Have you just opened a pack of sticky, plump, and delicious dried dates? You might wonder if your dog can partake in enjoying these sweet, fiber-filled snacks.
While dates aren’t highly toxic for dogs like grapes, that doesn’t mean dates should be a go-to treat. Learn more about how dogs can eat dates and the payoffs and pitfalls of adding this fruit to your pet’s diet.
Potential Benefits of Feeding Dates to Dogs
Dogs are omnivores, and while they don’t need to eat dates or other fruits, adding measured quantities as part of a balanced diet can have some benefits. But it’s all about ensuring the fruits in question are safe for dogs, preparing them correctly, and feeding them in moderation.
For example, dates are packed with fiber. Therefore, regularly offering your pet a few dates could help promote a healthy digestive system, especially for dogs that suffer from constipation. Fed a high-fiber diet, dieting dogs may also feel fuller for longer.
Dates are also chock-full of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. While a well-balanced diet should already provide all the nutrients your dog needs, some helpful ingredients in dates include:
Magnesium contains anti-inflammatory properties and promotes healthy skin, while studies show it could help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Copper is an essential dietary nutrient for dogs that promotes skeletal growth and the formation of red blood cells.
Manganese supports healthy bone and joint development, so it can help manage joint diseases like arthritis.
Dogs need Vitamin B6 to promote glucose generation, support the function of red blood cells and the nervous system, and regulate hormones.
Dried dates are one of the richest sources of the beneficial antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols. They can aid digestion and protect against the development of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
What to Watch Out for When Feeding Your Dog Dates
Dried dates are much more readily available than fresh dates. While they are higher in sugar and calories, the dried varieties have a much higher concentration of beneficial antioxidants. But providing you are only feeding them to your pet in moderation, fresh or dried dates will be fine if your dog likes the taste.
Another peril of dried dates is that these fruits still contain the stone-like pit in the center. Make sure you remove this before feeding this fruit to your dog. Alternatively, buy pitted dates. While date pits aren’t toxic, like those of the cherry, they can be a tooth-chipping, choking, or intestinal blockage hazard.
Dogs don’t need dates as part of their daily diet. Feeding them a high-quality, balanced diet should provide all the nutrients they need. Also, too many dates can lead to an upset stomach, especially given their high fiber content. Plus, these calorific fruits are high in sugar. Eating too much sugar, even the healthy kind found in fruit, can lead to weight gain, dental troubles, and more serious issues like diabetes in dogs.
How to Feed Your Dog Dates
Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet. Therefore, we recommend sticking with feeding your dog a half to two dates once or twice a week, depending on your pet’s size. Cut the dates into bite-sized pieces and, as with any new food, introduce them gradually to ensure your dog doesn’t suffer from indigestion or allergic reactions. Sticky dates don’t make ideal chopped-up treats for putting in a pocket or treat pouch when out on a walk. But their tacky texture makes them ideal for adding as part of the stuffing for a treat toy or as a binder in doggy baked goods.
Don’t Mix Up Dates With Raisins
The wrinkly texture and brown color of dates mean you could confuse them with large raisins. Raisins are dried grapes, which are highly toxic to dogs. Their ingestion can lead to kidney failure. Steer clear of raisins, but don’t panic if your dog snaffles a few (pit-free) dates.