Can I Give My Dog Kale?

Can I Give My Dog Kale?If you’ve studied up on the benefits of kale you may be wondering if it’s something that your dog can benefit from as well. Of course it will still give them the same nutrients it gives humans, but the real question is whether or not a dog needs them.

In the wild a dog wouldn’t be drawn to eating kale, and would stick to hunting down other animals that might eat kale. In that sense they might get some of the benefits of this vegetable by consuming another animal, but a dog’s preferred diet does not include vegetables for their own sake.

It’s hard to deny that kale has many benefits, but most of those are for humans, and this is because our digestive system is good at eating plants, especially leafy greens like this. Our large and small intestines stretch for several feet, and the kale has time to get broken down and absorbed by the body.

Can I Give My Dog Kale? Answer: Yes, on occasion

However, the canine digestive system is somewhat different from ours. They process meat better than greens.

When they eat something like kale it doesn’t spend as much time in their system as it does in ours, and their body isn’t going to break it down as much before sending it on its way. They also don’t require the same sort of nutrients we do, so it’s definitely not a necessity.

They’d actually be better off if you stuck to their dog food, which is formulated in a way that makes it easy for them to digest and break down. If you buy a good brand it will be formulated in such a way that it will mimic what they’d be getting in an ideal situation. It’s silly for us to think that living with us and eating foods meant for us is best for them.

Any Digestive Troubles

If you’ve already given your dog kale, or if they got into some, there’s no need to panic. If they ate a lot of it you might see them have a case of diarrhea. It will certainly move through their system more quickly than most other foods you feed them.

But, just like eggplant, it’s not toxic for them. There shouldn’t be any other negative effects unless your particular dog is allergic to it.

Evolution & Domestication

Dogs were on there own for millions of years before they started hanging with us. They haven’t adapted to our diet completely, and they still retain many of the same traits as their wolf cousins. Perhaps a few million years of domestication will change things, but at this point in time it’s best to give them what they’re used to consuming.

Some owners follow an all raw diet for their dogs, giving them raw pieces of meat and bones to replicate their diet in the wild. This is a hard thing to do for most people, which is why dog food is still the most popular way to go. If you’re worried about your dog getting a bunch of food that they don’t really need, check the ingredients list of the food you give them. If you see that the first ingredient is a veggie or a grain, it might be time to upgrade.

The first ingredient should be an animal-based protein. It’s okay if they mix in some vegetables and grains along with it, but having it as the first ingredient makes it a filler, and is a way for the dog food company to keep costs down while still producing something that looks like dog kibble.

Conclusion on Kale

Dogs will eat just about anything. But you don’t see dogs actively seeking out vegetables if they have other food sources available. For this reason there’s no need to give them vegetables, like kale, just because they’re so good for us.

Develop your own system for determining what you’re going to give your dog. Some owners are very lax, giving them whatever they feel like. Others are very strict and wouldn’t give them things such as kale or other human foods, sticking only to a high quality dog food.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole August 11, 2015

Kale isn’t toxic in small amounts, but it can cause kidney stones which would be rather uncomfortable for a dog. I use it as an occasional treat. They love to sneak a few kale chips when I pull them out of the oven!

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Mary May 6, 2015

Last year I planted kale in my herb garden. Once my dogs discovered it, they gnawed one giant stalk off. They then laid down in the yard and ate the stalk but not the leaves. Yesterday, I planted a new kale plant then went into the house to grab a pitcher of water. By the time I came outside, my little Charles had pulled it out of the ground and ate it, all of it!

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Alison March 23, 2015

My German Shorthaired Pointer was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his right foreleg 12 months ago. I basically took him home to die, at 11 years old and two ruptured cruciates, there was no other option. However, he improved week by week and a scan 8 weeks later showed there had been a ‘spontaneous regression’ of the cancer. Around the same time, my vegetable garden was being shared with friends and I thought they were taking my kale plants. However, one day I discovered my dog eating a head of kale plant and it turns out he had eaten the entire patch. My friends had not touched the kale! It definitely has not been toxic for him. I have continued to plant kale and he continues to eat it. He is now 12, happy and healthy.

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Jeannine May 11, 2015

I really appreciate your story. I’m going to start feeding my 14 1/2 year old Siberian Huskey some kale. Thanks for sharing.

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Alex March 14, 2015

My 1.5 year old German Shepherd is super clingy and is with me wherever I go. When I prepare myself a kale salad, he waits patiently for the stem. He loves it. I haven’t given it much thought if it would harm his digestive system but so far, no impact. I don’t give him more than 2 stems on occasion.

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Kelly January 6, 2015

I have a puppy who likes to shred things. He got into a kale stalk I dropped and shredded it to nasty, soggy bits. I’m glad it won’t hurt him.

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