Unlike cats, dogs are not omnivores and can eat a variety of human food. This flexibility with eating is among the major reasons why dogs are such popular household pets. So, can dogs eat apples?
Dogs can certainly eat apples, provided the fruit is cut into small pieces, and is devoid of its seeds and core. An apple is a great addition to any dog’s diet – thanks to the many vitamins and other nutrients the fruit packs in. Also, apples help clean your dog’s teeth and freshen its breath.
Keep reading to learn how apples prove beneficial for your dog, how you should feed your dog apples to derive the optimal benefits, things you should be wary of when feeding your dog apples, and lots more.
The Health Benefits of Apples for Dogs
There is some truth to the maxim, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While you are not guaranteed to be disease-free if you eat an apple every day, you certainly stand to benefit from the various vitamins and minerals apples bring to the table. And like humans, dogs also benefit from all of apple’s goodness to a great extent.
Here are some of the positives attached to consuming the fruit, for dogs:
Packs in Antioxidants and Essential Nutrients
Apples provide vitamin A, C, K, calcium, phosphorus, fiber, etc. According to certain veterinarians, the antioxidants and vitamin C found in apples can help improve specific degenerative conditions, including diseases relating to the joints or bones. Dietary fiber comes in handy with your canine’s gastrointestinal health.
Vitamin C helps puppies develop to their potential – both physically and mentally. In older dogs, the vitamin helps maintain muscle and bone health. Vitamin A, on the other hand, is great for your dog’s eyes, coat, skin, and immune system. In fact, vitamin A is key to attain and maintain a supple and moisturized skin from within.
The antioxidants found in an apple could help mitigate cancer risks and even decrease joint disease symptoms. The antioxidants could boost your dog’s overall health. They also provide an additional level of safety to your dog against certain diseases such as cancer.
A Low-Calorie Fruit
As alluded above, apples are low in calories. A small-sized (100 grams) apple, for instance, has 52 calories. 100 ml unsweetened apple juice has 46 calories. Regardless of whether you peel, boil, microwave, or feed raw apples to your dog, an apple never tips over 55 on the calorie scale – provided there are no additives thrown in. Other fruits considered safe and healthy for dogs to eat pack in a lot more calories. For instance, a small-sized, 100-gram banana has 89 calories.
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Apple is a great fruit for dogs who need to limit their protein intake or meat-based treats – maybe for diet or health reasons. The fruit’s protein content is low (quite expectedly so), but it’s high in dietary fiber. If your dog has digestive issues or frequently faces trouble passing stools, apples could help ease the condition. Senior or aging dogs with diet restrictions or certain illnesses would also benefit from apple’s fiber content.
A Solid Substitute for Processed Food
Dogs tend to have a sweet tooth and, therefore, fancy chocolates, pastries, ice creams, etc. to a great extent. Needless to say, confectioneries or any food that packs in loads of man-made sugar are harmful to a dog. In some dogs, the negative effects become apparent within hours; and in some other dogs, it could take a few days.
If you are wary of the ill effects of sweets and would like to do something about your dog’s cravings for candies and bonbons, an apple could be the perfect antidote. Apples are not just healthier. If you experiment with the fruit or add a few other fruits and dog-friendly ingredients to the mix, your dog may like it more than the commercial sweets it’s fond of.
Great for Your Dog’s Oral Health
Apples are chewy and have a slight crunchiness to them. The act of biting on the fruit could help strengthen your dog’s gums and, therefore, create a strong foundation for its teeth. Most importantly, the juices that get released with each bite do not just contain important nutrients but also help clean your puppy’s teeth.
If your dog has an existing dental condition, chewing on an apple won’t remedy the situation. Professional dental care would be needed in those cases. But if your dog has a healthy set of teeth and you would like them to stay so for long, apples could help with that.
If you’re wondering that the sugar content of apples could damage your dog’s teeth, the good news is that an apple won’t hurt your pet’s fangs. This is because apple’s water content washes away those sugars from within, making it relatively safe for your dog to eat the fruit. Also, the skin or peel of the fruit could work like a toothbrush.
Drawbacks of Feeding Your Dog Apples
An apple is not safe to ingest for a dog if the fruit is not washed, cut, and deseeded before being served. Here are a few negatives to be wary of:
The Seeds Could Pose Some Danger
The seeds of an apple contain trace levels of cyanide, as amygdalin. The chemical compound, however, gets released only when the seeds are chewed on or cracked open. If your dog happens to swallow the seeds without chewing on them, it should be fine.
But it’s still not worth taking the risk of letting the seeds stay in the fruit as you have little to no control over how your dog chews on the fruit in its mouth. Therefore, cut the fruit into pieces or slices and take those seeds out.
If you forget to deseed the apple and your dog happens to chew on them, watch out for the following symptoms in your pet:
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing
- A state of shock
Some are of the opinion that the fruit’s stem that sticks out from its top could also be dangerous. Therefore, get rid of those too – just to be on the safer side.
An Apple’s Core Could Be a Potential Choking Hazard
Besides taking the seeds out, you should also not feed the fruit’s core to your dog as it could cause serious choking issues. An apple’s core, unlike the mesocarp or the pulp, is fairly firm and, as a result, challenging for most canines to chew on. Besides being a potential choking hazard, the core could cause gastrointestinal blockages too, if swallowed as a whole.
Be Wary of the Sugar
Though apples are nowhere close to the bananas, grapes, and watermelons of the world on the glycemic index (GI) chart, they aren’t extremely low either. With a GI of 39, an apple is somewhere in the middle on the table. For context, bananas, grapes, and watermelons have a GI score of 62, 59, and 72, respectively. Cherries, grapefruit, and dried apricots with scores of 20, 25, and 32, respectively are at the bottom.
Therefore, serve your dog apples in moderation. If your dog is overweight, has diabetes or cancer concerns, eating a lot of apples would only exacerbate those problems. If you’re not sure about your dog’s health and are contemplating adding the fruit to its diet, talk to your vet to clarify and confirm things.
Even if your dog has no underlying health conditions, feeding your dog too many apples on a trot or within a short period could lead to diarrhea, stomach-ache, and other digestion issues in your pet. Both the high sugar content and dietary fiber will be to blame for the issues.
Could Cause Allergic Reactions
Some dogs could be allergic to apples and certain other fruits. If you see allergy signs, such as coughing, swelling, hives, sneezing, difficulty breathing, etc. in your pet, stop serving the fruit to your dog and head to your vet right away. If your dog has medical conditions, those could get worsened with apples. Your vet would let you know everything you need to know about how your pet would respond to apples.
How to Feed Your Dog Apples
Once you get the approval from your vet, you may serve your dog some apples. But before doing that, make sure you thoroughly wash the fruit, cut off the stems, deseed it, and also remove the core.
By taking the core out, you are pretty much getting rid of all the seeds too as the core usually houses them all. After you’ve removed those components, chop the fruit into bite-sized slices. You should never feed your dog an entire apple.
Besides cutting the apple into small pieces or slices, there are different ways to serve your dog apples, which include:
- You may freeze and serve the fruit as a summer snack.
- You could even mix the frozen apple slices with your pet’s regular food.
- The apples could be smashed to make some homemade applesauce, or you could blend apples with other fruits for a tasty and healthy smoothie.
Start Slow and With Small Pieces
Start with a small portion of the fruit. After your dog has consumed the small piece of apple, closely monitor your pet’s response to the fruit. It’s vital to observe your dog for the few hours or even a day or two that went by after having consumed the fruit.
During this observation period, do not feed your dog any apple as the period shall determine whether you should continue feeding your pet apples in the first place. If there are no issues, go ahead and feed your dog some more apple.
Keep the Peel
Based on how your dog likes it, you may remove or keep the peel. Peels are dense with nutrients. If your dog likes it with the peel, that’s great news. An apple with the peel has more nutrients than a peeled apple. For instance, unpeeled apples have 140% more vitamin A and 115% more C vitamin than the peeled ones. Similarly, the calcium and potassium content of an unpeeled apple is also greater. If you are keeping the peel, just make sure you wash the apple thoroughly.
Steer Clear of “Commercialised” Apple
Pre-packaged apple juice or any commercial food product that claims to have apples in them in some form or the other is not recommended for dogs as it is likely to be loaded with added sugar. Even worse, the amount of apple found in the product may not be high enough. This holds true for other apple-based food items, such as apple chips and apple juice.
Apple chips have added sugar, are dehydrated, and have zero fiber. Dehydrated apples comprise all the nutrients a regular apple has. But since it has no water, consuming even a tad bit more than what’s recommended could lead to stomach upsets in your pet dog. Apple juices have a lot more water in them, but they also have synthetic sugar and zero dietary fiber to boot.
If ingested continually over a period or even a few times, these products are likely to cause weight gain, diabetes, and even enamel decay. Keep your pet away from candied apples or the ones coated with sugary toppings such as chocolate or caramel. Also, cakes, pies, or any other dessert item containing apples should be completely avoided.
If your dog likes pre-packaged food, make them at home. For instance, if your dog likes applesauce, prepare the sauce at home. The recipe for applesauce, however, could include refined sugar. Your goal should, therefore, always be to not add any crystallized sugar to the mix. Keep it unsweetened or let the natural sugars of the apple lend its sweetness to the sauce.
Here are answers to some other questions you may have about feeding your dog apples:
- How many apples should you feed your dog?
Canines need a host of nutrients to thrive, which include proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and water. Apples are a great source of carbohydrates and different vitamins. It is high in dietary fiber too. But they don’t contain fatty acids and protein, which are essential nutrients for your dog. Therefore, apples cannot constitute a major portion of a dog’s food.
As a general rule, apples should be less than 10% of your canine’s daily food intake. The 10% is usually reserved for snacks or treats, and apples should fall into that bracket. In terms of the number of apples, you could serve your dog half an apple or a few slices of it two or three times a week.
- What kind of apples should dogs eat?
It’s recommended you opt for organic apples, as the ones found in supermarkets are likely to be coated with chemicals that give the fruit its shiny appearance. If you cannot source organic apples or buy it directly from the farmer, make sure you thoroughly wash the apples before using them, to get rid of the pesticides or herbicides that could be sticking on. Organic apples should also be washed, but not as vigorously.
- Can dogs consume apple cider vinegar?
Apples can be used in different avatars to boost your pet dog’s health. One way to do it is by adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food bowl or water. Add a teaspoon of the vinegar two or three times a week to your dog’s food to help alleviate certain longstanding health conditions in your pet, such as arthritis, and also gastrointestinal problems.
Apple cider vinegar is essentially made using apples and water, which makes it completely safe for canines. With a pH of anywhere between 3 to 5, the slightly acidic composition of the vinegar contains properties that could soothe your pet’s otherwise excessively alkalized digestive tract.
Apple cider vinegar supposedly also helps control fleas. Just mix it with some water and spray the mixture onto your pet’s coat. The vinegar spray would also help control odors emanating from your pet’s skin and fur. Before doing so, just consult with your vet and confirm it’s absolutely okay to do that.
- Can all breeds of dogs eat apples?
All types of canines can eat apples, right from Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers to Great Danes and Pomeranians. And they can eat all varieties of apples – Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Gala, among others. Pretty much all varieties of apples your local farmer grows, or the different apples sold at the neighborhood supermarket are safe for canines to eat.
In case you’re wondering, puppies too can eat apples. But since a puppy is small and still growing, you need to be a lot more careful with how you cut the apple, deseed it, take the core out, etc. The portions, no doubt, have to be much smaller or thinner.
Apples are great for both humans and dogs. But if consumed excessively, it could cause some serious health issues. Even humans cannot get away fine by eating a lot of apples at once, since digestion issues are bound to occur. If your dog has digestion problems, steer clear of those dehydrated apples as they could be more troublesome to your pet’s already affected tummy.
Regardless of whether you incorporate apples into your dog’s diet as a standalone fruit or as part of other treats, make sure you keep a constant check on the quantity. Also, reduce portions of other foods to make room for the apples. Regardless, regular consumption of any food primarily designed or “conceived” for human consumption is not recommended for dogs – be it painstakingly cooked meat or an apple.