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…
CAN A DOG EAT ASPARAGUS?
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 ©