Beetroot leaves are the green, leafy tops of the beetroot plant. While the beetroot itself is a popular human food, many people wonder if the leaves are also safe for dogs to eat. Beetroot leaves are highly nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, they also contain compounds called oxalates which can be harmful to dogs in large quantities.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the benefits and risks of feeding dogs beetroot leaves. We’ll cover:
- The nutritional profile of beetroot leaves
- Potential benefits of feeding beetroot leaves to dogs
- Oxalate content and risk of kidney and bladder stones
- How to safely feed beetroot leaves to dogs
- The best ways to prepare and serve beetroot leaves for dogs
- How much beetroot leaf is safe for dogs
By the end of this article, you’ll know whether or not it’s safe to feed your dog raw beetroot leaves as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Nutritional Profile of Beetroot Leaves
Beetroot leaves are an excellent source of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is an overview of the nutritional profile of raw beetroot leaves (per 100 grams):
– Vitamin A: 5,100 IU (170% DV)
– Vitamin C: 80 mg (133% DV)
– Vitamin K: 684 mcg (855% DV)
– Riboflavin: 0.25 mg (19% DV)
– Vitamin B6: 0.3 mg (15% DV)
– Folate: 338 mcg (85% DV)
– Calcium: 310 mg (31% DV)
– Iron: 4.5 mg (25% DV)
– Magnesium: 79 mg (20% DV)
– Phosphorus: 90 mg (9% DV)
– Potassium: 1,100 mg (23% DV)
– Zinc: 1 mg (7% DV)
– Dietary Fiber: 4 g (16% DV)
– Protein: 3 g
– Water: 92 g
– Carbs: 3.5 g
– Fat: 0.2 g
As you can see, beetroot leaves provide substantial amounts of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium. They also contain antioxidants like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
This impressive nutrient profile makes beetroot leaves a very healthy, low-calorie food for humans. But can dogs also benefit from eating them? Let’s find out.
Benefits of Feeding Beetroot Leaves to Dogs
Here are some of the top benefits of adding beetroot leaves to your dog’s diet in moderation:
1. Excellent Source of Vitamins and Minerals
The vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron and other vitamins and minerals in beetroot leaves can help meet your dog’s nutritional needs. These nutrients support bone health, vision, blood health, immune function and more.
2. High in Antioxidants
Compounds like beta-carotene and lutein act as antioxidants to reduce oxidative damage in the body. This may boost immune function and health as your dog ages.
3. Provides Dietary Fiber
Beetroot leaves contain 4g of fiber per 100g serving. This insoluble fiber adds bulk to your dog’s stool and may improve digestion.
4. Low in Calories
With only 27 calories per 100g serving, beetroot leaves are a great low-calorie nutritional boost for dogs. The leaves can make a filling, nutrient-dense addition to your dog’s meals without packing on excess calories.
5. May Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Some early research in rats indicates that certain pigments in beetroot leaves may possess anti-inflammatory abilities. More research is needed, but reducing inflammation could benefit dogs with arthritis, allergies, and other inflammatory conditions.
6. Provides Chlorophyll
The green pigment chlorophyll can act as a detoxifier and promote healing. Chlorophyll may have anti-cancer benefits as well, though more research is needed.
7. Easy to Add to Meals
Since beetroot leaves have a mild flavor, they can be chopped and easily incorporated into your dog’s regular meals. Just a few leaves can significantly boost the nutrition of your dog’s food.
So in moderation, beetroot leaves appear to be a healthy supplement for dogs. But there are some potential downsides to consider as well.
Oxalate Content and Kidney Stones
The biggest risk of feeding beetroot leaves to dogs is their oxalate content. Oxalates are compounds that bind to calcium to form crystals and stones in the urinary tract. Over time, this can increase the risk of kidney stones and bladder stones.
Kidney and bladder stones can cause recurrent UTIs, blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, and even kidney damage or failure if left untreated.
According to studies, 100g of raw beetroot leaves provides around 631mg of oxalates. This is considered a very high level compared to other common foods. By comparison, spinach contains 750mg per 100g while kale only has 18mg.
For healthy humans, oxalates normally pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed. But in dogs, excess dietary oxalates may raise urine oxalate levels and directly contribute to kidney and bladder stones over time.
Certain dogs are at greater risk for developing stones than others:
– Breeds prone to stones like Schnauzers, Shih Tzus, Bichon Frises, Yorkshire Terriers
– Dogs with a history of urinary crystals or stones
– Male dogs (narrower urethras)
– Dogs with urinary obstructions, bladder infections, or difficulty urinating
– Dogs eating a “stone-forming” diet high in plant proteins, sodium, and oxalates
So healthy dogs without risk factors can likely handle limited amounts of beetroot leaves without issues. But dogs predisposed to stones should avoid beetroot leaves altogether.
How to Safely Feed Beetroot Leaves to Dogs
If your dog is healthy and not prone to developing kidney or bladder stones, beetroot leaves can be fed safely in moderation by following a few key tips:
– Start with very small amounts like 1-2 leaves 1-2x per week. Gradually increase to no more than 2-3 leaves 2-3x per week.
– Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces to minimize choking hazards. Avoid feeding whole leaves.
– Mix the chopped leaves into your dog’s regular meals. Avoid sudden large amounts of beetroot leaves.
– Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water to dilute urine and flush out oxalates.
– Don’t feed beetroot leaves every day, and limit portions to 1-2 tablespoons for small dogs or 1-2 ounces for large dogs.
– Feed a balanced commercial dog food and avoid other high-oxalate foods like spinach, rhubarb, nuts, wheat bran, tomatoes, celery, okra.
– Monitor your dog for signs of UTIs and stones. Discontinue beetroot leaves if any symptoms develop.
– Don’t feed beetroot leaves to high-risk dogs prone to developing kidney and bladder stones.
Also make sure to wash beetroot leaves thoroughly and chop finely to avoid any dirt or choking hazards before feeding. Following these tips and limits can help make beetroot leaves a safe occasional treat.
Best Ways to Prepare Beetroot Leaves for Dogs
Beetroot leaves can be fed to dogs raw or cooked. Here are some preparation tips:
Raw Beetroot Leaves
– Wash leaves thoroughly under cool running water.
– Shake off excess moisture and pat leaves dry with paper towels.
– Remove any thick stems or long midribs.
– Stack leaves and roll them up. Thinly slice into ribbons.
– Chop ribbons into smaller pieces for easy chewing and digestion.
– Mix pieces into your dog’s regular kibble, wet food, or raw diet.
Cooked Beetroot Leaves
– Wash and pat dry leaves. Remove stems and midribs.
– Chop leaves into bite-sized pieces.
– Lightly steam, boil, or sauté the chopped leaves until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes.
– Allow to cool before mixing a small portion into your dog’s meals.
Cooking helps reduce oxalates in beetroot leaves up to 30%. But cooking also destroys some of the vitamin C content. Light steaming or sautéing provides a balance to maintain nutrients while decreasing oxalates.
Whichever method you choose, limit beetroot leaves to occasional small servings and monitor your dog for signs of digestive issues or urinary problems. Discontinue feeding if any symptoms develop.
How Much Beetroot Leaf Can Dogs Eat?
There isn’t a universal safe amount of beetroot leaves that applies to all dogs. The amount your individual dog can tolerate depends on:
– Breed size – Smaller dogs should be fed less
– Dog’s age and health status
– Other dietary sources of oxalates
– Your dog’s personal sensitivity and risk for stones
For a general guideline, here are suggested maximum servings:
For small dogs under 25 lbs:
– 1-2 raw/cooked beetroot leaves 2-3x per week
– 1-2 tablespoons chopped leaf pieces 2-3x per week
For medium dogs 25-50 lbs:
– 2-3 raw/cooked beetroot leaves 2-3x per week
– 1-2 ounces chopped leaves 2-3x per week
For large dogs over 50 lbs:
– 3-4 raw/cooked beetroot leaves 2-3x per week
– 2-3 ounces chopped leaves 2-3x per week
It’s best to stay on the lower end of these ranges when first introducing beetroot leaves. Monitor your dog closely for any digestive upset, dehydration, or changes in urinary habits. Increase portion sizes slowly only if your dog tolerates the leaves well.
For high-risk dogs prone to stones, it’s safest to avoid beetroot leaves altogether and consult your vet for dietary advice. Moderation is key for all dogs to get nutritional benefits without unwanted side effects.
Beetroot leaves can make a nutritious, low-calorie addition to your dog’s diet in moderation. The leaves provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, the high oxalate content can increase the risk of kidney and bladder stones over time, especially in susceptible dogs.
By starting with small amounts, controlling portions, and monitoring your dog’s health, beetroot leaves can be fed safely 2-3 times per week. Avoid feeding the leaves to high-risk dogs prone to developing urinary crystals or stones. And discontinue use if any signs of digestive upset, dehydration, or difficulty urinating develop after eating the leaves.
When fed in moderation and with precautions, beetroot leaves can be an occasional nutrient-boosting treat. But they should never make up a large part of your dog’s diet due to their oxalate content. Following the tips in this article can help you safely incorporate beetroot leaves and harness their nutritional benefits for your dog’s health.
|Dog Size||Maximum Raw/Cooked Leaves||Maximum Chopped Leaf Amount|
|Small Dogs||1-2 leaves, 2-3x/week||1-2 tablespoons, 2-3x/week|
|Medium Dogs||2-3 leaves, 2-3x/week||1-2 ounces, 2-3x/week|
|Large Dogs||3-4 leaves, 2-3x/week||2-3 ounces, 2-3x/week|