What Fruit Can Dogs Eat? These Are the Best Choices to Share With Your Pup
Fresh or frozen fruit is great. Lots of varieties have plenty of hydrating water, digestive fiber, natural sugar, vitamins, and minerals. Awesome!
For us human beings who need to mix and match proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients to make sure we're healthy and strong, fruit is very often a slam-dunk choice that beats out other treats we might eat.
Does the same go for dogs? Generally speaking, yes. But ... most dogs who live with us in houses and apartments, on farms and pastures, live a different life than we do, says Lori Prantil, MPS, DVM, who counsels pet owners on nutrition at VCA South Shore Weymouth. Veterinarians, food scientists, and other food producers have tried to figure out exactly what nutritional needs dogs have, and they feed them exactly those nutrients in a can or in a bag. Boom: Complete balanced meal done (theoretically).
"We humans eat variety, and we think that's really important," Prantil says. "We scramble to fill in the gaps. More calcium. More vitamin C. We think it's important to have variety, but then we wind up not getting all our nutrients every day."
If they're healthy and eat recommended amounts of a commercial diet, dogs who eat a balanced diet get all of that nutrition every day.
So, Prantil's short answer as a veterinary nutritionist might be that fruit treats are fabulous, but remember it's just a small part of your dog's balanced diet.
Should Dogs Eat Fruit?
Don't worry. Dogs can eat many fruits, fresh or frozen. Just make sure it's a small portion they can't choke on! It is true that too much digestive fiber in fruit might give dogs a stomach ache, and too much sugar might make them feel queasy (same as you). But fruit is great, because it is typically hydrating and lower in calories, pound for pound, than other treats.
Keep in mind that veterinarians recommend that no more than 10 percent of your dog's daily calories be treats. That includes fruit and anything else that isn't part of that balanced, measured diet you feed from a can, a bag, or maybe home-cooked meals planned with someone like Prantil. If water-filled, fiber-rich fresh fruit makes its way into your dog's 10 percent or less treat budget, all the better.
Particular dogs' individual health issues may require a veterinarian like Prantil to watch protein (cutting back for some medical conditions, adding for others), phosphorus and, yes, sugar. And fruit has a lot of sugar.
Dogs with diabetes mellitus, an inability to regulate blood sugar, might need to watch their sugary fruit intake. But sugar is often not the issue, Prantil says. It's usually too many calories, too much fat, or too much sodium from too many dog treats or human scraps.
Fruit that Dogs Can Eat
This is not an exhaustive list, because there are more fruit species than would fit here, but some examples of healthy fruits for dogs include:
- Apples, but in very small pieces to avoid choking and not with skin or seeds (which contain a tiny amount of cyanide)
- Bananas (peeled)
- Cranberries, but not mixed with raisins (which are toxic)
- Mangoes (in small pieces minus the skin and pit)
- Oranges, but only the fruit minus the seeds, the peel, the stem, and any particularly thick pith (the white stuff)
- Pineapple, but just that fruity part you eat (no rind to avoid a choking hazard!)
- Raspberries, although some dogs won't dig the taste
- Strawberries, but especially high in sugar, so only in moderation
- Tangerines, which are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and beta-carotene. No stem, skin, or seeds, please!
- Watermelon (but remove the seeds and rind)
Fruit that Dogs Should Not Eat
Some fruits should be off-limits to dogs, as they can cause some serious health issues. These include:
- Avocado, which isn't a scary ingredient to see in dog food or a commercial dog treat, but is high in fat and has a toxic chemical in its pit and skin
- Cherry, apricot, and peach pits, which contain a small amount of cyanide and can cause sickness or death if chewed up and digested
- Grapes and raisins, always highly toxic, even in small amounts
This quest for the right diet and the right treats for your dog is not about strict regimens, unless you're working with a veterinary nutritionist trying to help your dog with a serious medical issue. Even for Prantil in those situations, it's about compromise, she says.
"Some people say their dog loves kale," Prantil says. "Others say fruit. Others say packaged dog treats. There are strong opinions about the main diet, but with treats, people are all over the place."
So make sure that your fruit picks are non-toxic (see above and check with your veterinarian) and that they agree with your dog's belly (you'll know soon enough). Then relax and enjoy some one-on-one time out there with a few pieces of Mother Nature's sugary reward, just you and your dog.