by Savannah Welna, Dogly Nutrition Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Apples are a fantastic “human food” to add to your dog’s food. However, apples need to be prepared correctly as not all parts of the apple should be fed. Apples do have a higher sugar content and provide beneficial fiber. However, both the fiber and the sugar content can be irritating depending on the dog. Each dog is different - so start slow! Apples might be especially good for dogs who are battling environmental allergies or for dogs who prefer sweeter-tasting fruit as healthy treats.
Are Apples Safe for Dogs?
Apples are safe for dogs. However, you will need to remove the apple core. Check to make sure the apple seeds were completely removed. While the seeds do contain cyanide, you would have to feed a lot for an issue like cyanide poisoning to arise. However, it is still good to remove the seeds as there is no health benefit from including them. The core is hard and difficult to digest. It could cause intestinal blockage and is a choking hazard. Of course, depending on the size of the dog, the apple will need to be cut into an appropriate size. Apple slices work for many dogs, but some dogs may need the slices cut into smaller chunks as dog treats. Blending is also a great option if you want to make some homemade dog-friendly applesauce as store-bought often contains added sugars and spices.
Apples are a great source of fiber. They contain soluble and insoluble fiber - both have benefits. However, dogs who are sensitive to fiber may experience disturbances to their digestive system when fiber is consumed in large amounts. Dogs who are diabetic or are working on losing weight may want to skip the apples. The natural sugars may be too much for a dog with either condition.
Apples of all colors are safe to feed. Dogs may not prefer the sour flavor of green apples, but each dog has individual preferences. If you can, selecting organic apples is preferred.
Some people may choose to feed peanut butter with the apples. This can dramatically increase calories, which is okay for some dogs but may cause weight gain in others. Additionally, some peanut butter contains xylitol, an extremely dangerous additive when consumed by dogs.
Finally, any new food has the potential to cause an upset stomach for numerous reasons that are unique to each dog. As always, start with small quantities and work up when diversifying your dog’s diet.
Are Apples Good for Dogs?
Apples are low calorie and contain essential nutrients for dogs. These include but are not limited to manganese, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene (vitamin A), and vitamin E. Apples also contain vitamin C. While vitamin C is not essential, dogs may not be able to synthesize vitamin C at an optimal rate, especially when under stress. Vitamin C is an important part of the dog’s antioxidant defence system and is a key piece in the immune system.
Apples are also low in phosphorus and calcium. This can be beneficial if you want to make sure that the extra foods you provide are not interfering with the absorption of minerals in your dog’s larger, balanced diet.
As mentioned, apples contain dietary fiber. Some of the fiber ferments in the gut. The product of this fermentation includes short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are extremely beneficial to the gut as they are an energy source for the epithelial cells that line the gut. Happy cells in the gut make for better digestive health! Additionally, as dogs age they can often require more fiber for healthy elimination - just another reason why apples are a great choice for senior dogs.
Apples (wth skin) contain quercetin. Quercetin is a polyphenol that can help modulate histamine release. Apples might be an ideal choice for dogs who need extra support during environmental allergy seasons. However, apples may cause oral allergy syndrome where the mouth and/or throat becomes itchy. Check in with your dog to make sure your pup is tolerating the apples well.
Apples are rich in antioxidants and have shown to benefit cardiovascular health in humans and animals. In general, rotating apples will help provide an array of phytonutrients. For example, anthocyanins are found in red apples exclusively and are thought to help protect against cancer.
Providing fresh foods is a great idea when seeking to support your dog’s health. Many of these phytonutrients are not found in commercial foods. Don’t let your pup miss out on this sweet treat.
How to Feed Apples as a Healthy Snack to Dogs
As mentioned, core the apple and make sure the seeds are removed. Cut into safely sized pieces. Exact sizing will vary from dog to dog.
If you are unsure of how much to feed, start by feeding a half gram per pound of body weight. For example, a 56-pound dog would get one ounce of apples maximum to start.
Consider rotating apples with other dog-safe fruits such as watermelon, raspberries, or blueberries! Each fruit contains its own benefits, many of which are not found in commercial pet food.
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