Thankfully, dandelions are one of the few plants that are safe for dogs, so there’s no need to call your vet and ask “Can dogs eat dandelions?” the next time you catch your puppy with a mouthful of dandelion fluff.
As any vet can tell you, there’s no shortage of questions from anxious pet parents when it comes to plants. After all, knowing which plants are non-toxic to your dog’s health is critical to keeping him safe.
But here’s the good news: the next time you see Fido eat dandelion flowers, rest assured that not only are dandelions safe, but they’re also full of nutritional benefits like vitamins and minerals.
Health benefits of dandelions
Dogs have a sixth sense when it comes to treating themselves. Think about it: Have you ever seen a dog eating grass while it’s out for a walk?
Somehow, dogs naturally know this is a healthy source of fiber that will help them “go.” Or, maybe they’re trying to expel some intestinal worms. It's instinct. It's typical dog behavior and it's nothing to worry about.
And if they eat grass for health benefits, it stands to reason that the might eat dandelion flowers for the same purpose.
These bitter greens fuel your dog’s body with vitamins A, C, K, and D. Even better, they’re a rich source of B complex, which helps with brain function, cardiovascular health and and supports a healthy digestive system.
Along with vitamins, dandelion leaves contain lots of potassium. Is your dog constantly gassy or suffering from indigestion? It could be due to a potassium deficiency.
Oh, and no worries if your dog starts eating the flowers. These are perfectly safe, and contain antioxidants that can help improve the immune system. They’re also easy to digest, so your dog little guy won’t be up all night with a stomach ache.
A word of caution
Dandelions (Taraxacum Officinale), on their own, are safe to eat. The problem is when they’re sprayed with chemical herbicides and weed killers. This happens more often than not, since dandelions are generally unwelcome guests in people’s yards.
That’s why you should stick to patches that you can be sure about, like the weeds in your own backyard. As for the dandelions growing at the park or on someone else’s property? There’s no way to be sure about those, so it’s best to keep your dog away from them.
You should also be aware that dandelions are diuretics, so your dog may need more potty breaks than usual. If taking it outside more often isn’t an option, make sure to prep your house with training pads so your dog has plenty of opportunities to relieve itself.
Mixing dandelions into your dog's food
Because of their nutritional value, there are some owners who mix dandelion greens into their dog’s food. We’ve even heard of owners who specifically grow dandelion patches for their dog, but that’s probably way more time and work than you’re willing to invest.
The best way to process dandelion greens is to gather some fresh leaves and dry them on sheets of newspaper. Make sure to place them in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
Then, chop them up in a food processor and dry them out again just like you did with the fresh leaves. Now you have your very own supply of dandelion herbs to mix into your dog’s food!
You don’t want to overdo it, though. As we mentioned, dandelions are natural diuretics, so giving your dog multiple doses a day can cause it to lose too much water and salt. And that can easily lead to dehydration, which has very serious consequences for your pet.
To play it safe, stick to using 1 teaspoon of dandelion herb for every 20 pounds of your dog’s body weight. Do this only once a day, either with its morning meal or evening meal, not both.
Now, maybe you’re not sold on the idea of dandelions straight out of the ground, no matter how safe they are. In that case, you may want to look into a dandelion supplement for dogs.
Again, you should speak to your vet before giving your pet any of these products. But there are forms of liquid dandelion root supplements that you can purchase online. They come in glass bottles topped with an eye dropper, making them super easy to use.
Obviously, this is a lot more convenient than picking, drying, and chopping fresh dandelion leaves. It’s also easier to conceal in pet food. If your dog is a super picky eater, liquid drops may work a lot better than a spoonful of green, bitter smelling flakes.
The drops can also be used for felines, which is helpful if you’re a dog and cat household. Turns out, leafy greens like dandelion leaves and stems have the same range of health benefits for both dogs and cats, so you can add some to cat food as well.
Another scenario where dandelions can help your dog is if he or she is suffering from anal gland problems. You can usually tell his glands are blocked or full if he's scooting or dragging his behind over the floor. That's his attempt to release anal fluid.
While you could resolve this issue with dog supplements, another possibility is an herbal treatment. You can use dandelion leaves or flowers to brew dandelion tea and add it to your dog's food or water after it cools off. Use 1 tablespoon of fresh dandelion or 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion per cup of boiling water.
Again, if you're concerned about your dog's health and you're wondering "Is this safe for my dog?" you should always check with your vet first.
Dandelions are not a cure-all
In all honesty, a daily dose of dandelions isn’t necessary if your dog is pretty healthy to begin with, but it can be a big help if your dog is suffering from nutritional deficiency.
So how do you tell if your dog is suffering from nutritional deficiency? The safest and surest way is to make an appointment with your vet.
We know how tempting it is to “self-diagnose” when there’s a world of information waiting for you on the internet. But this can be dangerous if your dog has a serious underlying condition.
In that case, a misdiagnosis can make the condition worse or delay treatment that could save your dog’s life. This is not your typical pet product, so be make sure you're properly informed.
Keep in mind, too, that dandelions are not a cure-all.
Yes, there are holistic studies showing that dandelions have medicinal properties that can improve your dog’s digestion, improve their liver and kidney function, and some other really exciting claims. But most of these studies aren’t recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The takeaway here is to exercise caution and always keep your vet in the loop. And if your four-legged pal is romping in the garden and eats a dandelion or two, that’s fine and “dande” as far as we’re concerned!