Heads of lettuce on a wooden surface

Can Dogs Eat Lettuce? Yes, But…

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When you think of vegetables, lettuce is one of the first that comes to mind. There are many varieties of lettuce to choose from when you’re in the mood for a refreshing treat. Popular types of lettuce include romaine, iceberg, and even butter lettuce. But if your dog is trying to steal your sandwich that’s piled high with lettuce, you might wonder, “Can dogs eat lettuce?”

As omnivores, there is some crossover between what humans and dogs eat. As responsible owners, it falls to us to know what is safe for our pets to ingest. Is lettuce bad for dogs? Let’s find out.

Is It Safe for My Dog to Eat Lettuce?

Yes, dogs can eat lettuce in moderation.

Lettuce is 95% water, so it increases hydration in whoever eats it—that’s true whether a dog or human ingests it.

Aside from being a great source of water, lettuce also offers many health benefits. For example, lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins A and K and also contains vitamin C, iron, and folate traces.

Are There Any Safety Issues with Feeding Lettuce to My Dog?

Lettuce is safe for dogs to eat. However, there are a few caveats.

As with anything, lettuce should be eaten in moderation. Too much lettuce can give your dog diarrhea.

It’s also a good idea to wash the lettuce thoroughly, whether it’s for you or your dog. In the event of any recalls, it’s essential to know where your lettuce originated. Risks of eating unwashed lettuce include E.coli or listeria infection. Rat Lungworm disease is another potential risk that can affect dogs and results from accidentally ingesting the feces of slugs and snails that may be present on unwashed lettuce.

While lettuce is safe for your dog to eat, you should avoid feeding your pup leftover salad. Other ingredients in the salad and dressing could be toxic for your dog to ingest.

How Much Lettuce Can I Feed My Dog?

When you first introduce your dog to lettuce, starting with a small quantity is best. Starting small is recommended because lettuce can cause an upset stomach in dogs who haven’t eaten it before. It can also cause diarrhea due to its water content.

Think of lettuce as a small snack that you can give your dog occasionally.

How to Prepare Lettuce for Dogs

No matter what type of lettuce you choose, it is safe to eat raw or cooked. The important thing is to remember to wash the lettuce thoroughly before serving.

Lettuce is fibrous, which can make it difficult to eat and digest. If you have a smaller dog, you should chop the lettuce into manageable pieces.

If your dog doesn’t like the crunchy texture, you can steam or sauteé it. Steaming lettuce is easy, even if you don’t have a steamer at home. The easiest method is to cover your lettuce in a wet paper towel and microwave it. Microwaving time varies depending on wattage.

Should you opt to sauteé the lettuce, you’ll want to use coconut oil. Coconut oil is considered a healthier option compared to other cooking oils. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and press on the lettuce until it wilts.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

Is lettuce bad for dogs? No, lettuce is safe for dogs to eat in moderation. Take your time to wash the lettuce carefully and prepare it appropriately for your dog. Lettuce is a tasty, healthy treat for you and your dog.

Learn more about what human foods dogs can eat in our posts on whether your dog can eat bread, beets, ice cream, peppers, or plums.

Additionally, you’re likely also interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s health, in addition to having questions about what your dog can and can’t eat. We happen to have a ton of resources on these very topics!

One is our guide which will teach you about adding fiber to a dog’s diet, along with or our guide to choosing the best high fiber dog foods. If you’re looking into treating your dog with upset stomach we have a guide for that as well, and we can even help answer how long does it take for dogs to digest food?. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog feeder.

We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our puppy size calculator and our dog weight chart can help you determine if your dog is the proper weight and size, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts such as our goldendoodle growth chart, great dane growth chart, golden retriever growth chart, chihuahua growth chart, or our labrador growth chart.

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.