By Caitlin Ultimo
Dogs aren’t always all about the meat; some will even go crazy for fruit!
A few well-known healthy fruits for dogs include blueberries, bananas, and apples. You may even see these fruits as ingredients in your dog’s food and treats. Not only can some fruits promote better health in your pet, they can also become a favorite snack thanks to their sweet and delicious flavors. However, not all fruits are safe for dogs to eat. Some dangerous foods for dogs, like grapes and macadamia nuts, can be poisonous to your pet. So where do oranges fit in on the safe-for-dogs fruit list?
To put the answer simply: “Dogs can eat oranges and the sweetness is not an issue, as natural sugars fed with fiber are safe,” says Stephanie Liff, DVM and partner at Brooklyn Cares Veterinary Hospital in New York.
When it comes to how much of an orange your dog should eat, Liff suggests smaller dogs have between 1/4 to 1/3 of a whole moderate-sized orange and that larger dogs can eat an entire one.
“There is not really a limit to how much vitamin C a pet can have because it is water soluble and excess levels are urinated out and don't accumulate in the body,” says Liffs.
The Benefits of Oranges for Dogs
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for us pet parents, so you would imagine that your pet could reap some of those same benefits from a bite of an orange.
“In some dogs, extreme exercise or stress can overwhelm the liver's capacity to make vitamin C,” said Christine Keyserling, DVM at The Animal Medical Center in NYC. “In these cases, it may be beneficial to provide additional vitamin C supplementation. However, for most pets it’s not required.”
The nutrients in oranges can have a positive effect on a dog’s immune system. Additionally, Liff says that a dose of Vitamin C can be beneficial for dogs if they ingest toxic substances, including onion powder, propylene glycol, and other oxidative toxins.
The Hazards of Oranges for Dogs
Pet parents should keep in mind the additional calories and sugars found in oranges and whether or not it fits into their dog’s daily diet.
“Oranges can affect blood values in diabetic dogs, more due to the vitamin C than the sugar levels, and would be best avoided in these patients,” says Liff.
In addition to the actual fruit portion of the orange, the outer rind has a large amount of vitamin C as well as additional vitamins and minerals in a more concentrated form. But giving dogs orange rinds is not recommended, says Keyserling. They are difficult for a dog’s digestive system to break down and could cause gastrointestinal upset. Pet parents should also make sure to cut out any seeds before feeding orange slices to their dogs.
“Nearly all dogs on complete and balanced diets do not need vitamin or mineral supplementation from fruits,” says Keyserling. But, if your dog can’t resist the sweet juicy citrus, in most cases sharing a few slices will serve as a tasty treat alternative and get you some grateful kisses in return!