Most of us know that lettuce is a healthy vegetable for us to consume, but what’s actually in lettuce that makes it a healthy dietary choice, and is it safe to give to your dog?
Is It Safe To Give My Dog Lettuce?
Most dog owners are guilty of sharing their food with their loved pet, and that’s fine providing you know that particular food is safe for your dog. Some human fruits and vegetables are perfectly safe but others definitely are not. So, what’s the story about lettuce? Can you safely feed it to your dog?
The answer is yes, your dog can have lettuce – in moderation.
Different Types of Lettuce
There are a range of different types of lettuce, and most can be prepared in a number of ways. There’s Romaine, Iceberg, Leaf, Arugula, Boston, Bibb, and probably many more. We use lettuce in foods like sandwiches, salads, and burgers, so it’s highly likely that many dog owners have shared these types of food with their pet. But is it safe for your dog to consume, and is it necessary for their diet? Yes, lettuce is full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins, all of which are beneficial to both humans and dogs.
Remember that treats should only make up ten percent of your dog’s daily diet, so lettuce would be a treat for him and should fit into that ten percent. Lettuce is not a vitally important vegetable for your dog, but if he does have a small amount, it certainly can’t do him any harm.
Feeding Lettuce to Your Dog
Lettuce is a non-toxic vegetable to feed to your dog, and when given in small pieces can only be a very enjoyable and safe treat for your pet. Lettuces like Iceberg, Arugula, and Romaine consists of 90% water, and dogs love snacking on sweet, juicy vegetables when given in addition to their regular doggy food. Lettuce is a great snack if you have a dog who’s carrying a little extra weight because it’s so low in calories.
Benefits of Giving Lettuce To Your Dog
There are some potential health benefits of giving lettuce as a treat to your dog; or even adding it as a topper to his regular doggy food. Lettuce contains nutrients like Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and beta-carotene. You’ll also find that your dog especially enjoys the crispier parts of the lettuce because it adds roughage to his diet. Lettuce has a very high water content so it can, in part, help keep your dog hydrated. That said, your pet should always have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Is One Type of Lettuce Better Than Another?
Yes, even though Iceberg lettuce has a high water content, it’s nutritional value is quite low, so the health benefits to your pet would be minimal. On the other hand, Romaine lettuce has a higher concentration of Vitamins A, C, and K. However, neither of these will deliver a big boost of nutrients to your dog, but they do provide a little extra water and certainly are worthwhile if you’re looking for a delicious low-calorie snack for your pet. If your dog is carrying unnecessary weight, speak to your veterinarian about offering lettuce to your dog instead of his usual treats.
Are There Any Risks in Feeding Lettuce To My Dog?
Lettuce is certainly a safe vegetable to feed to your dog, but because it’s not a ‘normal’ doggy food it does come with certain risks. The first risk is in giving your pet too much lettuce to start with, or any non-doggie food for that matter, and wreaking havoc on his digestive system. Too much lettuce can make your dog sick, with side effects including vomiting and diarrhea. It will certainly make him very gassy, which will be very uncomfortable for your dog.
The other risk to your dog is what could potentially be on the lettuce. Any lettuce offered to your pet must be washed thoroughly to eliminate any chemicals or fertilizers that may have been used in growing the lettuce, and bacteria that may remain on the vegetable.
Avoid Lettuce in Salads
Don’t be tempted to give your dog lettuce that forms part of a salad. The salad may contain other ingredients, like onion, which is very toxic to your dog. In addition, salads typically contain some type of dressing which contains oils and fats that your dog definitely doesn’t need. Just stick to giving your dog plain, thoroughly cleaned lettuce leaves from either a head of lettuce or even bagged lettuce.
A Note About Other Types of Greens
There are other leafy green vegetables that are not as safe as lettuce treats. One example is Kale, because Kale contains harmful compounds like calcium oxalate that may be dangerous to your dog. Cabbage is a vegetable to be cautious about – it does offer some nutritional value, but overfeeding cabbage causes gas, and if too much is ingested it could affect the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Spinach and Arugula are a good source of chlorophyll which is a phytochemical – it’s also found in broccoli and kale. Chlorophyll gives plants their green color and is a multifunctional protein that’s healthy for your dog.
How to Give Lettuce To Your Dog
We always suggest giving raw lettuce to dogs. Cooked lettuce will have added oil or butter, while grilled lettuce could have charring on it – none of which are good for your dog. Steamed lettuce will make it easier for digestion but then you’ve lost most of the limited nutritional value of the vegetable.
Any lettuce fed to your dog should be cut into small pieces. Don’t give him chunks or entire leaves. Keep in mind that lettuce is high in fiber and can be difficult to digest, which is why we suggest serving it in small bites.
As mentioned previously, any non-doggy food is a treat and should only be given as such. This means that lettuce should be given in small portions, avoiding an upset stomach and/or vomiting and diarrhea. Slow and small is the way to go!