Are Tangerines a Healthy Snack for Dogs?

Tangerines are conveniently small, easily peelable, and pack a nice citrus zest and sweet taste. This offshoot of the mandarin orange shows up in most grocery stores and thousands of trees in citrus-friendly climates.

That means the tangerine shows up in dog owners' grocery bags, fridges, kitchen counters, and sometimes backyards. Do dog owners need to worry?

Spotted white and black puppy sits in front of tangerine illustration
Spotted white and black puppy sits in front of tangerine illustration

Elles Rijsdijk / EyeEm / Lisa Holte / Getty

Are Tangerines Good for Dogs?

Not only are tangerines not toxic, but they join a ton of other fruits, vegetables, and human foods that are generally safe and good for dogs.

"Tangerines, like oranges, are high in nutrients that are good for dogs," says Rachel Hinder, RVT working at Embrace Pet Insurance. That includes vitamin C, folate, potassium, and beta-carotene (also big in carrots).

"Giving dogs tangerines in small quantities won't hurt them and will provide some of those valuable nutrients," Hinder says.

Plus, tangerines are obviously sweet, so your dog might really enjoy them.

The caveat is, always, that every fruit or vegetable treat added to a dog's diet should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Giving dogs sweet or savory high-calorie treats too often can significantly increase their daily calories and help them put on pounds that are hard on their joints, their organs, and their lifestyle.

"Tangerines do contain a lot of sugar," Hinder says, "so limit what you give to only a few sections periodically."

How to Feed Your Dog Tangerines Safely

Just like oranges, tangerines include indigestible stuff that might upset a sensitive dog's stomach. The stem, the bitter rind, the white peel (the pith) and even the seeds should ideally be removed, although a dog, depending on their size, may be able to chew up, swallow, and comfortably poop most everything in a small tangerine.

Avoiding the parts of fruits and vegetables that are least likely to be digested comfortably, though, can help you avoid dog vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain as well as a potential trip to the veterinarian to deal with an intestinal blockage, says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian toxicologist who works with Pet Poison Helpline.

And what about essential oils? You may have heard that you should avoid them around dogs, and citrus fruit like tangerines have essential oils. However, Schmid says you don't need to worry about the amount in a fruit: "Citrus fruits do contain essential oils, but it's really the concentrated oils that can be more irritating and problematic than eating the whole fruit itself."

So if your dog likes tangerines and you don't overfeed these sugary treats to disrupt your dog's healthy diet, you're golden.

What Other Fruits Can Dogs Eat?

Tangerines aren't the only fruit around that veterinary professionals happily recommend. Grapes and raisins are a big no-no, but that still leaves plenty of other options including:

Remember, dogs vary wildly in size (from tiny breeds of a few pounds to giant hounds), and each dog has unique nutritional and medical needs. That means a particular food, or the amount you feed, may violently disagree with your dog (think stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.), while another dog shrugs it off.

Always call your veterinarian if your dog eats something you're not sure about or eats too much of something that brings lingering digestive problems that don't quickly resolve. If you need help quickly in a pinch, many vets have an emergency number to call or you can call Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.