Let's get straight to your question: Can dogs eat strawberries? Yes, strawberries are a great, low-calorie summer fruit to share with your dog.
This fruit provides plenty of health benefits, and it's easy to incorporate into your dog’s diet as an occasional treat. But, like many fruits, strawberries have a high sugar content compared to other dog treats, so moderation is key when you share this sweet treat with your pet.
Here's what to consider before feeding your dog strawberries, plus what health benefits your dog could gain from the fruit.
Can Dogs Eat Strawberries? Yes — Here's How to Feed This Fruit
Strawberries are one of the safest fruits you can share with your pet, and most dogs love the taste. But, before you hand over this treat, keep these pet nutrition pointers in mind.
What Parts of the Strawberry Can Your Dog Eat?
Dogs can eat every part of the strawberry, including strawberry tops and leaves. The leaves contain a few vitamins and minerals that the flesh doesn't, so feeding your dog the leaves can provide additional health benefits.
Strawberry tops are also a healthy snack for people — seriously, consider throwing them in your next smoothie to reap the benefits. But, if you don't want to eat the leaves yourself, an easy way to share strawberries with your dog is to give them the strawberry tops when you cut this fruit up for yourself.
The tops are more bitter than the flesh of this fruit, so if you have a picky pooch, they might not be willing to eat then — in which case, you can feed them a whole strawberry. Strawberries naturally come in a safe size for most medium to large dogs, but if you have a smaller dog or a dog who tends to gulp food down, cut the fruit into small pieces.
How Many Strawberries Are Too Many?
Whenever you introduce a new human food into your dog's diet, start with small quantities. Every dog is different, and although it's rare, dogs can have an allergic reaction to any new food — even if the food is considered “safe.” If your dog has a sensitive stomach, consider giving them a pet probiotic or pumpkin for dogs. These supplements can help support your pet's digestive system when you introduce new foods.
Start by feeding your dog a half gram of strawberries per pound of body weight. For example, a 56-pound dog would start with one ounce of strawberries — about 2-3 medium strawberries.
You can usually feed the fruit whole or cut it into small pieces. However, for smaller dogs and gulpers, strawberries can be a choking hazard or lead to an intestinal blockage if they're swallowed whole. So when in doubt, always opt for smaller bites.
Are Any Strawberries off Limits?
Like other dog-friendly fruits and veggies — including raspberries, cranberries, apricots, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and green beans — strawberries contain natural sugars. When you feed these fruits and veggies as whole foods, they also contain natural fiber that helps balance out the sugar content.
However, a lot of the fiber is lost in processed foods like fruit juices, which are a more concentrated source of sugar and carbohydrates. Juices often contain added sweeteners and preservatives, but even when they're 100% juice, they will still have a higher sugar content than the whole fruit. Fruit juice blends also frequently contain grape juice, which is toxic to dogs. Stick to whole fresh strawberries or frozen strawberries.
You may also want to consider purchasing organic strawberries for yourself and your pet. Strawberries are the number one culprit on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen List — a list of produce that contains high amounts of pesticide residue when purchased conventionally.
Should You Worry About the Xylitol in Strawberries?
Strawberries contain small amounts of a natural compound called xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that helps give this fruit its sweet taste — it's also toxic to dogs. However, this compound is present in such small quantities in strawberries that it won't affect your pet. Strawberries are completely non-toxic to dogs, and the benefits of feeding them far outweigh the risks.
So, don't worry about xylitol in strawberries, but do be careful of xylitol in processed foods. It's often added to peanut butter — one of dogs' favorite human foods — so check the ingredient list for xylitol before sharing it with your dog. This compound is also common in many health foods, especially trendy keto products, where it's used as a low-carbohydrate sweetener.
Keep any human foods with added xylitol stored in a cupboard, out of reach of your dog.
What Are the Health Benefits of Strawberries for Dogs?
Adding whole foods like strawberries to your dog's diet comes with many health benefits. When you feed your dog a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, you provide them with antioxidants and fibers that they may not get from their commercial dog food.
Strawberries contain essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, manganese, and folic acid. They have a variety of non-essential but supportive nutrients for dogs, including vitamin C. Here's a look at the benefits of each of these compounds.
The role of magnesium might sound esoteric — it facilitates energy processes in the body — but this nutrient is essential for almost everything your dog's body does. From your dog's nervous system to their muscles, bones, blood sugar, heart health, and DNA, nothing can function without magnesium. Strawberries can help your dog meet their daily magnesium quota.
Potassium is an essential mineral that helps keep your dog's heartbeat steady and heir nervous system running smoothly. It also helps your dog's muscles contract and can prevent muscle strain in athletic dogs. As an electrolyte, potassium can also help prevent dehydration and balance out the amount of sodium in your dog's body.
Strawberries are unique because of their high manganese content. Manganese is important for the function of the body’s antioxidant defense system and is also critical for healthy joints.
Manganese can be difficult to find in food. While commercial dog food should contain sufficient levels of manganese, strawberries provide safe levels of additional manganese. This extra boost may be beneficial because the current dog nutrition guidelines for manganese are not well established.
Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid helps your dog's body synthesize DNA and produce red blood cells. This nutrient is essential to your dog's health, and strawberries are an excellent natural source.
While providing an extra boost of essential nutrients is great, strawberries also stand out because of the non-essential phytonutrients they offer. These include antioxidants not found in most commercial dog foods.
Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help support immune system function. While vitamin C is an essential nutrient for people, dogs' bodies are able to naturally synthesize this vitamin, so they don't need to get it from their food.
Still, added vitamin C can be beneficial because not every dog can synthesize it to optimal levels at every life stage. Dog's bodies tend to produce less vitamin C as they age, which can lead to premature aging and illness.
Strawberries also contain a variety of polyphenols, including lignans, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins. Growing research about the benefits of polyphenols in humans shows these compounds have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that can help the body fight cancer and chronic disease.
To help your dog take advantage of these phytonutrients, choose ripe strawberries, not under- or over-ripe fruit.
Strawberries: One of the Best Fruits for Your Best Friend
So, can dogs eat strawberries? Yes, strawberries are an extremely safe food to feed your pet. Your dog can eat every part of this fruit, including strawberry tops, stems, and leaves. But, if you have a small dog or your dog has a bad habit of swallowing their food whole, you may want to cut this fruit into bite-sized pieces to avoid creating a choking hazard.
Make sure to feed your dog plain, fresh or frozen strawberries, not strawberry juice or processed foods that contain this fruit. As long as you feed strawberries as a whole food, you'll be giving your pet a superfood snack that's full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
For more information on your pet's health and nutrition, check out the Native Pet blog.