Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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Can Dogs Eat Kale?

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Anna Olson
Jul 6 ·

Can dogs eat kale? You know kale is often sold as a “super food.” You may have cooked it into chips, blended it into smoothies, or topped salads with this leafy green. Would your dog get the same benefits from kale that you do?

There is no simple answer for whether dogs can eat kale or not. Though kale does contain important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it also has several toxic compounds which could cause health problems for your dog. Most veterinarians agree that kale should only make up 10% of a dog’s diet, and it should be rotated with other vegetables. If your dog has certain health conditions, you should avoid kale altogether.

Let’s learn more about kale and why you should only offer it to your dog in small amounts, if at all.

can dogs eat kale

Can Dogs Eat Kale? Unsafe Compounds

There are multiple compounds found in kale that can cause moderate to severe health conditions. We’ll list the most common and their potential effects.

Calcium oxalates are naturally present in kale and other leafy greens like beet greens, Swiss chard, spinach, and collard greens. For some dogs, even a small amount of kale can cause kidney and bladder stones. If you know your dog is prone to stones, it’s best to avoid kale. Even if they aren’t, it’s best to limit the amount of kale you feed them in order to prevent stones.

Isothiocyanates, also called mustard oils, are found in cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and cauliflower. While they shouldn’t cause a problem in small amounts, a lot of isothiocyanates at once can cause painful digestive irritation for your dog. In large amounts, isothiocyanates can also be toxic. This is why most vets advise feeding only small amounts of kale and broccoli.

Kale easily picks up toxic heavy metals from the soil where it grows. The most common is thallium, which is toxic in large amounts for both humans and dogs. Organic kale usually has lower levels of thallium than non-organic kale. Therefore, it’s best to buy organic if you intend to offer kale to your dog.

Kale and Thyroid Issues

You may have also heard that kale and other vegetables in the same family have goitrogens in them. Goitrogens allegedly interfere with thyroid function in the body. While the scientific literature on goitrogens is limited at best, it’s best to avoid kale if your dog already suffers from lower thyroid function. If your dog is on medication for thyroid trouble, kale can interfere with it.

Some experts argue lightly steaming or cooking kale can reduce the amount of goitrogens in the vegetable. You should still consult with your vet before offering kale to your dog, especially if they have thyroid issues. It’s always best to talk to your veterinarian before offering your dog any new food. This especially applies to potentially risky foods like kale.

My Dog Ate Kale! What Do I Do?

Unfortunately, dogs are great at finding and eating food that isn’t good for them. Thankfully, in most cases, your dog will probably be fine if they eat kale.

Depending on the amount of kale your dog ate, it may not have an effect at all. Keep in mind, however, that your dog’s size will determine the amount that isn’t good for them. It usually takes less kale to affect a smaller dog than a larger dog. This is true for most toxic or unsafe foods.

It’s still a good idea to watch your dog for signs of bladder or kidney stones. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in urination
  • Difficulty urinating

Bladder and kidney stones will require veterinary attention. If you see any of these symptoms, contact your vet right away.

What About Kale’s Benefits?

It’s true that kale is packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These include vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, potassium, chlorophyll, and magnesium. In addition, kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet, containing high percentages of your daily value for these nutrients.

It’s also true that your dog benefits from these nutrients in their diets. However, kale still may not be the best source for your dog. There are other, guaranteed safe vegetables and fruits which have all of these nutrients with none of the downsides. In addition, a nutritionally balanced dog diet should already contain all the nutrients and antioxidants they need to thrive.

If it’s safe to offer kale to your dog, keep it as a very occasional treat. It should only make up about 10% of your dog’s daily diet, and most vets and pet nutritionists recommend rotating it with other treat vegetables.

Kale Might Not Be Safe For Your Dog

Even though kale contains lots of nutrients, it might not be the best option for your dog. Whether your dog should eat kale at all will depend on how prone they are to bladder and kidney stones. If your dog has lowered thyroid function, you should also avoid offering them kale. Even if your dog doesn’t have either of these issues, you should limit the amount of kale they eat. Kale naturally has multiple compounds that could cause health issues for your dog.

There isn’t an easy answer for whether dogs can eat kale. While it isn’t poisonous, experts argue that it isn’t the best for dogs.

Some other green vegetables for your dog…

Mushrooms

Broccoli

Avocado

Lettuce

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WRITTEN BY
Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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