Can dogs eat plums? It's a simple question, and with most fruits, we can give you a simple answer. (Can dogs eat grapes? Hard no. Can dogs eat blueberries? Enthusiastic yes.) But with plums, the answer is, well, complicated. Even veterinarians don't always agree — with some touting the health benefits of this fruit and others saying it's not worth the risks.
We'll get into both the benefits and risks below, but for now, perhaps the most significant thing we can say on the subject is this: We choose not to feed our dogs plums.
If your dog has eaten plum flesh and skin, they'll most likely be fine, and you don't need to rush to the vet. If, on the other hand, your dog has chewed on a plum pit or eaten a large amount of the leaves, stems, or roots of a plum tree, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control helpline at (888) 426-4435, or go to your vet immediately.
Take a look at why we don't feed our dogs plums even though the flesh and skin are generally considered safe. Plus, learn to recognize the signs of plum toxicity, and discover dog-friendlier fruits that offer similar benefits.
Can Dogs Eat Plums? Why This Fruit Isn't Our Favorite
We've already answered the question "Can dogs eat plums?" in broad strokes. Now, let's get into the nutritional nuances of this fruit so you can decide if you want to feed it to your dog.
Parts of the Plum Contain Cyanide
If your dog gets their paws on a plum, the biggest risk is cyanide poisoning. Plum pits, as well as the pits of other stone fruits like peaches, cherries and apricots, contain cyanide, as do other parts of the plant like the leaves, stems, and roots. If your dog consumes any of these parts of the plant, go to the vet or an available pet emergency room right away.
Cyanide poisoning can lead to kidney failure and even death. The risks are elevated in small dog breeds because smaller quantities of cyanide will lead to toxicity in their smaller bodies.
Plum Trees Pose a Bigger Risk Than the Fruit
The ASPCA's database of toxic plants lists plum trees as toxic to dogs, cats, and horses because of the cyanide content. Again, the main risk comes from the stem, leaves, and roots of the tree, and the pit of the fruit.
If you have plum trees in your yard, watch your dog carefully and consider adding fencing around the trees to keep your best friend out of reach of the foliage.
The Pit Presents Multiple Hazards
While cyanide in the plum pit is a concern, it's only an issue if your dog chews on the pit and breaks off small pieces, releasing the cyanide from the center of the pit. If your dog swallows the pit whole, they typically aren't at risk for cyanide poisoning.
However, there are two additional risks of swallowing a whole plum pit. First, the pit could get lodged in your dog's esophagus, creating a choking hazard. Second, the pit could get stuck further down in your dog's digestive tract, causing an intestinal blockage. An intestinal blockage can be life threatening and may require surgery.
To minimize the risk of your dog swallowing a plum pit, store plums in the fridge or in a closed cupboard so your pet can't steal them off the counter.
The Flesh Is Typically Considered Safe
In spite of the risks above, plum flesh and skin are considered safe for dogs in small quantities. Any new food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in dogs, but it's extremely rare for a dog to be allergic to plums.
Plums can even have some health benefits. They contain small amounts of vitamin K and potassium, which are essential vitamins and minerals for dogs. They're also a good source of antioxidants and vitamin C, non-essential nutrients that can help support your dog's immune system. Dried plums, or prunes, are a good source of digestive fiber, which becomes concentrated in the dried version of this fruit.
But the High Sugar Content Isn't Ideal
All fruits contain natural sugars — it's part of what makes them such a delicious healthy snack. But, plums are particularly high in sugar. A 60-gram plum contains 6 grams of sugar. Let's compare to some of our favorite dog-friendly fruits: 60 grams of watermelon contains 4 grams of sugar, and 60 grams of strawberries contains about 3 grams of sugar.
Prunes are even higher in natural sugar than fresh plums with a whopping 23 grams of sugar in 60 grams of prunes. Much like how the fiber is concentrated in a dried plum, so is the sugar content. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain and exacerbate problems like doggy obesity and diabetes.
For this reason, we prefer not to feed our dogs plums (or prunes) even though the flesh and skin are technically dog safe.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats a Plum?
If a dog consumes the flesh of a plum, dog owners don't need to do anything. Your dog will most likely be fine. Although, you may want to store plums out of your dog's reach in the future — in the fridge or in a closed cupboard — to avoid them eating a more dangerous part of the fruit next time.
If your dog swallows a plum pit whole or you suspect they may have, watch for signs of an intestinal blockage. These include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Sudden aversion to belly rubs
If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the vet right away. The vet can help your dog pass the pit safely or can perform emergency surgery if there's a risk of the stomach rupturing.
If you suspect your dog has eaten broken pieces of the pit or has consumed the leaves, stems, or roots of a plum tree, watch for these signs of cyanide poisoning:
- Dilated pupils
- Dark red gums
- Difficulty breathing
- Unresponsiveness or shock
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, go to the vet immediately. They may need treatment for cyanide poisoning.
Fruits to Feed Your Dog Instead of Plums
Many fruits and veggies make healthy snacks for our dogs because they contain helpful vitamins and minerals that are often lacking from commercial dog food. If you want to give your dog fruits and veggies as an occasional treat but don't want to risk feeding your dog plums, here are a few of our favorite alternatives with similar benefits.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all dog friendly. Like plums, these fruits are a good source of antioxidants to support your pet's immune system.
- Oranges: This dog-safe citrus fruit adds an extra dose of vitamin C to your dog's diet. Vitamin C is a nonessential nutrient for dogs because their bodies naturally produce it. But, extra vitamin C can support the immune system of sick or old dogs. An orange contains about eight times more vitamin C than a plum.
- Kiwi: This healthy, green fruit contains nearly the same amount of vitamin K as a prune and about four times more than a fresh plum. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient for dogs that helps their blood clot.
- Bananas: With twice as much potassium as plums, bananas help support your dog’s cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems.
- Pumpkin: While it may be common for people to eat prunes for constipation, we recommend pumpkin for dogs. This high fiber fruit helps keep your dog's digestive system running smoothly.
With most fruit, you should remove the skin and seeds before feeding it to your dog (except for berries, which you can feed whole). Any time you introduce a new food to your dog's diet, it can cause gastrointestinal upset, especially if you feed it in large quantities. So, stick to small quantities of these dog-friendly fruits and veggies.
Start by feeding only a few bites at a time. And if your dog has an especially sensitive stomach, consider supporting their digestive system with pet probiotics to reduce the risk of an upset stomach.
So, Can Dogs Eat Plums?
While technically, a dog can eat the flesh and skin of a plum, we don't like to share this food with our pets. The high sugar content coupled with the risk of cyanide in the pit, leaves, and stems make us turn to other healthy fruits. We prefer to share a healthy snack of berries, oranges, kiwi, bananas, or pumpkin for dogs.
For more information on your dog's health and nutrition, check out the Native Pet blog.