As a staple part of a Sunday roast, as well as hearty soups and stews, parsnips are much-loved by many thanks to their sweet, starchy taste. So it can be a temptation to feed the odd leftover parsnip to your pooch. But is it safe for dogs to tuck into a parsnip or two on occasion?
In this article, we’ll discuss if dogs can eat cooked parsnips, raw parsnips or even honey roast parsnips, as well as how many parsnips a dog can eat safely and whether there are any health benefits of dogs eating parsnips.
Can dogs eat parsnips?
The good news for your pooch is, yes, dogs can eat parsnips. But this doesn’t mean they can just chow down on them in any form or quantity. It’s important that you don’t allow your pooch to eat parsnips cooked with foods such as garlic and onions, as these are toxic for dogs. It’s also important to keep things such as salt, oil and goose fat to a minimum, as these can cause weight gain.
Parsnips along with other root vegetables like carrots are good for dogs when fed to them in moderation, without any seasonings, additives and ingredients. You can read more about the health benefits of parsnips further down this article.
Even if dogs can eat parsnips, like with other human foods, it’s best to start with a very small amount to make sure your dog doesn’t have a bad reaction. It’s also a good idea to check with your vet before feeding your dog new things, as each dog has different nutritional needs and tolerances.
Can dogs eat cooked parsnips?
Yes, dogs can eat cooked parsnips within reason. Plain boiled, steamed or pureed parsnips are completely fine, but whether dogs can eat roast parsnips is a little less clear cut. Oil, fat and seasonings can irritate dogs’ stomachs, so if you roast your parsnips - or pop them in the same tray as your roast potatoes - with lots of oil, fat, salt, pepper and herbs, it’s best to avoid sharing them with your pooch. A small bite here and there is unlikely to harm them though, just don’t make a habit of it - as much as they may beg!
The same goes for honey-glazed parsnips, as honey is far too sweet and sugary for your canine and the high sugar content can cause weight gain and dental problems. If you can roast parsnips plain, your dog can safely eat them. Plain parsnips for pooches is the general rule!
Can dogs eat raw parsnips?
Yes, dogs can eat raw parsnips, but it’s easier to digest when cooked. You can feed your pup a few peelings, or offer them some parsnip with or without the skin on. Just make sure it doesn’t have any seasoning on and you’ve given the parsnip a clean beforehand if you do let your pooch eat the skin, as there could be traces of pesticides, dirt, or bacteria lurking.
It’s worth noting that while dogs can eat raw parsnips, dogs can’t eat raw potatoes as they contain a compound that is toxic to some dogs.
Are parsnips good for dogs?
Yes, parsnips are packed with vitamins and minerals, and can offer your dog health benefits when eaten in moderation as an occasional treat alongside their usual balanced diet. Here are some of the nutritional benefits parsnips can offer:
- Fibre - Found particularly in the parsnip skin, fibre promotes healthy digestion and good gut health.
- Vitamin B6 - Promotes a healthy nervous and immune system.
- Vitamin C - An antioxidant that boosts your dog’s immune system, combats free radicals and works as an anti-inflammatory.
- Vitamin E - Helps maintain healthy skin and eyes.
- Vitamin K - Helps regulate blood function.
- Potassium - Aids the functioning of electrical charges in the heart, nerves, and muscles.
- Folate - Aids normal blood formation, immune function, cell division and tissue growth.
How many parsnips can dogs eat?
Your dog should only eat a few small chunks of parsnip (around half a cup) in a day, given to them as a tasty treat or added to their usual food - because sadly it is possible to have too much of a good thing!
As mentioned above, parsnips are high in fibre, which can be beneficial when eaten in small amounts but can cause symptoms including diarrhoea, bloating and stomach cramps when ingested in excess. As a guideline, between 2% and 4% of a dog's diet should be healthy fibre. Ingesting too much potassium (found in parsnips) can also harm your dog, especially if they have kidney disease.
Can parsnips make dogs sick?
Yes, unfortunately parsnips can make dogs sick in some instances. They’re high in fibre, which can cause diarrhoea and bloating when consumed in excess. Allergies are rare, but dogs may experience an upset stomach due to an intolerance to parsnips. Owners of diabetic dogs should check with a vet before feeding them parsnips.
How to safely feed dogs parsnips?
If you’d like to share the occasional parsnip snack with your pooch, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, make sure that any skin you let them eat has been washed. It’s also a good idea to chop the parsnip into small chunks so that it’s not a choking hazard, especially if you have a small dog.
As noted above, you should also make sure the parsnip isn’t cooked with any seasoning, oil or fat, as these can upset your dog’s stomach. Whether you let your dog eat raw parsnips or cooked parsnips, plain is best.
When your dog eats parsnips for the first time, keep an eye out for any abnormal responses, such as itching, diarrhoea or sickness as this could indicate they are allergic or have an intolerance to it. Contact the vet if you do catch any of these symptoms or anything else unusual, as a severe allergic reaction will need immediate medical attention. This said, parsnip allergies are rare.
Finally, if your dog has diabetes, you should double-check with your vet if parsnips are safe for your pooch. This is because parsnips are a high glycemic index food, and they cause spikes in your dog’s blood sugar shortly after they are eaten.
If you’re wondering about how your dog can eat parsnips, here are a couple of serving suggestions.
Try sprinkling raw parsnip on your dog’s dinner
One way dogs can eat raw parsnips is for you to add some to their usual meal to make things a bit more exciting for them. Finely chop a parsnip - with or without the skin - and simply sprinkle over your dog’s food.
Mash the parsnip and mix with dog meat
A tasty way dogs can eat cooked parsnips is to boil and mash them. You could even add in a carrot and potato to make things even more interesting. Serve your root veg mash with your dog’s wet food and they’re in for a treat!
So, what’s the verdict - can dogs eat parsnips raw, cooked or roasted? In short, yes, dogs can eat parsnips raw and cooked, as long as it’s eaten in moderation, is served plain and the skin has been washed. It’s always a good idea to check with your vet before giving your dog new foods though.
We often wonder if we can share fruits and vegetables with our dog and while some can be part of your companion's diet or be used as occasional snacks, others can be toxic, so it’s important to be aware of the different rules for different varieties. You can read more about safe human foods for dogs in our article on the topic.
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