An excellent source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C and vitamin B6, bananas are a heart-healthy fruit, and their built-in wrappers make them a portable food that’s perfect for a quick breakfast or snacking on-the-go. This popular tropical fruit is delicious and healthy for humans, but can they be shared with your dog?
The Benefits of Bananas for Dogs
As it turns out, the versatile, nutrient-packed fruit is also a healthy snack to share with your pup—and sometimes veterinarians will even recommend this particular fruit as a healthier alternative to more traditional dog treats that can be high in fat or salt. The most heavily consumed fruit in America, bananas are a convenient, whole, natural food that your dog might love just as much as the rest of your family does. Best of all, the health benefits of the banana—such as potassium, which is essential for maintaining an optimal fluid balance in your dog’s body, or Vitamin C to boost your pet’s immune system—make it an ideal way to provide your pet with additional nutrients. Vitamin A, Folate, Iron, Zinc, Riboflavin, and Niacin are among the vitamins and minerals that your dog can absorb from snacking on bananas.
Potential Health Concerns
There are many commercially-prepared treats that include bananas, but you may find that your pet loves munching on the real thing since many dogs enjoy the sweet flavor of bananas. However, as with most “human” foods, you’ll still want to keep portions in check when offering your dog a banana. While bananas are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol—and they contain antioxidants that play a role in preventing certain cancers and maintaining your dog’s healthy skin and coat—they are still a fruit and thus do contain a decent amount of sugar, which can lead to health issues like obesity and even diabetes.
Generally speaking, when offering your four-legged friend any foods that aren’t specifically prepared for the canine variety, moderation is key—a few slices of banana will be fine for most dogs, but letting Fido devour your entire banana is more than likely going to cause an upset stomach or digestive issues like constipation. When introducing any new snack into your pet’s diet—even fruits and vegetables—you’ll want to start with small portions to ensure that it’s not causing your pet any stomach distress. On the other hand, because of the banana’s high dietary fiber content, they can actually help relieve certain gastrointestinal problems in your pet and promote digestive health; the magnesium in bananas has also proven to promote bone growth and help the body produce protein and better absorb vitamins.
Can Dogs Eat Banana Peels?
Although the inside of the fruit is a safe snack for your dog, you should avoid feeding your pet any portion of the banana peels; though they aren’t necessarily toxic, banana peels prove very difficult for dogs to eat and could potentially cause a life-threatening blockage depending on the size of your pet and how much of the peel they have consumed. Banana peels can also be a choking hazard to your pet. Other banana-related dangers include consuming potentially hazardous levels of potassium and carbohydrates when fed in excess.
Other Ways to Feed Bananas to Your Dog
If you discover that your dog can’t get enough bananas, you can pick up some all-natural banana chips (sans additional sugar) or even make your own banana chips at home—these treats are easy to bring along on hikes or other outdoor adventures, and they also make great rewards to use during training. On a hot summer day, your dog will likely go bananas for some frozen slices as another tasty treat.
The banana's mashable texture means that your pet’s kibble can, on occasion, be topped with fresh banana, or if your dog is a Kong fan, then either frozen or unfrozen mashed banana can be used as a filling. You can also mix banana with other pet-friendly human foods like peanut butter (just be sure it’s a variety that does not contain xylitol, a known toxin) as a special treat for your four-legged friend, or bake up your own special at-home treats with ingredients like ripe banana, apple, sweet potatoes, and peanut butter.
Looking for even more ways to make bananas a part of your pet's daily lifestyle? In addition to being a delectable treat, bananas can also have other purposes when it comes to your pooch. Believe it or not, the peel of a banana can be rubbed onto your dog’s itchy or inflamed skin—such as from a bug bite or contact with poison ivy—as a soothing agent.