Does it seem like every day there’s something new to worry about?

Without a doubt, eating healthy yourself and feeding healthy foods to your pets can bring countless rewards.

But as anyone who lives a health-conscious lifestyle knows, sometimes things can get a little hairy…

For humans, it can be simple things that get complicated:

  • Yay or nay on eggs?
  • Grains or no grains?
  • Wait, butter is good now?

For our dogs, the picture might look something like: 

  • Veggies or no veggies?
  • Are supplements good or not?
  • Is that a “no” on ground bone?

And believe it or not, superfood kale is the latest one to add to the food anxiety …

Really? Kale?

Yes, really. You know how kale (a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables that includes broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) is one of the “it” vegetables of the moment, touted for its powerhouse of vitamins and antioxidants, as well as potential anti-cancer benefits, cardiovascular system support and help for the body’s detox process?

And it’s no stranger to healthy diets for dogs, either.

Well, an article just came out suggesting the possibility that kale, and other cruciferous vegetables, may be “hyperaccumulators” of the toxic heavy metal thallium, and possibly even others.

What?! (Mind you, the research is preliminary and there has been much a heated debate on the topic in the blogosphere since the article ran.)

And there’s also the not-so-new idea that eating too many cruciferous vegetables can lower thyroid levels.

See what I mean about hairy?

We think we have the perfect diet for our pets, then we read something that turns everything upside down. So what are we supposed to do?

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The key is moderation and rotation.

Do the best you can, weigh the risks versus the benefits of what you’re feeding and try not to give yourself an ulcer over the new information.

If you feed a varied diet of clean whole foods, you’re already way ahead of the game.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some highly respected experts had to say about the issue:

Karen Becker circle“Follow your grandma’s advice: everything in moderation! The crucifers are the warrior veggies that knock out cancer; don’t deny your dogs the benefits of the indole-3-carbinol found in these healing foods, but use them in rotation. Buy crucifers grown in organic soil to avoid thallium contamination from environmental pollutants. If dogs have been fed conventionally grown cruciferous vegetables, both cilantro and chlorella can be used to naturally bind and excrete (chelate) thallium from the body.” – Karen Becker DVM


Learn about the detox benefits of chlorella for your dog, here

steve brown circle“Kale is rich in some minerals that when compared with AAFCO, FEDIAF or ancestral standards, are short in many meat-based diets. So the choice often comes down to use moderate amounts of kale and similar vegetables, find other foods that provide the minerals, add mineral supplements or have a diet that may be deficient in some important minerals. Mineral-rich vegetables reduce the number and amount of supplements that we need to add to meet standards.” – Steve Brown, pet nutrition expert


richard patton circle“The facts have always been there, if we saw them or not: Thallium is a renowned and vicious toxin, and kale appears to be an efficient accumulator of thallium. So this current interest in thallium is basically the intersection of two recent trends; our ability to detect smaller and smaller amounts of an element or molecule (rapidly improving lab sophistication) and devout foodies more able to follow extreme diets of their choice. I don’t see that pets are at increased risk from dietary thallium if they are fed prudent diets. All mammals have effective systems for neutralizing the occasional toxin. Unless fed a predominately vegetable diet, that itself was predominantly kale, for several months, I would not worry about thallium.” – Richard Patton PhD

OK, so now that we feel better about the thallium issue, what about the thyroid?

Jean Dodds 150Thyroid expert W Jean Dodds DVM has an easy enough fix:

“Cruciferous vegetables if fed raw have goitrogenic properties and can lower thyroid activity. But, once they are cooked, even lightly steamed, the goitrogenic activity is minimized.”

So, in conclusion: let your dog enjoy some kale or other cruciferous veggies as a healthy addition to his meat-based diet; but don’t overdo it – include some other veggies in the rotation and if your dog is hypothyroid, lightly steam the crucifers first. Bon appetit, Rover.