Can Dogs Eat Brussels Sprouts? It Depends

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Published: July 13, 2022
© David Charles Cottam/Shutterstock.com
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Brussels sprouts—you either hate them or love them. These small cruciferous vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are full of healthy antioxidants. These little vegetables can have a positive impact on our own health and the health of your dog. But before you begin introducing Brussels sprouts into your dog’s diet, there are a few things you want to be aware of. Read on to learn more about feeding Brussels sprouts to your dog.

A Look at Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable that are part of the brassica genus of plants. Cruciferous simply means that they are a member of the cabbage family, so Brussels sprouts and cabbage are related. They are similar to broccoli, kale, cabbage, arugula, watercress, and radishes. They are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in fiber. There are only 28 calories and 2 grams of fiber in each half-cup serving of the vegetable. This makes them a healthy choice for dogs that are diabetic.

Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts for Dogs

Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits your dog can get from eating Brussels sprouts:

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Dietary fiber: Fiber helps with feelings of fullness after a meal. It also helps keep your dog’s digestive system healthy and ensure healthy bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is the kind of fiber that does not dissolve in water. This means that it will remain intact as it travels through the intestines, attracting water to the stool. As it travels through the intestines, it also pulls food and waste along with it. This is what produces a bowel movement and reduces the instances of stomach issues, constipation, or diarrhea.

Vitamins B1 and B6: Both of these vitamins well help boost your dog’s metabolism by helping release the energy that is stored in food. They also help make new cells and support the functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin K: This is a fat-soluble vitamin that contains an essential protein called prothrombin which is responsible for blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K also helps regulate your dog’s calcium levels in its blood. This helps reduce the risk of your dog developing heart disease and improves circulation.

Antioxidants: Brussels sprouts are some of the vegetables that are high in antioxidants. These help protect your dog’s health by fighting against free-radicals that cause oxidative cell damage in the body. They also help with cognitive abilities and have benefits for aging dogs as well.

Minerals: Brussels sprouts contain manganese, calcium, and potassium which are essential minerals that support bone health cell function, fluid balance, nervous system, and muscle function.

Weight loss: Not only does fiber help improve your dog’s digestion, it also helps your dog feel fuller after meals which may help reduce begging and aid in weight loss. Brussels sprouts are low on calories, have no sugar, and are high in fiber. This makes them excellent for dogs that are diabetic or on a weight loss regimen.

Kaempferol: Studies have shown that this polyphenol antioxidant helps reduce the risk of your dog developing illnesses like cancer by boosting the body’s antioxidant defense against free radicals. It was also found to inhibit cancer cell growth.

Isothiocyanates: These are phytonutrients that have anti-oxidative properties. They can also help slow the growth of cancer and reduce the risk or heart disease and cognitive aging.

Two dogs eating lettuce at a table with a checkered tablecloth
Brussels sprouts are safe for dogs only if they’re fed in small amounts to prevent GI issues.

©David Charles Cottam/Shutterstock.com

Risks of Feeding Your Dog Brussels Sprouts

Even though Brussels sprouts provide a ton of health benefits for your dog, there are a few things that you’ll want to be aware of before feeding them to your dog. Let’s go over some of those now.

As a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, Brussels sprouts contain isothiocyanates. We briefly touched on these above—they’re phytonutrients that are beneficial because they help the intestinal muscles push food and waste through the digestive tract. The problem is that they also build excess bacteria—tiny organisms that help aid in the fermentation process of digestion. These tiny organisms can create a lot of gas, which is how the body releases excess bacteria. If your dog has too many Brussels sprouts, they may experience stomach pain or discomfort due to gas.

Another reason to be cautious about feeding your dog Brussels sprouts is because of how fibrous they are. Brussels sprouts can present a choking hazard for your dog or cause intestinal blockages if not chewed completely before swallowing. You can reduce the risk of choking by making sure that you peel off the outer layer of skin off the stalk before you serve it to your dog. You should also make sure that the Brussels sprouts are chopped into smaller pieces—especially for small dogs that are at an even greater risk of choking.

Raw Brussels sprouts are very hard to digest. Your dog’s digestive system will have an even harder time digesting them and processing all of the fiber that they contain. Because of this, you should not serve raw Brussel sprouts to your dog, as this could lead to gastrointestinal upset, bloating, or diarrhea.

How to Serve Brussels Sprouts to Your Dog

Before you begin introducing any new food into your dog’s diet, you should check with your veterinarian—especially if your dog has any underlying health issues. Your vet will know your dog’s health best and can offer you advice on how you should feed a particular type of food to your dog.

When choosing Brussels sprouts, be sure to pick green sprouts and go for organic whenever possible. Avoid ones with wilted or brown leaves, as old sprouts can cause watery stools. You want to choose fresh ones for yourself and your dog. Always wash Brussels spouts off before serving them to your dog to help remove any pesticides or chemicals that could cause your dog to have an upset stomach. Also be sure to cut off the stem.

Frozen brussels sprouts can also be a choking hazard for dogs since many of them eat their food too quickly. Therefore, the best way to offer them is to cook them first so that they’re softer.

When cooking, avoid adding any oils or seasonings, as these can hurt your dog’s stomach and lead to pancreatitis or worse. Garlic and onions are toxic to dogs, so avoid any of these additives or flavorings. The best way to serve them is by cooking them plain with no added ingredients. You can chop them up and add them into your dog’s food bowl along with their other healthy dog food.

How Many Brussels Sprouts Can My Dog Have?

The amount of Brussels sprouts that your dog can have will depend on the size of your dog. Small dogs are able to eat one Brussels sprout without problems, while larger dogs can tolerate up to five.

When you offer your dog Brussels sprouts for the first time, only give them 1/4 to 1/2 of a sprout to see how they handle it.

Watch your dog for signs of discomfort or gas which will show up in few hours or less if there is any. If you notice any signs of an upset stomach, do not feed your dog any more of the Brussels sprouts and contact your veterinarian if symptoms persist.

Overall

Brussels sprouts are a very healthy, nutritious cruciferous vegetable. If you plan to feed some to your dog, make sure they are washed properly beforehand and go for organic Brussels sprouts whenever possible to reduce your dog’s exposure to pesticides or chemicals. Start off small and only feed your dog 1/4 or 1/2 of a sprout at a time. If you notice any signs of discomfort or gastrointestinal distress, stop feeding them to your dog and contact your veterinarian.

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The Featured Image

Two dogs eating lettuce at a table with a checkered tablecloth
Brussels sprouts are safe for dogs only if they're fed in small amounts to prevent GI issues.
© David Charles Cottam/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can dogs eat Brussels sprouts raw?

Dogs should not eat Brussels sprouts raw. They will have a hard time processing the fiber which could lead to gastrointestinal distress.

Can dogs eat frozen Brussels sprouts?

Yes, dogs can eat frozen Brussels sprouts, but they are safer to have cooked in order to prevent choking hazards.

How do you cook Brussels sprouts for dogs?

The best way to cook Brussels sprouts for dogs is to boil, microwave or steam them and serve them plain.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Akc.org, Available here: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-brussels-sprouts/
  2. Healthline, Available here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-brussels-sprouts#6
  3. WebMD, Available here: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/health-benefits-brussels-sprouts