While it is usually a good idea to avoid giving your dog any people foods, most owners like to give their pet the occasional treat. And while moderation is important, the odd bit of human food isn’t a big problem for most dogs.
Many fruits, for example, make great snacks for dogs, as they’re both nutritious and delicious. Most fruits are also full of water, which will help keep your pet hydrated, and some are full of antioxidants that’ll help support your dog’s immune system.
You must be sure to stick to safe fruits, as many foods you eat all the time can be toxic to your pet. This even includes a few common fruits, such as grapes. We’ll try to help you avoid giving your dog anything dangerous below, as we detail some of the fruits that are safe to give your dog as well as some of the ones that are important to avoid.
Although many people think of dogs as carnivores, they’re better described as opportunistic omnivores. And while meat makes up the bulk of the diet of wild canids (including not only feral dogs but wolves, coyotes, and foxes too), most will readily consume fruits when they are available.
The digestive tract of dogs is much different than the digestive tracts of humans. It is relatively short and optimized for digesting proteins, but dogs can digest most fruits too. This doesn’t mean they digest all portions of the fruit, as the fibrous portions of the fruit, as well as any seeds present, will likely pass through your dog’s intestines unchanged. But the energy-rich cells of the fruit will provide calories, vitamins and minerals to your pet.
Be careful when feeding your dog fruits, as even those that are safe for dogs can cause minor health problems if fed in excess. Some of the most common problems excessive fruit consumption can cause include:
It is not only important to provide your dog with fruits that are safe and offered in reasonable quantities, you must also prepare the fruits properly before giving them to your pet.
First, begin by washing the fruit thoroughly. This is important because agricultural products are often coated with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, which may sicken your dog. Additionally, fruits are often contaminated with a variety of viruses, fungi and bacteria, which can also cause health problems for your pet.
Once you’ve washed the fruit thoroughly, cut or tear it into very small, bite-sized pieces. This isn’t always necessary – blueberries, for example, are small enough to offer to your pet as-is – but it is wise to err on the side of caution. If you aren’t certain that the fruit is small enough for your dog to handle, go ahead and cut it into smaller pieces.
Finally, be sure to remove any indigestible parts that remain. This includes things like large seeds, pits, stems, leaves and skin. You want to provide your dog with only the edible, fleshy portion of the fruit.
From this point, you can offer the pieces of fruit to your dog like treats, or you can add it to his food. If you like, you can even place the prepared fruits in a food processor and chop them up until they attain a paste-like consistency. This can actually be a helpful way of encouraging your dog to eat a food he normally refuses.
Many dogs love fruits, and most varieties represent a nutritious and tasty treat for your pet. Just be sure to stick to safe, non-toxic fruits, and prepare them properly before offering them to your pet. As long as you prepare the fruits properly and avoid offering them in excessive quantities, they’ll likely improve your dog’s quality of life.