Asparagus is a popular veggie for humans and with good reason. It’s highly nutritious, inexpensive, easy to prepare, and — most importantly — delicious. Asparagus makes a great side dish to be served with an entrée like steak or pasta, and it can be included in various salads, dips, and other foods.
If asparagus is a regular choice around your dinner table, it might be tempting to slip a bit of asparagus to your canine companion. But is asparagus good for dogs?
There are plenty of vegetables that are safe for dogs, and some that aren’t. So where does asparagus fall on the spectrum? Can it provide the same great nutrition to our four-legged friends that it provides for us? Or should asparagus be avoided?
It turns out that asparagus, like some other vegetables, has both good and bad properties for dogs. It’s not toxic for dogs, but it can prove risky at the same time. It’s all in how you prepare it and how you give it to your pet.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and risks of asparagus for dogs to get to the bottom of this question: Can dogs eat asparagus?
The Benefits of Asparagus for Dogs
One of the reasons that asparagus is popular in the human culinary world is because it’s not only tasty, it’s very nutritious. Many of the same vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for humans are good for your pup too. Asparagus provides:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
- Dietary fiber
- Folic acid
The benefits of these nutrients are numerous. The plentiful antioxidant properties of asparagus help to flush out toxins and free radicals from your dog’s bloodstream. Essential vitamins and minerals support your dog’s immune system function and help to maintain a healthy coat of fur, sharp eyesight, strong teeth and bones, and more.
So it’s clear there are health benefits asparagus can provide to your dog. But should asparagus be included as a part of your dog’s diet, or is it not worth the risk?
The Risks of Asparagus for Dogs
Although asparagus is chock-full of nutrients that are good for your dog, the vegetable also comes with multiple risks for your canine companion. That means you should think twice before giving your pooch a taste of the asparagus that you’ve prepared for dinner.
One of the major risks of asparagus for dogs is that it’s not very soft and can therefore cause choking. Asparagus stalks are rather tough and aren’t easy to chew, for humans or for dogs. Since many dogs tend to gobble down morsels whole without chewing at all, a hard asparagus stalk can get stuck in the esophagus.
It’s all too easy for your dog to choke on a piece of asparagus, especially if it’s longer than a few centimeters or so. If you’re going to give your dog asparagus, make sure it’s chopped up into small pieces.
Raw asparagus is even more tough than cooked asparagus. Just as you would never chow down on a raw asparagus stalk, don’t feed raw asparagus to your dog. It’s just too hard on your dog’s digestive system and presents a dangerous choking hazard.
Another problem with raw asparagus is that it will be difficult for your dog to digest. Cooking asparagus will make it a little easier for your dog’s system to process, but it can still cause side effects like an upset stomach, gas, or even vomiting and diarrhea. Ironically, because of the high fiber content of asparagus, it’s actually good for digestive health in general — but too much fiber will cause gas and other digestive issues.
Keep in mind that any new food introduced to your dog’s diet can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting, especially if that new food is given in large quantities. That’s why it’s important to keep the portion size very small if you plan on feeding asparagus to your pooch.
Another problem with asparagus is that we tend to cook it in butter or oil. These foods aren’t safe for your dog to consume. Cooked asparagus may also be loaded with salt, pepper, garlic, cheese, and other tasty treats, but these additions can make your dog sick.
Garlic and onions are particularly problematic as they contain dangerous toxins that can poison dogs easily. This goes for garlic and onion powder too, as well as any raw or cooked form of these veggies.
The Asparagus Fern
Asparagus plants produce the asparagus stalks that we love to harvest, cook, and eat. The asparagus fern, on the other hand, isn’t edible. The fern is related to the edible plant but it’s not exactly the same thing — and to make matters more confusing, it’s not technically a fern.
But naming conventions and technicalities aside, the asparagus fern is a dangerous toxin for your dog. Ingesting this fern can cause symptoms like intestinal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If you grow asparagus ferns in your yard, garden, or landscaping, make sure to fence them off so that your dog can’t reach them when spending time outdoors.
How to Feed Asparagus to Your Dog
If you decide to feed your dog asparagus, make sure you do so in a safe manner. Here are a few quick tips to remember when giving your pooch this vegetable:
- Cook it properly. Don’t feed your dog raw asparagus, as it’s too easy for your pup to choke on and will be hard to digest once swallowed. But make sure not to cook asparagus in butter or oil — instead, try steaming or boiling your dog’s asparagus spears. That will keep you from introducing any harmful ingredients to your dog’s system and will help retain important nutrients.
- Cut it up. Always cut the asparagus into smaller pieces to make it easier for your dog to chew and swallow.
- Avoid the additives. Don’t feed your dog asparagus that has been dressed up with salt, pepper, oil, butter, cheese, garlic, or onions.
- Keep the portion size small. As with any food that isn’t a typical part of your dog’s diet, too much will cause digestive upset. So keep the amount of asparagus you feed your dog to a minimum.
So, Can Dogs Eat Asparagus or Not?
You may still be asking yourself: Can my dog eat asparagus? The answer is yes, your dog can technically eat asparagus. It’s not toxic for pets and actually contains many nutrients that can be beneficial for your dog’s health.
But remember that just because a dog can eat asparagus, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Your pup should be getting all of the nutrients they require from their normal dog food, so there’s really no need to give them asparagus at all.
If you want to give your dog asparagus, consider it the occasional treat, not a normal part of their diet. Make sure to prepare it without butter, oil, fat, garlic, onions, and other additives, and always cut the spears into small, bite-sized pieces that your dog can easily swallow.
Remember to always keep the overall portion size small. That way, you know that you’re providing your dog with a nutritious snack without any unnecessary risk.