Can my dog eat asparagus? Is asparagus toxic to dogs? What are the side effects when dog ate asparagus? Canine nutrition tips from small animal nutritionist & pet nutrition coach. Perfect cocker spaniel blog. English cocker spaniel advice, puppy tips, grooming, training, behaviour and diet for dogs. (C) Natalia Ashton

Can my dog eat… asparagus?

Asparagus is one of the signs of spring. It is a truly seasonal vegetable that appears around April, when it tastes most delicious. Do you love asparagus? I suspect if you are reading this post, then you most likely do. After all, it is the foods we love and appreciate the most that tend to sneak into our dogs’ diet at some point.

The question is…


The answer is YES and NO.

In short, eating a couple of asparagus tips will not be dangerous for most dogs provided that the vegetable is cooked (i.e. boiled/steamed, not roasted with other ingredients that can be toxic to dogs), not raw, and the dog is given small pieces.

However, if you ask whether or not you should be giving asparagus to your dog as a health-conscious nutritionally-beneficial snack, I’d say NO because of the following reasons:

Asparagus is quite high in fibre. It means it can cause bloating, diarrhoea and gas.

Asparagus shoots can be very hard at the bottom, which, in addition to the above, will become a choking hazard for many dogs.

Asparagus belongs to the Liliaceae (or Lily) family of plants. Some of the plants are known to be extremely toxic, while others are not fatal as such, yet likely to cause problems, particularly diarrhoea, vomiting or tummy aches.

Also note that what we buy and eat are young shots. Once the plant has matured, the spears turn into a decorative fern, often spotting tiny red berries by the end of summer. Both are toxic to dogs and can lead to vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea if eaten. If a dog is repeatedly in contact with the plant, he may potentially develop skin irritation. Worth to bear in mind if you have an asparagus plant in your garden.

Asparagus is one of the main sources of saponins (or steroidal glycosides). While they may be beneficial for human immunity, these compounds can irritate the GI tract in dogs if eaten in large quantities.

The bottom line… Don’t panic if your dog eats a spear or two – just keep an eye on him to make sure he is, how to put it, internally happy. But don’t necessarily feed asparagus to your dog because you have some around. It’s definitely one of the foods that should be reserved for humans only.

Photo credit: photo of asparagus tips taken by Natalia Ashton ©

How dogs smell. Curious facts about dog's nose, how they detect scent, disease, what can affect dog ability to smell. (C) Perfect cocker spaniel dog blog by Natalia Ashton / Canine nutritionist, pet nutrition coach, all about English cocker spaniels, grooming, training, diet, puppy tips. Photo of Cooper, English cocker spaniel with snow on his nose.

Dog’s nose | Curious facts beyond the boop

It’s not just for cute boops… A dog’s nose is probably one of the most fascinating things about them. So much so that I am dedicating another post to the dog’s nose and incredible sense of smell. 

I love watching my boys noses, how they follow an invisible story, the tiny twitches, the hunger of the unknown and exciting information they greedily breathe in. They are both into this ritual, yet I often wonder how Coop and Fred perceive this world based on their experiences of scents.

Coop is certainly a good sniffer, but the boy is mostly interested in pee mail. And flowers. Fred, on the other hand, has the nose of canine dreams! He doesn’t care about the mail, but he always informs me if somebody we know is around the corner, a dog just walked through the village, or there’s a cat, bunny or pheasant nearby (by “nearby” I mean distance on Fred’s sniffing terms – it covers miles…) And both are definitely aware of food smells and do react to any emotional and hormone-related changes in us.

We know that dogs rely on their sense of smell and hearing more than vision. Does it mean that even my chaps, whilst being canines, would actually see the world around us as two completely different environments? The geek in me keeps playing with this idea a lot. 

But is it exactly that makes a dog’s nose so unique?

It has about 250 million receptors responsible for detecting scents. Humans only have 5 million. We are pretty basic.

Dogs can bond with their littermates and humans through scent and detest strangers and non-litter pups because of it. In a study a dog was presented with 5 different scents including his own, a familiar human, a strange human, a familiar dog and a strange dog. Only the scent of the familiar human triggered the response in the brain area responsible for positive emotions, rewards and “romantic interactions”. In other words, the pups knew who is responsible for the biscuits. 

Even more fascinating, dogs can differentiate between two identical twins if the twins were fed different diets or raised in different environments.

If a teaspoon of sugar was dissolved in two Olympic-sized swimming pools, dogs would be able to smell it. 

Dog’s ability to sniff is breed-dependent. In a 1965 experiment by Scott and Fuller, a mouse was left in an acre-sized field. Beagles located it within a minute. A fox terrier took 15. A Scotty literally stood by the mouse and still failed to see it. I suspect if a bloodhound (the clear champion of sniffing) was around he’d be by that mouse in seconds.

Cockers, on the other hand, proved themselves as fabulous drug detectors.

Dogs can track a person days after his or her disappearance as long as there’s about 1/1000 of human scent left on the ground. 

They can also confirm or deny if two odours are from the same source, identify separate ingredients in a bowl of soup, or detect substances used in explosions despite the presence of any debris. 

Dogs can smell cancer, covid, changes in blood sugar or body pre-seizure. 

A blind dog will always follow his nose. It is what can help him adjust to his new life and stay tuned in without panicking.

Dogs smell better in humid conditions, and struggle to smell effectively when they feel really hot.

Dogs who frequently eat coconut oil may have a reduced ability to detect scents

And canines diagnosed with hyperadrenocorticism, hypothyroidism, or diabetes can also struggle to use their nose as nature intended.

Next time you look at your pup’s snout, take a moment to appreciate its wonders that we will never experience or truly comprehend… And follow your dog’s nose…

Photo credit: Cooper photographed by me

Probiotics and probiotics in dog diet, importance of friendly bacteria for canine health. Does my dog need supplements? How to add probiotics and probiotics to dog diet? Advice from canine nutritionist and dog nutrition coach. Perfect cocker spaniel. Blog about English cocker spaniels, grooming, training, diet, puppy care, behaviour and more

A simple way to keep your dog healthy for longer

Want to keep your dog healthy for longer? Here’s another diet secret that you need to know…

Aging changes many things including the gut – it may become thicker and less able to move and absorb food efficiency. It can also change the levels of good and bad bacteria that help to control inflammation, reduce the risk of many illnesses, support strong immunity and even have effects on behavior (Pilla et al, 2020, Baum, 2007, Masuoka et al, 2017, Mondo et al 2020)

How can you help? Use age-appropriate diets that contain probiotics (good bacteria) and, importantly, PREBIOTICS (they feed the good bacteria)

In the test study dogs fed commercial food with probiotics not only showed improved levels of good bacteria, but also much lower levels of inflammation markers (known as C-reactive protein). The dog from the non-prebiotic group had high levels of C-reactive protein), higher levels on bad bacteria and lower levels of good bacteria.

So besides checking if your dog food is age-appropriate and complete, look for FOS, MOS and probiotics on the product label.

Do not be tempted to DIY with supplements. It is not a good idea to experiment with pre- and probiotics unless you were specifically prescribed them by your vet.

Do include food sources of pre- and probiotics alongside the main diet as treats (10% or less of your dog’s daily intake) – natural yoghurt, kefir, dandelion leaves, apples and oats (my Beyond the doughnut cookbook has some yummy oat-based recipes)

Photo credit: bacteria by Gert Altmann via Pixabay