Can my dog eat… dandelions?

One of the most frequent questions recently was about dandelions. Does your cocker spaniel eat dandelions? Because a lot of dogs and puppies seem to enjoy them very much. Fred is one of such pups. Sometimes I wonder if the boy was a sheep in one of his previous lives. He is the only one among all of my dogs who grazes. My first two were into eating peas straight off the plant. Oscar didn’t care about grass at all – instead he loved to relax in a shade of his favourite hydrangea. Coop adores the lavender.

And Fred… Fred loves his dandelions. He can find them anywhere, hunting and sniffing out the youngest leaves, barely visible in the grass, just sprouting out… They probably hope for a long life in the sun. Fred his his own plans that don’t fit that brief.

Every morning we step outside and Fred goes off looking for his favourite snack. I often help because I have fingers and can pick smaller leaves. “Lets find dandelions” I suggest, and he (almost) patiently trots beside me searching….

CAN A DOG EAT DANDELIONS?

The answer is YES. Absolutely!

And spring is the best season for harvesting them. The leaves contain plenty of vitamin A (beta-carotene) required for healthy cells, skin, bones, and vision, plus immune-boosting vitamin C and vitamin K essential for proper blood clotting. Zeaxanthin in dandelion leaves is also a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells and DNA from damage.

The plant is also rich in calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese.

Therapeutically, dandelion is known as a wonderful liver tonic that can also support kidney function and may help to purify the blood.

The dogs seem to know when they need to eat the plant, which parts of it are the best for  them, and can determine the essential quantities, too. So don’t panic if your spaniel starts munching on the leaves at every given opportunity. Just make sure the plants are organic (well, if they grown in your own garden free from chemicals and in clean soil, they are likely to be), not covered in pesticides and herbicides, and don’t grow near a road due to pollution.

The fondness for dandelion will not necessarily mean that your cocker has an underlying condition, but if your dog is on blood thinners, diuretics or have a diagnosed illness, consult your vet first.

If your dog is a picture of health in every way, yet shows zero interest in dandelion, you can either let him be, or, if you want to boost his vitamin intake, pick a few fresh young leaves, wash them and add about 1tsp of chopped dandelion into your spaniel’s food once every 2-3 days.

 

Image credit: Pezibear from Pixabay

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