Can Dogs Eat Apples: Are Apples Good for Dogs

Pet care & safety
Owner feeding dog an apple

The convenience of healthy, commercially produced dog food has been lifechanging for humans and canine companions in the last century, but it also means that pet owners aren’t always sure whether they can feed the dogs regular human food, like apples. A balanced dog diet is simple now—the job of providing nutrient balance lies in the hands of professionals, instead of leaving guesswork to owners. Dogs are not just small humans, and many of their nutrient needs are different from ours. 

An Apple a Day 

For humans, they say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but is it true for our dogs too? While eating a single apple isn’t going to prevent or treat any health condition on its own, an apple is a good source of many nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. They’re also low-calorie, high in moisture, and don’t need special processing to make them safe to eat. 

Apples are a healthy treat for people, and can be a healthy treat for dogs too, if you keep a few things in mind.   

Benefits of Apples for Dogs 

Apples are low calorie, high moisture, low fat, contain a modest amount of carbohydrates (including naturally occurring sugars) and are a good source of fiber. You can safely offer a few slices of apple to your dog occasionally for a sweet, crunchy, low- calorie treat.  

Some other important nutrients in apples include: 

  • Phytochemicals/ Flavonoids (including quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid, anthocyanin) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties 

  • Pectin, an important source of fiber that feeds good gut bacteria is known to reduce inflammation and bad cholesterol 

  • Vitamin C and Vitamin A, important antioxidants for healthy bodily function 

Preparing Apples for Dogs 

Giving your dog an apple treat doesn’t require much preparation, in fact, basic guidelines include washing, removing the core, and cutting the apples to appropriate size – just like we're preparing a snack for ourselves or a child. 

The core of an apple does contain seeds with trace amounts of cyanide but small-scale accidental ingestion (like the seeds from a single apple) do not contain enough cyanide to cause adverse effects. Still, remove the core to be safe, and cut the apple into bite-sized pieces (proportionate to your dog’s size) so they aren’t a choking hazard. 

Applesauce can be an alternative apple snack if desired but check the ingredients first! Most products use sugar, corn syrup, or apple juice as sweeteners, all of which are safe in moderation. However, others contain artificial sweeteners that are toxic to dogs. These artificial sweeteners should be avoided entirely.   

Precautions and Potential Risks 

As with all non-dog-food treats, apples should be given in moderation. Veterinary nutritionists (veterinarians who are board certified in animal nutrition) recommend no more than 10% of a dog’s food intake be made up of treats. This is to avoid nutritional imbalances that can lead to chronic conditions, weight gain, or nutrient deficiencies. 

If you’re out venturing, keep an eye out for crabapples or wild apples on the ground. While no special handling is needed, if dogs are grazing large quantities that have fallen on the ground, they’re more likely to consume the cyanide-containing seeds, and may also be eating apples that are starting to rot or are contaminated with insects.   

Dog eating an apple

Other Fruits and Vegetables for Dogs 

Safe fresh foods make a great occasional treat for dogs, and many options are low calorie compared to commercial dog treats.  

The list of safe foods is pretty extensive, but includes strawberries, oranges (peeled), tomatoes (no stems), green peas, sweet potatoes (cooked first to avoid a choking hazard), green beans, carrots (cut into small pieces), and leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. 

The list of unsafe foods though, is important to remember at all times when treating dogs with fresh foods. 

  • Grapes are always a toxicity risk and there is no established safe level, so no amount of grapes or raisins should ever be given. 

  • Avocado fruit (the part you eat) along with the skin and pit contain a compound that causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and should be avoided. 

  • All allium species plants can be toxic to dogs in large quantities, so onions, green onion, chives, leek, garlic, and other similar veggies should be avoided entirely, as they may cause vomiting and hemolytic anemia (the significant breakdown of red blood cells). 

  • Wild mushrooms are abundant in variety and each kind might produce different symptoms. 

  • Macadamia nuts are also toxic and may cause weakness and tremors. 

  • Chocolate is a well known toxin for dogs and should be avoided at all times. 

This list of toxic foods is not exhaustive, but there are many resources for pet owners (including their dog’s veterinarian) that can assist in treat decision making. 

Dog eating apple out of owners hand

What to Do if Your Dog Ingests Something Harmful 

Accidents happen, even when we're most vigilant. If your furry friend ingests something toxic, stay calm and act fast. Gather information about the substance, amount consumed, and your dog's weight.  

This is when it’s important that you have pet insurance ready to go. Embrace Pet Insurance's 24/7 PawSupport connects you with licensed vets who can guide you through the next steps, whether it's inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, or rushing to the vet. 

Embrace covers emergency care, including treatment for toxin ingestion, allowing you to focus on your dog's recovery without financial worry. Even after emergency treatment, Embrace remains by your side, providing coverage for follow-up care and medication. 

Whether it's ingesting something toxic, escaping through an open gate, or encountering an unexpected danger, our furry friends can sometimes find themselves in precarious situations. While we can't always control the environment, we can take proactive measures to protect them. 

One other crucial step is microchipping. This simple procedure involves implanting a tiny chip under your dog's skin, containing a unique identification number. This number can be scanned by veterinarians and shelters, allowing for quick and easy identification if your dog ever gets lost. The cost to microchip your dog is relatively affordable, typically costing around $25 to $60, and offers an invaluable sense of security and peace of mind. 

The Apple of Your Dog's Eye: A Treat with a Bite of Caution 

Our furry companions bring endless joy and love into our lives. But even the most vigilant pet parent can face unexpected situations, especially when it comes to food. While apples offer a delightful and healthy snack for humans, they require a bit of caution for our canine friends. 

Before you toss an apple core to your pup, remember that the seeds and core contain trace amounts of cyanide, which can be harmful. However, the good news is that apples themselves are generally safe for dogs in moderation. They're a great source of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, making them a nutritious and low-calorie treat. 

The key lies in preparation. Simply remove the core and seeds, chop the apple into bite-sized pieces, and voilà! You have a healthy snack that many dogs will adore. Just remember to avoid overindulging your furry friend, as too much of anything can upset their digestive system. 

Of course, every dog is unique, and it's always best to consult your veterinarian before introducing any new foods, especially for pets with specific health conditions or dietary restrictions. 

But with a little preparation and knowledge, apples can be a wonderful and affordable addition to your dog's diet. So, the next time you're enjoying this crisp and refreshing fruit, remember to share a bite with your furry friend (the safe way, of course!). After all, seeing that wagging tail and happy face is the sweetest reward of all.