By Kimberly Gauthier
As the old saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away — but is this true for our furry canine companions as well?
As it turns out, it is! Apples are actually a fantastic, affordable, healthy, and low calorie treat for dogs. They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, and they also help keep a dog’s teeth clean along with freshening the breath.
We did a bit of digging to find out more about this wonder fruit.
The Wonder of Apples
Besides being tasty, apples or apple slices — with their core and seeds removed — make a great low protein, high fiber, antioxidant snacks for dogs.
“Some senior dogs, or dogs prone to certain illnesses, must limit their meaty treats due to protein restrictions, or stick to a low fat diet,” says Dr. Oscar E. Chavez, DVM and chief medical officer of JustFoodForDogs. “Apples, being low in protein and fat, make a great treat substitute for these dogs.”
The benefits aren’t just for aging pups or pups with health issues, though. For your younger, active dog, Dr. Chavez suggests feeding her apples for the benefits of their antioxidants and vitamin C, which some vets believe help with degenerative conditions like joint disease, and for the fiber, which can contribute to overall gastrointestinal health.
Watch for Side Effects
As is the case with any food for your dog, fruits should always be given in moderation.
“Use apples to supplement smaller portions of their normal food, and introduce fruit to their diet gradually,” says Dr. Kerri Marshall, DVM and chief veterinary officer of Trupanion Pet Insurance.
It’s also important that you remove all seeds from an apple before giving it to your dog. Apple seeds contain cyanide, and although a few apple seeds likely won’t harm your dog, eating them over time can lead to the accumulation of cyanide in your dog’s system, which is quite hazardous. As such, you’ll need to discard the core of the apple — which also poses a choking hazard — and cut the remaining fruit into slices to serve as a treat for your dog.
Also remember that every dog is different and every dog reacts to food differently. You may be raising a dog that has trouble digesting apples, so take the time to slowly add apples to your dog’s diet and gage his system’s reaction before making them a staple. If your dog has diabetes or cancer, keep in mind that apples contain sugar; speak with your veterinarian about the effect apples may have on your dog’s system and health.
How to Serve Them Up
Lucky for me, we have several apple trees in our yard. I often give our dogs apple slices with a drizzle of local honey or mix a tablespoon of homemade apple sauce into our dogs’ food. If you’d like to get a little fancier, you could try an actual apple recipe, like:
Cinnamon Apple Bones
1 large apple (or apple sauce)
½-cup of water
½ -teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (or substitute coconut flour)
Peanut butter to taste (optional)
— Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
— Chop up the apple into fine pieces (or use apple sauce).
— Combine all of the ingredients except flour.
— Gradually fold in the flour until your dough is stiff enough to roll out.
— The recipe author uses a bone cookie cutter, but you can also drop the dough in circles and flatten.
— Bake for 30 minutes, then lightly spread peanut butter over them, if desired.
— Cook an additional 30 minutes and let cool. The peanut butter will harden making a nice, tasty frosting.
Once your concoction is cool, store your dog treats on the counter if you plan to use them in a couple of days, or in the fridge/freezer to help them last longer.
Homemade Apple Sauce Cubes
Apples (how many you use depends on how many apple sauce cubes you’d like to make)
— Peal and core the apples and cut them into chunks; I use an apple core/peeler that also slices. Leaving the skin on is optional.
— Put the apples in a juicer or blender; keep the pulp.
— Mix everything together, adding water as you need to bring the mixture to the consistency of apple juice.
— Add a dash of cinnamon.*
— Store apple sauce in ice cube trays for a fun, cool treat, or store in freezer bags to thaw and serve at a later date.
* Do not substitute nutmeg for cinnamon. Nutmeg can be harmful to dogs.
Image: Scorpp via Shutterstock