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Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, sticky luscious dates are dietary staples. In America, California is the top date producer. But your furry pal doesn't care one whit about any of these facts—he just wants a bite because you're snacking on them!
Can dogs eat dates as occasional treats? Fortunately, this fruit isn't toxic to dogs like grapes and raisins are, so they're safe for dogs to eat. However, there are healthier snack options, says Thashia Reddy, DVM, a consulting veterinarian with Petcube Online Vet, a telehealth veterinary service.
Are Dates Good or Bad for Dogs?
Dates aren't harmful to dogs, so you don't need to worry if he vacuums a few pitted ones off the coffee table. But there are a couple things to consider before actually feeding some to your cuddly omnivore.
Dates are high in fructose, a natural form of sugar, which is why they taste so sweet. But our pooches don't really drool over sugary treats, so do dogs need dates in their diet? No. Reddy says dates are a good source of fiber, though, which helps offset the sugar. They also contain antioxidants as well as essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins, which often add to overall health.
If your pup has mild digestive issues or isn't eating as robustly as usual (but isn't experiencing signs of distress like vomiting or diarrhea), he can have a pitted and finely diced date. It can serve as an interesting, occasional food topper to spark more stool motility or a renewed desire for what's in their bowl.
"Finally, dates can be a good training treat for dogs since they're small and easy to eat," Reddy says. Our eager-to-learn pups are more likely to adapt to new skills and behaviors when treats are used as reinforcers in positive reinforcement training. Dates are novel additions to include in your handy bag of lures and rewards.
What Kind of Dates Can Dogs Eat?
Around the world, there are more than 200 varieties of dates, including Medjool, Deglet Noor, Barhi, Halawi, and Khadrawi.
Reddy says fresh dates are generally easier to digest, but dried dates are OK for dogs, too. However, make sure to avoid any fruit sprinkled with additional sugar or worse, covered in chocolate, which is toxic for canines.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Dates
"The best way to serve dates to a dog is to remove the pit and give them small amounts at a time," Reddy says. One or two cut into tiny pieces should be enough, as too many dates can cause stomach upset.
But remember: Dates aren't necessarily the most optimum treats for your dogs, and Reddy suggests avoiding them in favor of more healthy human foods. Other safe, dog-friendly fruits your pet will enjoy in moderation include:
Reddy recommends always consulting a veterinarian before feeding any type of fruit to a dog, as some fruits may not be safe for them to consume or require special preparation instructions.