Every dog owner has seen those sad eyes. Your puppy is giving it his all trying to get a hand-out. Sure, he has got a whole bowl full of his own food, but he is very focused on you as you prepared your own dinner.
The problem is, right now, you are chopping lettuce because you are making a salad. Your canine companion wants some, and his act is working. The question is, can you feed your dog lettuce?
The easy answer is yes, you can feed your dog lettuce (as long as you watch out for a few things.
Health Benefits of Lettuce:
Common lettuces like iceberg, romaine, and arugula are all fine to give to your dog. Lettuce does contain beta-carotene, and is also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and fiber. But lettuce contains mostly water (about 90%) so the nutritional content is actually fairly low.
The high water content can be a plus though: feeding your dog lettuce is a great way to add a bit more water to his diet. Make sure you are still giving him his regular water. Just feeding him lettuce will probably not hydrate him properly.
Because lettuce is low in both calories and fat, it can be used as a healthy treat. If you’re training your puppy and find that you are rapidly going through store bought treats, try out the lettuce. Feed him a small piece when he does well.
The low fat content will keep him from packing on unwanted pounds during training. If your dog is already overweight, lettuce can be a good replacement for other treats.
Precaution 1: Start Small and Break it Up
There are some cautions when feeding your pup lettuce. First, your dog needs time to adapt to any change in diet. They have sensitive stomach’s, so you will need to start in fairly small quantities. It may be difficult for him to digest, so instead of giving him an entire leaf, you should break it up into small pieces.
He will still enjoy the crunch! Small pieces will also be better for the dog that just grabs the food and swallows with minimal chewing. Instead of having a large leaf in his stomach, the small pieces will be easier for him to digest. Again, it has a low nutritional value, so it should not be a primary factor in your dog’s meal. Save it for a treat.
Precaution 2: Be Aware of Sensitive Stomachs
Lettuce will also cause diarrhea and gas in some dogs. Start with just a few small pieces, and then see how he reacts to it. If his body is handling it well, give him some more the next day.
Anyone with a dog knows that it is very obvious when a dog has gas! It is not something he can hide. If he is having gas or diarrhea, stop giving lettuce as treats.
Precaution 3: Keep the Lettuce Clean
You need to make sure that the lettuce you feed your dog has been washed thoroughly. You should also know where the lettuce was grown. Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases of lettuce being recalled due to E. coli or Listeria contamination.
The lettuce could also have been sprayed with a fertilizer or other chemical that should not be ingested You want to be as careful with your dog as you are with the rest of the family.
Precaution 4: Don’t Give Your Dog a Salad
Do not feed your dog lettuce that has already been mixed into a salad. There are many possible ingredients in salads, and some of them are dangerous to dogs. Onions, for examples, are a common ingredient in salads.
For your dog, they can cause severe allergic reactions, asthma, diarrhea, vomiting, and liver damage. Salads also often contain walnuts. Some walnuts can be toxic to dogs. Others may have mold on them. It is also not healthy for your dog to ingest salad dressing.
They are usually high in fat as well as sugar, neither of which is good for your canine friend. Instead of feeding your dog from the table, give him the lettuce before you mix it into the rest of the salad.
The Final Answer:
If your dog is interested, you can certainly feed him lettuce in small amounts. Make sure that it has been thoroughly washed, and that you feed it to him in small pieces. Start slowly, and make sure that his body is processing it well.
Many dogs enjoy the satisfying crunch that you get when you eat lettuce. My dog, of course, wants nothing to do with it. I guess he is a “meat and potatoes” type of guy, and he has no interest in anything green.