Kale is gaining in popularity as a superfood among people, and for a good reason too. Kale is one of the most nutritionally dense leafy green vegetables around and has relatively few calories, making it a good choice for people watching their weight, or trying to eat more healthily. However, just because a food is a great nutritional choice for people doesn’t mean it is safe for dogs and cats!
Kale is in the Brassica family which includes broccoli, cabbage and turnips, to name a few.
Kale & Cats
Cats should not eat kale. Kale can cause anemia in cats, which can be life threatening. This is because kale acts as an oxidizing agent in the cat and can cause Heinz body anemia.
Kale & Dogs
Kale can also cause significant GI upset in some dogs. As little as a teaspoon has been shown to cause diarrhea, and ingestion can cause vomiting as well. Ingestion of leafy greens can also create a more acidic urine pH, which might be problematic to dogs prone to certain types of urinary stones.
In addition, a good rule of thumb when feeding ‘treats’ or food other than a good quality commercial dog food is that the extras should not to exceed 10% of the total calories consumed. Kale is pretty low in calories on its own, but treat calories add up fast and can contribute to the obesity epidemic we see in pets today!
Kale certainly isn’t toxic to dogs, and the side effects of kale ingestion are self-limiting, meaning they’ll go away with just supportive care. However, it may be best to avoid kale unless your dog has proven he or she isn’t overly sensitive to it. There are many other healthy and safe alternatives to kale as a treat.
A Side Note: Kale & Other Animals
It has been well documented that this group of vegetables (the Brassica family) can cause toxicities, such as anemia, in ruminants. Ruminants are a group of large animals that have more than one stomach, like sheep, cows, goats and deer.
By Dr. Fiona, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats. Visit our Pet Insurance 101 page to learn more.