Can Dogs Have Apples?
There are a handful of fruits and vegetables that almost everyone, from teething toddlers to 102-year-old denture-wearing folks, loves. Number one on that list is the humble apple—every apple from super-sweet dessert apples like the Honeycrisp all the way to the tart Granny Smith apples we love to dip in caramel. We often feed these fruits to our kids by the basket full, but what about our beloved pets?
We probably understand that we shouldn’t toss caramel apples or apple pie filling to our dogs, but what about fresh, raw, unsweetened apple slices? Can you give your dog apples? Is there any preparation required in making apples suitable for our canine companions?
Fortunately, that old ‘apple a day’ seems to hold true for Fido, too. Dogs can eat apples! While your dog will not benefit quite as much as we do from eating apples regularly, there are still some potential health benefits. **Remember to never give your dog the whole apple because the seeds are toxic!
The most widely-discussed perk of feeding apples to dogs is the effect it has on their teeth. Brushing your dog’s teeth is one of the worst parts of being a puppy parent—but, while no food will substitute for a good, old-fashioned tooth-scrubbing, apples may help make tooth care a little easier. The fiber that gives apples their stiff crunch can serve as a sort of dental floss, rubbing away bits of plaque and kibble as your dog munches. In addition, apples are high in a substance called malic acid, which can help your dog achieve the pearly white grin of a Hollywood celebrity.
Apples, which are low in fat and calories, yet high in fiber and antioxidants, make an excellent treat for pets of all ages. The low fat and protein content makes them an excellent choice for dogs who suffer from cardiovascular or stomach problems—as well as for senior dogs who may need to consume a lower protein diet due to chronic health issues.
Since apples are not particularly caloric, they are unlikely to result in (or exacerbate existing) weight problems. For dog owners who are trying to help their furry friend slim down, apples make the perfect treat: in addition to the low calorie content, they are packed with fiber, which means they take up more space in Fido’s stomach. With a full belly, your dog can stay fuller, for longer, while eating fewer calories. This makes weight loss painless—you don’t have to feel guilty and your dog doesn’t have to feel deprived!
Fiber can also help with digestive problems, the biggest one being constipation. Dogs who are dealing with a sluggish digestive system and mild constipation may experience relief thanks to the laxative effect of apples. Good digestive health also reduces the risk of digestive cancers.
In addition to fiber, apples are full of antioxidants that can benefit your dog’s health in many ways. These antioxidants can help dogs of all ages fend off all of the most-feared illnesses that tend to develop later in life, like cancers and degenerative diseases. This is because antioxidants help protect body cells from the dangerous free radicals which are thought to cause the cell damage that can result in many different illnesses.
Apples also prevent many diseases by strengthening your dog’s immune system. While no amount of Vitamin C is going to ‘cure’ your dog’s cold, regularly feeding them foods that contain immunity-boosting vitamins and antioxidants can lower their chances of getting sick in the first place. And, when they do get sick, they may be able to fight off the bug more quickly and with fewer complications than dogs who receive less immune support.
Things to Keep in Mind
While these health benefits may sound fantastic, it is important not to overdo it—dogs are omnivores, but they need a different balance of vitamins and minerals than we do, which means that they do not need nearly as much fruit to be healthy. If your dog is not used to eating fruit, ease them into it. Dogs who eat too much fruit can end up with diarrhea.
Keep the serving sizes small and infrequent at first, and if they handle it well, you can slowly increase the amount of fruit you give them over time. Remember that apples are supposed to serve as a supplement in your dog’s diet, not a staple. Eating too much of any food, even a healthy snack like apples, can cause weight gain.
Some other fruits that are OK to share with your dog include:
Apples, given in moderation, have many potential health benefits for your dog, including immune and digestive support, plus teeth cleaning. While the flesh and skin of the apple is perfectly safe, never give your dog whole apples—the seeds are toxic. If you want to share an apple with your canine companion, remove the core (and all seeds) and cut it into bite-sized pieces first. This gets rid of the toxic seeds, prevents choking, and makes it easier to control the serving size.
Dog Eating Apple Video: