Can I Give My Dog Pears?
In time when the Internet is full of adorable kittens, there are entire TV shows dedicated to our favorite furry friends, and gourmet dog food lines store shelves, we are aware now more than ever of the intricacies of canine nutrition. A lot of us use baby carrots as healthy dog treats, we keep our chocolate-covered raisins under lock and key, and we scrutinize dog food ingredient lists the same way we do baby food recipes. By now, most people have heard that some fruits can be healthy for pets.
But what does ‘some fruits’ mean? Specifically: can dogs eat pears? If so, what kind of prep work is involved in making pears suitable for puppies? Should I panic if my toddler passes unwanted pear slices off to our Poodle?
We now have a verdict: dogs absolutely CAN eat pears, and, in fact, there may be some health benefits to giving your pet the occasional sweet treat.
There is a little bit of prep work involved in successfully incorporating this fall favorite into your dog’s diet—so you shouldn’t just throw whole pears at your new puppy—but the potential health benefits are worth it. As a bonus, most dogs love this soft, sweet fruit. And, since it’s easy to chew, it makes a great, healthy treat for older pets who may suffer from mouth pain or worn-down teeth.
Are Pears Good for Dogs?
Pears are good for dogs for a lot of the same reasons pears are good for humans. First off, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber—they are positively packed with the stuff! Research has led some to believe that dietary fiber is a vastly underrated, neglected nutrient when it comes to dog food.
So, what’s the big deal about the fiber in pears? The most noticeable advantage is in the treatment of digestive problems, including both constipation and diarrhea (yes, fiber can help problems on BOTH ends of the spectrum). Fiber absorbs water, which helps move everything through your dog’s colon quickly and comfortably. If there’s too much water in the colon, fiber can soak it up just like a sponge, making things less watery and saving you the trouble of having to hose off your lawn. Dietary fiber has also been shown to reduce the occurrence of digestive cancers.
For dogs who have had a few too many table scraps and packed on the pounds, high fiber foods can serve as low-calorie treats that will help keep them full and satisfied, which can help them lose weight while minimizing their hunger (and your pity!). Since a lot of mass produced dog food and treat brands skimp on the fiber content, pears can be an excellent way to add it to your furry friend’s food pyramid. There is also some thought that an increase in fiber can help ease swelling in anal glands, which reduces discomfort and prevents your dog from compulsively dragging their butt across the floor. Everybody wins.
Pears also contain high amounts of Vitamin A, several B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, which support optimal skin, blood, and brain health in people as well as dogs.
Pears, like many fruits, are heavy in antioxidants, which are just as good for dogs as they are for us. Antioxidants effectively slow the dreaded aging process by battling free radicals floating around in our bodies. This prevents cell damage that can lead to inflammation, diabetes, many cancers, arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
Things to Keep in Mind
While pears boast a whole host of health-boosting properties, there are a few things to be aware of before you start giving them to your dog. Resist the urge to hand your dog a whole pear fresh out of the grocery bag. Feeding your dog a whole pear all at once can cause nausea and stomach aches, and it can be a dangerous choking hazard, but that’s not all—pear seeds (or pits) contain small amounts of cyanide, which is highly toxic. If your dog takes in a significant dose of cyanide, it may result in death within four days of consumption.
The amount of cyanide in pear seeds is pretty minimal, but it is still something pet owners need to be aware of if they plan on feeding this fruit to their dogs. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning often set in within a couple hours of ingestion, and include vomiting, excessive panting or heavy breathing, irregular heartbeat, skin problems, shock, and dilated pupils. A dog who has ingested cyanide will often drool and suffer from muscle spasms, and they may have accidents. As a general rule, if your dog is well potty trained and suddenly starts having accidents, you should take them to the veterinarian.
If you suspect your dog has cyanide poisoning, take them to the vet immediately. Your veterinarian can administer an antidote and put your dog on oxygen if necessary.
…Or, even better: just take a moment to prepare the pear properly!
Most dogs do not like or struggle to chew fruit skins, so the first step to preparing a pear is to remove the skin. After that, cut the pear in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. To prevent choking, cut the skinned, pitted pear into bite-sized cubes. While there are no poisoning risks associated with ‘pear overdose’, it is wise to keep the serving size small and allow your dog to acclimate to eating fruit of any kind, because a sudden increase in fruit consumption can cause diarrhea. Avoid giving your dog canned pears, because they have a lot of added sugars.
Though cyanide poisoning can be scary, pears are one of the healthiest fruits you can give your dog, and they are appropriate for pets of any size, breed or age. They contain many health benefits, including cancer prevention, digestive health support, weight management, and reduced inflammation. To avoid the potential for cyanide poisoning, choking, or diarrhea, simply skin the pear, remove the seeds, and chop it up into little pieces before sharing it with your canine companion.