A popular summer fruit, strawberries are a warm-weather staple. As you're incorporating more fresh fruits into your diet this summer, you may wonder if it's OK to toss Fido a couple of strawberries from your plate--and, fortunately, the answer is yes. Here's how to safely share strawberries with your pooch this summer.
Are Strawberries Safe for Dogs?
While there are some summer fruits that aren't exactly pet-friendly, like grapes (which are toxic) or cherries (which contain toxic pits), strawberries are a fruit that can be safely offered to your pet, as long as they are properly cleaned, the leaves are removed, and they're served in pieces to prevent choking or intestinal blockages.
But as with any good thing, they should still be enjoyed in moderation. Fruits like strawberries contain natural sugar and fiber, and eating too many can cause digestive issues like diarrhea as well as other health concerns.
Health Benefits of Strawberries for Dogs
Strawberries are chock full of nutrients that are good for both humans as well as their canine counterparts (including vitamins C, B, and K, as well as potassium, folic acid, iodine, and magnesium).
These juicy red fruits are not only low-calorie and full of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, but they also have been attributed with an array of health benefits—they can strengthen the immune system, support weight management, improve dental health, and even inhibit the aging process. Strawberries are also a rich source of omega-3, which is beneficial for your dog's skin and coat health.
Generally speaking, veterinarians recommend that treats only make up about 10 percent of your dog’s diet. Other summery fruits that are safe to share and can offer health benefits for your dog include watermelon (without the seeds), blueberries, cantaloupe, mango (as long as it's peeled and pitted), and even frozen bananas.
As always, your should be sure to check with your veterinarian before offering your dog human foods like strawberries. If you get the go-ahead, start with only a few pieces of strawberries and monitor your pet to ensure that he or she doesn't have a negative reaction. You may want to hold off on offering fruits like strawberries to any dogs who are already overweight or have conditions such as diabetes or other digestive issues, as human foods like fruit can worsen these conditions.
How to Feed Strawberries to Your Dog
Even though strawberries aren't toxic to dogs, it doesn't mean you'll want to allow your dog to chow down on as much as he or she wants. One health concern with fruits like strawberries is that their fiber and natural sugar content can lead to gastrointestinal issues for your dog, including vomiting and diarrhea.
The safest way to serve strawberries to your pup is to wash them thoroughly and cut the fruit up into small pieces. This will help prevent choking and make them easier for your dog to digest. Be sure to opt for organic strawberries whenever possible to eliminate concerns related to trace amounts of pesticides or other harmful chemicals on fruit that you're sharing with your pet (organic strawberries will be better for your health, too).
Some dogs (particularly smaller breeds) may enjoy mashed up berries or even a puree that's added to their food. And most dogs will enjoy cut frozen strawberries as a refreshing treat to help keep them cool on a hot summer day.
If you are going to share strawberries with your dog, be sure to avoid canned or other processed forms of strawberries (like the syrupy strawberries that might be served on top of pancakes or waffles), which often contain preservatives and added sugar. These preservatives help retain the fruit’s red color and sweet, ripe flavor, but all the added sugar isn't healthy for your pet. These sugars and preservatives can impact your dog’s behavior (just like they can make kids act a little hyper), and over time can increase the risk of weight-related issues like obesity and diabetes. Just like with humans, too much sugar can also negatively affect your pooch's teeth and lead to tooth decay.