Yes, dogs can eat beets!
The beet, or beetroot as they are commonly called, is a root vegetable that was domesticated in the Middle East in the 8th century B.C. This root crop originated in the Mediterranean region from the sea beet, which can still be found growing wild to this day. It was then mainly used for medicinal purposes until the 1800’s when French chefs realized its potential as a side dish.
Beets are loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. They are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium and iron. They are also a remarkable source of choline, folic acid, iodine, manganese, organic sodium, potassium, fiber and carbohydrates in the form of natural digestible sugars. Red beets get their red color primarily from betalain antioxidant pigments.
The Health Benefits
Beets can benefit the liver health and are frequently used for cleansing and detoxifying. Other benefits include:
- A great source of fiber
- Helps relieve skin allergies
- Are low in calories to promote healthy weight
- Promotes efficient metabolism
- Increases nutrient absorption and proper digestion of dog food
- Provides inflammation relief
- Strengthens the immune system
- Provides powerful antioxidant support
Types of Beets
Red Beets – Red or purple beets are the ones most people are familiar with and what you will normally find at the grocery store or farmer's market.
Golden Beets – Golden or yellow beets have a milder and sweeter flavor which intensifies when roasted.
Striped Beets – These are also called "Chioggia", "Bassano Beets", "Candy Stripe", or "Bull's Eye Beet". The striping occurs on the interior of the vegetable and gives it a candy-cane pattern.
Cylindra’ Beets - These beets, also called "Formanove" or "Butter Slicer", look more like a carrot than a beet. The almost burgundy long, cylindrical can measure out at from 6 to 9 inches long.
Mangel-wurzel Beets – These beets, also called “mangold”, look like a cross between a carrot and beet. Varieties such as ‘Mammoth Red Mangel’ can reach 20 pounds and were once grown as animal feed.
Sugar Beets – These look more like a turnip than a beet. They are an off-white color and conical in shape. About 20% of the world’s sugar production is made from sugar beets with the other 80% coming from sugarcane. The sucralose level is extremely high so I would avoid feeding these to dogs.
Baby beets – These little beets are harvested just as they have started to round out. They are about the size of a ping-pong ball and have a delicate taste and texture.
Canned beets - These are also nutritious since they are canned immediately after being harvested so don't be afraid to use them. Always check the ingredients list to make sure nothing has been added. You should still rinse them since they may contain unwanted table salt.
How To Prepare Beets
The beets need to be washed and scrubbed just like a potato to remove all the dirt and debris. Once cleaned, just peel and slice. Now you can bake, roast, dehydrate, and even serve raw. In the wild dogs mostly eat plants pre-digested so you need to puree, or finely chop, to break down the cellulose before adding to meals.
Don't Throw Away The Greens
Beet greens are often overlooked but they actually hold more nutritional value than the root and closely replicate a dog's grassy leafy diet that he might have had in the wild.
According to Dr. Dobias, Leafy veggies resemble grasses and other greens that wild prey eat. Greens also have numerous health benefits. They are vitamin powerhouses, full of antioxidants and minerals. They also possess cleansing and pH balancing properties and are an excellent source of fibre. Good examples are lettuces, dandelion leaves, parsley, cilantro, basil, beet tops, carrot tops, kale, sprouted seeds etc.
Be sure to wash them under cold running water first to remove all the dirt and debris.
Beets are high in oxalic acid which can lead to kidney stones and a depletion of calcium in the body so feed sparingly. Dogs who suffer from, or are at risk for, kidney stones, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis or those with sensitive tummies should avoid foods high in oxalic acid.
Some dogs have allergies to beets which can result in inflammation. Always talk to your veterinarian first and then start with small portions to see how your dog may react.
A Fun Fact
The body can’t break down the red color component, betanin, so after eating red beets or foods that use beets as a color preservative, the urine and stool will be dyed red which is commonly called beeturia. There’s no need to worry since this will work its way out naturally within several days to a week.