Just like humans, dogs need a considerable level of fruits in their diets to remain healthy and stay in shape. Not only are they packed with important nutrients, they also make for tasty treats. Truth is, even if a lot of dog brands advertise the use of organic fruit ingredients in their dog treats, nothing really compares feeding your furry companion with a slice of fresh or frozen fruit. Apart from strengthening its teeth, coat, bones and eyesight, a decent serving of fruit daily is surely going to improve its overall health and vitality.
Here are the typical vitamins and minerals in fruits and how they can help your dog’s wellbeing:
Vitamin C- Aids your dog’s immune system.
Dietary fiber- Helps the digestive tract and reduces the likelihood of constipation.
Biotin- This aids the brain development of your dog; essential as they age.
Tannins- Help to maintain a healthy urinary tract.
Vitamin A- Contribute to a healthy eyesight.
Bananas – Dogs could certainly benefit from the vitamins and minerals found in bananas. Not only is it low in sodium and cholesterol, it is also a good source of potassium, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, biotin, and copper. Bananas, however, should only be fed to dogs in moderation. As it has high sugar levels, it is best given as a treat, instead of making it as a staple in their everyday diets.
Apples – Just like in humans, an apple a day keeps the veterinarian away. It is an excellent fruit choice for your dog, as not only can it be sliced up into bite-sized treats for training, it is also packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Additionally, the acidity of apples aids in your dog’s dental health, as it helps clean residue and build-up on your canine companion’s teeth. Make sure not to give the seeds or the core to your dog, as they contain arsenic and can be a choking hazard.
Watermelon – Made of up of 92% water, watermelon is a good addition to your dog’s everyday diet. Not only is it a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, potassium, and magnesium, it also prevents dehydration and improves your dog’s coat and skin. Here’s an excellent summer treat idea: You can put watermelon cubes in ice trays and freeze them. Dogs love them, especially on scorching hot days!
Cantaloupes – As some dogs can develop eye problems as they age, feeding them with cantaloupes can greatly help improve their eyesight. They are also loaded with Vitamin A and beta carotene which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Cut them up in one-inch wedges for the perfect-sized treats.
Blueberries – They contain tannins which help fight urinary tract infections, which some dogs are very prone to. It also has high levels of resveratrol, which helps prevent cancer and heart disease. If blueberries are not in season, you can easily replace them with cranberries to help balance the acid-base in your dog’s body.
Even if avocados are considered a superfood for humans, they’re a big no-no for canines, regardless of the breed. Grapes and raisins also pose a health problem among dogs, as they contain an unknown toxin that can cause kidney damage and failure in canines.
Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and grapefruits can trigger stomach problems among dogs, while figs can cause skin inflammations and allergic reactions in some dogs.
While coconut is generally safe for canines, it contains triglycerides that may cause bloating and discomfort.
If you want to include fruit in your dog’s diet, make sure to talk to your veterinarian about any treats you feed your dog, including fruit.
In general, the most effective way to introduce fruit to your dog’s diet is when he or she is still young and a puppy. He may be more likely to try it and like it, as opposed to doing it when he’s older and when his palate is already accustomed to the taste of commercial dog food and treats. Yet, this does not mean that it’s impossible to teach your dog to like the taste of fruit when it’s older. It would just take a longer adjustment period.
Yet, as with any food product, make sure to observe if your dog if it exhibits any allergies or tolerances with the addition of fruit in its diet. If your pet begins to show digestive or behavioral changes, eliminate it from your dog’s diet completely. It is not worth forcing fruit on your dog’s diet, especially if it ends up throwing up after its consumption or developing an itch.
Regardless of their age, it is always best to give your dog with small portions of fruit only. Even if most fruits are healthy and packed with vitamins and minerals, fruits are not sugar-free and calorie-free. Plus, you don’t know if your dog will have an allergic or other adverse reaction, such as gas or an upset stomach. You’re better off safe than sorry when it comes to introducing different types of food in your dog’s diet.
Also, as some dogs may not like the taste of raw fruit, you can either mash it into their food or add it as an ingredient when you make homemade dog treats. You can also use fruit juice, but make sure it is 100% fruit juice and not just added sugars. Plus, as you never know what chemicals or parasites are present in the fruit, make sure to clean all fruits thoroughly before feeding them to your dog. Whatever you do, avoid feeding your dog with seeds or pits. Although not all seeds are known to cause problems, it is better to err on the safe side always. Apple seed, apricot pits, plum pits, peach pits, cherry pits and avocado pits are known to be toxic for canines.
In brief, fresh and frozen fruits will always trump commercially-made high-fat packaged treats. Over the long term, your pet’s health and immune system will be stronger, plus you may even see your pet’s weight become more manageable when complemented with daily exercise.