Dates are a nutritious food that you may enjoy as a snack, but can your dog have them? Unlike grapes, which are highly toxic, dates are generally safe and healthy for dogs to have as an occasional treat.
That said, there are some precautions you should take if you want to offer dates as a special treat.
Are Dates Healthy for Dogs?
Dates have a lot of nutrition, including fiber, magnesium, copper, manganese, and vitamin B6. They’re also a rich source of beneficial antioxidants called polyphenols, which aid in digestion and help protect against the development of certain cancers.
While all these nutrients are good for dogs, they shouldn’t need them if they’re on a balanced commercial diet. But if you want to give your dog a date as an occasional treat, they’re a healthy option.
Treats, whether dates or other treats, should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. That means you can safely feed a half to two dates once or twice a week, depending on the size of your dog.
Precautions When Feeding Dates
Dried dates are more readily available than fresh dates, but they’re also more concentrated. This means they have a higher concentration of beneficial antioxidants, as well as sugar and calories. If you’re only feeding them on occasion, however, this shouldn’t be an issue for your dog.
Keep in mind that dried dates contain a stone-like pit in the center. This pit isn’t toxic like the pit of a cherry or a plum, but it can damage your dog’s teeth, cause an intestinal blockage, or cause choking. Remove the pit before you give a date to your dog.
Avoid feeding too many dates as well. With the high fiber and sugar content, they can cause an upset stomach in your dog. Regularly feeding too many sugary treats can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity. Being obese puts your dog at increased risk of many health conditions such as joint disease and diabetes, so it’s best to limit the dates you feed to your dog.
Before feeding, cut dates into small pieces and introduce them slowly. Feeding too much too quickly can cause indigestion.
Dates Are NOT Raisins
You may assume that if your dog could have a dried date, it could have a raisin. Dried dates and raisins also look similar, but don’t get them confused. Raisins are dried grapes, which are highly toxic to dogs.
If your dog eats raisins, it can lead to kidney failure. The same is true of grapes and currants, as well as any food that contains them, like grape jelly, wine, or trail mix.
Because there’s no known toxic dose, any number of grapes or raisins can be fatal. There seems to be an individual sensitivity in dogs, but there’s no way of knowing exactly how much your dog can handle without getting sick.
Dates are a fine treat for dogs that offers quality nutrition but don’t go overboard. Your dog’s diet provides all the nutrition it needs, but if you want to feed dates as a treat, a small amount on occasion should be fine. If you notice any adverse effects or you’re not sure if dates are safe for your dog, be sure to contact your vet.
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