By The Farmer's Dog | June 3, 2020

While a balanced, fresh diet comes first, there’s usually room—and demand—for some snackable additions to your dog’s day. If you’re going to feed treats, though, it’s best to know exactly what’s in them, which makes single-ingredient, whole foods an appealing option.

So, can dogs eat fruit?

For most dogs, yes, fruits fit the bill. Certain fruits, like bananas, apples, strawberries, and blueberries can provide dogs with some healthy variety to their diet and work as a feel-good treat. Unlike many processed treats, fruits come with benefits. They are full of antioxidant compounds, including Vitamins A and C, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which have been shown to promote health and longevity. Studies have indicated that an antioxidant enriched diet can contribute to brain health in aging dogs. They also provide increased hydration since they’re a good source of water.

As with all treats, be sure not to overdo it—ALL extras should be kept to no more than 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake, otherwise, you risk weight gain and nutritional imbalance. If you’re feeding a fresh, balanced diet, it’s been formulated to provide the exact right amount and proportion of nutrients; feeding too many snacks outside of that diet, even healthy snacks, throws off that balance.

All fruit is higher in sugar than vegetables, so moderation is especially important for your dog’s diet.

Some additional caveats about fruit: Be sure to wash it thoroughly before feeding, avoid stems, pits, and seeds, and be aware that not all varieties are beneficial for dogs—some are actually toxic.

Here’s a list of the good, the bad, and the iffy, and what you should know about feeding these fruits to your dogs.

 

Can dogs eat apples?

Yes!
As they are for humans, apples are a healthy snack for dogs. But instead of a whole apple a day, stick to one or two slices for your canine companion.

Full of vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and dietary fiber, apples are high in nutrition and flavor. Not only will your dog very likely enjoy an apple’s sweet (or tart) taste, but they’ll probably like its crunchiness.

Before feeding your dog some apple, make sure to wash it, remove the core, and any stems and seeds. The core can be a choking hazard and the seeds contain a compound that produces the toxin cyanide when digested. It’s worth noting that the amount of cyanide that your dog would absorb from the seeds in one piece of fruit would be minimal, but it’s best to steer clear of this part of the apple.

Peeling the apple is up to you. However, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s best to peel it in order to remove the extra fiber. The type of apple you give your dog is also up to you, so you can try changing it up for variety. Avoid feeding applesauce because most are high in sugar. Do, however, buy organic apples whenever possible because the non-organic varieties are known for higher levels of pesticide residue.

Can dogs eat bananas?

Yes!
Most households likely have a cluster of bananas somewhere in the kitchen ready for family members to snack on. High in potassium, magnesium, vitamins B6 and C, and dietary fiber, bananas can provide all members of the family—including dogs—with a healthy boost. However, bananas are also high in sugar and starch, so feed in moderation. While the banana peel isn’t technically toxic to dogs, don’t let your dog eat the peel because ingesting it may lead to vomiting or even intestinal blockage.

Doled out judiciously, bananas can provide a sweet little fiber-packed treat that may help if your dog is having mild digestive issues. There are some fun ways to feed the banana itself to your dog. Try simply freezing the banana whole, peeling and then slicing it into bite-sized bits. You can also mash it up and mix it into your dog’s meal for a little variety, or place some peeled banana into a rubber toy, freeze the whole thing and then give it to your dog for a joyful treat-toy experience. However you feed the peeled banana, make sure you start with a small amount first and check for any digestive issues, and feed it only in moderation after that.

A whole banana is about 105 calories, so keep the 10% rule in mind and share your own banana rather than tossing a whole one to your dog. Larger dogs should get no more than half of a regular-sized banana as an occasional treat (a few times a week at most), and smaller dogs should get just a few suitably small pieces.

Can dogs eat blueberries?

Yes!
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the blockbuster health benefits of blueberries. Maybe you’ve heard they’re good for the heart, the brain and may even help with blood sugar. And if you’re wondering if they’re good for your dog, too, the answer is yes. Not only are blueberries full of vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and K1 and manganese, but they are known for their high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Antioxidants help fight against free radicals, which cause cellular damage. Phytochemicals are compounds that occur naturally in plants that offer many health benefits — including as a potential cancer fighter.

Due to their small size, blueberries are ready-made treats. Just wash them thoroughly and feed them one by one to your dog by mouth or add a few to their meal. You can also freeze them and feed them right out of the freezer to your dog for a fun, new texture. Do be cautious, especially when feeding them to small dogs because they can pose a choking hazard. You may want to squish them a bit before feeding, both to unlock their scent, and to reduce the chance that they’ll slide down your dog’s throat.

As with other fruits, start out small (perhaps one berry, or a few for a larger dog) to gauge how your dog does with the new treat. Blueberries do contain a good amount of fiber, so too many may give your dog an upset stomach. Also, don’t forget to buy organic blueberries when possible.

Can dogs eat coconut?

Yes!
Coconut in the form of its oil has been recommended for everything from hot spot relief and allergies to helping in dental care for dogs. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that coconut meat can make a beneficial treat for canines. Coconut is rich in lauric acid, which has many potential benefits, including as an antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can play a role in many common diseases, like arthritis and allergies. Coconut is also high in antioxidants that can help build the immune system as a whole. Like many other fruits, coconut is also high in fiber, which can help with digestion—but again moderation is key. Too much fiber can also lead to digestive upset.

If you’ve gotten your hands on some coconut and have gone through the effort of cracking one open, try scooping out a little of the meat for your dog. Make sure to remove any of the shell because it can become a choking hazard or even cause intestinal blockage. Be careful with giving dried coconut products to your dog because many are high in sugar and may contain other additives that are unsafe for canines.

Can dogs eat cranberries?

Yes!
Cranberries have a lot going for them as a snack for people, and dogs. They contain Vitamin C, and E and other antioxidants, which can defend against inflammation and boost immunity, and they’re full of fiber. You probably remember something about cranberries warding off urinary tract infections from your own misspent youth; it turns out there may be something to that enduring notion.

Cranberries contain a compound called proanthocyanidin which is believed to help prevent some kinds of bacteria from adhering to bladder cells. Research hasn’t proven conclusively that cranberries can help prevent UTIs, but some studies have shown that there is SOME link between cranberries and UTI prevention. So, while you shouldn’t feed cranberries as a bladder health supplement, you can feel good about feeding the occasional red berry, if your dog takes to the tart taste. Feed them fresh or dried, but be sure to stay away from cranberry sauce and cranberry juices which can contain added sugars and other ingredients, and avoid Craisins!

Be doubly sure to feed cranberries in moderation—they contain compounds called oxalates which, when over-consumed can increase the risk of kidney stones.

Can dogs eat grapes?

No!
Grapes (and dried grapes, aka raisins) are definitely a no-no for dogs. Though the reasons aren’t fully understood, grapes contain compounds that are toxic to dogs and can cause serious symptoms—even death. Signs of grape toxicity in dogs can include appetite loss, lethargy, vomiting and/or diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration, increased thirst, increased or decreased urine production, and kidney failure.

If you enjoy grapes yourself, make sure to keep them in a safe place away from your curious dog. If you believe they’ve eaten a grape or raisin or are showing signs of toxicity, call your veterinarian immediately.

Can dogs eat lemon?

Better not.
While oranges are OK in small quantities, the more acidic lemon should be avoided altogether. There’s a good chance eating some lemon will lead to digestive issues like diarrhea in your dog. And because of its bitter taste, it’s unlikely your dog will like the fruit anyway.

If you’re wondering if lemonade would be any different, it isn’t. The acid and sugar in lemonade can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. It’s best to avoid lemons and opt for one of the other many fruits dogs can eat and benefit from.

Can dogs eat oranges?

Yes, but…
Known for their vitamin C, oranges can theoretically make an acceptable sweet treat for your dog—but only in very small amounts. If your dog is overweight or has diabetes, avoid feeding your dog these fruits at all because they have high sugar content. Even if they can eat the fruit, keep it to no more than a few segments and start out with only one (or smaller pieces for small dogs) to gauge how your dog’s stomach does. Because they are acidic, oranges may cause digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea.

Do make sure to completely peel the orange and remove the white tissue on the underside of the peel (the pith) and all seeds before feeding it to your dog. If you’re curious about orange juice, don’t be. It’s a concentrated version of oranges, making it even more sugary and acidic, and not beneficial for dogs.

Can dogs eat peaches?

Yes!
If you are enjoying this summer bounty, you can feel free to share it with your dog. Peaches are full of vitamin A and fiber and the flesh is safe for dogs to eat in small amounts. Be sure peaches are washed thoroughly before feeding small slices.

One BIG watch out when it comes to peaches: the pit. Peach pits are made up of amygdalin, a toxic compound that breaks down into hydrogen cyanide when eaten. Pits pose other dangers to dogs: they can damage teeth, cause choking, and cause intestinal blockages if eaten. So be sure that your dog doesn’t have access to peaches in their whole form. Instead, prepare a peach snack by cutting the flesh into small chunks and serve them fresh or frozen. Stay clear of canned peaches.

Can dogs eat pears?

Yes!
Pears are yet another fruit that’s full of vitamins, including A, C, and K, minerals including calcium, potassium, and magnesium and soluble fiber, which is key to digestive health.

Some tips for serving pears: Serve only ripe fruit—unripe fruit can cause digestive upset in dogs (on the other hand, avoid feeding over-ripe or rotting fruit). Be sure to wash the fruit thoroughly and remove stalk, leaves, seeds, and core. Cut into small (one-inch) pieces and feed straight, or you can even grate it as a meal topper.

Can dogs eat pineapple?

Yes!
Pineapple is a nutrient-rich fruit and contains ample amounts of vitamin C, thiamine and minerals, like copper, potassium, magnesium. It can be a sweet, occasional, treat for your dog, if they enjoy the taste.

Pineapple also contains the enzyme bromelain, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in people and has shown anti-inflammatory and other health benefits in studies involving other animals. This tropical fruit is higher in sugar than some choices, so it’s extra important to keep pineapple treats small. Feed only fresh, raw, pineapple (never canned, which can contain added sugar), and, to state the obvious, remove the spiky skin, and the core.

Can dogs eat pumpkin?

Yes!
The fiber, vitamin, and mineral and antioxidant content in pumpkin make this gourd ( it’s technically a fruit) not only a tasty treat for your dog but a helpful dietary and digestive supplement. In fact, it is often recommended for treating mild symptoms of both diarrhea and constipation in dogs, making it a true superfood for dogs. While raw pumpkin isn’t technically toxic to dogs, it’s not very easy to digest, so choose plain, canned pumpkin for dogs with digestive complaints.

Digestive issues aside, you can also use pumpkin to add a little extra flavor to your dog’s meal, or as a treat. For small dogs, start with just a bit—a half a teaspoon, increasing to one or two teaspoons if it agrees with them. For large dogs, start with a tablespoonful and increase to two- to three tablespoons. You can also turn pumpkin into a treat with benefits by smearing it onto a rubber toy like a Kong. For this purpose, and just generally as a lickable treat, pumpkin is an excellent substitute for peanut butter—it’s got only five calories per tablespoon versus 100 for PB.

Never feed your dog canned pumpkin pie filling which can contain harmful ingredients like xylitol, which is toxic for them.

Can dogs eat raspberries?

Yes!
Like other berries, raspberries are full of goodness and considered safe fruit for dogs.
Raspberries are lower in sugar and calories than some other fruits, but they’ve got lots of vitamin C, B-complex, and K, antioxidants that can reduce the chance of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis, and dietary fiber which helps the digestive system and makes a dog feel full. 

While all fruit should be fed in moderation, that stipulation applies doubly to raspberries as they contain naturally occurring xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.  While a dog would need to consume a massive amount to be harmed, make sure even the largest dog gets only a small handful at a time; smaller dogs should just get a few, on occasion.

Can dogs eat strawberries?

Yes!
This sweet, refreshing berry has multiple potential benefits for your pet. They are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, and also have the added benefit of containing a compound called malic acid that may help whiten teeth.

After washing the strawberries and cutting off the stem, cut them up into small pieces for your dog. You can also try freezing them for a change in texture your dog might enjoy, or mash them up and mix them into their food. Remember to always start with a small amount (one strawberry for a larger dog) and generally feed strawberries in moderation because they do contain sugar. Also, avoid canned strawberries because they contain a lot of sugar and other potentially harmful additives. And, as with apples, buy organic whenever possible.

Can dogs eat tomatoes?

Yes, but…
There’s a long-standing debate about tomatoes: Is it a fruit or a vegetable? Though we’re not going to try to settle that heady debate here (it’s a fruit), we will help you figure out whether you can feed it to your dog. It turns out, the answer to that question isn’t cut-and-dried either.

Tomatoes contain a large amount of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to health benefits including lowering bad cholesterol, protection against sunburn, and possibly even cancer prevention. But tomatoes also contain chemical compounds called solanine and alpha tomatine that can be toxic in sufficient quantities. Solanine is found in the stem and leaves and in green, unripened tomatoes, but as tomatoes ripen, the amount of solanine is reduced. So, ripe, red tomatoes are generally considered safe for dogs to eat in moderation. Pet owners should just remember to be careful about keeping their dogs from eating anything green when it comes to tomatoes. Fence off any tomato plants in the garden so that your dog can’t get to them, and feed them a slice  only of the ripened fruit (yes, we’re going with fruit, because it’s totally a fruit) when you want to give your dog a treat. Again, don’t give too much and start off with a very small amount to prevent digestive upset.

Can dogs eat watermelon?

Yes!
We’ve all cooled down with some watermelon slices on a hot day. Made up of 90% water, vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, and of course fiber, this summery melon can make a refreshing treat for canines, too. Before feeding watermelon to your dog, make sure you remove all the seeds as well as the rind since they can pose risks for the intestines, including blockage.

Once those are removed, feeding watermelon to your dog is as easy as cutting a cube and handing it over. Start with one piece to make sure your dog’s stomach can handle the new treat before giving more. As with other fruit, the key is moderation. The size of the piece you give your dog will depend on your dog’s size (smaller for small dogs and larger for large dogs).

When it comes to our dog’s health, a healthy, balanced diet is the most important thing to provide. But a few treats in the form of fruit can be a sweet reward, so experiment with the tastes and textures your dog likes!

Up next: Can My Dog Eat Vegetables?