Can Dogs Eat Celery?
Dogs often love the crunchy texture of celery and can enjoy this vegetable as a healthy snack. Celery is a low-calorie food that can provide many health benefits including:
- Source of antioxidants: Celery contains compounds such as caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, apigenin, luteolin, tannin, saponin, and kaempferol. All of these substances decrease oxygen free radicals and help to reduce inflammation. In humans, the antioxidant properties in celery assist the healing process.
- Digestive help: Celery has a high-water content and contains soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps with digestion and regularity. Celery also contains a substance called apiuman, which has been shown in animal studies to decrease stomach ulcers and improve the stomach lining. There haven’t been canine studies with celery to collaborate these findings, but they have been observed in other animal species.
- Rich in vitamins and minerals: Celery is a good source of vitamins A and C, in addition to containing potassium and folate.
- Low calorie: Celery has about 10 calories in each stalk, which makes it an easy snack for your dog that won’t pack on the pounds.
Celery has been cultivated as a vegetable for centuries. In fact, there is documentation of celery garlands in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut, who died in 1323 B.C.). There are different types of celery including wild celery, celery root, and leaf celery. Depending on the type, the stalk, leaves, or base may be eaten or used in cooking.
Celery became popular in the United States in the mid-1850s. In North America, the most common celery is primarily the cultivar known as Pascal celery. The stalk can be eaten raw or included in stews, soups, salads, and as a common ingredient in dressing (also known as stuffing). Celery seeds are used in herbal medicine and to make celery salt. Celery salt is a seasoning in cocktails like the Bloody Mary and a primary ingredient in Old Bay Seasoning.
The Dangers of Celery for Dogs
Well, “Can dogs eat celery?” The answer is, “Yes.” Celery can act as a healthy, low-calorie treat for overweight dogs.
Please note: Any food can cause gastrointestinal distress in dogs. A food that nourishes one pup may make another ill. Please feed your pet celery with caution.
When researching the safety of celery for dogs, there are four risks to consider:
- Risk of Choking. Dogs, especially smaller breeds, are at risk of choking when eating and ingesting large pieces of celery or the stemmy portion. As with any treat, it is always best to chop the celery into pieces that are ½ inch or smaller. Also, always supervise your dog when giving them any food item, and celery is certainly not an exception.
Dogs less than 6 months of age should not be given celery, since they are more likely to choke and not chew their food.
- Pancreatitis or Gastrointestinal Upset. These conditions can occur in dogs that aren’t used to celery, including celery that is cooked with seasoning or butter. Too much oil, fat, or spicing can lead to gastrointestinal distress or pancreatitis in some dogs.
- Toxicity of Accompanying Ingredients. Be cautious if mixing celery with other items including onions or peanut butter, since these can be toxic for dogs. Peanut butter and raisins might be a safe snack for children, but these should NOT be given to your dog.
- Salt Content. Avoid adding salt to celery for your dog. Your dog’s salt intake should be monitored by a veterinarian, since dogs with heart conditions need a low sodium diet. It is always safest to avoid adding salt to any portion of your dog’s diet.
Though celery can be used as a snack, it should not be a large component of a pet’s diet or be used instead of a balanced canine-specific food. A general recommendation would be to limit treats and snacks to no more than 10% of your pet’s diet.
How Do I Choose the Best Celery for My Dog?
- Choose celery that has stalks that stand upright and are crisp. Avoid those that are mushy or wilted.
- Chop celery up directly before serving. Prepping and storing celery can lead to a loss of nutrients.
- Eat celery within 5-7 days of purchase. This is the best way to preserve nutrients.
- Never feed your dog celery that is discolored, wilted, or has a fetid smell.
The Safest Way to Feed Celery to Dogs
The safest and healthiest way to feed celery to your dog is to offer small pieces of fresh cut or cooked celery. Make sure the celery is washed thoroughly to remove pesticides, fertilizers, and potential contaminants, such as E. coli or listeria. Cooked celery is a healthy option and best when unseasoned and steamed. Avoid excess butter or seasoning, which can cause gastrointestinal distress in some dogs. Steaming celery is the best way to cook celery and preserve the nutritional value of the vegetable.
If your dog shows any sign of illness after eating celery, please call your veterinarian or closest veterinary emergency clinic immediately.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Celery?
Although uncommon, dogs can be allergic to celery, and cooking the vegetable doesn’t remove the protein that causes allergic reaction. In humans, celery allergies can cause severe allergic reactions, which can be fatal. If you notice your pet having an allergic reaction to ingestion of celery or any food, please avoid feeding more and have them evaluated by a veterinarian.
What Are Other Healthy Snacks for Dogs?
Many fruits and vegetables can be healthy for your dog and have many of the same benefits that were previously discussed with celery. Fruits that are healthy snack options for dogs include: apples (not the seeds), bananas, and blueberries. Vegetables that are healthy snack option include: carrots, broccoli, snap peas, corn, tomatoes, and lettuce. As previously mentioned all of these items can be choking hazards if not cut into small pieces or chewed thoroughly. Please use with caution and always supervise snack time.
Kooti W, Daraei N. A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery (Apium graveolens L). J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(4):1029–1034.