Sometimes we forget that dogs are not human.
We go to bed with them, wake up with them, exercise with them, watch TV with them, we even have conversations with them!
It’s no wonder then that we often think our dogs are little humans that can eat whatever we can.
More than once I’ve caught myself about to slip my dog some tasty but random morsel (think red velvet cake or calamari), only to stop myself and wonder, can my dog actually eat this? Is this good for my dog?
It is important to realise, however, that dogs are physiologically very different to humans, especially when it comes to what they can and can’t eat.
This article will discuss and answer the following very commonly asked questions:
- Can dogs eat apples?
- Can dogs eat bananas?
- Can dogs eat cantaloupe?
- Can dogs eat pineapple?
- Can dogs eat chicken bones?
But before we answer these, it is important to understand the basics of a dog’s digestive system.
Your Dog’s Digestive System
While you would never know it by looking at them, all dogs are descended from the grey wolf.
Yes, even a corgi in a knitted sweater is some part wolf.
Domestic dogs are thought to have evolved from Wolves at least 18,000 years ago when they first began to associate with humans primarily to scavenge scraps — nothing’s really changed has it!
As dogs began to associate with humans over time, their digestive systems adapted to process many of the foods we commonly ate.
That is why dogs have up to 30 copies of the gene for amylase — a protein that breaks down starch — while wolves have only two. Starch is the key nutrient found in grains that have been cultivated by humans such as rice and wheat.
Although modern dogs can eat a large range of foods today, their diet can best be characterised as sitting somewhere between that of a carnivore and omnivore, with a decided preference for a carnivorous diet.
While it may be easy to assume that dogs can eat whatever humans eat (they sure seem to think so!), our two species have very different digestive systems.
Due to their rigid jawbones, dogs can’t chew their food and so swallow it whole. Unlike humans, a dog’s saliva does not contain digestive enzymes and only serves to lubricate its esophagus in order to get chunks of food to the stomach.
A dog’s stomach produces a very potent stomach acid that is almost as strong as hydrochloric acid, it needs this to break down the bone, fat and meat that make up the majority of its diet.
Because the acidity in a dog’s stomach is so high, some of the enzymes required to break down certain complex agricultural and plant based foods cannot survive. This is why dogs can’t survive on a purely vegetarian diet and it is important to know what types of plant based ‘human’ food they can and can’t eat.
Why You Should Feed Your Dog Fruit
Whether dogs should be fed fruit is a topic of some debate amongst pet owners, with ‘raw feeders’ believing that an all meat diet provides all of the necessary nutrients a dog requires, while other people believe that fruit provides a nutritious and welcome change to a dog’s diet.
Here at superwhiskers, we believe that variety is the spice of life and seeing as dogs have over 1700 taste buds, we think it’s important to allow your dog to experience the joys of different tastes and flavors.
Imagine if you were fed only pizza for the rest of your life!
While you might be thinking ‘ahh yes please’, after a few weeks or months of double pepperoni pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you might be singing a different tune.
This is where fruit comes in. While you should never feed your dog an all fruit diet, it can be a delicious, nutritious and inexpensive treat.
The Benefits of Including Fruit in Your Dog’s Diet
Including fruit in your dog’s diet has a number of benefits:
- Proteins such as meat make a dog’s body more acidic. Feeding your dog fruit can have an alkalising effect on a dog’s vital organs. Organs such as the liver, pancreas, heart and kidneys function better in an alkaline environment. Lowering the acidity of these organs can prevent inflammation, which is the cause of many chronic diseases.
- Dehydration in dogs can lead to kidney disease or bladder stones. Many fruits have a high water content, with apples, bananas, cantaloupe and pineapple all of having a water content of between 74–90%.
- Fruits are a good source of fiber. A high fiber diet helps prevent diarrhea and constipation and hastens the speed of digestion. Apples, Bananas, Pineapples and Cantaloupe (to a lesser extent) are a great source of fiber.
- Fruits are choc-full of antioxidants. These protect against free radicals — the molecules that contribute to aging.
Things to be Aware of When Feeding Your Dog Fruit
While fruit can be a delicious and nutritious treat, it is important to feed it to your dog in moderation. Remember, dogs are first and foremost carnivores and fruit should never replace a meat-based diet.
Most fruits are also made up of water, sugar and nutrients. If your dog eats too much fruit, it can cause a stomach ache, cramps and other nasty digestive problems such as gas and diarrhea.
Exactly what counts as ‘too much’ depends on each individual dog. That is why it is important to introduce your dog to a new type of fruit gradually.
It is also important to know which parts of an apple, banana, cantaloupe or pineapple you can feed your dog, this will be discussed below.
Apples, bananas, cantaloupe and pineapple contain many important nutrients, are absolutely delicious and are cheap and common in many countries.
This article will answer whether each fruit is appropriate for consumption by your dog and will detail the nutritional benefits of each. It will also flag 3 problematic fruits to avoid and will lastly answer the hotly debated and often asked question of ‘can dogs eat chicken bones?’.
Can Dogs Eat Apples? — Nutritional Information
The answer to the question ‘can dogs eat apples’ is yes. Apples are a suitable and delicious treat for dogs and contain many important vitamins and nutrients including:
- Pectin — pectin is a highly soluble fiber that can help regulate bowel movements and reduces inflammation associated with diarrhea. It can also help to eliminate toxins and move waste more efficiently through the body.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids — Omega-3 fatty acids help to control inflammation, ease arthiritis pain, and are beneficial to the kidneys and heart. Omega-6 fatty acids help fight infections and promote a glossy, healthy looking coat.
- Vitamin-C — Vitamin-C is important as it promotes red blood cell production and is required for healthy brain function. It is required for the efficient absorption of other vitamins and proper immune system function and can also slow degenerative joint disease and hip dysplasia.
It is fine to feed your dog apple with the skin attached, as an apple’s skin contains fiber and phytonutrients that protect against some forms of cancer.
The firm yet juicy texture of apples also means that they are great for naturally cleaning your pet’s teeth and will also contribute to your dog having fresher breath.
Can Dogs Eat Apples? — Things to Keep in Mind
Dogs are natural carnivores and all fruit should be given to your dog in moderation. While apples contain naturally occurring sugar, it is still sugar and when consumed in large quantities, fruit can contribute to weight gain.
If your dog has diabetes or cancer, check with your vet before feeding your dog apples due to their sugar content.
It is very important to remove all of the seeds from an apple before feeding it to your dog, because apple seeds contain amygdalin which is processed by the body into cyanide. While a few stray seeds won’t harm your pet, cyanide can be deadly at higher doses or if your dog is chronically exposed to it.
When preparing apples for your dog, discard the core entirely as this contains the seeds and can be a choking hazard.
Some dogs may be put off by the slightly tangy taste of apples (especially the tart green varieties). If your dog is not initially fond of apples, think about making a treat such as these sumptuous looking cinnamon apple bones.
So, can dogs eat apples? You bet they can!
Apples are a healthy, delicious and cheap alternative to traditional commercial snacks. Just make sure you prepare them correctly and feed them to your dog in moderation.
Can Dogs Eat Bananas? — Nutritional Information
Can dogs eat bananas? They absolutely can and should. Bananas are an excellent food because they contain several less commonly found vitamins and nutrients.
They are also the perfect portable treat to take on a walk, because they don’t need to be washed, can be portioned by hand and come in their own natural packaging.
Bananas are crammed with important nutrients such as:
- Potassium — potassium ensures the proper functioning of enzymes, muscles and nerves, it also ensures a proper balance of fluid throughout the canine body.
- Vitamin B6 — this an important vitamin for dogs as it promotes red blood cell production and is vital for healthy brain function. It is also required for the proper absorption of vitamin B-12, which is responsible for proper nervous system function.
- Magnesium — magnesium is integral for proper metabolic function and operates as an ‘activator’ for more than 300 different enzymes. It is also required for the production of protein in your dog’s body, which is critical as a dog’s basic diet consists of high-protein food such as meat.
Can Dogs Eat Bananas? — Things to Keep in Mind
Bananas should be given to dogs in small portions and only as a treat due to their high potassium content. Too much potassium (also known as hyperkalaemia) may result in increased blood acidity and can impair the heart’s ability to function normally.
Large and medium sized dogs can have up to half a banana once or twice a week, while smaller dogs should have smaller pieces once or twice a week.
Make sure that the banana is ripe before feeding it to your dog, as green bananas contain large amounts of resistant starch that can be very hard for a carnivore’s stomach to digest.
Can dogs eat bananas? Absolutely, but millions of years of eating meat may be a hard evolutionary pattern to break. If your dog is hesitant to try a sweeter fruit with a distinctive taste like banana, try to introduce the flavour gently by tempting it (and yourself) with these delicious looking peanut butter banana dog treats.
Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe? — Nutritional Information
Can dogs eat Cantaloupe? Yes, but in smaller quantities than the other fruits on this list due to its high water content.
Cantaloupe contains the following nutrients:
- Beta Carotene — beta carotine is a powerful antioxidant and is the pigment that is responsible for giving cantaloupe, carrots and pumpkins their vivid orange colour. It is responsible for the color and intensity of your dog’s coat and is required for vitamin-A production.
- Vitamin A — this fat-soluble antioxidant is synthesised from beta carotene in the intestine and is stored in your dog’s liver until needed. It promotes good vision and skin health and is especially important for growing puppies, as a lack of vitamin-A can lead to stunted growth and muscle weakness.
Cantaloupe is also a great choice of snack in summer as it is over 90% water and may be more appealing to your dog than the lukewarm water in its bowl.
Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe? — Things to keep in mind
While the high water content of cantaloupe is a benefit in hot conditions, too much of it can cause a loose stool or diarrhea. The key with this fruit is to feed your dog small pieces gradually, observing whether or not there are any differences in your dog’s bowel movements or disposition.
Unlike apple seeds, cantaloupe seeds are high in protein, niacin, riboflavin and calcium and can be fed to your dog along with the flesh of the fruit.
That being said, do not feed your dog the cantaloupe rind, as it may be covered in bacteria, mould and pesticides that can be harmful to your dog.
Can dogs eat cantaloupe? They sure can. Feed it to your dog fresh or, if you’d like to mix things up a little, cut it into strips and freeze it. This gives your dog something delicious, cold and different to enjoy in warm weather.
Can Dogs Eat Pineapple? — Nutritional Information
Can dogs eat pineapple? Luckily for them they can.
Juicy and sweet yet tangy, pineapple is a unique and addictive snack that contains the following important nutrients:
- Bromelain — this enzyme is important because it increases a dog’s protein absorption from it’s primarily meat diet. It can also work to cure inflammation and arthritis and may alleviate joint pain in older dogs.
- Vitamin-C — pineapples are choc-full of Vitamin-C and even a small serving can satisfy your dog’s required daily intake.
- Manganese — pineapples contain very high levels of manganese. This mineral is associated with bone and cartilage strength and formation, so it is especially important for younger and older dogs.
Pineapple may also have another, less commonly known benefit.
Every dog owner has had the unpalatable experience of watching their dog eat it’s own, or another dog’s faeces (also known as coprophagia). This condition may have nutritional or behavioural causes.
One possible cure for this behaviour is to sprinkle small pieces of pineapple in your dog’s food. The theory is that this will make its subsequent faeces bitter or acidic and unpleasant to eat.
It should be noted that this is just a theory however, and as yet there is no scientific evidence to support the credibility of this practice.
Can Dogs Eat Pineapple? — Things to Keep in Mind
Pineapples have a hard and rough rind that should not be fed to your dog as it can damage its teeth and the lining of its esophagus.
Dogs should be fed 1–2 small slices of pineapple at a time and it should always be fed to your dog fresh as canned pineapple loses its bromelain content.
The answer to the question ‘can dogs eat pineapple?’ is yes they can and there are many benefits to feeding them this fruit. Just remember, serve it fresh and discard the rind before feeding it to your dog.
Fruit Your Dog Should Never Eat
It is important to note that not all fruits are as good for dogs as apples, bananas, cantaloupe and pineapple. Some fruits can be dangerous or even deadly to your pet.
Grapes and raisins — grape and raisin toxicity in dogs is a well-documented but poorly understood phenomenon.
While some dogs can eat significant amounts of this fruit without any ill effects, for others, very small amounts can be harmful. Dogs of any age, breed or gender can be affected.
Grape/raisin toxicity leads to severe kidney damage and failure which can result in death. Signs and symptoms include:
- A loss of appetite
- An inability to produce urine
- Leathargy and weakness
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Such a situation is a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical treatment. A vet may try to induce vomiting or may pump the stomach in order to stop the toxins being fully absorbed by the body.
Apricots, cherries and plums — the seeds of apricots, cherries and plums contain amygdalin which is broken down by the body into cyanide and can be deadly to dogs in larger amounts.
This is more of an issue with apricots, cherries and plum seeds than it is with apple seeds because the seeds of apricots, cherries and plum are larger in size and so contain more amygdalin.
Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:
- Dilated pupils
- Hyperventilation and difficulty breathing
Cyanide poisoning is a serious medical emergency and you should get your pet to a vet as quickly as possible. In some instances an antidote may be available, or a vet may administer oxygen therapy and fluids.
Apricots and plums also pose a choking hazard because of the larger seed size of these fruits.
While it is safe to feed your dog the flesh of these fruits, owners must be careful not to feed these fruits to their dog whole.
Although the exact toxic mechanism is unknown, even a small handful of macadamias can cause a severe reaction in your pet.
Symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning include:
- Muscle tremors
Fortunately macadamia nut poisoning is rarely fatal, however your vet may attempt to induce vomiting or feed your dog activated charcoal if it has eaten a large amount of nuts. Many dogs recover without specific treatment.
Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
We couldn’t end this article without answering one question we come across a lot. Can dogs eat chicken bones?
The answer is it depends on whether they are raw or cooked.
Raw, uncooked chicken bones are suitable for dogs as they are slightly flexible and can be ground down more easily into smaller pieces by your dog.
The bones of a lean animal such as a chicken, is one of the best sources of natural food. Raw bones are a cheap and natural source of nutrients such as calcium and phosphorous for dogs. They also stimulate the production of saliva enzymes that keep teeth and gums clean.
A word to the wise however, when feeding your dog raw chicken bones, remove the fibula bone located in the thigh, just to be safe. This bone is long and sharp and may be problematic for your dog if not removed.
It is also important to watch your dog while it is eating raw bones to ensure it does not get into any difficulty.
Cooked chicken bones on the other hand are not recommended and can be dangerous to your dog’s health.
After being cooked, chicken bones become dry and brittle and can splinter more easily when chewed.
These splintered fragments can be extremely sharp and can lead to a raft of nasty injuries such as:
- Cuts to the mouth and gums
- Bones becoming lodged in the windpipe and causing suffocation
- Internal organs being cut or pierced which results in peritonitis (a life-threatening bacterial infection)
- Bones lodging inside the intestinal tract and creating a blockage
- Rectal bleeding due to the bones being passed
My Dog Has Just Eaten a Cooked Chicken Bone — Now What?
If your dog, like mine, is possessed of some inexplicable compulsion to swallow everything and anything it can hoover into its mouth, chances are that one day you will need to know the answer to this question.
If your dog eats cooked chicken bones, don’t panic. While this is not ideal, dogs have been chewing and digesting bones for millions of years, and that super-strong stomach acid we discussed at the start of this article, should help soften and break down any fragments.
Occasionally however, issues may arise. Observe your dog closely over the next 12–48 hours and watch for the following symptoms:
- Excessive salivating and licking of the lips
- Signs of pain or discomfort (often indicated by an inability to sit still or an unwillingness to play)
- Shallow breathing
- Blood in the stool
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, take it to the vet immediately.
So can dogs eat chicken bones? The answer is yes, but they must be raw and you should keep an eye on your dog while it eats them.
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