Since many of think of our dogs as members of the family, it’s only logical to presume that they would enjoy the foods we enjoy. So during the summer months, when nature supplies us with an abundance of treats in the form of luscious summer fruits, you may be tempted to share these healthy indulgences with the dogs you love.
But is it healthy – and safe – to feed fruit to dogs?
Two practiced veterinarians, Dr. Marty Becker and Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, provide some eye-opening insights into the most popular summer fruits and the pros and cons of feeding them to dogs.
Even the healthiest treats should comprise no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories. The other 90 percent should come from a dog food that’s complete and balanced. That said, let’s talk fruit.
While they may seem harmless, these fruits can cause major damage. “Grapes and raisins cause kidney failure and should be avoided as a treat for your dog,” shares Dr. Lobos. Be sure to check ingredient labels for raisins in baked goods as well like biscuits or cookies.
“Dogs may not be able to see the strawberry’s bright red color, but they sure love the taste,” says Dr. Becker. “Just keep the leaves away from them as they can cause digestive upsets. Strawberries are very low in sugar, despite their sweetness, so you can let your pets indulge in moderation.”
FEEDING SUGGESTION:Start with a small handful – maybe two strawberries sliced up – and watch for any abnormal behavior. According to Dr. Lobos, if all is okay, you can gradually increase the amount.”
“Blueberries are one of nature’s superfoods, packed with antioxidants and vitamin C,” says Dr. Becker. “They’re probably better for us than for our dogs, but if they crave them, your dogs can chow down on these tiny, delectable summer berries. They’re low in calories and sugar, too, so they’re a feel-good treat.”
“Cherries have pits, and they’re just the right size to cause problems for dogs,” warns Dr. Becker. “In addition, pretty much every part of the cherry – the stem, the leaves, the tree, the shrub – contain cyanide and are toxic to dogs.”
“Taking the pits out is the safest way to give cherries to your dog, but it may teach them that they’re an okay treat,” cautions Dr. Lobos, “and if they sneak some that still have their pits, this could have an unhappy ending.”
“If you want to remove a little bit of the ripe cherry flesh and give it to your dog, that shouldn’t do them any harm,” Dr. Becker concedes. “But it seems like a lot of trouble for a very tiny treat. I’d stick with blueberries.”
“They contain vitamin A, which is good for eye, skin and immune health. But, make sure to keep the dog away from the pit,” cautions Dr. Lobos. “It contains cyanide.”
“All fruits with pits, known as stone fruits, are dangerous for dogs because the pit can cause them to choke or obstruct the digestive tract,” says Dr. Becker. “The ripe flesh of the peach is safe, but it’s definitely a summer treat best fed sliced and in moderation, not free-range in the backyard or orchard.”
“Pit the mango to avoid choking and intestinal hazard,” cautions Dr. Lobos. “But after that, it’s a tremendous summertime snack. It’s packed full of vitamin A, which is good for eye, skin and immune system, and B6, which helps with energy and brain function, as well as C and E, which have great antioxidant properties and boost the immune system.”
“If you’re peeling and cutting up mango for yourself, feel free to give a little of the delicious fruit to your dogs,” recommends Dr. Becker. “But this is a great fruit for supervision, not self-service.”
Fruits and berries contain vitamins, fiber and antioxidants and tend to be low in sugar, so when fed properly, they’re healthy for dogs in the same ways they’re healthy for us humans. They’re also comprised largely of water, which makes them refreshing (nevertheless, you should always keep a plentiful supply of clean, fresh water available, especially during warm summer months).
As long as you follow the precautions above, fruits can be a delightful summer treat for your dogs.
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