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 ©

Getting Christmas gifts for your pup? Read this first.

Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts!

Wherever I look, I see pup parents frantically buying gifts for their dogs.

But let me tell you one, possibly unpopular, thing: the ONLY gift your pup needs and REALLY enjoys is… YOU!

Your company, your attention, your smiles and touches. They mean so much for to any dog!


Because dogs are, whether you like it or not, animals. Not humans. They don’t put the same value on gifts as you do.

Pause and think before you fall into the Christmas shopping madness…

If your pup needs a new collar because the old one is no longer safe – go for it! If the content of his toy box looks a bit tired – get a great toy, the best you can afford. If a new bed is what is important, click “buy”.

And if you want him to have something yummy – bake treats at home! Safer, budget-friendly and gives you a chance to truly bond with your spaniel. Trust me, I wrote the cookbooks!

So stop stressing out about having to buy things or showing the world how “lucky” your pup is because he’s got a bunch of stuff for Christmas.

Trust me, “the world” doesn’t give a damn and can even feel upset, or, in some cases, envious, because not everyone can be like you.

And the thing is… Love for a dog isn’t equal to the amount of money spent on him. And your pup will never judge you if all he gets for Christmas is a kiss.

Remember to live your life! Not consume it or measure its worth with things (that most dogs don’t even care about)

Just you and your pup. Isn’t it the best gift?!

As a bonus, here is a list of ten fun ideas to make your pup the happiest, and they won’t cost you a thing!

Photo credit: image by Yevhen Buzuk from Pixabay

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