Updated - Feb 28th, 2022
Is this a familiar scene in your house? You’re in the kitchen slicing up veggies and fruits for a meal. At your feet is your beloved pooch, calmly watching the floor for any “drops.”
Do you wonder what human foods are safe for your dog to eat and which aren’t?
Most fruits and vegetables are safe for your dog today, let’s talk about oranges and other common citrus fruits.
The good news is that oranges are a safe fruit to offer your dog. In fact, they have wonderful health benefits, making them an excellent snack for both of you!
Let’s look at all the health benefits oranges offer.
Health benefits of oranges:
Although your dog should be eating nutritionally balanced dog food, who doesn’t offer their tail-wagger a snack now and then? Or give in to the pressure of the “stare” when we’re eating a snack?
Offering fruits and vegetables from your own fridge is a cheaper and healthier alternative to the manufactured treats available in most pet stores. Citrus fruits, especially oranges, fit into the healthy treat category with minimal risk.
Oranges, and all citrus fruits, are packed with Vitamin C and potassium. In fact, an orange has more potassium than a banana!
They’re also loaded with fiber, are low in sodium, and contain thiamine, folate, and antioxidants – important nutrients in a dog’s diet.
Vitamins and minerals in an orange
- Vitamin C: This is a powerful antioxidant searching out and eliminating free-radicals that can damage cells. It also supports the dog’s immune system by reducing inflammation, fighting some cancers, and reducing cognitive aging.
Dogs synthesize Vitamin C naturally in their livers. Dogs with extreme activity levels or acute anxiety can show decreased liver function and may benefit from supplements of Vitamin C.
- Potassium: This important mineral keeps your dog’s kidneys functioning normally. It also supports efficient heart function, muscle function, and a healthy digestive system.
- Manganese: Supports healthy bones and cartilage in joints. It also helps in the production of fatty acids by metabolizing protein and carbohydrates, which support your dog’s energy levels. Manganese is not available in meats but found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and eggs.
- Dietary Fiber: The fiber in fruits is soluble fiber, meaning its benefits lie in encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and healthy cells in your dog’s colon. The fiber holds water, which helps with stool consistency and regularity. Fiber also helps with transit time, which is the time it takes for the food to move through the digestive tract.
- Moderate natural sugar: Along with the necessary vitamins and minerals listed above, it is worth noting that oranges have moderate sugar content, and can raise a dog’s blood sugar. This would be a problem if your dog is diabetic. The natural sugar content can also contribute to obesity.
So oranges are a healthy snack for your pup. They’re low in sodium but high in necessary nutrients such as potassium, fiber, and manganese.
However, are all the parts of an orange safe when offering them? Let’s look at the whole orange.
Can I feed my dog a whole orange?
If you have a large dog, yes, you could offer them a whole orange with no genuine risk, except the sugar content would be high. For a smaller breed of dog, a whole orange would be too much citric acid, fiber, and sugar. This could cause a gastrointestinal upset or tummy ache.
The best way to offer your dog an orange, especially if it’s for the first time, would be to peel it and remove the seeds (navel oranges are seedless and an excellent choice). Offer them only one section of a time, watching for any stomach upsets.
If your dog is a puppy, keep in mind their susceptibility to GI upsets; offer smaller bits to start with until you know there’s no reaction to the citric acid or fiber content.
The peel of an orange and the seeds are not toxic, but they are hard to digest and can also cause a choking or blockage problem if given in large pieces. The rind, (the orange skin) contains oil that could cause stomach upset in dogs prone to gastrointestinal issues.
The pith of the orange (the white stringy part between the rind and the meat of the orange) contains antioxidants and fiber, making it beneficial for your dog. But keep in mind the rind , and the seeds are not digestible.
When I offer my dogs a section of my orange, I don’t remove the pith, just the rind. The easiest way to do this is with a fine grater or zester, taking all the orange rind off the fruit.
Are all citrus fruits safe?
In this article, we are talking about oranges, clementines, and tangerines. But all citrus fruits are safe for your dog if not offered in large amounts.
Dogs rarely accept the tart, acidic taste of lemons, limes, and grapefruits, but will try a sweet orange section. The smell of citrus fruit can be strong and many will refuse when offered.
Orange juice, lemon, or grapefruit juice is highly concentrated fruit. The sugar content will be too high for your dog. Diabetic dogs or overweight dogs shouldn’t have any fruit juice. The juice doesn’t contain the beneficial fiber either, so dogs shouldn’t have any orange or citrus juice.
Snack time! Ideas for offering oranges to your dog.
The best way to serve your dog oranges is with the orange peels and seeds removed. Offer them a section at a time to watch for any stomach upset or a choking hazard.
A good rule of thumb is that treats should only be 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake to avoid obesity.
Large dogs can eat up to one whole orange if there are no GI issues. Small dogs should only eat one or two sections to avoid too much fiber and sugar.
If your dog is diabetic or overweight, checking with your vet first is advisable. This fruit is a healthier snack than a commercial treat, especially if offered in small quantities, but your vet knows what’s best for your dog’s health.
Another great snack idea is to add the orange segments into a plain yogurt smoothie with other fruits like blueberries, cranberries, or bananas. You can freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for a tasty summer treat too!
Oranges are high in water content, so make a refreshing snack on hot summer days when your dog needs extra hydration. They’re also easily added to the commercial, nutritionally balanced dog food at mealtime.
Mixing veggies and oranges is another way to serve them up to your beloved canine. Green beans are also high in water content and go well with orange pieces.
Simply put, these nutritious citrus fruits are a smart treat idea for your pup since they are not toxic and carry no risks if fed properly. Just be careful of the sugar content if your dog is diabetic, overweight, or prone to tummy issues, and make sure the amount you offer is appropriate to the size of your dog.
Next time you snack on an orange, feel confident you are adding benefit to your dog’s health if you offer them a piece.