by Janice Jones |Last Updated 07-06-2022
Here's the Answer
Feeding fruits is a great way to supplement and treat without adding too many calories.
However, what fruits should you be feeding and in what kind of quantities?
Are there any that you shouldn’t feed?
Don't shy away from any of these fruits just because someone told you that you shouldn't feed table scraps or that dogs don't need anything but meat. Yes, it is true, dogs do need meat and the bulk of their diet should be meat. But even the ancestral diet of dogs included more than pure meat and fish.
Dogs are scavengers and considered to be carnivores, but when our dog's ancient ancestors foraged and found food, they never stopped at eating just the flesh. Intestinal contents were consumed along with the muscle meat and that is where the notion that dogs can eat fruits came into play.
Does your dog need this extra nutrition? Assuming you are providing a high quality food with an abundance of quality protein, does your dog really need fruit?
That may depend on the type of food you are serving. A high quality food will provide all the needed vitamins and minerals in the correct quantities.
A dog is more of a carnivore and as such won't require much in the way of plant based nutrition. By that, I mean that they are not pure carnivores but are not omnivores or herbivores either.
To understand the nutritional needs of the dog, you need to look back into their history. Dogs have descended from the early ancestors of wolves. They survived by being scavengers. Even wild canines will eat the entire carcass of an herbivore including the stomach contents which includes plant material. Wild dogs, wolves and dingoes will also scavenge for fruits and vegetables.
Fruits provide proteins, fats, carbohydrates, phytonutrients and fiber for a dog just as vegetables, but as nutritious as that sounds, dogs are not herbivores and as such do not do well on an all vegetable diet. So, no need to share your smoothie with your dog.
With that said, however, there is good reason to give some vegetable/ plant based foods.
Julia Henriques, from Dog's Naturally Magazine, writes about the need for vegetables as aids in treatment of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, kidney, liver, IBD, cancer and arthritis.
When training for the first time, training treats are often used as a motivator and instead of buying cheap, ready made treats, tiny bits of apples can be used instead of manufactured treats that are questionable in quality and safety.
Let's face it people who are very concerned about their dog's nutrition may forget to look on the labels of pet treats. Many treats come from questionable sources, contain questionable ingredients, produced in questionable countries and may have no nutritional value at all.
There is such a debate nowadays about the use of plant material including fruits and vegetables in a dog diet. Most of this debate stems from long standing views from those who offer a raw diet to their dogs.
The raw diet folks can be loosely divided into two camps, those that believe that fruits and vegetables (e.g. carbohydrates) have a place in the canine diet and those that don't. You've no doubt heard of the "BARF" and the "Prey Model" diets. BARF feeders believe fruits and vegetables should be part of the die, whereas "Prey Model" feeders advocate for a meat only diet.
To answer the original question, both the National Research Council and the Association of American Feed Control Officials suggest the answer is NO
The average pet owner will probably agree with me on this one. Why feed fruits? Because my dog loves them.
It is hard to argue with this. As dog lovers we love to indulge our dogs in things that they find pleasurable. A back rub, a car ride, a bit of the apple we're eating...
OK, so this is probably the number one reason why dog owners will share their plate of blueberries or melon with the four legged companion, but is there any other reason?
There are quite a few fruits that dogs can eat, but not all. Steer clear of seeds and pits as they many contain toxins.
We’ve put together a list of good and bad fruits and vegetables for dogs.
You’ll also find the calorie content of these foods and a way to decide how to incorporate them into your fur friend’s daily diet.
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list of fruits for dogs, just a list of the ones that provide the best nutritional bang for your buck.
You should be fairly safe in experimenting with new fruits for your little dog as long as you make sure you steer clear of those foods toxic to dogs.
As a general rule, fruits contain more calories than vegetables. Most dogs need about 25 to 30 calories per pound per day to maintain their weight. Check on your dog's food label to determine how much this works out to.
A ten pound dog will need 250 to 300 calories per day to maintain their weight. If your food contains 300 Kcal per cup, then feeding one cup per day served over several meals is appropriate. If you intend to add treats and supplements, you will need to adjust their food accordingly.
Fruits do contain a decent amount of calories, however when compared to store-bought treats, they look really good.
Beggin Stips- 40 calories per serving
Chew-eez Rolls small/medium-171 calories per serving
You’ll find that apples provide a good source of vitamin A and C, which is good for overall health. Many varieties contain antioxidants, and organically grown apples contain at least 1/3 more antioxidants than regular apples.
The main ingredient in apples is pectin, a fiber that creates short chain fatty acids. These are responsible for removing toxins in the intestinal tract, improving the muscles surrounding the intestines and aid in removing bad bacteria.
The flesh and peel of the apple is great for your dog, but don’t just toss him a whole apple. Do not allow your dog to eat the core including the seeds. So slice up an apple for you and offer a few tidbits to your dog.
You might even notice an improvement in your dog’s breath.
As a side note, Vitamin C is not considered essential because the dog, like many other mammals can manufacture their own Vitamin C.
Bananas are a great pick-me-up- fruit, full of natural sugar that converts readily into energy. Many dogs love the taste of banana. They have many essential amino acids, potassium, and other minerals.
Bananas also contain vitamin C and B6, which helps improve heart health and maintain blood pressure. It is also an easy treat to share with your dog.
Blackberries have traditionally been a great summer time treat for many people and for those who love to munch on a few wonder if they can share with their favorite canine.
The answer is yes and two to three blackberries make a great sized treat. They contain a good source of antioxidants (anthocyanins), polyphenols, tannin, fiber, manganese, folate, and omega-3. They are also high in vitamins C, K, A and E.
If you thought blueberries were only good for people, think again. They contain high levels of resveratrol, a chemical that contains anti-cancer and heart-disease fighting capabilities.
They are naturally low in calories and as you eat a handful, why not toss a couple to your dog. They are the perfect size to use for training purposes, and as a bonus, the tannins found in blueberries can also help prevent urinary tract infections.
Cantaloupe contains Vitamin A and beta carotene that helps with your dog’s vision, reduces cell damage and can ward off the risk of cancer.
Cantaloup is also a good source of Vitamin B-6 and C, fiber, folate, niacin, and potassium.
It is usually tolerated well in dogs. Do not serve seeds to dogs.
Cranberries have a way of lowering the pH of urine making it more acidic which is something that can help fight urinary tract infections in both people and dogs. Veterinarians will often recommend a supplement for dogs who have had bladder stones removed and the supplement contains cranberries.
However, beyond their capacity to fight urinary tract infections, they also contain antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins A, B1, B2, and C.
Canned cranberries whether whole or jelled are higher in calories, so don’t go overboard. Cook fresh cranberries slightly for dogs. Some dogs love the taste, and others turn up their noses.
Kiwi fruit offers a s source of fiber, potassium and are high in vitamin C. A good treat size would be a slice or one/half slice of kiwi. Not all dogs like the taste but for those that do, this is a safe fruit that can be share with your pal.
Mango is a great source of Vitamin A, B6, C and E and is safe for dogs with a few precautions. Never feed the pit of the mango as it can be toxic. Peel and serve only the fleshy part of the fruit. Go very easy on mango as they contain quite a large quantity of sugar. Dogs love the taste but the added sugar does not help when it comes to dental disease.
Who would have thought that pears may be a perfect fruit for your dog? They contain pectin that helps strengthen the intestinal tract. Pears also contain potassium that helps maintain heart and muscle strength and carbohydrate metabolism.
If your dog has bouts of constipation or irregularity, the fiber contained in pears may help. Fiber promotes colon health by removing bile salts that have the added benefit of reducing cholesterol levels.
Pears are also rich in vitamin C that can help repair damage from free radicals, promotes immune system health and even stimulates vitamin E if it has been deactivated by free radicals. Remove the core and seeds before serving to your dog.
Pineapples are a tasty treat for both people and dogs and can be purchased fresh, frozen or in cans. They contain Vitamin B1, B6, and C as well as copper, folate, pantothenic acid and fiber.
Vitamin C is the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant, protecting against free-radicals. Pineapple contains a complex mixture of substances, bromelain that has been found to be useful for a variety of health benefits including improved digestion and reduction of inflammation.
Pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin pie variety) Provides a rich source of fiber, which is important to digestive health. It also contains vitamin A and anti-oxidants.
So if your dog is suffering from constipation or diarrhea, heap on a spoonful of canned pumpkin to his regular diet. Pumpkin also promotes overall cardiovascular health. Dogs should not eat the seeds.
Raspberries provide a good source of fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, K and the B vitamins. They also contain antioxidants, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium. They provide some anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Another plus for raspberries is that they are lower in sugar than some fruits. Some dogs won't like the taste but if you add raspberries to plain yogurt and a bit of honey, your' dog may love them. Turn a raspberry - yogurt treat into a popsicle by placing a couple of teaspoons of the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze for a special summer time treat.
Warning: Raspberries contain xylitol which can be dangerous to dogs in higher quantities. Two or three raspberries should be a safe amount to serve as a treat. Xylitol is the chemical found in common human toothpastes, mouthwashes, chewing gum and breath mints.
Who can resist this tasty summer treat and if your dog is salivating in front of you, don’t feel guilty about offering him a tidbit? There is vitamin A, B-6 and C as well as thiamin and lycopene.
A bonus to watermelon is it is high water content. It is made up of 92% water. If you are worried, you are your dog is not getting enough water, toss a square of watermelon his way.
Remove any seeds before serving to your dog.
This list includes fruits and vegetables that you should not give to your dog. A more comprehensive list of foods toxic to dogs can be found here.
What Fruits can my dog eat? by Janice A. Jones M.A.