According to the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what about the dog-tor? While it’s true that humans and our best four-legged buddies share a lot of healthy treats in common, there’s still plenty we can have that’ll upset Rusty’s belly, send him straight to the vet, or even worse. Any responsible pet parent will want to avoid this like the plague, so it’s crucial to always to do your due diligence. That begs the question, then. Can dogs eat apples once in a while, or are they on a strict no-fly restriction? And if they are okay, how much is okay? Should you even bother giving it to your dogs, or are other snacks more worth your time? Read on to explore the answer to all of this and more.
Are Apples Okay for Dogs?
Fresh, crisp, and sweet, there are few small joys better than chomping into a perfectly ripe apple. That makes it tempting to slip your sweet pup a few bites here and there, but should you? Well, the long answer is that it depends on a variety of different factors. The short answer, though? Sure! Apples are one of the best snacks you can feed them – as long as you know how to prepare them. Whether they’re sliced or cubed, sweet, tart, or somewhere in between, they can make an excellent addition to your dog’s treat routine. Not only are they safe for your beloved doggo pal, they also taste fantastic, are reasonably easy to digest, and have a lot of great nutrients in them to keep your buddy healthy and by your side for a long time to come.
The Benefits of Apples for Your Dog
Speaking of nutrients and health, what are some of the benefits attached to apples? Sure, they’re delicious and will make just about any dog flip just for a few nibbles, but are there any other reasons you should actively put apples in their regular diet or treat rotation? As a matter of fact, there are and quite a few at that. Here are some of the more impressive ones that you can expect to see with regular feeding.
- Improve skin, coat health, and immune function. Some dogs naturally have nicer coats than others due to environmental reasons, breed type, and many other considerations. That’s not a big deal when it’s something typical and purely aesthetic, but that also doesn’t mean you should immediately brush it off when your dog’s coat’s looking a little dull and lackluster. This is especially true should coat or skin color, shine, texture, or thickness suddenly change as it could be a sign of temporary illness or a deeper, more serious health issue at play. It could also be a sign your dog needs a little more support than you might’ve realized to keep their skin and fur looking (and feeling!) their best. If that’s the case, incorporating apples into their diet might help because the fruit is packed with vitamins A and C.
- Ease constipation and aid in digestive regularity. Nobody wants an upset stomach, and neither does your dog. But unsettled bellies, constipation, and other digestive issues can occasionally pop up even in the healthiest of pups. Luckily, you have quite a few options that should make them feel all better in no time at all. One of the tastiest? Give them a bit of apple for a couple of days. It’s loaded with good-for-them fiber that can help soothe their digestive trouble and encourage better regularity. On top of this, it can also improve their overall colon health, aid in weight management, and even help diabetes mellitus.
- Improve dogs’ dental health and hygiene. Our doggos might not have the pearly white smile that we ourselves are after, but their teeth do need similar upkeep to stay clean, strong, and free of any problems that could come back to bite you (pun intended) in the future. This means regular visits with the vet to check for any damage or disease, scrape off any soft plaque deposits, conduct deep cleanings, and pull any teeth beyond saving so as not to cause any further problems. All of this is crucial to their dental health. Did you know, though, that you can also help your dog’s dental hygiene just by adding apple into their regular snack rotation? Since they clean residue off teeth and freshen breath, they make for generous dental support. Just make sure to leave some skin on because the fibrous outer layer does the bulk of the cleaning.
- Provide important antioxidants. Of all the “people foods” out there, apples are among the best due to their amazing antioxidants. Containing catechin, quercetin chlorogenic acid, and phloridzin, to name a few, can help play a role in combating the damage from free radicals. Since this damage has been linked to a variety of nasty chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, liver diseases, and more, supplying man’s best friend with plenty of antioxidants might keep these diseases at bay and keep our pooches by our sides for far longer than they might otherwise.
- Maintain a trim physique. The working dogs and constantly hyper pups of the world probably won’t have to worry about it in their lifetimes, but weight control is a big necessity and focus for the vast majority of who have pets. Now that most dogs are more likely to laze around on the couch all day than herd a group of livestock or assist in hunting from dawn ‘til who knows when, their bodies are more likely to get a little soft in the middle as they age. And, well, we’re not exactly an innocent party in this. Even well-meaning pet parents have a tendency to overfeed, or alternatively, give way too many treats or table scraps. Should you fall into this category, try to reach for the apple slices next time you want to give Lassie something a little sweet. They’re nutritious and low-calorie, perfect for snacking while also maintaining a low weight.
- Aid in training. Whether you’re training your dog to be less aggressive, help with accessibility needs, or are just trying to get them to shake hands like a good boy/girl, it’s natural to get frustrated. Training can quickly have you at the end of your rope because it genuinely is a painfully slow process at times. Depending on the behavior or action you’re trying to teach, it could be weeks before your canine buddy really gets the memo. You can help speed this up, though, by having a useful training aid. Clickers are a fantastic choice, but a nice treat like apples can also go a long way to encouraging the behavior you’re wanting. It’s not going to be a miracle worker, but hey. Everyone’s willing to put in a little extra effort when there’s good food on the line – human or dog alike.
- Fill in general nutritional gaps. All dog food is supposed to be nutritionally balanced, but that doesn’t mean all of them are. Not all foods are created equal, after all. Then you’ve also got different nutritional needs for different breeds, individual differences in absorption, and more to all account for. Basically, it all adds up to mean that it’s not impossible for our furry friends to be deficient in a few things here and there. Loaded in vitamin A, C,K, and in critical minerals like calcium and phosphorous, apples can fill in a few of these gaps should they pop up.
What About Applesauce?
After going over all the potential benefits attached to apples, it’s clear that they’re good for your dog. But what about applesauce or other apple-based treats? Well, the truth is that you’ve got to be a little bit more careful here. Things such as apple chips or dehydrated apples are less nutritious than their fresher counterparts. They are typically bad for a dog’s teeth because of added (or more concentrated) sugar and the different texture. Just avoid these altogether. As for applesauce, only some brands and varieties are acceptable for our four-legged companions. This is because many also come with added sugar and artificial sweeteners – including some that may be toxic to dogs – while also lacking the fiber and natural grit that makes apples beneficial for cleaning teeth and promoting good digestion.
Always look for applesauce that clearly says there are no additional sweeteners and has an ingredient label that backs up that claim. If it does and doesn’t have any other dangerous additives, you’re likely pretty safe in giving it to your dog. It’s understandable to be still worried, though. In that case, you can always make your applesauce at home!
Potential Health Concerns
Apples are a pretty universally safe treat for dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes, but that doesn’t mean they come entirely free of health concerns. There’s always a chance that a food might not sit so well in your dog’s system or that they might be allergic. An apple allergy is incredibly uncommon as apples contain negligible protein, which is the primary source of food allergies. That said, it’s still possible for a dog to have a reaction, so you should keep an eye on them if you’re giving them apples for the first time. Beyond allergies, there are a few health concerns to be mindful of, mainly gastrointestinal upset from eating too many or possible poisoning from apple seeds. Both of these are easy to avoid, though. Just stick to keeping their apple intake under 10% of their daily calories and don’t ever give them the core or its seeds. Following these two simple tips are likely to keep Sparky feeling his best while ensuring he can still have the snack he deserves. We’d still recommend giving the vet a quick call to be on the safe side, however. Some conditions could be worsened by eating apples, so keep that in mind if your buddy has medical conditions.
Preparing Your Dog’s Apples
The sweet, fresh zing of an apple is almost impossible for any pooch to turn down, even among the pickiest of eaters. However, you can’t just toss them a whole apple and let them go to town. Even this simple treat needs a small amount of preparation before it’s ready for munching. The first thing you should do is give it a quick washing just to get any grubby germs off the top. Then you can cut them into slices or cubes. Depending on your dog’s size and chewing ability, you might want to make these relatively small and maybe even cut off some of the waxy skin. This might make it less beneficial to their teeth, but that’s far preferable to them being unable to chew it and choke. When you’re doing cutting, throw the core and seeds away and put any leftover slices in the fridge to be used later.
Recipes to Try Out
Want to do something a little more special than just gifting your dog a slice? You can do that. There are a ton of awesome, dog-friendly recipes that make use of apples as a main ingredient. Here are a couple ones you can try out today that are just in time for fall!
Pumpkin Apple Dog Treats
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- Finely diced apple
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- An egg
- 1/3 cup water
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with your choice of baking liner. Mix your baking powder and flour together first before adding your other ingredients. Combine and stir until it forms a dough that’s slightly wet to the touch. Roll this out and cut it into whatever shape you want before throwing it into the oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, then serve to your best doggo friends.
Sweet Potato Apple Treats
- 2 or 3 sweet potatoes
- 1 grated apple (sweeter variety recommended)
- 3 cups of flour
- 2 eggs
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and either coat a baking sheet with oil or use your choice of baking liner. Cut your sweet potatoes in half. Lay them face down and bake for 40 minutes or until they’re completely soft. Once they’re done and cooled, peel off the skin and mash them. Drop the oven down to 375 degrees and combine the 3 cups of sweet potato, your apples, flour, and eggs until it forms a soft dough. Divide into quarters, roll them out into thin logs, and twist 2 together until you get the shape you want. Or, if you’d prefer, freehand them into any shape you’d like, whether that be dog bones, stars, paw prints, or something else entirely. All that’s left is to bake them for 35 minutes, let them cool, and let your furry friend enjoy!