There’s nothing like a fresh, fruity, all-natural treat on a hot, sunny day. As summer approaches and we look forward to days filled with juicy watermelon and strawberry picking season, it’s only natural to wonder about our furry friends and whether we can share those summer food favorites. Is watermelon good for dogs? Can cats eat strawberries?
Read on to learn about some summer fruits that are safe to share with pets, and which should be avoided. (Keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores and may not be interested in fruit, no matter how healthy.)
Watermelon is safe for both dogs and cats. Make sure to remove the seeds and rind first, though—seeds can cause intestinal blockage, and the rind can cause digestive issues.
Watermelon flesh is approximately 90 percent water, making it a tasty way to keep your pet hydrated. This low-calorie treat also contains an added boost of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B6 and C.
Strawberries can be a yummy bite-sized treat option for dogs and cats alike. Plus, they’re a good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, antioxidants, and fiber. Strawberries can be eaten raw or even pureed as a food topper, but make sure to remove the stems and leaves before feeding them to your four-legged friend.
Limit your pet’s strawberry consumption to just a few at a time to avoid tummy troubles; be aware of the sugar content, too.
Like watermelon, cucumbers are a hydrating, cooling treat—they can even help to freshen your pet’s breath. Cucumbers are full of vitamins B1, B7, C, and K, along with magnesium potassium, and copper. They’re also low in sugar and carbohydrates, making them a pretty harmless summer treat for your pet, especially if he needs to shed some pounds.
Before feeding cucumbers to your pet, cut them up into bite-sized pieces to avoid choking hazards.
Bananas are a good source of fiber, potassium, copper, biotin, and vitamins B6 and C. That being said, too much potassium can lead to constipation or hyperkalemia. They are also high in carbohydrates and sugar. When it comes to bananas, less is more.
To avoid overdoing it, give your pet fresh or frozen banana slices (no more than an inch-long portion of the banana) as an occasional treat.
Oranges are safe for both dogs and cats in moderation, but dogs tend to be more interested in this citrusy fruit. Oranges are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B6, and C, along with iron, calcium, and fiber.
Please note that the peels and seeds must be removed from the orange before it’s shared with your pet, as they contain oils that can be toxic (plus, the peel isn’t very appetizing). Too much citric acid can lead to digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea, so don’t share any more than a slice at a time.
Apples are a common ingredient in homemade dog treat recipes, and for good reason. These high-fiber, low-fat treats are a healthy snack especially for senior or overweight pets with lower metabolism.
Remove the stems and seeds before giving apple slices to your pet, as they contain low levels of cyanide. Pair apple slices with xylitol-free peanut butter for the ultimate tasty treat.
Stay on the Safe Side
Unfortunately, not all of our favorite foods are safe for cats and dogs. Fruits to keep away from your pet include:
- Cherries, which can be toxic to both dogs and cats.
- Grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney damage.
- Lemons, limes, and grapefruit, which can lead to an upset stomach.
In general, fruits contain more sugar than vegetables and standard pet food, so moderation is key. Pet-friendly fruit should be shared as an occasional treat rather than a staple of your dog or cat’s diet.
Be aware of choking hazards, as well. Make sure the fruit you’re sharing with your pet is easily chewable and won’t cause obstructions if swallowed whole. Pureeing is another option if you want to stay on the cautious side.
As tempting as it may be, keep any chocolate-covered fruit away from your pet, as chocolate is especially toxic to dogs and cats. (On the bright side, that means more for you!)
Before you start preparing a fruit platter for your pet, note that it’s best to only introduce one new food at a time in order to prevent an upset stomach. Plus, if your pet has any allergic reactions, it’ll be easier to rule out the culprit. Talk to your vet before making any significant changes to your pet’s diet.