Can I Give My Dog Tangerines?
It seems that every time we talk to a dietitian, they tell us we should be eating more fruits and vegetables—few of us ever hear our doctors telling us to eat “less fruit.” Your dog’s veterinarian, however, may suggest that you restrict your dog’s fruit intake or eliminate certain fruits from their diet altogether! Some of the fruits that we consider to be among the healthiest snack options available can be poisonous or harmful for our dogs, so we have learned to practice caution. Once most puppy parents learn that grapes are toxic to their canine companions, they are anxious about reaching into the fruit bowl for their dogs’ treats.
Tangerines, which are tinier, more convenient cousins of oranges, are among our favorite fruits. They are delicious, nutritious, and easy to share—they come in little bite-sized segments that seem to ask to be tossed to your begging buddy. But is this a good idea? Can dogs have tangerines?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat tangerines in moderation. Like oranges, tangerines are not considered at all toxic to canines. Even if your dog gobbles up an excess of tangerines one winter afternoon, there should not be any serious health effects. That doesn’t mean that you should let your dog gorge themselves on tangerines regularly, of course! Tangerines will not poison your dog, but eating too many of them in the long term can cause health problems. Use tangerine segments as treats or supplements.
Though it is true that your dog does not need to eat citrus in order to survive, there are several potential benefits to incorporating this brightly colored fruit into their diet. Healthy dogs will get the biggest benefit from these fruits if they are used as dietary supplements—or, even better, in place of highly processed corn-based dog treats. If you are looking for positive reinforcement to use during training, healthy fruits like tangerines are an excellent substitute for fattening store-bought treats.
Like oranges, tangerines are probably most known for their Vitamin C content. Our furry friends can create all of the Vitamin C that they need to survive, but the extra amount present in most fruits may benefit their health in the long term. This is especially true for dogs who are extremely physically active, undergoing chronic stress, or recovering from illness or injury—these dogs often struggle to synthesize enough Vitamin C.
Sick and stressed dogs often burn through more Vitamin C than they can produce, which can result in mild to severe deficiencies. Vitamin-rich fruits are an excellent way to boost your dog’s intake. That said, if you think that your dog has developed at Vitamin C deficiency, consult a veterinarian before altering their diet. Your dog may be struggling with an underlying condition, or, if their levels have dropped low enough, they may require more serious supplementation. A tangerine is not a substitute for a high-dose Vitamin C supplement!
Tangerines may be beneficial to healthy dogs, too. Citrus fruits are full of vitamins and antioxidants that can protect against disease by boosting immunity and destroying free radicals. Vitamin C is thought to act as a performance booster for white blood cells, which are then better able to destroy harmful pathogens and prevent infection. Citrus fruits may improve your dog’s ability to destroy everything from cancer cells to viruses.
Because they destroy free radicals, the antioxidants in citrus have powerful protective effects. Free radicals are completely natural—our dog’s bodies produce them as waste products during most metabolic processes—but they are also quite dangerous. Free radicals are very reactive, which means that they can damage many of the cells they bump into. Sometimes this damage doesn’t have any negative consequences. Other times, however, the cell damage leads to mutations that then become cancer or other illnesses.
Things to Consider
Tangerines will not cure any diseases your dog already has, but they can help support their overall health, which will reduce their risk of ever developing many common chronic illnesses. Thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, they may even help to alleviate symptoms of existing illnesses by reducing inflammation and pain.
Though these fruits are healthy, they should be fed to dogs in moderation. Tangerines and other citrus fruits may result in indigestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea. If your dog has an unusually sensitive stomach, it may be better to avoid citrus.
In conclusion, tangerines make great treats for dogs. They are nontoxic and high in vitamins and antioxidants. Regularly eating small amounts of tangerines may boost immunity and reduce the risk of disease, but they can also cause digestive distress in some dogs. Dogs who are currently dealing with stomach troubles probably should not eat any citrus fruits. In addition, too many tangerines may cause your dog to gain weight—remember, even healthy foods have calories!