As the old saying goes: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Research has shown that adding apples to our own diets can help support cardiovascular health, protect against Type 2 diabetes, control weight and prevent cancer. But if you’ve ever enjoyed this health-boosting treat and noticed your pup begging for a piece, you’ve probably wondered, “Can dogs eat apples, too?” Well, we have great news—they can!
While you wouldn’t want to toss them a whole apple to chomp on, apples can be a great addition to your dog’s diet if fed properly. We spoke with a handful of experts to get the full story on feeding apples to dogs. Our guide will explain the nutritional benefits of apples and how to introduce them into your dog’s diet. So if you’re ready to learn all about apples, read on!
Benefits of Apples for Dogs
Dogs can eat apples, but are apples good for dogs? Yes, if they are fed properly (more on that below).
Not only can dogs eat apples, but this low-calorie, crunchy treat is an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, calcium and phosphorus, says Jerry Klein, DVM, emergency department head, emeritus at MedVet Chicago and chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club.
Dr. Albert Ahn, DVM, strategic advisor for MYOS Pet, a senior pet healthcare company in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, agrees, saying that the fiber in apples acts as a prebiotic that can help support a dog’s gastrointestinal health.
“Additionally, because apples are about 86 percent water, they are a great source of hydration—as a treat—for your four-legged friend,” says Dr. Ahn.
And if your dog has bad breath, Dr. Ryan Rucker, DVM, and Zesty Paws spokesperson in Rock Spring, Georgia, says apples can help freshen your pup’s breath, too, by helping to keep their teeth free of odor-causing plaque and tartar. (Although giving their pearly whites a daily brushing is best!)
Be Careful When Feeding Your Dog Apples
Apples can be a yummy, healthy treat for pups if fed to them properly. Read on to learn more about the right and wrong ways to feed your dog apples.
Can Dogs Eat Apple Skin?
If you don’t want to spend time over the sink or trash can peeling apples for your pooch, that’s OK: Apple skin in moderation is safe to feed to your dog—and it’s good for them, too.
Dr. Ahn says the skin is where nearly half of an apple’s fiber lies and it also contains a ton of polyphenols (AKA, good antioxidants), so there’s no need to peel an apple before feeding pieces to your dog. Unless you really want to, of course!
Can Dogs Eat Green Apples?
Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider grabbing a Granny Smith apple for your pup. Yes, dogs can eat green apples, and they’re actually a slightly healthier choice than the red varietals.
“Compared to red apples, green apples are a little lower in carbohydrates and sugar and contain a little more vitamin A—an important nutrient for your dog,” explains Dr. Ahn.
Can Dogs Eat Apple Cores?
While apples can be delicious treat for your pooch, the apple core shouldn’t be consumed and pet parents should remove it before feeding.
Not only is the tough center a choking hazard, but the core also contains seeds that contain trace amounts of a poisonous substance called cyanide.
“While ingestion of the seeds from one apple would probably not pose a danger to your dog, it is best to avoid exposing him to the seeds,” advises Dr. Ahn.
Can Dogs Eat Apple Sauce?
Before you consider feeding your dog an apple-based product like apple sauce, check the label. Pet parents should avoid feeding their dog apple products with added sugar, says Go for the unsweetened version instead.
Dr. Klein also says to carefully avoid products with xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs.
To avoid such ingredients, you can also try whipping up some DIY apple sauce for your fur friend. Just add peeled and chopped apples to a saucepan with a little water and simmer, covered, until they’re tender. Then mash them up into a sauce and voilà!
Can Dogs Eat Dried Apples?
If you want to feed your dog apples, go for the fresh version rather than dried. Those packaged ones you buy in the grocery store can contain a lot of sugar, says Dr. Ahn, and may also have artificial preservatives—neither of which are good for your pup!
How to Add Apples to Your Dog’s Diet
As with any new food you want to introduce into your dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian first to make sure it’s a safe addition to the menu. Apples have natural sugar, which some dogs (such as those with diabetes, rapidly growing puppies or obese canines) may have a sensitivity to.
Serve Apples in Moderation
Once you’ve gotten the OK from your vet, start small. As with any treat, moderation is key. To start, pet parents should only offer their dogs a small piece of a single apple slice.
M.J. Potter, VMD, of Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital in Plains, Pennsylvania, says that a quarter of an apple for a 10-pound dog is the equivalent of an adult person eating several apples. So don’t go overboard and limit your dog’s consumption to just a few pieces.
As Dr. Klein warns, feeding your dog too many apples or apple skin can cause abdominal pain and/or diarrhea, so be sure to watch your pup for any signs of gastrointestinal distress. These may include vomiting, loose stool, bloating or straining to defecate, and you should give your vet a call if you notice such symptoms.
Dog Food with Apples and Apple Treats for Dogs
Thanks to apples’ many health-boosting benefits, you can find them listed as an ingredient in both dog food and dog treats.
Here are a few to consider:
Homemade Dog Treat Recipes with Apples
If you want to put those apples you just picked up at the farmers’ market to good use, try your hand at these DIY dog treats that feature apples as an ingredient.