Sauerkraut has a very high number of benefits for both pets and people, but it is also very rich in salt, which can be dangerous when given to dogs in excess.
In today’s article, we’re looking at what benefits your dog can get if you give them some sauerkraut once in a while, how much is safe, and whether there are any risks involved. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian before adding this food to your dog’s diet.
Benefits for Dogs
Sauerkraut is one of the richest foods in probiotics that have ever been invented. If your dog is constipated or suffering from chronic digestive issues, adding sauerkraut to their diet can make a difference. Not only are probiotics great for digestion, but they also aid the immune system.
Sauerkraut contains vitamin A, as well as carotene. These two have been linked to keeping skin health in check.
Cabbage is particularly rich in vitamin C, and it’s the vegetable that sauerkraut is made of. Vitamin C is also essential when it comes to keeping a pet’s immune system in perfect shape.
Besides the vitamins and probiotics that it contains, sauerkraut is also rich in calcium, phosphorus, as well as potassium. This means that feeding some to your dog can help their bone health.
How Much to Feed
The problem with sauerkraut is that it is salty and salt is an essential ingredient, used as a conservative. This is done to prevent the fermentation of bad bacteria. Unfortunately, giving your dog salty foods is never a good idea, and in time, it can have a negative impact on their cardiovascular (heart and blood flow) health.
For this reason, as much as your dog might love sauerkraut, you have to give it to your pet only in moderation. Treats should make up to 10% of a dog’s diet, but sauerkraut is so rich in salt that it needs to be given less than that.
Most vets agree that a 33-pound dog should have up to 200mg of sodium per day. If you are having second thoughts about giving your dog sauerkraut, it’s always better to have a talk with your vet first.
Both homemade and canned sauerkraut is prone to developing bacterial colonies, despite the amount of salt it contains.
This is a risk that you have to consider, especially if you give your dog store-bought sauerkraut. There can always be manufacturing defects that lead to the food being less safe. Small amounts are usually safer, so if you give it as a treat, your dog is less exposed to developing an infection.
The salt content of sauerkraut is alarming, as this ingredient is used to prevent microbial growth. Your dog already gets enough salt from the kibble, pouches, or cans you give them, so adding too much can be dangerous.
Preparing the Food
Sauerkraut is available in many stores across the country, so if you can’t be bothered with preparing it at home, you can simply purchase it.
As for making sauerkraut yourself, it’s actually very easy. You simply shred the cabbage, add several tablespoons of salt to it, and rub it together as vigorously as possible until it leaves out a juice.
Once enough juice has been produced, you can add the shredded cabbage into a jar, pour the juice, partially close the lid so as to stimulate fermentation, and then wait for one week. The cabbage will ferment faster if the jar is kept in a warm place.
Homemade sauerkraut has a considerable advantage, and it consists of you knowing exactly what you put in it and how much salt you’ve added. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t add very low amounts, though, as it is a very good conservative.
If you are the lucky owner of a dog that loves sauerkraut in its original form, you can simply feed it to them directly. You can use it as a reward during training or add it to your dog’s kibble bowl.
Other dogs are less keen on eating vegetables, and since sauerkraut has a rather strong fermentative smell, they might be less inclined to eat it as it is. In this case, you can cook it or soak it in apple juice to get rid of the smell.
You can also use plain water if you have no apple juice, although the latter is a good idea for dogs that have a sweet tooth.
Dogs are allowed to eat sauerkraut in moderation. It should be given to them as a treat as it contains potentially dangerous quantities of salt.
Usually, one tablespoon of sauerkraut per week is enough for improving your dog’s gut health and immune system, and it’s also safe enough regardless of your dog’s weight.