Apples – A Great Valentine’s Day Treat For Your Dog
When considering healthy treats for dogs and puppies there are a plethora of fruits and vegetables that make great options. Next time you are grocery shopping, add an extra apple to your cart! That’s right, apples can be a healthy and safe treat for your dog. Whether it’s a tart Granny Smith or a sweet Gala, apples are a great source of Vitamins A and C. However, anytime you introduce your dog to a new type of food or treat it will be important to do so as safely as possible.
How do you safely prepare apples as a snack for your dog? Apples will need to be washed, have the stem and core taken out, and have any seeds removed before you share with your canine companion. Apple seeds contain a substance called amygdalin which, when chewed or digested, turns into cyanide, a chemical that is dangerous in large quantities. While a single apple shouldn’t contain enough seeds to be imminently harmful to your dog, in order to keep them safe, it is best practice to simply take out all of the seeds before sharing with your dog.
A benefit to snacking on apples for both humans and dogs alike exists in a substance known as Pectin, which is a type of fiber that is found in both the pulp and peel of the fruit. Apple Pectin is considered a prebiotic as it helps to stimulate and feed healthy gut bacteria and may even inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. A healthy digestive system can mean a better immune system. Because the gut and brain work together in response to stress, pain, emotions, and relaxation, a healthy gut can mean more brain power!
Another reason that makes apples a healthy snack is due to the potential health benefits of the Polyphenols that exist primarily in the peel of the apple. These micronutrients have antioxidant properties that may protect the body from free radicals. In addition, polyphenols may also wield anti-inflammatory properties, leading to better joint health and allergy responses.
When providing apples as a treat for your dog, they may enjoy them raw or frozen, cubed or sliced, added to their meal or as a stand-alone snack. It’s important to note that apples do contain varying amounts of sugar and should not make up a significant portion of your dog’s regular diet. If your dog is on a low-sugar or low-carbohydrate diet, apples may not be the right choice of treat for your dog. Some apples have higher amounts of sugar than others and if you have any concerns, consult your veterinarian before feeding apples to ensure they are a safe option for your dog. Apple-based products with added sugar should be avoided for all dogs, as the extra sugar is unnecessary for their diet.
As with any dietary addition or change, be sure to only offer your dog a small amount of apple to begin with. A small portion of a single slice is a good place to start. Don’t be surprised if your dog takes a few moments to chew and taste the apple cube before being ready for more. If you have a teething puppy, frozen apple slices can help sooth their gums and give them something easy to sink their teeth into.
Creativity with the types of treats that we give our dogs can be an excellent way to add enrichment into their lives and add healthy diversity for their digestive system. Research any food that is not specifically marketed for dogs so that you can ensure it is a safe and appropriate choice. Over time, you can compile a list of safe, healthy, and tasty treats to reinforce your dog for nice behavior, add interest to their meals and puzzle toys, and add variety to their day to day lives!