Okra is the seed-carrying pod of the plant known to science as the Abelmoschus esculentus. Each pod contains a plethora of tiny seeds. The pods are sometimes referred to as lady’s fingers because they are long, tube-like, and slender. The okra plant has its origin in Ethiopia and was brought to America by slaves and settlers.
Despite the delicate nature of its arrival in America, okra is enjoyed by many people all across the nation, especially in the south where it is part of a long and shared tradition.
As always, we are concerned with the question of whether or not dogs can eat this popular vegetable side dish. The short answer to this question is yes. Dogs can indeed enjoy this slightly sweet vegetable treat. It can be mixed with dog food for flavor, fiber, and for nutrition.
As usual, however, there are some things to be aware of when feeding okra to your family pet. It is not natural for them to eat okra or almost any vegetable. Therefore, we need to take a few things into consideration.
Can Dogs Eat Okra? YES!
Next to the vegetables most often compared to okra, it is sweeter and has a slightly more pronounced grassy character. It is also sometimes compared to eggplant. Because it is slightly sweet and more earthy than most comparable veggies, dogs are less likely to be turned off by okra.
So go ahead and let doggo enjoy it, but keep these things in mind when you do.
The whole idea of giving dogs vegetables is pretty new. Unless animals like dogs and cats are sick, they will almost never eat plants. Therefore, we are taking a risk anytime we do this. In fact, it has recently come to light that dogs are quite unable to handle tara, the Southeast Asian root vegetable. It is poison to dogs and cats. But humans can eat it safely.
Therefore, there is a risk in assuming that just because it is safe and wholesome for us, it should be for them as well. Many unfortunate, but well-meaning, pet owners have learned this the hard way after feeding their furry pals taro root.
Watch Out for Pesticides & Preservatives
As it happens, dogs can eat okra safely. But only if it has been thoroughly cleaned. The pesticides and preservatives you’re likely to get from off-the-shelf products and from the produce section are not safe for pets to eat.
For that matter, pesticides and food stabilizers aren’t good for humans either. But our filter organs are more robust than those of dogs. If you get it in the produce section, it’s going to have things like Roundup on it and will need to be washed. If it comes in soup or chili, it will have food stabilizers. These are all things that can threaten the health of your pets.
Making Doggo Like Okra
Your dog is not going to eat okra unless it is mixed with something else that he does like. Again, giving veggies to dogs is a new thing. We have only started doing it after vegetarianism and veganism went mainstream. So, if you’re doing it for ethical reasons, we get it, but you’re going against the dog’s natural nutritional needs.
So, be sure to give it to him mixed with flavors he does like. Otherwise, your dog will just remain hungry, and miss out on the nutrition his body needs.
Okra & a Dog’s Nutritional Needs
There are a number of vegetables that do mix well with the foods dogs tend to like, and okra is one of them. Sauces and savory flavors absorb well into the unique fibrous texture of the okra seed pod, making it relatively easy to work into your dog’s diet.
The following okra nutrient densities are for a serving size of 100 grams.
- Calories: 33
- Fat: 7 mg
- Sodium: 7 mg
- Carbs: 7.5 g
- Fiber: 3.2 g
- Sugar: 1.5 g
- Protein: 1.9 g
Okra is high in calories, making it good for an active canine. The fat content is also high, which is good. The sodium might seem high, but it is natural sodium, which is a vital nutrient for anything with a nervous system.
The carbs are okay, although mixed with the 1.5 grams of sugar seems like a lot. However, they are both natural, so it’s pretty healthy as long as your dog is getting enough exercise. The fiber is also high, which is great for keeping your dog’s digestive tract healthy and clean.
Finally, there are 1.9 grams of protein. That’s high for a vegetable. As you can see, okra is pretty nutritious. Rounding out the nutritional chart, a 100 gram serving of okra also has vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. It’s also great in stew, chili, and soup. So you can share it with your dogs quite happily.