Can Dogs Have Papaya?
Most of us are happy to munch on staples like apples and bananas, but the real enthusiasm blooms when exotic tropical fruits come into season. Among the most popular tropical fruits is the sweet, soft, beautifully colored papaya. During the summer months, fruit enthusiasts often treat themselves to fresh or dried papaya, which is both delicious and nutritious.
Summer is also a perfect time to treat our pets to canine-friendly fruits. Many pet owners have started using fresh fruit as a healthy, whole food alternative to processed dog treats. The most common choices are apples, bananas, and berries, but what about papaya? Is this exotic delight suitable for your pet? Can you give your dog papaya?
The answer: yes, dogs can eat papaya! Many fruits are safe and healthy for our pets in small quantities, and this tropical treat is no exception. Supplementing your dog’s diet with small amounts of fresh papaya—or using it as a treat—may help boost their Vitamin E, Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidant intake, as well as alleviate common digestive troubles. To keep your pet healthy, practice portion control and avoid giving them papaya peel or seeds.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Papaya
Your dog definitely does not need this summery treat to survive. Papaya is extremely healthy for humans, but some of the nutrients we reap from this food are almost completely lost to our dogs. This includes Vitamin C and beta-carotene, which we use to make Vitamin A. Unlike us, dogs produce their own Vitamin C, which means that they do not need to consume any extra in their diet in order to get by.
Our dogs also have a diminished ability to convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A. While they are able to synthesize some Vitamin A out of bright, carotenoid-rich fruits, they usually can’t convert enough to meet their daily needs. This means that all fruits, including papaya, should be considered supplementary foods rather than a key piece of the doggy diet. A dog who relies on fruit to meet their daily dietary needs will almost certainly wind up suffering from various vitamin deficiencies.
Although fruit should not make up a large portion of your dog’s diet, including small amounts of fresh papaya flesh may offer some health benefits. The two biggest reasons to give your dog papaya are dietary fiber and antioxidants, which can both aid in preventing disease, boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, and perhaps prolonging your dog’s life.
Papaya is a fabulous source of dietary fiber, which is the indigestible part of plant foods. Dietary fiber can be incredibly beneficial for your dog’s digestion—it is a natural, healthy way to prevent and treat indigestion, constipation, bloating, and other digestive problems. Soluble fiber, which absorbs water, an help bring fluid into the intestines, making for softer, easier to pass stools. And, because fiber is indigestible, it adds bulk to stool, which helps speed up the passage of food waste through the digestive tract. This means that your dog will be far more ‘regular.’
Though research in canines is limited, dietary fiber has also been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, and even diabetes. Increasing your dog’s fiber intake may also prove to be an excellent way to help manage their weight. Because papaya is loaded with indigestible dietary fiber, it is far less calorically dense than other low-fiber foods. All that dietary fiber takes up a lot of space, too.
Eating high-volume, high-fiber foods will help your dog fill up their stomach on far fewer calories, allowing them to cut their caloric intake without leaving their stomach empty. Dietary fiber also helps reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes, which can cause your dog to feel hungry shortly after eating. Given that over half of American dogs are overweight or obese, fiber may be a crucial part of maintaining canine health in the modern era.
Things to Consider
Papaya is full of antioxidants, too. Antioxidants protect your dog’s health by destroying potentially dangerous, highly-charged particles called free radicals, which damage the cells that they come into contact with. Sometimes, this damage kills the cell immediately. Sometimes, this damage results in dangerous mutations that are thought to lead to many common canine ailments, including cancer and arthritis. By protecting cells from free radicals, antioxidants may reduce your dog’s risk of chronic or life-threatening disease. Antioxidants are even thought to combat aging, which can help keep your dog feeling young and sharp well into their twilight years.
For pet owners looking for safe, healthy treat options for their beloved canine companions, fresh papaya can be an excellent choice in moderation. Just make sure to avoid giving your dog papaya peel or seeds, which can be harmful. For the best health-boosting results, avoid giving your dog dried or sweetened papaya—these foods are often higher in sugar and calories and lower in antioxidants.