes, dogs can eat broccoli to help with diarrhea. Unlike some other raw vegetables, Although some raw vegetables and fruit could worsen stomach problems, broccoli has both soluble and insoluble fiber that helps. The key is keeping moderation in mind when giving a dog broccoli treats. Too much insoluble fiber from over-feeding dogs with broccoli could worsen the dog’s diarrhea. In contrast, the soluble fiber in the broccoli treats can produce more formed stool to help the dog with diarrhea. However, too many treats could also cause constipation.

Can a Nursing Dog Eat Broccoli?

Yes, a nursing dog can eat broccoli. Broccoli contains phytoestrogens, which have lactogenic power that positively affects milk production. Many nursing mothers worry that consuming broccoli will increase gassiness and fidgetiness in their infants. However, the carbohydrate portion of broccoli, which is what causes gas, cannot transfer from the mother to the infant.

Can Diabetic Dogs Eat Broccoli?

Yes, diabetic dogs can eat broccoli. Broccoli is more nutrient-dense than most other vegetables. It is brimful of fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The low-calorie content and carbs make broccoli the perfect treat for dogs with diabetes.

What Else can Dogs Eat together with Broccoli?

Some of the people’s food that is often shared with dogs are listed below:

  • Cauliflower: Dogs can eat cauliflower, The antioxidants and vitamins in cauliflower reduce inflammation and ease arthritis pain in older dogs. The fiber content can support a healthy digestive system in a dog, but too much may cause an upset stomach. Dog owners should serve small portions of cauliflower florets only, with no stems and leaves.
  • Rice: Dogs can safely eat rice. Rice is often the recommended treat for dogs with gastrointestinal problems.
  • Potato: Dogs can eat potatoes, but not raw. Dogs can eat potatoes and broccoli together. They are best boiled or baked, free of additives.
  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a safe treat, packed with vitamin C, calcium, folate, beta-carotene, and potassium.

What are the Dog Food Recipes Containing Broccoli?

  • Biscuits: Healthy homemade broccoli doggy biscuits need half a cup of broccoli, 100g pulverized oats, and 2 eggs. Mix and shape the biscuits on a lined baking tray and bake at 360F for about 25 minutes. 
  • Frozen treats: Blend half a cup of broccoli with 1 cup of goat’s milk. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or ice trays and place them in the freezer for dog treats on hot days.
  • Smoothies: Puree broccoli and blueberries, bananas, strawberries, or other dog-friendly fruit and blend it with plain Greek yogurt. Serve to a special dog as a smoothie or freeze it in ice trays or popsicle molds.
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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.