With all the delectable foods in this big, beautiful world of ours, as a dog owner, it may only be logical for you to want to share some fantastic flavors with your best pal!
So, if you are eating delicious Middle Eastern cuisine and you stumble upon a Medjool date, your first thought might be, "this is absolutely delicious." Then your second thought might be, "can I give this date to my dog?"
Sharing is caring, and obviously you care about your best buddy. But you have to make sure you've got the all-clear before you give your dog people food.
So what about dates? Can you give your dog dates? Are dates toxic for dogs? Can dogs eat dates?
Where do dates come from?
First off, what is a date? Dates are a fruit native to the Middle East which have been incorporated into that region's cuisine for thousands of years. They grow in large clusters on date palm trees that can grow up to fifty feet. A date can be eaten fresh, or partially dehydrated, and is similar in texture and flavor to a large raisin. Dates are naturally very sweet, and get sweeter as they dry – they can even be used as a natural sweetener! There are a variety of dates which include Medjool, Dayri, and Barhi.
Can dogs eat dates?
Yes, dogs can eat dates in small amounts. Even if you may see some similarities between the two fruits, unlike raisins, dates do not contain any serious toxins or active ingredients that could be seriously harmful to your dog, so it is ok for a dog to eat a date now and then. Always take your dog's sensitivities into consideration when feeding him a new food, as every dog is different, and like humans, they can react strangely to new foods that may or may not be considered "toxic."
Raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. Never feed your dog raisins.
Health benefits of dates for dogs
Although a dog should get all of his nutrition from his regular food and diet, there are some health benefits of dates for dogs. Dates have high levels of vitamin C (which boosts immunity), magnesium, copper, calcium (for bone strength), potassium (for heart health) and iron. The high fiber content in dates can also help aid a dog's digestion if he is constipated (and yes, they can help you too, in case you were wondering...)!
The best ways to feed dates to dogs
The best way to feed dates to dogs is in moderation. Your dog can get all the nutrition he needs from his regular diet, so feeding him a date or two is only a sweet, supplementary treat. Feed dates to dogs in small amounts to see how your dog will react and to avoid potential adverse reactions or stomach problems. The amount of and ways you should feed your dog dates will largely depend on his age, size, breed, sensitivities, and health, so take this into account before feeding the fruit to your dog.
Are there any concerns with feeding dates to dogs?
High fiber levels
The high fiber levels of dates can lead to diarrhea and tummy aches for dogs with sensitive stomachs and GI issues. If dates are over-consumed, these symptoms can occur as well. Feeding your dog dates in moderation can help your poochie avoid any tummy problems!
High sugar levels
Although dates are all natural, they are still very high in sugar. For dogs with diabetes or other health problems, treats high in sugar can be a no-no, so do keep this in mind when feeding your dog dates.
Watch out for pits
Dates are stone fruits, meaning they have a pit at the center. You can purchase dates without the pits, but unfortunately, life is never perfect, and some dates can still have the pits in them, even if they are labeled as "pitted."
Be sure to double check that all pits are removed before feeding dates to your dog. You do not want your dog to chip his tooth or choke on a pit. While date pits aren't necessarily toxic if swallowed (they don't contain cyanide like apple seeds), it is best to remove the pit so you can avoid these types of problems.
Just like people, every pooch is different, and some dogs can have sensitivities to certain foods depending on their health, age, size, and breed. Dates – in small amounts – are not harmful to dogs. In fact, they can make for a wholesome treat every once in a while and could bring some health benefits to your pup! But there are definitely some risks to feeding your dog dates, so proceed with caution. As always, monitor your dog closely when feeding him unfamiliar foods, and be sure to talk to your vet if your canine exhibits unusual or concerning behaviors!