You’re feeling a bit peckish between meals, so you reach for an apple. That’s when, lo and behold, your hungry dog appears at your feet, staring longingly at your mid-afternoon snack. Sharing is caring, right? But before you proceed, you need to know whether your nosh is actually appropriate for your pet...so can dogs have apples? To answer the question, we spoke to Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Kurt Venator (DVM, PhD), as well as Dr. Haworth, Chief Wellness Advisor to Well Groomed Pets. Read on for the full scoop.
Can Dogs Have Apples? Here’s What Two Veterinarians Have to Say
Are Apples Good for Dogs?
An apple a day keeps the doctor away—but is the same true for our four-legged friends? Not exactly. According to Dr. Kurt Venator, apples “are a source of fiber and carbohydrates for both dogs and humans alike…but the nutrition in apples is not necessary or a substitute for a complete and balanced diet.” In other words, dogs can indeed eat apples, but they will not keep the veterinary doctor away and shouldn’t be the bulk of their diet. That said, Dr. Venator says that apples are “a good food to include in your treating routine to help keep treat flavors and textures new and special.” The takeaway? Go ahead and reward your pup with a little apple—just keep in mind that it’s a treat and thus shouldn’t account for a significant amount of the calories your pet consumes. (More on that later.)
Will Eating an Apple Hurt a Dog?
Both experts agree that the risk here is minimal, but that some dogs with sensitive stomachs might experience gastric upset if they eat too much apple. As such, if you notice vomiting or diarrhea, it’s a sign that your dog is struggling to digest the extra fiber and you should cut back on the healthy fruit. Still, that’s a relatively minor concern compared with the one Dr. Haworth says he encounters most often—namely that apples can be a choking hazard, particularly to small dogs and puppies. Thus, it’s important to take certain precautions when serving apples to your pup.
What’s the Safest Way to Serve Apple to a Dog?
The vets say that you should remove the core of the apple and cut it into slices or chunks before feeding it to your dog; as previously mentioned, the core could pose a choking hazard. Furthermore, Dr. Haworth tells us that the seeds of an apple contain a small amount of cyanide, so those are best removed along with the core. (But don’t panic if your dog has consumed a few apple seeds—that won’t pose a significant health hazard, it’s just better to avoid them.) Finally, be sure to wash the fruit just as you would for yourself before feeding it to your dog.
Can I Give My Puppy Apples?
Yep, apples are fine for puppies too—with a couple of caveats. First, the smaller the pup, the higher the risk of choking. For this reason, the apple slices you serve a puppy should be on the smaller side, and you should supervise until you feel confident your dog knows what he’s doing.
Can I Feed My Dog Apples with the Skin On?
Good news: The skin of an apple is not a concern and, in fact, provides pups with even more fiber, so you don’t necessarily need to hassle with peeling the piece of fruit before you serve it. That said, the doctors tell us that large amounts of fiber can be hard to digest for dogs with more sensitive stomachs—so if you notice digestive upset, you might consider peeling the apple before serving it, or cutting back on apple treats entirely.
How Much Apple Should I Feed My Dog?
When it comes to determining how much apple you should give your pup, it’s important to keep in mind that apples qualify as a treat, and thus, shouldn’t be fed to your dog in lieu of other things. For this reason, Dr. Venator explains that you should abide by the 90/10 rule: “Only 10 percent of a dog’s daily calories should come from treats (like apples) and 90 percent should come from complete and balanced food.” Don’t worry though—you don’t need to start counting calories for your dog. Dr. Haworth notes that “dogs are typically pretty good at self-regulating,” so as long as you are also providing balanced meals, you can more or less offer as much apple as your pup shows interest in eating (and can consume without digestive upset).