People share food with their pets all the time, but some human foods are better to share than others. Apples are a great snack for dogs when used in moderation. Their sweet smell and firm texture provide some benefits while also delivering a mix of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Although there are some key things to keep in mind concerning preparation, there are plenty of ways to safely integrate apples into a dog’s diet.1
Apples are tasty treats packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that make a nice snack for dogs. They’re low in protein and fat can be a particularly great snack for older dogs on low-protein or low-fat diets for health reasons. There are a lot of benefits for young, active dogs, too. In fact, some vets believe the antioxidants and vitamin C contribute to joint health while the fiber helps keep the gastrointestinal system regular.2
The easiest way to safely feed apples to dogs is to cut them into slices. Apple cores can be dangerous for a few reasons. First, they’re a choking hazard because a dog can easily swallow a chunk that’s too big. Second, the core is firm and bulky and may cause problems with digestion, including intestinal blockage. Finally, cores contain apple seeds which contain a small amount of cyanide and can be toxic in large doses. While the seeds of one apple are unlikely to cause a problem, it’s best to be on the safe side.3
Be Cautious about Sugar
Apples are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but they also contain a lot of sugar. They make a great treat for any dog but should be given in moderation. Too many apples can cause an upset stomach, even in dogs that are otherwise healthy. Be cautious with dogs who have been diagnosed with cancer or diabetes, too, as the sugar content in apples can cause additional problems.4
Fresh apples are best. Products with apple flavoring or processed apples often contain a lot of sugar, artificial flavors, and chemicals. Always avoid artificial sweeteners or anything with unfamiliar ingredients as they can be harmful to a dog. Organic apples are best. Any apples purchased from a grocery store should be washed thoroughly before feeding as they can be covered in pesticides.5
Possible Side Effects
Any new food introduced to a dog’s diet should be done slowly to prevent an upset stomach. Apples can cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs if introduced too quickly or if eaten in excess. If this is the case, make sure the dog has access to plenty of water to stay hydrated. There’s also a chance that the dog may have an allergic reaction. Signs can include hives, sneezing, swelling, or difficulty breathing. In this case, a vet should be contacted immediately.6
In addition to providing dogs with a boost of vitamins and minerals, apple slices can also be good for their oral hygiene, particularly when the skin is left on. The texture helps clean residue off the teeth, and the sweet flavor freshens their breath. That said, apple slices are not a replacement for thorough brushing and contain sugar that can promote tooth decay.7
The easiest way to prepare apples for a dog is to simply core it to remove the seeds and slice it into thin slices. If the dog isn’t interested or just to add a little more flavor, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon might do the trick. There are plenty of other ways to incorporate apples into a dog’s diet as well.8
A Cool Treat for a Hot Day
On hot summer days, a frozen apple treat is a great way to help a dog cool down after an intense outdoor play session. Placed cored apples in a food processor or blender then freeze in an ice tray or popsicle mold. This mixture can also be thawed and mixed in with dry dog food at a later date.
Making homemade apple dog biscuits is pretty simple. There are a lot of recipes out there that use applesauce (homemade sugar-free is best), honey, cinnamon, eggs, and whole wheat flour or oats to create the perfect treat for a pup. Just remember to keep an eye on the sugar content and use them sparingly, only as a special treat.10
Smoothies are a great way to make sure dogs stay hydrated, especially on hot days. Blend a cored apple with spinach, celery, and a little bit of water until smooth and chill for a cool treat. The final product can be placed in a dish on its own or poured over dry dog food for a special meal.