Can I Give My Dog Kale?

Can I give my dog kale?If you’ve studied up on the benefits of kale you might 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? Sometimes, Yes

A dog’s digestive system is not set up the same way, and is designed to process mostly meat. 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, just because it will move through their system so much quickly than 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.

Evolution & Domestication

Dogs were on there own for millions of years before they started hanging out with us. They’ve been living with humans in some form for tens of thousands of years, but it hasn’t been long enough to adapt to our diet completely, and they still retain many of the same physiology 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 if at all possible.

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 OK 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.

Dogs & Vegetables

Dog’s will eat just about anything if they have to. 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 just because they’re so good for us.

As you go along you’ll 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 kale or other oddball foods, sticking only to a high quality dog food.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra October 19, 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.

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Anna October 10, 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.

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Graham September 3, 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!

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Jolee August 25, 2014

My dog loves to chew on the stalks!

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Jennifer July 2, 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.

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