Can I Give My Dog Kale?

Can I Give My Dog Kale?It’s well known that veggies are healthy, so you may have wondered if your pet dog can also benefit from eating edible green and leafy plants. In particular, let’s address carnivorous canines consuming cruciferous kale!

Obviously, in the wild, dogs likely wouldn’t be eating kale. Hunting down animals, for meat protein, is their preferred diet based on evolutionary instincts. But that doesn’t mean Fido cannot get some benefits from this green leafy vegetable.

Us humans, however, tend to better utilize the nutritional aspects of Kale more so than your dog can. Our digestive system is well accustomed to consuming plants like leaf cabbage. Vegetables, in general, have more time to be broken down and absorbed by Homo sapiens compared to canines.

Can I Give My Dog Kale? Answer: Yes

Small portions, added to their regular chow, may make good sense but don’t overdo it.

When your dog eats a vegetable, like kale, it doesn’t spend much time being absorbed. Their little body may not completely break it down before sending it on its way. So some nutritional benefits are unlikely to be obtained. But pets also do not require the same sort of nutrients that we do. Most experts will agree that kale is not a food necessity for dogs.

Chow Compared to Kale

Your dog may actually be better off if you stick to a quality 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 are 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 a vegetable or two is included, 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 they don’t actively seeking out vegetables when they have other food sources available. There’s no need to give them kale but you can provide small portions on occasion. It won’t do any harm. Some owners are very lax, giving their pets whatever they feel like. Others are strict and wouldn’t consider foods such as kale, sticking only to a high quality dog food. In the end, it’s your choice.

Add Your Own Answer to the Question Can Dogs Eat Kale? Below

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry July, 2016

I’ve given my Lab a salad at suppertime for years. She started pretty young when we used to travel. We’d stop at McDonald’s or Wendy’s for some food and soon found out that Molly would rather eat my wife’s salad than anything else. She especially likes the lesser cuts of the salad. The crunchier the better.

So, now we get her a half salad when we stop to eat. We continued it at home and she just loves it. Her favorite is just a plain salad mix, which has a little bit of kale in it. She sorts the kale out and won’t eat it. We also hide her medication (pills) in the bottom of the bowl. On the mixed salad we put maybe a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, some diced apple, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, or blueberries and/or strawberries. Whatever is in season.

She also loves mandarin oranges. We top it with a little blue cheese dressing and 4 or 5 croutons. We also put a little dab of dressing on her broken up pill. This is the only way we have been able to get her to take it. The only thing I’ve noticed, in her stool, is that she doesn’t seem to fully digest the sunflower seeds or the pumpkin seeds, if they are whole.


Nicole August, 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!


Mary May, 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!


Alison March, 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.


Jeannine May, 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.


Alex March, 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.


Kelly January, 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.


Lolly November, 2014

My dogs enjoy all veggies and usually they get them cooked. However, the newest member to my pack loves vegetables raw and cooked as well as his meat. Today I harvested fresh kale and the boys went crazy for it. I think my new boy too many fresh leaves and had stomach problems and began eating everything in sight to compensate. He’s now thrown everything up, including some of the rug he ate. He’s very thirsty as well. I’ll stay up with him tonight to ensure he’s okay.

I lost one my beauties almost 2 years ago because she was like this new boy and would eat anything, inside and out. She ate some poisonous plants, Yew trees, and died quite swiftly. I subsequently dug up and changed my garden so no other animal would succumb to same poison. Watching my new boy tonight reminded me of what she went through and kale was the only new thing I’ve introduced to his diet. I just needed to know that it isn’t poisonous. Likely he ate too much and will be better in a few hours. Any advice will be appreciated.


Debra October, 2014

This article is somewhat biased and one sided, favoring meat over the vegetables. The person who wrote this should read Obligate Carnivore. I started to feed my dog Evolution dog food which has all needs minus the unidentified crap grinded in. The FDA does not have to approve certain ingredients not on the labels, like plastic tags that were attached to euthanized dog and cats.


Joel March, 2015

In short, you want to change the digestive system of the dog overnight when it took thousands of years of evolution just to accommodate our belief and way of life. At best it is animal cruelty. Yes my dog loves salad, green beans and carrots but they need the meat.


Debra April, 2015

Dogs are evolving along with their vegan human caregivers. Being metabolically omnivores; they too can eat a vegan diet and live as long, or longer, than their animal-consuming counterparts.


Anna October, 2014

Dogs’ digestive systems have evolved since we took on the role of dominating them into becoming our ‘pets’ and abusing them in laboratories. If dogs were allowed to be free, I can’t imagine my dogs bringing down a cow or chewing on a pigs ear. Dogs love vegetables and need the roughage in their diet.

As their guardians we must be prepared to give them a varied diet so they absorb all of the nutritional values they are so lacking. Many dogs do not live very long and spend so much time at the vet’s with skin conditions and allergies because people feed them raw meat that has been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, plus awful commercial foods that contain 4D meats [including their own species]. Given the choice my dogs always go for their veggies first.


Graham September, 2014

Wild dogs eat all the soft parts of the animal, including the stomach contents of their vegetarian prey. So I don’t see the problem with feeding my dog vegetables. Both of them are chewing their first kale stalks right now!


Jolee August, 2014

My dog loves to chew on the stalks!


Jennifer July, 2014

Thanks for the advice about kale. I’ve been using organic Italian kale in smoothies but I only use the ruffly part of the leaves, not the stem. I’d been throwing the stems away but this morning I decided to try giving one to my dog. He’s a Terrier. He treated it half like a toy and half like a snack. When he got bored, I threw the rest of the stem away.


Erica April, 2014

My dog just ate two helpings of kale, and then ate his kibble. “You don’t see dogs actively seeking out vegetables if they have other food sources available.” I guess you’ve never met a dog raised by a yuppie vegan millennial in Seattle.


Terence May, 2014

Kale is good for your dog. This is a case where it instinctively knows what’s good and goes for it.


Clare March, 2014

My dog often eats grass in the warmer months and I feel like he does it because his body craves some sort of green plants to complement his diet, but I could be wrong. He doesn’t do it to throw up.


Terence March, 2014

A few theories exist to explain this seemingly odd behavior, though no answer is definitive.

The most common explanation for grass-eating is that it helps dogs purge their systems. Like humans, dogs can suffer from gastrointestinal issues including upset stomach, nausea, bloating and illness from pathogenic microbes.

In a 2008 study in the journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science, researchers found that while grass consumption didn’t often lead to vomiting, dogs that seemed ill before eating grass were more likely to vomit than dogs that appeared to act normally beforehand.

Another theory is that the dog may even be seeking out grass to get additional nutrients it may not have in its normal diet, such as fiber, minerals or digestive enzymes. Indeed, a 2009 dog study in the journal of Veterinary Behavior found that puppies were more likely to eat grass if their mothers did while nursing.

Finally, another explanation is that dogs chew grass to get the chlorophyll! The chlorophyll is alkalizing when the dogs are overly acidic (i.e. stomach is upset). They generally don’t mean to swallow the blades but some inadvertently do. Dogs, like most mammals, can’t digest the fibers in grass, because they don’t have two stomachs like cows, so if they swallow the blades, they will usually throw them up.


Terence February, 2014

Recent studies show that green foods like kale can activate the liver’s ability to detoxify as well as directly influence many other genes that reduce cancer risks.


JJ July, 2013

I’ve seen dogs pull out radishes, carrots and greens directly from the earth and consume them.


James July, 2013

JJ, that’s how it has been for ages. People used to eat like that too. What part of the country are you located? Here, you just don’t see dogs doing stuff like that because we live in more of an urban environment.


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