Human food consumption can cause illness and even death in dogs, which has led pet owners to question the safety of various foods, including asparagus. As I have written in previous articles, dogs’ most dangerous human foods are chocolate, grapes, raisins, and peanut butter. To learn more about what dogs can and can’t eat, check out the previous articles I’ve shared.
Is Asparagus Safe For Dogs?
The answer is: of course they can eat it! Many dogs love the unique taste and texture of asparagus and enjoy it as a healthy snack. Asparagus is a low-calorie food (about four calories). It is also a good source of nutrients. Including water (93%), protein, fiber, folic acid, copper, potassium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. It can also be great low-calorie food for overweight dogs. Asparagus stems are very tough. We humans usually do not eat raw asparagus because it is difficult to chew. Dogs may also have this difficulty.
How to Grow and Serve Asparagus?
Asparagus is a perennial flowering plant, often used as an appetizer or side dish. This plant can grow to 4-5 feet tall with a sturdy trunk and feathery, fern-like needle-like leaves.
Green asparagus is famous all over the world, and its typical growing season is from the end of April to the end of June. It can be green or white. White asparagus is usually more tender and results from covering the shoots in the soil during its growth process, which turns them white. During the growing process, they are not exposed to sunlight, and the nodes remain white. Both types of asparagus are safe for dogs.
For centuries, asparagus has been a delicacy known for its diuretic and aphrodisiac properties. There are even reports of photos of asparagus in Egypt in 3000 BC. Asparagus originally grew in Europe and was brought to North America in the mid-1700s.
When you feed asparagus to your dog, keep in mind the following dangers.
- Pancreatitis or gastrointestinal upset can occur in dogs that are sensitive to condiments or butter. Many asparagus recipes suggest serving it with white sauce, hollandaise sauce, melted butter, or olive oil. However, too much oil, fat, or condiments can cause gastrointestinal distress or pancreatitis in some pets.
- If your dog eats large amounts of asparagus or woody or stem-like parts, there is a risk of choking. This is more common in small dogs but can happen to any animal. Some dogs are not good at “chewing” their food, which increases the risk of choking.
- Potential contaminants on asparagus such as pesticides, fertilizers, and E. coli or Listeria can also cause illness in dogs.
- Asparagus leaves are toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
- Raw asparagus is difficult to digest and can cause flatulence, vomiting, or diarrhea in some dogs, and the poop that comes out may be green.
- Although not dangerous, eating asparagus can change the smell of a dog’s urine and create an unpleasant odor (this can also happen to people). According to research, about 30 to 50 percent of people (and an unknown percentage of dogs) have an autosomal gene in their bodies that causes the breakdown of a high-sulfur compound called asparagine. The digestion of asparagine acid causes a very distinctive and often unpleasant odor in the urine of affected individuals. This urine is often referred to as “asparagus urine” and the odor it produces can cause problems for small dogs who do not like to play at home or for older dogs who are incontinent.
- It is essential to understand that just because your dog occasionally eats a small piece of asparagus does not mean it is safe to give them the rest of your appetizer, salad, or meal. For example, salads containing asparagus may also contain toxic ingredients such as onions, garlic, or even raisins.
Please note: Any food can cause gastrointestinal distress in a dog. What does not bother one dog may make another dog sick.
The Safest Way to Feed Asparagus to Your Dog
The safest and healthiest way to feed asparagus to your dog is to cut the asparagus into small pieces and cook or cut it fresh. Make sure the stems are thoroughly washed to remove pesticides, fertilizers, and potential contaminants.
Cooked asparagus is a healthy choice and will be softer to chew when unseasoned and steamed. Asparagus that contains too much butter or seasoning, on the other hand, can cause gastrointestinal distress in some dogs. If your dog develops any signs of illness after eating asparagus, call your veterinarian or the nearest veterinary emergency clinic immediately.
Asparagus is non-toxic, but it can cause indigestion and lousy urine in your dog if consumed in large quantities. Just like anything else you eat, if your dog is sensitive to asparagus, vomits, and has diarrhea, then stop feeding it to them. Remember to keep your puppy away from wild asparagus because the berries or flowers can be poisonous. Asparagus is rich in fiber, and cooked asparagus is perfectly safe for dogs.