Written by: Savannah Welna,Dogly Nutrition Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Papaya fruit is an excellent, safe addition to yourdog’s diet and provides unique benefits to thedigestive system. Given that this is often considered anexotic fruit, mostdog owners don’t think to add this to their dog’s food. However,papaya is a great source of fiber, moisture, nutrients, and contains a kind of enzyme that may help alleviateindigestion,excessive gas, and occasionalbloating (bloating here does not refer to the condition of Bloat which requires immediate veterinarian attention).
IsPapaya Safe for Dogs?
Whilefeeding papaya to your dog is generally safe, you will want to make sure you do notfeed papaya seeds or skin to avoid unwantedside effects. Becausepapaya is rich in fiber, too much can cause an upset stomach so you’ll want to feed insmall pieces.Dehydrated papaya will be extremely concentrated and can increase the risk ofdigestive problems. Simply stick tofresh papaya.
Papaya contains compounds that compete for the use of an enzyme called DAO. DAO is used to break down histamine. Therefore, dogs with histamine related issues (such as mast cell tumors or environmental allergies) should avoid large amounts ofpapaya.Dog owners should consider the pros and cons of each fresh food item they add to their dog’s food.
Of course, any food can become achoking hazard if not properly cut up according to the dog’s size. Make sure that the size of thepapaya prepared can be swallowed easily.
As with anynew food, start by providing small amounts to test tolerance. If you feed yourdog papaya and notice any itching or loose stools, discontinue and perhaps consider a low histamine risk option.
Thesugar content ofpapaya is actually relatively lower compared to apples, cherries, and even blueberries. This makespapaya an ideal choice for dogs who are prone to weight gain and do better with less natural fruit sugars.
What are theHealth Benefits of Papaya?
Papaya can be a great addition in supporting yourdog’s health.Papaya includes essential and nonessential nutrients-vitamins A, K, and C. While nutrients are always beneficial,papaya stands out due to its incredible phytonutrient profile and unique digestive support properties that are unlikely to be found in most commercialandhomemadedog foods.
Papain:Papain is a digestive, plant-based enzyme that helps break down protein (proteolytic). The flesh ofpapaya is an excellent source. In fact,papaya enzyme supplements are widely available for purchase. You can provide a gentle digestive boost from feeding whole,fresh papaya. This may be especially beneficial to older dogs who see a natural decline in digestive abilities with age.Papain is heat sensitive, so ensure you are feeding the fruit raw. Because commercial processeddog food (like kibble) is made with high heat, it is unlikely that most dogs are benefitting from thistropical fruit.
Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene):Dogs eating a commercial or balanced homemade diet will be getting enoughVitamin A from the diet. However,papaya contains a precursor toVitamin A called Beta-Carotene. When the dog is consuming enoughVitamin A, Beta-Carotene can be used as an antioxidant rather than turned into the essential nutrient form ofVitamin A.
Lycopene:Lycopene is a phytonutrient that is classified as a carotenoid, but has noVitamin A activity. However, lycopene still functions as an antioxidant with a special affinity to the heart, skin, lungs, brain, and eyes. Human research has been looking at the role of lycopene in prevention of Parkinson’s Disease. There also is some association of reduced risk of bladder cancer. Because lycopene is not found in food items traditionally fed to dogs, it is unlikely that most dogs are consuming any level of lycopene.
Lutein:Lutein is also a carotenoid and is known for its potential role in preventing the progression of macular degeneration. However, there is still ongoing research in determining its beneficial role in cancer prevention (particularly non-hodgkin’s lymphoma) and Parkinson’s Disease. There is also research being done regarding Lutein’s role in preventing excessive decline in cognitive abilities that come naturally with age, making Lutein another excellent choice for older dogs.
Vitamin C: While most think of oranges when they think of sources ofVitamin C,papaya actually has 25% moreVitamin C than an orange when comparing on a gram to gram basis. While dogs can synthesizevitamin C, not every dog can synthesizeVitamin C at an optimal rate. Moreover, synthesizing nutrients requires the use of other resources. Providing dietaryvitamin C in moderate amounts from whole food sources can help spare some of the resources used to createVitamin C.Vitamin C plays a role inimmune system support, but it is also essential in preventing free radical damage to the joints and can therefore be thought of as a food-based choice for preventative joint care.
Fiber:Fiber helps dogs maintain normalbowel movements. Additionally, a variety of fiber sources helps support a wider diversity of good bacteria that live in the gut. Becausepapaya is not commonly fed to dogs, it is quite likely thatpapaya can help support the gut microbiome. Of course, too much fiber or a sensitivity to fiber will mean thatpapaya should be fed in careful moderation.
Feeding Papaya as a Healthy Treat to Dogs
Papaya can be made into ahealthy snack or added right into your dog’s food. Because of its lowersugar content, you can start feeding one half gram ofpapaya per pound of dog weight. If you are feeding other fruits and veggies, you may need to adjust this number down. Given its antioxidant properties,papaya is best fed fresh and if stored, it should be stored in an airtight container.
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• Addresses irritating skin conditions
• Reduces itching and scratching
• Helps prevent scooting
• Addresses acute and chronic diarrhea
• Creates a thriving environment for healthy flora
• Super tasty and protein-packed
• Addresses acute diarrhea
• Relieves constipation
• Helps prevent scooting