Updated - Sep 8th, 2021
Cauliflower is one of those veggies we either love or despise. In some households, you’ll find this cousin of broccoli fed to dogs under the table by kids who don’t care for its bland taste. Fortunately, these kids are passing on essential nutrients to their canines.
Cauliflower is packed with antioxidants that boost our immune system, as well as many vitamins and minerals that improve our health. But have you ever wondered if this human food also offers the same nutritional benefits for your dog?
The short answer is yes. Dogs can eat cauliflower and it provides high nutritional value. But there’s more!
Meet the cauliflower
Cauliflower is a cruciferous plant and part of the brassica genus of plants. “Cruciferous” usually means they’re members of the cabbage family. But they’re actually a member of the mustard plant family, whose cousins include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, cabbage, radishes, and watercress.
Let’s look at all the reasons your dog should eat cauliflower as an occasional treat.
Health benefits of cauliflower
Fiber: Fiber keeps your dog’s digestive system healthy – and cauliflower has a lot of fiber. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, so it remains intact as it travels through the intestines. As it travels through, it pulls all the other waste along with it, reducing the incidence of stomach issues, constipation and diarrhea.
Vitamin K: This fat-soluble vitamin contains prothrombin, a protein essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K also helps regulate blood calcium levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Antioxidants: Cauliflower is a high achiever in the antioxidant category. Antioxidants protect your dog’s health by fighting against free radicals that cause oxidative cell damage. But they also provide some important age-related and cognitive benefits as well.
Vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and folate: These are potent antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory properties, boost your dog’s immune system, and prevent some cancers and heart disease.
Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates: These are phytonutrients that provide anti-oxidative protection. They can slow cancer growth and reduce the risk of heart disease and cognitive aging.
Carotenoids and flavonoids: These control the color pigments in plants. They work to protect against sun damage and reduce damage from environmental issues like pesticides, smoke, air pollution, etc.
Coline: This essential nutrient is in abundance in cauliflower. It detoxes the liver and supports cognitive function and behavior.
Minerals: Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese are essential minerals found in cauliflower. Their job is to support your dog’s skeletal structure, fluid balance, cell function, the nervous system, and muscle function and integrity.
Weight loss: Fiber slows down your dog’s digestion. This can sustain a feeling of fullness after meals, which reduces begging and aids in weight loss. Low calories, no sugar, and high fiber means cauliflower is an acceptable treat for obese or diabetic dogs.
There are many benefits to feeding cauliflower to your dog. However, there are still some risks you need to know about.
Let’s look at them now.
Cautions about cauliflower
No part of the cauliflower plant is toxic to your dog. However, cauliflower is very fibrous and can cause choking hazards. This is especially true for small dogs and puppies. Cut the stems and edible florets into small pieces, like you do for all raw vegetables and fruits. This will reduce the risk of any gastrointestinal side effects.
Cauliflower’s high fiber content can cause an upset stomach or gastrointestinal discomfort if fed in large amounts. This is true for all high-fiber vegetables and fruits. Start out slow, adding small quantities to your dog’s diet. Increase the quantity per serviing it if there are no signs of stomach or intestinal problems.
That’s it for the downsides of cauliflower. Now let’s get to the fun stuff: recipes and snack ideas!
Whenever you offer your dog a new food, consult your veterinarian to make sure there are no medical reasons your dog can’t have it.
Cauliflower is best served to your dog plain and unseasoned. You can boil, steam, roast, mash or rice the fibrous veggie. Cooking it reduces the risks of choking and makes it more digestible.
Feed your dog raw cauliflower in small amounts, since larger amounts can cause digestive problems or gas. (A small amount means a bite or two at a time.) Think of it as an occasional treat rather than something to be eaten daily. Don’t add it to your dog’s regular dog food more than once a week.
Mash or rice the cooked cauliflower and add small portions of it to your dog’s food bowl for a warming meal on cold winter nights. Just make sure it doesn’t include any onions, garlic, fats (like butter), or seasonings that can harm your dog.
Onions and garlic are especially toxic for dogs. The organic compounds in the root vegetables from the allium genus can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Avoid all things onion and garlic, including powders.
Mash the cauliflower up along with sweet potatoes, zucchini, and green beans for a mash full of antioxidants. Offer it to your pooch as a mid-afternoon snack on cold winter days.
Here are some tasty-looking recipes for cauliflower dog treats I found.
Can your dog eat cauliflower?
Yes. Cauliflower offers many valuable nutrients, along with a bounty of antioxidants that boost your dog’s immune system and overall health. Fed in moderate amounts, cauliflower can be a healthy snack that’s suitable for overweight or diabetic dogs as well.