Watercress is one of the oldest known leafy green vegetables to be consumed by humans. Based on that fact, it should come as no surprise that watercress for dogs is also as old as the hills. Especially since it’s been scientifically established that dogs and humans ate exactly the same foods for so many thousands of years prior to the relatively recent invention of commercial dog food.

Fast growing and native to Europe and Asia, this leafy green perennial plant is a member of the brassica family and offers both man and dog some surprising benefits.

Nutrients in watercress

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown watercress to be just about the perfect leafy green for dogs. It gave this wonderfully peppery vegetable a perfect 100% score on its scale of “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.” Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the CDC is the national public health agency of the United States. They know a thing or two about good food!

Based on characteristics such as bioavailability of nutrients and nutrients per calorie, watercress topped the list with a perfect score of 100. And we’re talking about a pretty impressive list here as well. It including Chinese cabbage which scored 91.99 points, Swiss chard which scored 89.27 points, beetroot greens which scored 87.08 points and spinach which scored 86.43 points. That’s a pretty impressive list of leafy green vegetables, and watercress topped them all!

According to the CDC, one hundred grams or 3 cups of chopped watercress offers:

11 calories
2 grams of protein
0 grams of fat
1 gram of carbohydrate
1 gram of fibre
43mg of vitamin C
160mg of vitamin A
25mg of vitamin K

It’s also rich in calcium, manganese and potassium as well.

Benefits of watercress for dogs

Standing head and shoulders above all the other nutrients in watercress are vitamins C and K. Vitamin C does more for dogs thank you might think. It plays a role in your dog’s collagen production, its iron absorption, its immune function, its protein metabolism and its antioxidant defense.

Yes dogs make their own vitamin C, but this ability declines with age and when your best friend’s health is under threat. Besides, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges and lemons, and you know how rich in this important vitamin they are!

Watercress is also rich in vitamin K, recognised for its benefit to bone health and blood clotting.

Along with various plant compounds known as phytochemicals, the antioxidants in watercress can assist help treat health conditions such as cancer, diabetes (by reducing blood sugar) and heart disease. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 85 grams of watercress every day for 8 weeks greatly reduced the likelihood of cancer.

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Feed your dog watercress in moderation

As with anything you feed your dog, moderation should be your watchword with watercress. While watercress for dogs is not toxic, it stands to reason that if you feed too much of it, it could cause digestive distress. That said, the same could be said of anything, and most of the negative information regarding feeding dogs watercress stems from the usual sources. The commercial pet food industry and the veterinary profession, both of whom have a vested interest in putting you off feeding your dog fresh food of any kind.

Much the same negative claims are made about feeding your dog too much of any leafy greens. But as a dog nutritionist who not unnaturally feeds his own dogs fresh food, I have never, ever had a problem when feeding my dogs watercress or any other dark leafy green vegetable.

So I recommend you ignore all the naysayers and try feeding your dog watercress. It’s one of those vegetables for dogs you’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the future. And everything you hear is going to be good!

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.

3 Comments

  1. Samantha Blyth

    Hi, would you add this at the start of cooking or the end?

    Reply
    • Gerald Pepin, The Canine Nutritionist

      I would add it at the end so as to lightly cook it without destroying the nutrients. If for example you are using a slow cooker, add the watercress just before you switch off the cooker. Stir it in and it will cook while lthe slow cooker is cooling down.

      Reply
      • Samantha

        Great thank you.

        Reply

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