Packed with vitamin C and other nutrients, oranges make a healthy, refreshing snack for humans—and orange juice is a go-to breakfast staple—but are they safe for our canine companions? Find out if it's okay to feed your dog oranges, and if so, how much, and under what conditions.
Are Oranges Safe for Dogs?
While not every fruit is Fido-friendly (grapes, for example, are extremely toxic), oranges can be safely offered to your pet. The key is to keep portion sizes small, however—no more than one or two segments of an orange per day (larger breeds may be able to tolerate a few extra slices). Generally speaking, treats should only comprise about 10 person of your dog’s total calories for the day, which would equate to a few sections of an orange.
The other fact of the matter is that even if your dog seems to be like a bottomless pit when it comes to other fruits or veggies, many will turn their nose up at oranges (or other similar fruits, including tangerines and clementines) because citrus fruit has a more bitter flavor. Like other citrus fruits (think grapefruits and lemons), oranges are quite acidic and high in sugar—both of which do not necessarily belong in the diet of a healthy canine.
Can Eating Oranges Benefit Dogs?
Like many fruits, oranges are jam-packed with of nutrients and antioxidants—and they're possibly known best as being a vitamin C powerhouse. They are also rich in potassium and beta-carotene, low in sodium, and contain some fiber.
So what does that mean for dogs? Just like humans, oranges may provide some benefits to your dog’s immune system thanks to their high vitamin C content as well as a host of antioxidants. However, pet owners should know that their dogs already produce vitamin C naturally within their bodies, so a dietary source like oranges aren't actually necessary. The good news, though, is that a little bit of extra vitamin C won't hurt your pet; it's a water soluble vitamin that will simply be urinated out, so any excess won't accumulate in the body.
Additionally, some experts believe that a boost of vitamin C, such as munching on an orange, can be beneficial for dogs if they've ingested a toxic substance like onion powder, propylene glycol, and other oxidative toxins.
Lastly, some research has suggested that dogs who are either extremely active or suffer from high anxiety may attain some special benefits from snacking on oranges; these dogs may have decreased liver function, which is the organ responsible for producing vitamin C.
The Dangers of Oranges for Dogs
Even though oranges aren't toxic to dogs, it doesn't mean you'll want to allow your dog to eat as much as he wants. One significant health concern with oranges is that their high sugar and acid content can cause gastrointestinal issues for your dog, including vomiting and diarrhea.
As always, check with your veterinarian before offering your dog human foods like oranges. If you get the go-ahead, be sure to start with only a small amount (a slice or two) and then monitor your pet to ensure that he or she doesn't have a negative reaction. You may also want to opt for navel oranges, which are already seedless. Dogs that should not be fed oranges include dogs who are overweight or have conditions such as diabetes or digestive issues, as the sugar content in oranges can make these conditions worse.
Another potential danger of oranges has to do with their peels, pith, and seeds, which can potentially contain trace amounts of certain toxic compounds. The seeds of an orange should always be fully removed before offering to your pet, as they can also be a potential choking hazard. Perhaps even worse, though, is the orange peel, which can easily become lodged in your dog's digestive tract causing a dangerous (and potentially fatal) blockage that will require surgery.
And in case you're wondering if Rover should share your go-to morning class of orange juice, the answer from experts a resounding no, since the juice is merely a concentrated source of the sugars and citric acid from the fruit, both of which can aggravate your pet's stomach and won't provide any nutritional value.