One healthy way to supplement your dog's meals and treats is with fruit. Many fruits are safe for dogs to eat and have health benefits, aside from your dog considering them delicious!
List of Safe Fruits
These fruits are good snacks and treats for your dog to consume.
Apples are a fantastic treat for dogs, who enjoy the crunchy texture. This fruit choice is rich in fiber, calcium and vitamin C and A. You can chop them up and use them as a training treat, or mixed in your dog's kibble, or give to them cut in slices. In order to safely feed apples, cut out the core and any seeds and do not give these to your dog to eat. The seeds are toxic and apple cores can get caught in your dog's esophagus. Other ways to feed apples include:
- Put the apple slices in a dehydrator to make a snack for your dogs.
- Puree them to make applesauce, or buy natural unsweetened applesauce as a topper for your dog's kibble
Bananas provide all the same benefits for humans to dogs, including potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C. Like other fruits, bananas should be given to dogs in small amounts to prevent stomach upset and diarrhea. When feeding bananas:
- Discard the peel as can cause an obstruction in your dog's stomach.
- You can chop the bananas into small slices and give as a treat, or mash some up and mix it with your dog's kibble.
- Freeze the banana and then chop it, or chop and then freeze. These make great frozen treats on a hot summer's day.
- Mashed up bananas are a good stuffer for toys like Kongs, and you can mix it with some non-fat plain yogurt and some applesauce for a healthy, low-fat option.
- Bananas are also great for feeding your dog pills. Just slice them and press the pill or capsule into the slice.
Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber. Their small size also makes them a healthy and easy-to-use training treat. Adding some blueberries and other antioxidant-rich foods to a senior dog's diet can help minimize the effects of cognitive decline.
Cantaloupe can be fed to dogs, but this is one fruit you should keep to small quantities because of its high sugar content. Small amounts of cantaloupe also provide your dog with fiber, antioxidants, potassium and vitamins A, B6 and C. Some tips to keep in mind when feeding cantaloupe are:
- Because of its full of water, freeze a small slice or some chunks and feed them to your dog on a hot day to keep him hydrated.
- Like blueberries, the antioxidants in cantaloupe can make it an excellent addition to a senior dog's diet.
- Its high fiber content also makes it helpful for a dog that may be dealing with constipation.
- Do not feed the rind to your dog as this can be a choking or stomach obstruction hazard.
You'll notice that many high quality dog foods and treats will contain cranberries as an ingredient. They are safe to feed dogs although they can pose some problems. They also may not be favored by your dogs in their natural form since they can be quite tart. The main concern about cranberries, aside from needing to feed in small amounts, is that in their dried or juice form, they can be mixed often with items that are toxic, such as raisins and grapes. Cranberry sauce is also safe for dogs but depending on how it's prepared, may be full of too much sugar and possibly alcohol which can be poisonous.
This delicious fuzzy green fruit can be a healthy treat for your dogs as it's full of vitamin C and potassium. The concern with feeding kiwi is that you should always be sure to chop it up or slice it and provide in small amounts. Never give a whole kiwi to a dog as they can easily try to swallow it whole which can be dangerous. The skin on a kiwi can also lead to diarrhea so you should remove it before feeding.
Mangoes, as long as they are peeled and pitted, can be safe for dogs fed in small amounts. Mangoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C and E and fiber so they can be a good option for a dog that has constipation. Test out small amounts however to make sure feeding too much doesn't lead to the opposite problem with diarrhea. Mango pits should be thrown away to make sure your dog does not get a hold of them as they contain toxic cyanide.
Oranges can be fed to your dog but keep the amounts small as this is a fruit with a lot of natural sugar content. Just as with humans, oranges are a great source of vitamin C and potassium for your dog. Peeling an orange and giving your dog one to two pieces should be enough for your dog to enjoy without getting an upset tummy.
- Do not give your dog the orange peels as these can be a stomach blockage hazard.
- Likewise, make sure you remove any seeds before you feed sections of an orange to your dog.
- Be aware too that the stems and leaves of oranges, and other citrus, can irritate a dog's central nervous system.
Fresh peaches are fine to feed to your dog but do not feed canned or preserved peaches because they are loaded with sugar and other chemicals that are bad for your dog's stomach. You must also be sure to remove and throw out the peach pit as they contain amygdalin, an ingredient related to cyanide. Like other pitted fruits, the pit of a peach can also be a serious choking hazard.
Pears are full of vitamin A and C as well as healthy fiber. Dogs also enjoy the sweet taste and firm texture of this fruit. Before feeding pears, you should remove the seeds as they are toxic and it's safest to throw out the core as well. Pears should be chopped up and fed in small amounts to dogs. Avoid feeding canned pears to your dog as these will likely have too much sugar in them for your dog's digestive system.
Pineapple, with some initial prep work on your part, can be safely fed to dogs. You will need to make sure you remove all the skin, outer leaves and the core in the middle. Pineapple is full of vitamin B6 and C and important nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and several more. It also is very high in sugar though which makes this one fruit you will need to give to your dog in very small amounts to make sure you don't cause diarrhea or other digestive issues. Like other fruits that are canned, you should only feed raw pineapple to your dog as canned options are not a healthy option.
Raspberries are another antioxidant-rich fruit that is a terrific choice for senior dogs, as well as dogs of any age. They are also full of vitamins B-complex, C and K, and manganese and fiber. They also have a lower sugar content than other fruits which makes them safer for dogs with diabetes. However, the downside to raspberries is that they contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. You can still feed your dog raspberries in small quantities safely, but as with any fruit make sure you monitor your dog's health after feeding to look for signs of diarrhea or other stomach concerns.
Fresh strawberries are completely safe for dogs although canned or prepared strawberries in syrup are not. Strawberries are a source of fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants so they're definitely another to add to your list for your senior dog. To feed your dog strawberries, make sure you remove the stems and wash them first. Some fun ways to feed them include:
- Cutting or chopping them up to add to their kibble
- Mashing them by hand or in a blender and mixing in a dog's food. You can even mix in some other soft, safe fruits as well as some natural applesauce to your mixture.
- Slicing them and freezing and giving to your dogs as a treat on a hot day
This much-loved summer treat can be enjoyed at a picnic or BBQ by both you and your dog. However, you will need to remove the seeds and rind from the watermelon first as these can cause problems for your dog's stomach. Watermelon is a great summer treat for dogs because of its high water content so you can keep your dog hydrated and happy at the same time. Watermelon is also full of potassium and vitamins A, B6 and C.
How to Feed Your Dog Fruit
Some veterinarians suggest using a rule of keeping fruit to no more than 10% of your dog's overall meals and treats options each day. Registered veterinary technician Nellie Hatton recommends, "moderation, even if the fruit is considered safe." This will help to prevent diarrhea and general stomach distress. If you have a dog that is overweight or has diabetes, discuss feeding fruit with your veterinarian as some fruits like cantaloupe have too much sugar in them. Always observe your dog after feeding fruit to see if they develop vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
Dehydrating Fruit for Dog Treats
A great way to feed fruit to your dog is by making them into dehydrated dog treats. This keeps them preserved longer and compared to fruit-based treats you can buy at the store, it's much cheaper to do it yourself! Plus there will be fewer chemicals and preservatives. Some fruits that do well in a dehydrator include apples, bananas, mangoes, and strawberries.
Hatton recommends fermenting fruit for your dogs, "as they add a good source of natural probiotics." Fermented fruits are also easier to digest and some research has found that they may help dogs with irritable bowel syndrome and cancer.
Fruits Dogs Should Avoid
While there are many fruits that your dog can safely enjoy, there are some you should definitely avoid. They can cause serious stomach problems and may be very toxic.
- Never feed your dog grapes and raisins which are toxic and lead to kidney failure.
- Star fruit can cause dogs to vomit and become lethargic, as well as lead to bloody urine and diarrhea. In some cases it can even cause tremors.
- There are certain fruits where the flesh is safe to eat, such as apricots, cherries and plums, but the pits are dangerous and it's best to avoid feeding them altogether.
Feeding Your Dog Fruit
As long as you keep the amounts small and make sure you're feeding a "safe" fruit, there's no reason you and your dog can't enjoy a delicious and healthy snack together. Whether you feed it raw, fermented, dehydrated or mashed, fruit can be an excellent addition to a dog's diet and provide powerful antioxidants and nutrients.