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Can dogs eat celery?

Obesity is an important issue facing not only many pet owners, but also their devoted canine companions. In 2018, the Pet Obesity Prevention group estimated that 56% of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese. While internet memes have made some of these absolute units into viral superstars, the sad truth is that obesity can shorten human and animal lives. In dogs, obesity is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, joint issues, skin disorders, chronic inflammation, kidney disfunction, respiratory issues, and cancer. A 2002 study found that dogs fed extra calories lived two years less, on average. In fact, we’ve found many of the dog breeds who ranked in the top five for obesity claims also ranked in the top five for osteoarthritis. You can learn more about Obesity and Osteoarthritis here.

So, how can dog owners keep their food-obsessed pooches satisfied while keeping the pounds off?

Celery is well known in human-health circles as a good snack for those on a diet. Could celery also be the magic food that devoted dog owners are seeking for their pets? Can dogs eat celery? Yes! Read on to learn more about how to feed celery to your canine companion.

Health benefits of celery for dogs

Celery has many dietary benefits, for people and pets:

  • Low in calories, high in fiber — Celery contains a mere one calorie per inch, because it’s made up of 95% water. The rest of the stalk is mainly fiber, which aids in digestion by expanding inside the digestive tract, making your dog feel fuller for longer, and helps to keep your dog’s bowel movements regular.
  • Hydration — Because celery contains so much water, it will help your pet stay hydrated in hot weather.
  • Anti-inflammatory — Celery contains phytonutrient antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Vitamins and minerals — Celery contains important vitamins and nutrients, including:
    • Potassium, which is responsible for fluid balance, and heart and muscle function
    • Vitamin A, which is required for growth and vision
    • Vitamin C, an antioxidant
    • Calcium, which is responsible for bone growth, and heart and muscle function
  • Blood pressure regulation — Celery contains phthalide, a chemical that lowers stress hormones in the blood, which allows the blood vessels to relax and more blood to flow through the body.
  • Antioxidants — Vitamin C and other antioxidants protect against immune-system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, and eye disease, and also are vital for wound healing and maintaining cartilage, bones, and teeth. Celery’s specific antioxidants may also help protect against stomach inflammation that can lead to gastric ulcers.

Health risks of celery for dogs

Adding celery to your dog’s diet may provide many benefits, but it should still be fed in moderation for these reasons:

  • High sodium content — Sodium is an important electrolyte that helps regulate the body’s fluid balance, but too much sodium can cause increased blood pressure, and excess salt should be avoided.
  • Possible gastro-intestinal upset — In small amounts, the fiber in celery is beneficial for digestion and regulation of stool consistency, but large amounts can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.
  • Chemical contamination — Celery routinely appears on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” foods list because of pesticide exposure during growth.
  • Thyroid issues — Too much celery can interfere with iodine metabolism, which leaves your pet at risk for hypothyroidism.
  • Urinary issues — Too much Vitamin C and calcium can lead to kidney and urinary stones.

How to feed celery to your dog

Celery can add important vitamins and minerals to your dog’s diet, and it can also aid in weight loss. But, before you toss your pup a piece of celery, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Do not feed your dog whole stalks of celery, because the long, fibrous strands can get caught in teeth, wrap around the tongue, or cause intestinal problems.
  • Feed your dog celery cut into slices or small chunks that can’t get caught in the throat—large pieces can be a choking hazard, especially for enthusiastic eaters.
  • Wash celery thoroughly before feeding to reduce chemical contamination, and avoid feeding your dog the celery leaves, which often contain the highest levels of pesticides.

Here are some suggestions for feeding your pup this beneficial snack. Always check with your family veterinarian to make sure celery is appropriate for your particular pup.

  • Sprinkle a few small pieces on daily meals.
  • Freeze some small pieces of celery to feed as cold, hydrating snacks on a hot day.
  • Mix small celery pieces with low-fat yogurt and freeze in a Kong ball. This low-calorie, long-lasting treat toy will keep your pup entertained, and is especially good if you need to leave her home alone.
  • Use celery as an ingredient in a special, home-cooked treat your dog will love, like this “Turgoggen” recipe from Rover:

Turdoggen

Ingredients:

  • Butternut squash
  • Zucchini
  • Carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp sage

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Split butternut squash in two, and use an ice cream scoop, melon baller, or spoon to hollow out a channel in the center big enough to house your appropriately sized zucchini. Reserve the extra squash for the stuffing. Note: If you have trouble with this step, put your squash in the microwave for a few minutes to soften.
  3. Trim the zucchini ends to fit inside the squash, halve the zucchini, and remove enough of the flesh to make room for the carrot, reserving the extra zucchini for the stuffing.
  4. Trim and carve the carrot to fit inside the zucchini, saving the extra for the stuffing.
  5. To prepare the stuffing, roughly dice celery rib.
  6. Place all extra veggie bits and your diced celery into a food processor.
  7. Add ½ cup oatmeal, the spices, and 2 eggs. Process until you have a smooth paste.
  8. Place your squash halves on a baking tray and fill with stuffing, leaving enough space to layer in the zucchini.
  9. Add a little more stuffing and the carrot, adjusting stuffing as necessary for a smooth fit.
  10. Put the two halves together, and truss with butcher twine (optional) to keep the whole thing together until cooked.
  11. Bake for 60–90 minutes, or until a thermometer stuck in the middle reads 165 to ensure the egg is cooked through. Note: Baking time will vary according to the thickness of the squash.
  12. Allow to cool.
  13. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Note: If your dog doesn’t care for the skin, remove it before serving.