You love strawberries, and so does your dog. Most likely, your pups drool and wag their tails when they see you eating one. Or if they are like mine, they will try to steal them.
But can you share this juicy fruit with your furry friend? Are strawberries good for dogs, or are they bad for them?
The good news is that, yes, dogs can eat strawberries. In fact, they have many health benefits for dogs, such as boosting their immune system, hydration, and even teeth whitening.
But before you rush to the fridge and grab a handful of strawberries for your pup, there are some things you need to know. Not all strawberries are created equal, and not all dogs can handle them well.
Just like any other human food, be careful about how much, how often, and how you feed your dog strawberries.
Why Strawberries Are Good for Dogs
Strawberries are not only delicious but also nutritious for dogs. According to Dr. Kurt Venator, Ph.D., chief veterinary officer at Purina, strawberries contain some healthy nutrients and properties that are good for humans and dogs alike, such as:
- Fiber: Fiber helps your dog’s digestion and keeps them regular. It can also prevent constipation and diarrhea and lower the risk of colon cancer.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that supports your dog’s immune system, skin health, wound healing, and collagen production. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can protect your dog from infections and chronic diseases.
- Water: Strawberries have a high water content (about 91%) that can help quench your dog’s thirst and prevent dehydration, especially in hot weather.
- Natural compounds: Strawberries contain natural compounds called phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage your dog’s cells and DNA. By reducing oxidative stress, antioxidants can slow the aging process, boost your dog’s cognitive function, and prevent diseases like cancer.
These are some pretty great reasons to feed your dog strawberries, right? But wait, there’s more. Strawberries can also help whiten your dog’s teeth by gently rubbing against them as they chew. This can reduce plaque buildup and keep your dog’s smile bright.
Plus, strawberries are low in calories and fat, making them a perfect snack for dogs who need to watch their weight or have diabetes. They can also satisfy your dog’s sweet tooth without causing any harm.
When are Strawberries Bad for Dogs
While strawberries have many benefits for dogs, they also have some potential drawbacks that you need to be aware of. These include:
- Sugar: We all know fruits are sweet because they have sugar. Strawberries are no different, with about 4 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Sugar is not toxic to dogs, but it can cause weight gain, dental problems, diabetes, and pancreatitis if consumed in excess. Just like us!
- Pesticides: Strawberries are one of the fruits that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides, which are chemicals used to kill insects and weeds on crops. Pesticides can be harmful to your dog’s health if ingested in large amounts. They can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or even death. To reduce the risk of pesticide exposure, you should wash the strawberries thoroughly before feeding them to your dog or buy organic strawberries if possible.
- Allergies: Some dogs may be allergic to strawberries or other fruits. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe and include symptoms such as itching, swelling, hives, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or anaphylaxis. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction in your dog after eating strawberries or any other food item, you should stop feeding them the food and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Feeding Your Dog Strawberries Safely
Now that you know the pros and cons of strawberries for dogs, you might be wondering how to feed them to your dog in a safe and enjoyable way. Here are some tips to follow:
- Wash and cut: Before you give your dog any strawberries, you should wash them thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt, bacteria, or pesticides. You should also remove the green stem and cut the strawberries into small pieces to prevent choking and make them easier to digest. You can also mash or puree the strawberries if you have a small dog or a puppy.
- Moderation: As with any treat, you should feed your dog strawberries in moderation. Strawberries are not a complete and balanced food for dogs, so they should not replace your dog’s regular diet. They should only make up about 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake, which means about one or two strawberries per day for a medium-sized dog. You can adjust the amount depending on your dog’s size, age, activity level, and health condition. If you’re not sure how much to feed your dog, you can consult your veterinarian for guidance.
- Variety: Strawberries are not the only fruit that dogs can eat. There are many other fruits that are safe and healthy for dogs, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, mango, watermelon, and more. You can mix and match different fruits to give your dog some variety and prevent boredom. However, you should avoid feeding your dog any fruits that are toxic to them, such as grapes, raisins, cherries, avocados, citrus fruits, and more.
- Fun: Feeding your dog strawberries can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. You can use strawberries as a training reward, a puzzle toy filler, a frozen treat, or a yogurt topping (plain unsweetened only). You can also make your own homemade strawberry dog treats by combining strawberries with other dog-friendly ingredients such as oatmeal, peanut butter, coconut oil, or eggs. Just make sure to follow a reliable recipe and bake the treats until they are dry and crunchy.
What About Foods Containing Strawberries?
Your dog’s begging skills and puppy dog eyes may deserve a gold medal, but they shouldn’t earn him a heaping bowl of strawberry ice cream. As we all know by now, dogs don’t always act in their own best interest.
Things like strawberry ice cream, strawberry yogurt, strawberry jam, you get the idea… typically contain high levels of sugar, fat, or toxic chemicals like xylitol.
Sugar and certain types of fat are ok in moderation; they are often highly concentrated in these foods compared to what you’d find in a plain strawberry. Many dogs are lactose intolerant as well, making any dairy product a bad idea, or at least a smelly one.
The best advice is to just stick with regular well-washed strawberries. They are delicious on their own, and your dog will be more than excited to receive a special treat.