Can Dogs Eat Dates? Nutrition Facts & Safety Guide
This question is often asked because dates look a lot like big raisins, and well, we all know dogs cannot eat raisins because they can cause kidney failure. So, you might be surprised to learn that, yes, dogs can eat dates, and to clear up any confusion, dates are completely different from raisins.
Dates are the fruit of desert palm trees, which are known by some cultures as the “tree of life”. Essentially, dates are a seed that is surrounded by fleshy pulp, and it is this fleshy pulp that is full of nutrition for us, as well as our pups.
There are certain things that you need to be aware of when it comes to feeding your dog dates, such as how many they can eat, why they are good for them, and when they should not be fed to dogs.
So, listen up and let us walk you through everything you need to know about feeding your dog deliciously delectable dates.
Are Dates Good for Dogs?
Dates have a variety of health benefits for humans, and the same is true for our four-legged friends. However, just like anything sweet, dates should only be given to dogs in moderation.
This means ½ a date to 2 dates at any one time, dependent on whether you have a small or large dog. Use your common sense here in line with his general food intake.
Feeding him dates once or twice a week makes for a tasty and nutritious reward instead of store-bought treats that aren’t usually that beneficial for him.
When Are Dates Bad for Dogs?
Firstly, the dates that you feed your dog must be pitted, i.e., they must have the stones taken out. The label will clearly state whether they are pitted or not, and if they aren’t, then it’s very simple to remove the pits yourself. Pits are a choking hazard and can easily cause a blockage in his intestinal system, so pitted dates only for Fido!
If you are trying your dog with dates for the first time, as with any food product, give him a very small amount at first, just to be sure that he does not react badly to them.
But before you jump in, know that not all dogs can eat dates …
Can All Dogs Eat Dates?
No, not all dogs can eat dates. Because dates are high in calories and have high natural sugar content, you should not feed dates to your dog if he suffers from obesity, or if he is known to pile on the pounds easily.
Because dates are high in sugar, they should never be given to dogs who suffer from diabetes. While dates are believed to control sugar levels in humans, if your dog’s body struggles to control his sugar levels, something like a date could wreak havoc with his system, so stick to your usual treats.
There are different varieties of dates, around 3,000 to be precise, with dried Medjool and Deglet Noor dates being the most common in stores, but essentially they offer roughly the same nutrition for your pup.
So, let’s take a look at what dates offer your pooch.
Despite dogs being unable to digest fiber, it is the fiber that is the biggest benefit of eating dates. Fiber contributes towards a healthy digestive system by promoting regular bowel movements and firming up stools, so a few dates every week could be very beneficial for his digestive system.
Fiber is also known to keep dogs feeling fuller for longer, and as such, they might even decrease his hunger cravings if he is forever hungry.
You have been warned, though, too much fiber can also cause upset tummies, so don’t feed him too many dates; otherwise, you’ll find a gassy dog on your hands.
Vitamins & Minerals
Dates are also full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help fight disease and boost his immune system, keeping him fit and strong.
Dates are full of vitamins such as vitamin A, B6, K, Niacin, Folate, and Choline to name just a few. Minerals such as potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and calcium are also present in dates.
Not only do vitamins and minerals boost immunity, but they also repair cellular damage, assist with nutrient absorption, convert food into energy, and promote overall wellness.
Dried dates have the highest concentrations of antioxidants amongst all dried fruits, which contribute towards improving gastrointestinal health and fighting neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
The date tree is not called the tree of life for nothing!
Other Health Benefits
In addition to their specific nutritional benefits, dates are also beneficial for dogs for other reasons.
High in Energy
Dates are high in fructose, glucose, and sucrose, all of which are natural sugars that convert into energy. So, if you know that you are going for an extra-long walk, why not take a few dates with you for his treats?
Low Cholesterol Treat
It is a fact that dogs LOVE treats, especially edible ones. So why not make his treats nutritious as well as tasty. Store-bought or commercial dog treats are known to be full of fat and low in nutrition.
By replacing these treats with dates, you are pumping extra nutrition into his body without him realizing it.
They are also low in cholesterol which keeps his cardiovascular system healthy too, and potassium will help to stabilize his blood pressure.
Being high in vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, all of which contribute towards healthy bones and strong teeth, you can be sure that they are also beneficial for his bones and as such can contribute towards a lower risk of bone diseases.
Improved Brain Function
In an animal-based study, dates were found to improve the learning ability and memory function compared to those animals who didn’t eat them. So, feeding your dog could improve his brain health and cognitive ability.
Plus, being seriously tasty, they will also encourage your dog to be well-behaved!
So, just to recap, you can feed your dog, ½ to 2 pitted (stone-free) dates in one sitting, once or twice a week, depending on his size.
If it’s his first time, feed him just the one and see how his body reacts, and if he seems to like them then use them as tasty treats in replacement for commercial dog treats.
Not only will he probably go crazy for them, but his body will also benefit from all that date goodness.
Featured Image Credit: Enotovyj, Pixabay