Can Dogs Have Bananas?
If you grabbed ten people and asked each of them individually to list five fruits, every single one of them would say, “Bananas.” Though most of us don’t grow them ourselves, these soft yellow fruits are available in grocery stores, gas stations, and food carts all over North America pretty much year-round. Whether we eat them on their own, freeze them and blend them into healthy ‘ice cream’, bake them into bread, or slice them over our oatmeal, most of us eat bananas in some form on a daily basis. Bananas are also among our favorite fruits to feed to children, which is why they so often wind up on our kitchen floors.
And we all know what happens once a food hits the kitchen floor— it becomes the dog’s lunch. So the next question is this: is it safe for our dogs to gobble up our toddler’s rejected banana slices? Can you give your dog bananas?
Drumroll, please… YES! Though there are several fruits that can seriously harm your dog’s health, bananas are not among them. Since they are cheap, full of healthy things, and low in unhealthy things, bananas are a great choice for you, your dog, and your kid. In fact, there may be some health benefits to giving your dog the occasional bite of banana.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Bananas
Like most fruits, bananas are rich in health-protecting nutrients. Fruit’s biggest claim to fame, its high Vitamin C content, can go a long way in boosting your dog’s overall health, preventing illness, and possibly even lengthening their lifespan. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful known antioxidants, which are known to reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic, potentially life-threatening illnesses. This is because antioxidants, like Vitamin C, work to destroy free radicals. Free radicals are very reactive molecules that can wreak havoc with body cells, resulting in damage and mutations that can lead to cancer and other illnesses. Fewer free radicals means less cell damage!
Though it makes a powerful anti-cancer, anti-inflammation warrior, Vitamin C is perhaps most known for its ability to ward off the common cold. The Vitamin C in bananas boosts your dog’s immunity, which can lower their risk of coming down with the sniffles during cold and flu season. Eating fruits like bananas may also help your dog recover from such colds more quickly and with a lower incidence of complications like pneumonia. Taking in extra Vitamin C is especially important for dogs who are elderly or physically or emotionally stressed, as their bodies often don’t produce adequate Vitamin C.
If you suspect that your dog is deficient, however, take them to the vet’s office! Fresh fruit, no matter how delicious, is no substitute for veterinary care.
Bananas also contain a fair amount of fiber, which can work wonders on your dog’s digestive health. Ripe bananas can help treat both constipation and diarrhea. Some vets even recommend feeding bananas to dogs with stomach or intestinal inflammation, because the enzymes found in the ripened flesh can help soothe irritation. Fiber also lowers your dog’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
This versatile fruit is renowned for its potassium content, which can benefit your dog’s health in the same way that it benefits your own: by helping to compensate for a too-high sodium intake. Potassium helps lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. However, it’s important to note that too much potassium may have the opposite effect—there is some evidence that a diet that includes excessive amounts of potassium may increase the risk of heart problems in our canine companions. Other fruits that are safe and may provide numerous health benefits for your pooch are apples, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, mangoes, pears, tangerines, oranges, honeydew, kiwi and many more!
Things to Keep in Mind
The risk of potassium overdose is just one reason to practice moderation. While most dogs can eat a quarter to a half of a banana a couple times a week, going beyond that can cause health problems. The most likely downside of feeding your dog too many bananas is digestive distress: the high fiber and starch content can build up in your dog’s intestines, causing constipation. Dogs with particularly sensitive stomachs may also experience indigestion or diarrhea. If your dog experiences discomfort after eating bananas, it’s probably best to talk to a veterinarian and look for a different fruit.
Also avoid feeding your dog any part of the banana peel. The peel is a choking hazard, but it is also very difficult to digest, which may result in a life-threatening blockage. Stay safe by peeling bananas before giving them to your dog!
Some other fruits that are OK to share with your dog include:
All in all, bananas are an excellent, whole food treat for your furry friend. They are high in fiber, potassium, and energy-boosting carbohydrates, low in salt and fat, and full of the vitamins that can fight cancer, boost your dog’s resistance to colds, and reduce painful inflammation. You should feel free to give your dog small amounts of banana regularly, but make sure you don’t overdo it, as too many bananas can cause digestive problems.
Dog Eating Banana Video: