Can Dogs Eat Apples?

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6 min read

Updated - Jan 15th, 2021

Eating apples in my house means I’ll be getting some “how can you not share” looks from my tail-waggers. They love apples! But are apples a safe treat for dogs?

Yes! Let your dog eat apples! They’re low-calorie, sweet treats brimming with vitamin C, A, and K; they are high in dietary fiber, but low in protein and fats. 

Apples come with potassium, calcium, and phosphorus—all beneficial to your dog’s health.

However, just like any food, there are no benefits to feeding large quantities of any treat to your dog. You risk an upset stomach, diarrhea, or worse, if your sneaky snacker gets into the apple bowl and gorges.

So, the quick answer is apples are a great snack for your pooch, but in moderation. Let’s look at all the nutritional benefits these fruits offer and how much is healthy:

Health benefits of apples:

Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant that goes after free-radicals that destroy or alter cells in bodies. It also helps reduce inflammation and boosts the immune system of your dog. Vitamin C is also believed to help reduce cognitive aging in senior dogs.

Vitamin A: This vitamin supports growth, cell function, and your dog’s immune system. Vitamin A also supports healthy eyes and sight.

Vitamin K: This vitamin supports the blood’s ability to clot. 

Calcium: This powerhouse mineral not only builds healthy bones and teeth but also supports muscle contraction. It helps the heart’s ability to push blood through the body and supports your dog’s muscles to work properly, enabling them to run and play. Healthy nerve function and supporting the blood’s clotting ability is another role of calcium.

Phosphorus: This mineral is a structural component of DNA. It also combines with calcium to add strength and shape to your dog’s bones. 

Manganese: This essential mineral helps build strong bones, ligaments, and cartilage. It also protects the cell’s energy.

Potassium: This important macro-mineral supports your dog’s kidney function. The heart, muscles, and digestive system all work more efficiently with this mineral.

Fiber: Apples contain Pectin, a soluble fiber (it absorbs water) that helps push everything through your dog’s digestive system efficiently. This helps with diarrhea, constipation, and supports gut health and blood sugar regulation.

The fiber in the apple also contributes to the health of your dog’s teeth!

Protein and Fats: Apples are low in protein and fats. The protein is plant-based, lacking the fatty acids needed for a carnivore diet. This is beneficial for dogs with kidney issues or overweight.

Carbohydrates: These are a substantial source of energy. But carbs turn to sugars in the digestive tract, so if your dog is diabetic or overweight, too much could be harmful.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants combat the ability of free-radicals to damage molecules and cells in your dog’s body brought on by stress, illness, age, environmental toxins, and disease.

How should I feed my dog an apple?

Apples contain a high percentage of water. They make a great snack, especially if your dog needs extra hydration on hot summer days. But throwing an apple down for your dog to gobble up is not a good idea. 

Most of the apple is healthy and won’t hurt your dog, but depending on your dog’s size, there are things to consider when offering this crunchy fruit.

Most store-bought apples have wax added to their surface to make them appear shiny and attractive. These waxes serve no nutritional value for your pup and must be washed off, along with any pesticides or herbicides that may be present on the apple’s surface. Organic apples are an excellent choice for your pup.

The best way to feed your dog apples is to slice them into bite-sized pieces with the seeds and core removed. 

The apple core is hard and can pose a choking hazard or intestinal blockage, especially if your dog is small. 

The seeds contain cyanide, a naturally occurring substance inside the apple seeds that can cause hypoxia, (lack of oxygen delivery to the body). The cyanide gets released when the seeds are cracked or chewed and ingested.

Accidental ingestion of a few seeds will probably not cause a problem for your dog, but cyanide poisoning can also occur when a few seeds are eaten regularly.

Signs of cyanide poisoning are:

  • Very red mucous membranes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive panting
  • Shock
  • Paralysis or convulsions

If you suspect your dog got into too many apples or is experiencing cyanide poisoning, see a veterinarian immediately.

Most dogs love apples and it’s rare to have an apple allergy, but the first time you offer it, watch for symptoms like coughing, sneezing, swelling, hives, or troubled breathing  that may mean there’s an allergy or intolerance. If signs are present, see a veterinarian immediately and don’t offer your dog any more apples.

Pet Pro Tip: If you have a dog that is prone to ‘snacksidents’ – you should consider getting a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. It can help you afford the best care in the future by covering eligible vet bills for digestive illnesses, toxic ingestion, and more.

Apples are one of nature’s toothbrushes!

These nutritious fruits offer another benefit most dog parents don’t consider. The high water content in the fruit washes the mouth and bathes the sugar off the teeth, helping to prevent dental decay.

If you leave the skin on the apple bites, they work much like a natural toothbrush, brushing and scraping the plaque off the teeth. Good news, right?

Keep in mind the apple will not take the place of routine dental care, but it helps!

What about apple juice, applesauce, and apple chips?

Apple Chips: Apple chips are dehydrated apple slices and have no real fiber. They can also have added sugars. Both reasons make this human food problematic for your dog’s dental health. 

The nutritional benefit of the vitamins and minerals are still present in the dehydrated apple, but it won’t pack the nutrient punch of raw, cut up apples for your pup.

Applesauce and apple juice: These apple forms contain high amounts of water, but also a much higher sugar content. When you think about a raw apple, and how many of them it takes to make a cup of applesauce or juice, you can see how much higher the sugar content can be in a serving of either of these compared to a raw, cut up single apple.

A dog who is overweight or diabetic would have trouble with the high sugar content in both applesauce and apple juice.

A dog prone to dental disease would have a problem with enamel decay due to the high sugars present in these forms of apple.

Snack Time! 

These crunchy, sweet fruits are wonderful to use as dog treats! Here are some ideas to turn them into tasty snacking options: 

  • Add some plain yogurt to sliced or grated apples along with blueberries, bananas, or even pineapple, for a tasty snack. Watermelon, sweet potatoes, or green beans are other healthy additions to an apple treat.
  • Apples and peanut butter is a great combo snack too. Just be sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners like Xylitol, which is very toxic to your pup.
  • Frozen apple slices are nutritious chewing treats for teething puppies. Just watch for any choking hazards.
  • Add shredded or chopped apples to your dog’s regular meal (in moderation) for some additional nutritional value. 

For DIYers, adding apples to a treat or food recipe is just as beneficial as long as you pay attention to the amount you’re adding.

Apples are a superb choice if you’re looking for an on-the-go healthy treat for your dog!

With all the nutritional benefits of apples, plus the fact they are inexpensive and easily found in any produce department, you can’t pass up these tasty fruits as a healthy addition to your dog’s diet.

Just be sure to slice, core, and take out any seeds so your beloved canine companion can gobble them up safely.

Lynn Guthrie

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!
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