A leafy, cruciferous veggie, cabbage is a common ingredient added to many recipes and stews—and one of the ultimate comfort foods. It's low cost and easy to make, while also being packed with vitamins and nutrients. But is it okay to offer cabbage to your pup? The answer is yes.
Health Benefits of Cabbage for Dogs
If you want to start adding more veggies to supplement your dog's diet, leafy greens are a good place to start. Not only is it safe for dogs to eat cabbage, but it can be prepared in a variety of ways. Whether it's offered on its own as a green treat, chopped up and served with their kibble, or even baked and stuffed with other pet-friendly ingredients (or even their own food), dogs can enjoy cabbage alongside their pet parents.
Better yet, cabbage can also provide your dog with an array of health benefits. Cabbage is a rich source of important vitamins, such as vitamins K, C, B6, B1. It's also chock full of healthy fiber and essential minerals including manganese, copper, potassium. Red cabbage, in particular, is believed to have strong cancer-fighting properties. Although dogs get most of the nutrition they need from their regular food, it never hurts to offer healthy human foods like cabbage once in a while (unless your veterinarian advises against it).
Additionally, cabbage happens to have high levels of powerful antioxidant compounds called phytonutrients. Cabbage's polyphenols make it the cruciferous veggie with the most antioxidants, which can help support the health of both humans and canines alike. Antioxidants help reduce free radicals in the blood, which aids in the prevention of diseases such as cancer. They can also help your four-legged friend boost their immune system naturally, and can even reduce the risk of your dog developing certain diseases or health conditions, such as heart disease.
Another benefit is that cabbage has been shown to promote a healthy gastrointestinal system in dogs and aid in proper digestion as a result of its high fiber content. It can even have positive impacts for their skin by helping to keep it free from irritation; eating cabbage promotes healthier skin from the inside out for both humans and dogs, making it an excellent snack for pets that suffer from either dry or rough skin.
Of course, dogs are naturally carnivorous, so while veggies can be healthy for them to snack on occasionally, meat should still comprise the majority of their diet.
Dangers of Cabbage for Dogs
One of the primary dangers of cabbage for dogs is the same as in humans—if we eat too much of this leafy green vegetable, it can cause stomach upset and symptoms like excessive gas and flatulence.
That's why even though something is healthy for dogs, it doesn't mean they should be allowed to have as much as they want. Always check in with your veterinarian before offering cabbage or any other "people food" to your dog, as he or she can provide guidance based on your dog's individual health status. As a general rule, always offer just a small amount of a new food like cabbage and monitor to your dog for about 24 hours for symptoms that it might not be agreeing with him, such as watery stool.
One serious danger of allowing your dog to eat too much cabbage is that it can actually cause hypothyroidism—although your dog would have eat a lot of raw cabbage over multiple days in order for this to happen. Cabbage contains thiocyanate, which is a natural compound that impacts the thyroid gland. However, thoroughly cooking the cabbage (such as by boiling or steaming it) before offering it your four-legged friend is one way to effectively remove this compound from the cabbage.
Although dogs can eat any color or form of cabbage in moderation, it's always best to cook the cabbage because it will be easier for your pooch to chew and digest and it will provide protection from the slight risk of causing hypothyroidism. And, of course, whether you're preparing purple, Napa, Savoy, red, or any other type of cabbage, always be sure to skip any spices, seasonings, or other additives that may not be dog-friendly—believe us, your dog likely won't mind the natural "bland" taste of cabbage or any other vegetable.