Generally, dog owners should avoid giving their dog any human food. While many often slip their furry friend a rogue piece of meat as a treat every now and again, regular feedings of food made for human consumption can be detrimental to a dog's health.
But what about natural ingredients like apples? Widely enjoyed and readily available, apples are a sweet treat that's filled with vitamins and nutrients.
For humans, apples have a reputation for being a healthy alternative to candy and junk food. As a result, it's not uncommon for dog owners to feed the fruit to their pups as a snack, supplement, or regular part of their diet. But is it any good for them?
Are Apples Safe for Dogs?
Most veterinarians agree that apples are an excellent treat for dogs. The natural fruit is filled with a slew of nutrients that the dogs can benefit from throughout their lives. Furthermore, the various components of the apple, from the skin to the flesh, offer unique health benefits that can improve common digestion issues and deficiencies.
Like any other food, it's important to introduce apples into a dog's diet slowly and in moderation. Only a small quantity should be given to the dog at first. Owners should closely monitor the pup's reaction to the fruit prior to increasing the regularity of servings. If the dog reacts well, owners can increase their servings and make fruits a regular part of their diet.
With that being said, there are a few bits and pieces to avoid. Dogs shouldn't be fed seeds or cores. The tough core material poses a potential choking hazard while the seeds contain a toxic substance called cyanide.
The small amount of cyanide in apple seeds won't pose an immediate threat to a dog's health, but continual ingestion could cause the substance to accumulate in their system. While owners should safely dispose of the seeds and core, the flesh and skin of the apple can provide a number of great benefits.
The Health Benefits of Apples
Apples are filled with Vitamin C. While it's often found in many dog food formulas, extra Vitamin C won't harm the dog. In fact, it can help a young puppy develop properly as they age. The vitamin is essential for the development and overall health of the muscles and bones. With older dogs, that extra boost of Vitamin C will help keep the body healthy for years to come.
Vitamin A can help with the skin, coat, and immune system. Healthy doses of the vitamin can keep the skin supple and moisturized. As a result, the fur will remain strong and healthy. A proper amount of Vitamin A will result is a shiny and soft coat that looks great. The vitamin will also strengthen the immune system. It improves the body's ability to fight off diseases to keep the dog healthy.
While it does provide great benefits, Vitamin A is fat-soluble. This means that it's possible to become toxic at very high levels. Owners should monitor their dog's reaction, provide apples in moderation, and consult a veterinarian.
A Healthier Alternative to processed Snacks
One common reason that dog lovers feed their furry friend apples is because it's a healthier alternative to fatty processed snacks. Store-bought snacks can contain a slew of unsavory ingredients that will only cause weight gain. Apples, on the other hand, are a low-fat, low-protein, and low-calorie option. It's great for dogs that need to lose weight or on a restricted diet. It can hold dogs over in between meals without adding too many extra calories.
With that being said, apples do contain a significant amount of sugar. Owners should be cautious about feeding too many apples to dogs in a single serving. This is especially important for dogs with diabetes.
High In Fiber
The skin of an apple is very high in fiber. A sizable apple can have, on average, 4 grams of fiber or more. This fiber is soluble and can do wonders for a dog's digestive system. The fiber will increase in bulk as is sucks up water in the body. This results in more solid and regular bowel movements. It can also help to prevent constipation.
Because it creates a change within the body, owners should add apples into the diet slowly. Too much at one time can cause discomfort as the dog adjusts. It's also important to provide plenty of clean water to help the fiber move through the digestive system.
Apples are chock full of antioxidants. While many people are familiar with the benefits that antioxidants provide for humans, most are unaware that dogs can take advantage of them too.
These minerals and vitamins fight off the free radicals that cause damage to the cells in the body. With dogs, antioxidants can improve the immune system, skin condition, bone health, eyesight, and so much more. While they may not fight off every ailment they're susceptible to, regular consumption of antioxidants can improve a dog's overall health.
Natural Dental Care
The skin of an apple can act as a natural toothbrush to remove plaque and tartar. The tough skin of the apple will rub against the teeth as the dog chews. While it won't replace brushing altogether, it's a great way to remove grime from the teeth in between cleanings. The sweet scent of the fruit can also help keep the bad dog breath at bay.
How To Feed a Dog Apples
Dogs can enjoy apples in a variety of ways. Owners can slice or cube the fruit up for easy consumption or give the dog large chunks. It can be mixed with their standard dog food, given in between meals, or frozen for a cool summer treat.
Either way, it's important to remove the core prior to serving. With a simple apple core remover, owners can keep the main bulk of the fruit intact. This will give the dog something to play with while also promoting healthy chewing.
Some owners opt to prepare and cook the apples. This is perfectly fine for dogs. In fact, there are a variety of great dog-friendly recipes available. The only limitation is that dogs don't typically react well to heavily spiced foods. Owners should be wary about a recipe and use natural ingredients that the dog reacts well to.
While it may be easier to provide dogs with bottled apple juice rather than natural whole apples, this isn't recommended. Many bottled juices found at the supermarket are filled with sugars, preservatives, and other unsavory ingredients. While a small taste won't harm the dog, it's always best to stick with the real thing.
Owners looking to feed their companion a healthy treat should give apples a try. With their many vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, apples can provide dogs with a wide variety of health benefits.
On top of all that, apples are very enticing to dogs. Often regarded as nature's candy, dogs of all breeds and sizes will enjoy apples. They'll have a great time eating the fruit while owners can rest easy knowing that their furry friend is consuming something healthy and beneficial.