Dogs love to sit and beg for table scraps and it is not hard to understand why. Dogs are descendants of wolves and their digestive tract is still designed for natural foods.
This does not mean that it is a good idea to give your pet the same foods that you consume, but there are a lot of items that are okay for them.
Lettuce is one of the foods that can catch your dog’s eye. It is found in salads, burgers, sandwiches and more. However, is lettuce safe for them or even necessary for them? Read on and let us dissect the question.
Is Lettuce Safe For Dogs?
The first question to answer is whether or not lettuce is safe for your dog. The short answer is yes, lettuce is not toxic and can be consumed by your beloved pet.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that lettuce can pose a choking hazard because your dog is not able to chew it as humans do. If you are going to feed your dog lettuce, cut it into small pieces before feeding.
Benefits Of Lettuce
Dogs have similar problems as most animals and adults, they need to get their vitamins from the foods they consume. Lettuce is very high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, and K. In addition to the vitamins, lettuce holds a lot of water inside the leaves. This helps keep your dog hydrated while eating and can give a change of pace to only consuming water. The most important time to make sure your dog receives lettuce is if you are looking at feeding an all raw diet and need to make sure your dog would be getting nutrients found in fortified dry kibble.
Types Of Lettuce
There are many types of lettuce on the market, but romaine has the highest nutritional value. Other types of lettuce have the same level of water content, but lower nutritional value. This does not mean you cannot feed the other types to your pet, but if you are wanting to use it for health reasons, then romaine is the first choice. The other types of lettuce can be good for an occasional snack or treat, especially if your dog has been put on a weight-loss diet. Iceberg is an ideal choice for a small treat because it is extra crunchy.
Risks With Lettuce
In addition to a choking hazard, another risk that comes with lettuce is the fact that it can have chemicals on it. When you are considering giving your dog anything that grows in the ground, it is important to thoroughly wash the produce first. People use pesticides and fertilizer to keep farms and gardens healthy, but those stay on the leaves of lettuce. If you are extremely concerned about the lettuce, consider purchasing organic for your animals. Due to the higher price of this lettuce, you will want to make sure you either know your budget and use lettuce only as an occasional treat if the budget is tight.
Just like any new food, you will want to take it slow and watch how it reacts to their digestive system. With lettuce, it is important to go very slow because of the water content. Adding too much lettuce too quickly commonly causes your dog to battle diarrhea, gassy, or battle vomiting.
Lettuce With Other Foods
As mentioned above, lettuce is often found on burgers, sandwiches, and salads. While lettuce is safe for your dogs, not everything else in those items are. Most salads and burgers also include onions, which are extremely toxic to dogs. Salads are safe as long as every ingredient in the salad is safe for dogs, and does not have any salad dressing on it. The dressing includes high levels of fat that are not healthy for your pet. In summary, it is better to treat your dog to straight lettuce that you have either shredded from a head of lettuce or bought pre-bagged.
Other Leafy Greens
Just because lettuce is safe, it does not mean that all leafy greens are healthy for your dog. Spinach is the only other leafy green you should consider for your pet. Kale may have a lot of nutrients that are good for humans, they contain many compounds, such as calcium oxalate, that are toxic to animals. Cabbage is crunchy like lettuce, but often affects the thyroid gland and causes gas and/or bloating in pets.
Feeding Your Dog Lettuce
When you feed your dog lettuce, it is important to always feed your dog raw lettuce. You do not want to add any extra oils to your dog’s diet and cooking can create a consistency that does not agree with a canine’s digestive system. Finally, anytime you cook a vegetable, you are reducing the nutritional and water content. Unfortunately, lettuce has minimal nutritional benefits that will disappear and become pointless for your dog if you cook it.
After you have introduced it to your dog and discovered that your dog likes this new treat, it is time to consider adding it to the diet. In addition to using lettuce as a nice cold treat in the summers, it is a great additive to raw diets for a crunch that a dog can get with dry kibble. Consider either using lettuce solely as a treat or part of a raw food diet, but due to the disruption in the digestive tract, you do not want to have your dog consume too much lettuce in a short period of time.
While lettuce is most definitely safe for your dog, there is no dire need for you to worry about giving it to them. Lettuce holds minimal nutritional benefit, other than the high-water content, and comes with several risks.
You will need to make sure you wash the lettuce very well, even if you purchased bagged lettuce, to make sure that no chemicals or bacteria are lingering on the leaves. Also, you will want to make sure you cut the pieces into small chunks and feed it to your dog slowly.
Finally, before you introduce any new food to your dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian to make sure there will be no problems with your specific pet.