Strawberries make for a delicious and nutritious snack for humans, and they're even better when they're part of a sweet treat like a pie or pastry. The versatile fruit can be bought at the store or even grown in your own garden at home. Since strawberries are so widespread — especially in the warmer months, when they're in season — it's likely that your dog might encounter a strawberry at some point or another.
We know that some fruits and veggies — grapes, cherries, onions, or mushrooms, for example — aren't safe choices for Fido. So you would be right to think twice before slipping your dog a strawberry, because it's always best to play it safe.
So, are strawberries good for dogs? Or do they present a health hazard?
Read on for a closer look at the benefits of strawberries, when strawberries might pose a threat, and how to give your dog these sweet, tasty fruits safely.
Are Strawberries Good for Dogs?
Yes, strawberries are a healthy and nutritious snack for your dog. As long as you feed your dog fresh strawberries in moderation, cutting them into bite-sized chunks and watching for any sign of an allergic reaction, your dog will be fine. Try substituting your dog's normal treats occasionally with a strawberry — it's a good way to spice things up for your canine friend while providing a little nutrition boost at the same time.
The Health Benefits of Strawberries
Strawberries can prove beneficial for your dog in several ways. They're a good source of vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B6, and vitamin K, as well as fiber, potassium, omega–3 fatty acids, magnesium, iodine, and folic acid. These vitamins and minerals are helpful for immune system function and cell repair, and fiber aids in digestion while fatty acids improve your pooch's skin and coat health.
Strawberries are also a very low-calorie fruit, so your pup isn't likely to gain weight just from eating them. They have a fairly high water content, too, which never hurts.
All in all, strawberries can work well as an occasional substitute for your dog's normal treats if you'd like to switch it up every now and then. In the same way that they can serve as a healthy snack for humans, so it is for your canine friend.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you should feed your dog strawberries indiscriminately without putting any thought into it. Strawberries, like many human foods, come with a few risks.
The Risks of Strawberries
The occasional fresh strawberry won't cause your dog any harm. But keep in mind that strawberries can actually harm your dog in the following cases.
Too Many Strawberries
Strawberries, like many fruits, have a high sugar content. But a lot of sugar isn't good for your pooch. So, don't let your dog eat too many strawberries at once, because it might make him or her sick. It's best to stick to only a few strawberries at a time.
If fresh strawberries are safe for your dog in moderation, are canned strawberries fine? Absolutely not. Strawberries — or fruit of any kind — that has been canned, sugared, and packed in syrup is never safe for your dog. The sugar content is just too high, and these foods might have added preservatives and sweeteners like xylitol that are downright toxic for Fido.
Strawberries in Sweets
Never feed your dog sweets that contain strawberries, like strawberry pie or baked pastries. First of all, those treats might be made using canned strawberries. Even if they're made with fresh strawberries, they contain too much sugar and fat to be safe for your dog.
Strawberries are fairly mushy and are easily chewed, but they can still present a choking hazard. This is especially likely if your pup is the type to swallow his dog treats whole. Don't run the risk of choking — try cutting fresh strawberries into smaller bits, especially if you have a smaller dog. You can also puree strawberries or mash them up and feed them to your dog that way.
Frozen strawberries are okay if you give them to your dog one at a time, but never allow him or her to chow down on a handful. This runs the risk of choking. It's more likely that your dog will enjoy a slice of fresh strawberry, anyway.
Remember: As is the case with just about any food, it's possible for your dog to be allergic to strawberries. Allergic reactions to strawberries aren't very common, but it can happen. If you notice any kind of adverse reaction after giving your dog strawberries, call your veterinarian right away for help.
How to Give Your Dog Strawberries
All things considered, adding the occasional strawberry to your dog's diet is a good way to switch up their routine and give them a little added nutrition at the same time. So how can you make sure you're giving your pup strawberries in a safe way? Here are a few basic tips on feeding your dog strawberries:
- Only feed your dog fresh strawberries. Canned strawberries or strawberries packed in syrup aren't safe. Sweets that contain strawberries are a no-no, as well. And be wary of fruit salad, because it might contain sugary syrup or other ingredients that aren't good for your four-legged friend.
- Feed strawberries in moderation. Don't overdo it, because strawberries have a lot of natural sugar and too much sugar can make your dog sick. As a rule of thumb, only feed your dog a few strawberries at a time.
- Cut strawberries into bite-sized pieces. Avoid the choking risk by cutting strawberries into smaller chunks, rather than feeding them to your dog whole.
You might wonder about other kinds of berries and whether or not they're safe for dogs. The answer, unfortunately, isn't one-size-fits-all. Some berries, like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries, are safe and nutritious for our canine companions. But other kinds of berries — juniper berries or other berries with pits, for instance — can be hazardous.
The same goes for all kinds of fruits. Some, like bananas, apples, and watermelon, are decent choices for your pup. A pitted fruit (like a peach) is okay as long as your dog doesn't eat the pit itself. But other fruits, such as grapes and cherries, are toxic and should be avoided at all costs.
Check out our guide to fruits and vegetables for dogs to find out if a certain food is safe for your pooch. And always, always call your veterinarian before feeding your dog a fruit or human food of any kind that you're unsure about. That way, you know definitively whether or not it's a good idea.
Remember to use caution with other fruits, though, because not all of them are as good for your dog as the strawberry. Play it safe and check with your vet before giving your dog any new food.
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