CAN DOGS EAT PARSNIPS?
Up and down the country every Sunday root vegetables are peeled and prepared for that most revered of meals, The Sunday Roast. The same goes for your local pub and most hotels in your area throughout the UK. They are a tasty and sweet accompaniment to your roast meats, potatoes, Yorkshires and gravy!
But can dogs eat Parsnips?
Yes, they absolutely can. They are super versatile, crunchy and woody when raw and smooth and earthy when mashed. High in vitamins and fibre (particularly the skin) they make a great addition to your dog’s diet. As with all foodstuffs though, many of the ways we prepare our food often move it from the desirable and suitable to the not so suitable, so the following should be born in mind.
Can dogs eat carrots?
The parsnip and carrot are quite similar in appearance and texture and come from, let’s say similar origins. They are both potentially sweet in flavour and nutritious. This is largely due to their composition. They are essentially the fuel store for the plant and as such store food for the growing plant in the form of carbohydrates. If we are to enjoy them at their best, then they are best harvested when reasonably young as they tend to go woody and a little bitter in taste with age.
Are Parsnips too sweet for dogs?
No not at all, the sweetness in the parsnip is neither sugar (sucrose) or fructose and is easily digestible for you dog. Root vegetables do tend to have a high Glycaemic Index which is simply and indicator of how quickly the food will affect and elevate the blood sugar level. This is usually handled without problem by your pooch, however if your pet suffers from Diabetes then the food GI is something you will want to keep your eye on and a conversation with your vet may be worthwhile.
What are the benefits of parsnips for dogs?
- Parsnips are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre
- They contain large amounts of Potassium
- Parsnips are a great source of vitamin C
- High in vitamin K
- Parsnips contain Folate
- Parsnips contain traces of of calcium, iron, and riboflavin.
The effects of all of the above are quite widespread for your dog’s health. Their high levels of antioxidants help to reduce the threat and risk of cancers, heart disease and diabetes. The increased fibre intake can greatly help with your dog’s gastro-intestinal tract health. It will promote gut health and cleanliness and increased stool volume can help with bowel health and anal gland clearing, decreasing the chances of stomach upset, haemorrhoids and anal discomfort.
The Vitamin C content also aids your dog’s immune system and will ward off unwanted viral and bacterial infections.
Can dogs eat cooked parsnips?
Can my dog eat cooked parsnip? Well yes of course, raw or cooked are perfectly good for your dog. But herein lies a problem. I do not recall possibly ever seeing parsnips being eaten in a plain manner. For human consumption they are more often than not part boiled or blanched and then roasted in a dish with either lard, vegetable oil, goose fat or dripping. Another favourite is to make up a drizzle of oils and honey and roast them to a delicious shiny fatty sweet finish.
Even when we mash root veg, whether mixed or together we also reach for the double cream, butter, salt and maybe a smidge of horseradish or mustard.
So it is not difficult to understand why this is going top taste delicious, a shoe prepared in the same manner would likely taste wonderful.
It is the additives, cooking methods and flavourings that we need to be careful of as pet owners. It is true that a tiny morsel of the above is not going to devastate a dog’s health, but we need to be mindful of our dog’s wellbeing when we start adding fats, sugars and flavourings.
Particularly if a household is given to emptying the leftovers onto their pet’s normal dinner as a Sunday treat.
Parsnips are good but don’t add sugar
Honey and Maple syrup may well be delicious and in fairness are likely to enhance anything at all, but just as is the case for humans, refined sugar has little health benefit. Although it is metabolised for energy as a simple carbohydrate it has no value in our diet. It does however when overconsumed over a period of time have responsibility for weight gain, dental issues and diabetes.
If left unchecked, heart disease, respiratory issues, mental fog and joint issues caused by inflammation await some individuals. It is no different for our dogs.
The sugar content alone means you should not feed your dog root veg and particularly parsnips drizzled or roasted in sugary goo!
No added salt for you dog
Just like humans, dogs require some salt or Sodium Chloride in their diets. Alongside Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium it forms in dilution the basis of water uptake and absorption. Too much however is extremely dangerous and apart from causing dehydration it can lead to:
- Vomiting and stomach upset
- Excessive thirst and hypernatremia
- Lack of temperature control
Always steer away form high salt products, adding salt to foods or those which taste extra salty and savoury.
Can dogs eat parsnip peelings?
Yes they absolutely can eat the peelings. If they are being fed raw then it will be best to wash them first before peeling. The outer skin is likely to carry some traces of bacteria and possibly chemical plant feeds or maybe pesticides. As with potatoes and carrots though, the greatest amount of nutrients is found in and just below the surface of the vegetable skin, so the consumption of the skin is highly recommended for nutrient uptake.
The skin is also the location of most of the fibre in the vegetable. Bear in mind though that if your dog is being fed only the peelings then the fibre proportion could be quite high and maybe a small handful would be the maximum you would offer. As with seemingly all food stuffs some if good but too much – in this case fibre – can be destructive.
How much fibre should a dog have?
The amount needed can vary from breed to breed. It is also dependent on the age and size of the dog. As a guideline, between 2% and 4% of the dog's diet should be healthy fibre. So as a guideline for the addition of say carrots or parsnips to your dog’s diet, then somewhere from a few small pieces to perhaps half a cup would be reasonable boundaries. Start at the low threshold and monitor your dog and particularly its toilet habits.
Speak to your veterinarian about your breed and particular pet when you next visit, they not only have the benefit of professional training but they see many pets and can advise from a wealth of experience.
What happens if a dog has too much fibre?
Like everything in life, it is the same in doggy life! Just because a little is good, does not mean more is better, so do not overdo it.
Fibre has the ability to bind to nutrients and stop or limit their absorption in the dog's system. An over abundance over time can cause lethargy, weight loss and wind, so monitor the intake and be very cautious with pure fibre additives or products. So as with all doggy nutritional advice, start slowly and build it up slowly. As ever also always give your dog access to a plentiful supply of fresh water and monitor its intake.
Can puppies eat parsnips?
All of what we have said above is equally applicable to pups. They are highly likely to have quite sensitive stomachs so maybe introduce new foods just a small piece at a time. Always bear in mind the texture and size and be sure not to feed something that represents a choking hazard. Small amounts of pureed veg could be introduced during weaning as an additive in taste and texture that would be reasonably easy on the pup’s digestive system. With some cooked and pureed skins, they would boost vitamin uptake too!
Can my dog eat parsnip with dinner?
Yes of course. A great way to feed your dog Parsnip or other root veg is to grate it onto their meal. Wash it first in preparation and after drying it simply grate it into a bowl. Regardless of the diet this can then be mixed into their main meal for added nutrition. This could also be performed with raw carrot and say spinach, both of which are highly nutritious. Grate and shred them finely and add them to your dog’s meal. Remember to be frugal at first and build up slowly.
If you just offering Parsnip as a treat or an extra, then remember the guideline of keeping treats and rewards to around 10% of your pet’s calorific intake on any given day. This way you are not likely to overfeed your dog and enable it to make the most of its main meals and nutrition plan.