Written by Pedro Mejia, Ph.D.
March 31, 2021
Many dog parents wonder if they should give veggies to their dogs. Well, broccoli is a no brainer.
Given its wide range of health benefits for humans and dogs, broccoli really deserves to be called a “superfood”.
Broccoli is what made Hippocrates proclaim: “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Okay, maybe that’s not true, but it could have been.
Why is broccoli so healthy for dogs?
Because it’s packed with sulforaphane, a molecule found in cruciferous vegetables.
Not only this molecule has the power to protect cells from environmental toxins that produce cancer (a.k.a. carcinogens), but it also stops cancer from growing once it has developed.
This is especially important for our dogs for two reasons: First, pet dogs are exposed to the same carcinogens from the environment as we are. Second, cancer is the main killer of dogs.
If you feed your dog kibble you might know that grains in kibble may contain aflatoxins that can produce liver cancer and even death. A recent study in China showed that broccoli consumption can prevent liver cancer induced by aflatoxin present in stored grains.
This is amazing liver detox power!!
Related: Discover how blueberries and carrots can boost your dog's health!!
What else does broccoli-derived sulforaphane does?
It’s a potent antioxidant.
Oxidation due to aging, disease or other stresses damages cells and tissues in the body resulting in organ malfunction. Sulforaphane from broccoli activates enzymes in the body that naturally neutralize free radicals responsible of damaging cells and thus preserve and protect organs.
In fact, scientists haven’t been able to find a more potent compound that protects against oxidative stress and carcinogens than sulforaphane.
Broccoli-derived sulforaphane is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. By reducing chronic inflammation, it has shown to alleviate arthritis, diabetes, allergies, dementia and other chronic diseases.
Do you want even more from broccoli? You got it!
Broccoli has more calcium and selenium than many other veggies, more vitamin C than oranges, more fiber than pumpkin, and more lutein and zeaxanthin (two important carotenes) than carrots.
Explore here all the benefits of adding fruits and veggies to your dog's diet.
How to prepare broccoli for your dog
There’s a trick to get all the benefits from nutrients in broccoli. It has to be finely chopped.
This is because sulforaphane, the active ingredient that provides all the health benefits we talked about, must be converted by an enzyme into its active form.
This enzyme called myrosinase is liberated from plant tissue upon biting, chewing, slicing, and other forms of destruction.
Knowing that our loved dogs swallow most of their food, it’s important to destroy the tissues for them.
Also, nutrients in broccoli, and all plants for that matter, are inside cells protected by a cellulose wall. Since dogs can’t digest cellulose to access nutrients, this wall has to be ruptured before feeding.
Cooked or raw broccoli for your dog?
Even light cooking destroys some of the nutrients in broccoli, including vitamin C and sulforaphane. Interestingly, freeze-drying, which is used more and more to preserve pet food, is one of the best ways to keep raw broccoli and its nutrients intact.
So raw is the way to go! Just make sure to wash it extensively before preparing and serving.
Whenever possible, give your dog organic broccoli to avoid toxic chemicals and provide even more antioxidants.
A word of caution
Even the best things in life can be bad when consumed in excess. Keep the amount of broccoli to 10% or less of the total daily calories your dog eats. Too much sulforaphane and related molecules can cause GI problems in dogs. At 25% or more broccoli, they can be toxic.
Also, high fiber in broccoli can upset your dog’s gut when given too much.
Broccoli is one of the wonders of nature and your dog can get all the benefits from it.
Adding a daily portion of broccoli to your dog’s food it’s a simple and inexpensive way to boost your dog’s health.
This toppers from My Zone Blue provide your dog with the right amount of raw, freeze-dried broccoli and other nutritious foods in a convenient and ready to serve package.
Add good stuff to the bowl. Add healthy years to your dog.
Learn more about pet nutrition and wellness from experts at My Zone Blue blog.