Doctors, nutritionists, and mothers all agree: Everyone could benefit from adding more leafy greens to their diet. But are veggies and leafy greens like lettuce safe for dogs to eat?
In short, yes. As a food that is mostly water (90% water to be exact), lettuces like romaine, arugula, and iceberg lettuce are safe for dogs to enjoy. Most dogs love to snack on a crunchy veggie in addition to their regular dog food. Plus, since lettuce is mostly water, it’s a great low-calorie snack, especially for overweight dogs.
So, feel free to give your dog lettuce and let their inner rabbit out. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of giving your pooch lettuce, how to incorporate it into your dog’s diet, and where to take caution. Lettuce begin!
Health Benefits of Lettuce
We all know that lettuce is healthy, but what is actually in the leafy green that makes it so good for us? Lettuce — and romaine lettuce in particular — is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are beneficial for both you and your dog.
Romaine lettuce is nutrient dense yet low in calories, so you can safely feed it to your dog without worrying about weight gain. Don’t go overboard, however, as too much of any treat could upset a dog’s digestive system and result in diarrhea or upset stomach. Stick to small pieces.
According to Medical News Today, romaine lettuce is a great source of antioxidants like vitamin A and vitamin C. These antioxidants support a healthy immune system. Plus, the vitamin K in lettuce helps prevent excessive blood clotting.
Romaine also contains fiber that will support your dog’s digestive system and help keep them regular. And it’s rich in beta-carotene, which is another source of fiber that helps with vision health.
Other Leafy Greens: Arugula, Iceberg, and Spinach
Can your dog eat leafy greens other than romaine lettuce? Most definitely. Arugula, kale, spinach, and iceberg lettuce are all non-toxic to dogs and offer health benefits. Arugula and spinach are great sources of chlorophyll.
What’s chlorophyll, you ask? Chlorophyll is a phytochemical found in arugula, kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and more. It’s what gives plants their green color. Chlorophyll is also a multifunctional protein that’s great for Fido.
Veterinarian Dr. Liz Hanson told Healthline that chlorophyll “helps cleanse all the cells of the body, fights infection, heals wounds, helps to build the immune system and replenish red blood cells, and detoxifies the liver and digestive system.”
Not only that, but chlorophyll from leafy greens fights bad breath in dogs. It’s essentially nature’s mouthwash.
Iceberg lettuce is another type of lettuce that’s good for dogs, but it doesn’t contain as much nutritional value as romaine or arugula as it has an even higher water content. That being said, crunchy iceberg lettuce is a refreshing treat for a warm pup on a hot summer day.
A Word of Caution About Lettuce
Now that you know lettuce is safe for dogs to eat, it’s important to remember the rule of moderation. Giving your dog large amounts of lettuce could cause minor health issues like stomach upset or diarrhea. You should also consult your veterinarian if your pup has never had lettuce before and is prone to food allergies.
In keeping up with the moderation theme, break up the leaves into small pieces for your dog to munch on. Smaller breed dogs in particular shouldn’t swallow a lettuce leaf whole. It could get lodged in their tiny digestive tract, and it’s a choking hazard.
The American Kennel Club stresses the importance of breaking down lettuce leaves: “Because it is very fibrous, lettuce can also be hard to digest in big pieces. Chopping it up is better than handing your dog a whole leaf, especially for smaller dogs or those that are prone to gulping down their food.”
Salad lettuce is another story. Just because it’s safe for pet parents to give their dogs lettuce, doesn’t mean you can haphazardly share your salad with them. Human food like salads contain a mixture of several ingredients, some of which are very harmful or toxic to dogs (like onions, for example).
The salad dressing could also contain dangerous ingredients like xylitol or garlic, so be mindful that everything on your plate isn’t necessarily safe for your dog to eat. Play it safe and stick with plain, dressing-free lettuce.
How to Feed Your Dog Lettuce
First things first: Always wash your produce before feeding it to your dog. Once the lettuce is properly rinsed, break it up into individual leaves. Break the leaves further into bite-sized pieces to make them easier for your dog to digest.
Some dogs can be picky eaters when it comes to food like lettuce. Some dogs prefer to eat just the crunchy ends and may leave the plain leafy bits behind. Other dogs might not care and might simply gobble up the entire thing.
If you want to be extra cautious when giving your dog lettuce, you can also steam it. Steaming salad greens makes them easier to chew and digest while maintaining most of their nutritional value.
Steamed greens are better for dogs who don’t take the time to properly chew raw greens. When raw greens aren’t chewed enough before swallowing, the dog misses out on those beneficial vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Always monitor your dog while they are eating lettuce to ensure they do not choke.
Supplement Your Dog’s Diet With Probiotics for Gut Health
Dogs’ guts can be finicky. While lettuce is a healthy and low-calorie treat for dogs, consider giving your dog a probiotic if you’re concerned about introducing new food. A probiotic supplement promotes healthy digestion and intestinal health while keeping your dog regular.
If your dog has a sensitivity to new foods, probiotics will help firm up loose stools and reduce gas. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing new food into your dog’s diet. Talk to them to see if your dog’s sensitive stomach could benefit from probiotics.
Probiotics can be administered as needed (for example, when your dog is experiencing digestive upset or is on a course of antibiotics from an infection) or given on a daily basis.
So, Can Dogs Eat Lettuce? Go Ahead and Give ‘Em Those Greens
Lettuce is an excellent treat for your dog. Just remember to break it up into smaller pieces or steam it if your dog tends to vacuum up food without chewing.
Dogs can benefit from lettuce’s bountiful nutritional content, including antioxidant vitamins A and C. And the chlorophyll found in leafy green vegetables can combat bad breath.
Always seek out your vet’s advice when it comes to introducing new food into your dog’s balanced diet. To learn more about how you can supplement your dog’s diet with healthy, no-fuss dog treats that can provide benefits from a healthy digestive system to joint care, visit Pet Honesty.com.