Lettuce isn’t new to dogs. In the wild, they were exposed to edible leaves one way or another. This comes as no surprise as to why there are canines who seem to enjoy leafy greens. However, not all leafy greens taste the same. Your dog may like lettuce but resent kale.
Lettuce, best known as a salad green, may look inviting to dogs. But would you share some with your fur baby? Read on for more information about sharing your lettuce with your pet.
Can Dogs Have Lettuce?
Lettuce is definitely safe for dogs. There are actually conflicting opinions regarding this matter. Some say lettuce is a big no-no for canines because they don’t benefit from it the way people do and that it only causes pets diarrhea.
Nonetheless, many dog experts including the American Kennel Club, believe lettuce is fine for dogs. After all, there’s really nothing in these salad greens that could make Fido sick. That is unless, of course, you gave him too much of it.
However, lettuce is not the best kind of veggie for your dog. It can indeed provide him certain vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, but there are far safer alternatives to it. If you are hesitant to serve lettuce to your pooch, consider giving him asparagus and spinach instead.
Take note, lettuce can be a wholesome treat for your buddy. He can have some of its health benefits. But these salad greens don’t have enough bioavailable nutrients that will benefit your pet. The high amounts of fiber in lettuce can even cause diarrhea and flatulence.
Do Dog Like Leafy Greens?
The real concern here is, will your dog love lettuce? Yes, it’s possible! In January 2018, a Yorkshire Terrier named Bambi went viral after choosing lettuce over bacon. It’s unusual for dogs, who are known for loving meat, to skip the bacon and go vegan by munching down some lettuce.
Otherwise, if your dog is not like Bambi and turns up his nose on lettuce, then accept it. Remember that your pet’s gut is not really designed for plants but for digesting animal protein, so it’s best to give vegetables in minimal amounts. Or, if you’re just introducing lettuce in your pet’s diet, better offer in very small quantities.
Some dogs will love their veggies and some will definitely refuse them. It’s a matter of preference because not all dogs have the same liking for food. The best thing you can do is make the meal more palatable. Therefore, you need to exert a little bit of creativity to make lettuce more pleasing. Just remember to keep it plain and serve it without dressing or any additives.
Things to Remember When Giving Veggies to Dogs
First, it’s important to know that dogs lack cellulase, which is a class of enzymes that break down the cellulose cell wall on its own. Therefore, you have to limit your pet’s vegetable intake. Based on the general guideline, veggies and fruits should only account for 10% of your dog’s meals.
Your pooch could greatly benefit from consuming vegetables. However, it’s also true that dogs don’t really need them on a daily basis. The truth is that your pet could get along just fine even without regular consumption of veggies, like lettuce and other leafy greens.
Actually, there are conflicting opinions regarding this matter. There is such a thing as a vegetarian and vegan dog diet. There is nothing wrong with this concept, but still, make sure that you are not sacrificing the dietary needs of your dog when following this approach. Let’s not forget that plants are not a complete source of protein.
Canines have an acidic gut, which helps them digest meat better than we do. Their bacterial flora, however, is not very capable of breaking down fiber from plants. Still, as time evolves, more and more dogs are learning to thrive on a diet that consists of plant material. Studies suggest that cooking the vegetables lightly makes them more digestible for canines.
This leads us to our second point regarding dogs that completely refuse to eat their veggies. Perhaps try to add very minimal amounts of lettuce into your pet’s usual meals. Dicing the veggies and mixing them with Fido’s food is a smart way to convince him that those greens are actually delicious!
Sometimes, dogs will not bother to try something if it’s not palatable enough. In such case, you can use your creativity to make those leafy greens more appealing. Proper storage and preparation of your lettuce also affect its freshness, so make sure to store and keep it the right way.
The Best Types of Lettuce for Canines
When it comes to leafy greens, it’s better to choose the darker verities than the lighter ones. All the lettuce types are actually safe for dogs but it’s the darker ones that contain more antioxidants. But to give you more information about each type, we’ve listed their characteristics below:
- Iceberg – most dogs like this due to its mild flavor and a bit of crunchiness. It’s made up of 90% water so it is definitely a kind of hydrating treat for our pets. If you have a lot of iceberg lettuce, you can keep some for making your own salad, soup, and even an appetizer.
- Buttercrunch – the leaves of this variety are usually thick. When it comes to flavor, buttercrunch has a hint of sweetness, despite the fact that it’s 95% water. The darker varieties are believed to have more vitamins and minerals.
- Green Mignonette – normally grown during the summer months, this kind of lettuce is known for its soft and curly leaves. It sort of looks like a heart, too. In terms of flavor, it has a pleasing taste.
- Oakleaf – as the name suggests, its leaves look like an oak’s one and it has a nice and mild flavor. The tastiness of Oakleaf makes it a perfect addition to salads. Like the iceberg lettuce, it has a high resistance to heat.
- Red coral lettuce – aside from its color, you will know it is red coral lettuce when you see the frilled edges on the leaves. This variety is somewhat sweet and its tightly curly leaves are actually tender.
- Romaine – there are varieties of romaine lettuce that have a closed head while there are some that have an open head. It is the type of salad often incorporated in salads. You can also use this when making a salad for dogs.
- Stem lettuce – this is the type where the stem is entirely edible. It is usually thick and has a stem ranging from 6-8 inches long. Because of its abundance in China, this is also referred to as the Chinese lettuce.
Can You Cook Lettuce?
There is a rule that leafy greens should be cooked prior to serving them to dogs. Lettuce is an exception. You can offer it raw since this is how it is consumed in the first place. Just make sure your leaves are finely chopped before you put them into your buddy’s bowl.
Is it okay to cook lettuce? Yes, you can actually steam those greens for a few minutes. There are many people who cook their lettuce because the vegetable is easier to digest once it’s cooked. Iceberg lettuce is a typical ingredient in Chinese stir-fry dishes and soups.
How to Serve Lettuce to Your Dog
The best way to serve lettuce to dogs is by incorporating it into their salad. If you are not new to serving raw food to dogs, you surely have tried giving salad to your dog before. There are various recipes of doggie salad, but there’s one thing you should keep in mind.
Your pet’s salad should be free from any ingredient that could upset his stomach. Salad dressing is the number one thing to omit if you’re making one for Fido. For an example of a salad recipe for doggies, check out the one we have below.
Salad dressing should be avoided for dogs at all costs. A typical salad dressing is loaded with fats and sugar that are both harmful to pets. The fat and sugar in salad dressings can make your pet ill.
Never mix lettuce in your pet’s kibble. Raw food, when mixed with dry dog food, can cause stomach upsets. This is because the latter takes longer to break down than the kibble. If you want to save a little on Fido’s food, mix the raw ones with freeze-dried meat and recreational bones.
If your pooch happens to like lettuce, don’t allow him to overindulge in eating it as he may have the runs after consuming lettuce. To avoid this from happening, just shred the leaves on top of your pet’s home-cooked meal.
As always, wash your salad greens thoroughly before chopping them. It’s recommended to wash them even if you bought the pre-washed kind of lettuce. Just recently, there were reports about lettuce having E.coli and listeria.
Lettuce Salad for Dogs
- In a non-stick pan, make an omelet using one large egg.
- Cut the omelet into strips.
- Transfer it into a large bowl, where you will add a few lettuce leaves.
- Slice a carrot and put it in the salad.
- Add a handful of chicken bacon. You may omit this if your dog hates bacon. You can also use other types of dog-friendly meat.
- Get half of a yellow bell pepper and cut into thin strips and add them to the salad. You can also include half a piece of red bell pepper if you like. This adds color and flavor to the salad.
- To make the salad more nutritious, add a very small amount of flax seeds into it.
- Just mix everything nicely and drizzle some chicken broth on top. Serve to your pup!
Benefits of Lettuce to Canines
- It is good for weight control. Lettuce is very low in fat, which makes it a nice addition to your pet’s diet if he is obese and has weight issues.
- It is ideal for a low-sodium diet. Your pooch needs sodium to grow normally and maintain his overall health. However, too much of it can make him sick. If you’re looking for low-sodium foods for your dog, you cannot go wrong with lettuce.
- It is a rich source of fiber. Lettuce, especially romaine, contains fiber that can help your dog have a healthier digestion.
- It has high amounts of folate. Folic acid deficiency may occur in dogs. In such cases, you can provide your pet with a folate-rich food, like lettuce. Folate is important for many body functions and it is needed mostly by pregnant and nursing dogs.
- It is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Almost all varieties of lettuce are packed with high amounts of this water-soluble vitamin.
- Lettuce contains high amounts of potassium. These salad greens, especially the butter lettuce, have impressive amounts of potassium. This mineral is necessary for overall health as it affects the normal functioning of your dog.
The Bottom Line
Lettuce, as with other leafy greens, is not really bad for dogs. Dogs are classified as facultative carnivores because they don’t purely rely on animal flesh for sustenance. They can also eat non-animal food, including vegetables. Just practice caution when giving it to your pet, especially if he has not tasted it before.
Inform your vet about certain changes in your dog’s diet. Even if you give lettuce in small amounts, it can still cause diarrhea if it’s the first time your dog eats it. Most dogs, especially the young ones, tend to have a sensitive stomach, so keep that in mind when feeding them lettuce.