You came here with one question in mind: Can dogs eat oranges? So, let's not waste time. Yes, dogs can eat oranges as long as you remove the rind, seeds, and pith first. If your dog eats these parts of the orange, it can lead to GI upset (think vomiting and diarrhea), but your dog probably won't need veterinary care.
While most dogs enjoy sweet treats, oranges don't usually top their list of favorite things. They do, however, tend to prefer oranges over other citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemon, and lime. Oranges have more natural sugar to balance out their citric acid content.
If your dog does like oranges, this fruit can provide numerous health benefits. Read on to learn how to prepare this healthy snack, what to do if your dog experiences GI upset, and the potential health benefits.
Can Dogs Eat Oranges? Yes, But ...
The flesh of oranges — and orange varietals like tangerines and clementines — is safe for dogs. But, there are some potential drawbacks to feeding oranges. Look out for these issues.
Eating the Peel, Seeds, or Pith
As we mentioned, dogs shouldn't eat the peel, seeds, or pith (the white lining between the peel and the flesh) of oranges. These parts contain toxic substances that can upset your dog's stomach but are unlikely to lead to an adverse reaction.
If your dog does eat an orange peel, keep a close eye on them. If they experience vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than two days, make an appointment with your DVM.
Swallowing a Whole Orange
If your dog grabs a whole orange off the counter and swallows it, observe them carefully. The fruit will most likely pass on its own, but if your dog appears to be in pain or suddenly doesn't like having their stomach touched, contact your vet. Your dog could be experiencing a blockage.
Biting off More Than They Can Chew
Remember to cut oranges into bite-sized pieces for your dog. The size of orange slices we prepare for ourselves can be a choking hazard for smaller dogs. It's also easy to misjudge the correct amount to feed small dogs because we consume a lot more fruit than them — so always start with small quantities. One bite here and there should be plenty.
Upsetting Their Stomach
Even if you prepare orange slices carefully, they can still give your dog an upset stomach — just like any new food. Oranges contain higher levels of sugar and fiber than your dog may be used to, so avoid feeding them large amounts.
Spiking Blood Sugar Levels
Because of their high sugar content, eating oranges isn't appropriate for overweight dogs. While fresh fruits aren't typically the cause of doggy obesity, feeding a diabetic dog oranges could potentially disturb their blood sugar levels. Instead, opt for low-starch and low-sugar fruits and veggies, like tomatoes and blueberries.
While it may seem like orange juice would be the safest option, orange juice is very high sugar, and depending on how it was made, it may contain substances that are harmful to dogs. Many commercial products are also fortified with other nutrients that can lead to a dietary unbalance. So, stick to the fruit’s flesh.
Are Oranges Good for Dogs?
In spite of our warnings above, oranges are a healthy treat. So, beyond the question of "Can dogs eat oranges?," we should also consider the benefits. This fruit provides essential nutrients, fiber, and beneficial compounds — many of which cannot be found in commercial dog foods. Here are the benefits this fruit can provide.
Oranges are composed of nearly 88% moisture and have a high potassium content. Potassium is an important electrolyte. For pet parents, it's often added to sports drinks and electrolyte powders to prevent dehydration. Oranges make a good post-workout snack for you and your pooch so you can both rehydrate after a run.
Vitamin C isn't considered an essential nutrient for dogs because they can actually synthesize this vitamin themselves. But, some life circumstances — like oxidative stress or smoke exposure — can make it hard for your dog to synthesize optimal amounts. Providing some vitamin C in your dog's diet can help round out their daily intake and synthesis of this powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin C is known for supporting the immune system, but it also plays an important role in protecting the joints and fending off free radicals. While oranges are known for their vitamin C content, red bell peppers offer even more and can make a healthy addition to your dog's diet.
While high amounts of this fiber can lead to loose stool and gas, small amounts are beneficial. Soluble fiber is fermented in your dog's colon, producing short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids provide an energy source for the gut epithelial cells (which line parts of the digestive tract).
Fiber also feeds your dog's gut bacteria and makes your dog's probiotic supplements even more effective. When the bacteria in your dog’s microbiome is well fed and diverse, they can support your dog's immune system and prevent bad bacteria from setting up camp.
In humans, citrus fruits may play a role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. The flavonoid and antioxidant content in oranges appears to protect the brain. Some of the flavonoids in oranges have a higher affinity for the brain (while in other foods, like carrots, the flavonoids target the brain and skin equally). While there haven't been dog-specific studies on this topic, your pet may see some of these same benefits.
How to Add Oranges and Other Fruits to Your Dog's Diet
Oranges are best fed as a healthy snack. Veterinary guidelines state that less than 10% of your dog's daily calories should come from snacks, which includes fruits, veggies, and treats. However, consuming 10% of calories from oranges alone can unbalance the diet and cause an upset stomach.
Even though oranges are a great source of nutrients, they're not rich in minerals, like calcium and phosphorus, that your dog needs in higher amounts (even higher than humans). To avoid overwhelming your dog's digestive system, start by feeding them one-quarter gram of oranges per pound of body weight.
Tip: Don't mix oranges into dog food when you first introduce the fruit. If your dog decides they don't like oranges, you may end up having to toss the entire meal. Instead, feed them a bite or two as a treat.
If your dog won't eat oranges, they can get health benefits from other pet-friendly fruits and veggies — like apples, bananas, watermelon, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach, and green beans. (Note: Dogs can't eat grapes or raisins because they can cause a toxic and life-threatening reaction.)
To make a healthy dog treat from your pet’s favorite fruits and veggies, freeze them into a liquid. Bone broth or filtered water make the perfect base for a pupsicle. Portioning and freezing fruits in an ice cube tray (or molds with fun shapes like paws or bones) allows for easy storage and feeding.
Fruit for Thought
Like people, dogs benefit from a diet rich in healthy whole foods. They can eat oranges along with many other fruits and vegetables and may even benefit from oranges’ nutritious content. But, whenever you add a new food to your dog's diet, it can lead to an upset stomach. (And, that's not just true of dogs. Many people with sensitive stomachs experience GI upset when they try something new.)Support your dog's digestion with healthy pet supplements made from organic and whole food ingredients. And check out the Native Pet blog to get more tips for raising a happy, healthy pet.