Safe and Unsafe Fruits For Dogs & Cats

Author: Dr. Beth Turner

Published: July 7, 2021

Updated: October 21, 2021

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husky dog getting a slice of watermelon

As if life isn’t confusing enough, we have to add in the debate about whether a tomato or a cucumber is a fruit or a vegetable (for the record, they are fruit!). And did you know that a banana is a fruit but isn’t a fruit?

Even though we call the banana plant a banana tree, in reality, it is a distant relative to ginger (it has a succulent tree stem and not a wood one) and is actually an herb. That long yellow thingy you peel and eat is a fruit since it contains the seeds (those little black specs you see) of the plant. See, so much confusion over simple things!

Well, I am here to make life simple (well, at least a very small aspect of it) when it comes to picking which juicy and delicious fruits you can share and which to avoid with your furry friends.

Are Fruits Healthy for Dogs & Cats?

While fruits are considered healthy, they still contain calories. Some are especially high in sugar, such as bananas, so it is important to keep this in mind when you are sharing them with your pet. This is even more important if your pet is overweight.

On average, a serving of fruit (4 to 6 ounces for humans) is 90 calories. Veggies tend to vary more, but on average, assume about 35 calories per serving of vegetables. Granted, you will not be giving 4 to 6 ounces of fruit or vegetables to your dog or cat at one time, but you can use this as a guideline.

It is important to be sure that your pets are being fed a nutritionally balanced diet that is appropriate for their life stage. Treats and fruits are no exception. They should make up no more than 10% of their daily calories. If you're interested in calculating how much your pet should eat, check out this dog food calculator and cat food calculator.

Fruits Can Cause Digestive Upset for Pets

Another thing to remember is that if fruits are a new food for your pet, be sure to slowly introduce them. Some pets may develop an upset stomach and have vomiting and diarrhea. Unpleasant smelly gas is even possible!

Do not introduce more than one fruit (or veggie, or really any new food item) at a time. Be sure to wait 3 to 4 days before giving another new fruit. This gives your pet’s body a chance to react if it is going to have an issue. This way, you will be aware of which fruit may or may not agree with your pets.

Safe Fruits for Dogs and Cats

Remember, fruits can be high in calories due to high amounts of sugar (bananas, pineapples, strawberries) and carbohydrates (mango, apples, bananas). Only give them in moderation. If your pet consumes too much, even of the listed safe fruits, there is risk of intestinal irritation, diarrhea, and bloating.

  • Be sure to wash the fruit before giving. Any bacteria or pesticides used on food can be harmful, just as it is for humans.
  • This list of fruit is for fresh fruit, but it can be given frozen as well. However, do not give canned fruit in syrup because of its high sugar content.
  • All serving sizes and calories listed below are approximations and are for illustrative and comparative purposes only.

Fruits Dogs May Like

acorn squash

Acorn Squash

Serving: No seeds, plain, and cooked. 1 tsp – 1 to 2 tbsp = 2.4 to 14.25 calories

Warning: Do not feed the shell since it can cause your pet to choke. 

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins A and B-6, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium

apple

Apples

Serving: Peeled and cored. 1 to 2 slices = 11 to 22 calories. You can give your dog Gala, Fuji, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, or Granny Smith – your pet's preferences are as individualized as your own.

Toxicity: Apple seeds contain amygdalin, which is composed of cyanide and sugar. It would take many seeds to kill a dog. For example, a medium-sized dog would need to eat 85 grams of apple seeds (that is about 200 apples) and completely chew them up to get a toxic dose. But just like anything, every dog has their own level of sensitivity. Additionally, if your dog inhales a seed wrong it can go down their trachea and into their lungs.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Phosphorus


apricot

Apricots

Serving: Peeled and pitted. 1 small fruit = 17 calories

Warning: If swallowed, the pit is a choking hazard and can cause an obstruction in the intestinal tract.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Potassium, Beta-carotene

banana

Bananas

Serving: Peeled. 1 to 2 pieces of 1-inch chucks = 15 to 30 calories

Warning: Bananas are high in sugar. ½ a banana has 7 grams of sugar.

Nutritional Benefit: Potassium

bell pepperBell Peppers

Serving: Chopped. 1/8 to ¼ cup = 3.5 to 7 calories

Warning: Remove stem and seeds because they can be a choking hazard for pets.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Beta-carotene, Antioxidants

blackberry

Blackberries

Serving:2 to 3 berries = 5 to 9 calories

Note: Blackberries are low in sugar.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, Omega-3 fatty acids

blueberry

Blueberries

Serving: 2 to 3 berries for small dogs = 2 to 4 calories. Up to 10 berries for larger dogs = 8 to 10 calories.

Note: Blueberries are sometimes an ingredient in dog food. While the above amounts may not seem like a lot, you must remember, treats are not to make up more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories. Additionally, fresh blueberries have a high fiber content than those processed in dog food. The cooking process lowers their fiber content. By giving too many fresh blueberries, your dog may get an upset stomach and have diarrhea. Also, too many blueberries can cause their stool to appear blackish.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Anti-inflammatory properties, Antioxidants

Try our Blueberry Meringue dog treat recipe. It uses freeze-dried blueberries. This tasty treat recipe was developed by Dr. Sarah Wallace. She is a veterinarian and certified pet nutrition coach, specializing in formulating healthy, wholesome diets and treats.

blueberry meringue dog treats

 

butternut squashButternut Squash

Serving: No seeds, plain, and cooked. 1 tsp – 1 to 2 tbsp = 1.3 to 7.9 calories

Warning: Do not feed the shell since it can cause your pet to choke. 

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants, Niacin, Thiamin, Folate, Pantothenic acid

cantaloupe melon

Cantaloupe

Serving: Remove rind. 1 piece = 19 calories

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins A, B, C, potentially can alleviate inflammation for some pets

coconuts

 

Coconut

Serving: Unsweetened, raw, or dried – 1 to 2 tsp per 10 lbs. 1 tsp = 10 calories 

The maximum amount for daily feeding of coconut oil – ¼ tsp small dogs; 1 tbsp large dogs

Warning: Keep the husk and shell away from pets. Swallowing can cause trauma and intestinal blockage. Coconut is high in fat and can cause pancreatitis and obesity if too much is given. Fresh raw coconut meat and flesh can cause diarrhea and stomach upset. Coconut water contains high levels of potassium and should be avoided. Coconut milk products may contain ingredients that can be toxic to pets and contains high levels of fat.

Note: Avoid sweetened coconut (the type typically used for baking). Coconut contains medium-chain triglycerides that can cause potential stomach upset and lead to bloating in dogs.

Nutritional Benefit: High in Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, Medium-chain fatty acids, and Antioxidants

If you wanted to give coconut oil as a supplement for your dog, this coconut oil is certified organic. These coconut chips are specifically made for dogs as well.

cranberries

Cranberries

Serving: 1 to 2 tablespoons = 25 to 50 calories

Warning: Do not give cranberry sauce or juice since they are much higher in sugar, may cause stomach upset, and may contain ingredients not safe for pets.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamin C, Manganese

cucumber

Cucumbers

Serving: Peeled. 5 to 10 slices = 7 to 15 calories

Note: Cucumbers are very low in carbohydrates and fats, so they are ideal for overweight pets.

Warning: Never give the whole cucumber, because it can cause an upset stomach in large amounts and it can cause your pet to choke. Also, they can also potentially lower your pet’s blood pressure. Therefore, if your pet has issues with their blood pressure, consult with your veterinarian before giving.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins K, C, and Magnesium; may freshen their breath

dragonfruit

Dragon Fruit

Serving: Peeled. Do not give daily. 1 tsp to 1 tbsp = .52 to 8.5 calories

Warning: Do not let pets eat the skin. It is spikey and hard to digest. The natural high sugar content can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and therefore must be given in strict moderation. Cats are more prone than dogs to have gastrointestinal issues and therefore should only be given the fruit seldomly.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins A and C, Omega-3 fatty acids, Iron, Calcium

eggplant for pets

Eggplant

Serving: Tastes better to pets if cooked; the flavor is not appealing raw. Peel and cut up into small pieces. ½ tablespoon to 2 tablespoons = .16 to .66 calories

Warning: DO NOT GIVE TO CATS – it is poisonous to them. There is a risk of allergic reaction since they are a member of the nightshade family. They contain solanine and therefore must be given in moderation. High concentrations of solanine are toxic. Eggplants also contain oxalates and should be used with caution with pets with kidney issues. Oxalates can lead to kidney and bladder stones. Not recommended for pets with inflammatory issues as it can make them worse.

Nutritional Benefit: High Fiber, Low-calorie, Vitamins B6 and K, Potassium, Folate, Niacin, Phytonutrients

fig

Figs

Serving: 1 to 2 figs = 37 to 74 calories

Warning: The fresh fig is not toxic but must be given in very strict moderation since it is very high in fiber. Do not give dried figs, as they are very high in sugar content.

Toxicity: The leaves and the sap of fig trees are toxic.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber

kiwiKiwi

Serving: Peeled and ideally remove seeds – ¼ to ½ a slice (small 1 to 2-inch thick slice). ½ slice = 2 calories

Warning: Do not feed a whole fruit since it can be a choking hazard. Too much can lead to stomach upset.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamin A, C, E, K, Potassium

lychee fruitLychee

Serving: Ripe, skinless and no pit. 2 to 4 small cut up pieces (very high sugar content makes moderation critical) – 1 whole piece of ripe fruit = 66 calories

Warning: Use caution because it contains a large seed that can be a choking hazard or may cause an intestinal blockage. DO NOT let pets have canned lychee because it is very high in sugar. DO NOT feed unripe fruit. It contains toxins that can cause blood sugar to drop extremely low. Consult with your veterinarian before giving if your pet has any medical conditions, especially diabetes. Can act as a diuretic and therefore if given, your pet must drink adequate amounts of water.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Low-calorie, High in protein, Vitamins, Copper, Potassium

mango fruit

Mangoes

Serving: Peeled. 1 to 2 slices cut small = 17 to 34 calories

Warning: The skin can cause digestive upset and the pit is a choking hazard and can cause an obstruction. Like apple seeds, the pit contains a little bit of cyanide.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber
okra

Okra

Serving: Cooked and cut into small pieces. 1/4 to 1 okra = 1 to 2 calories

Warning: Do not give routinely and only give small amounts. It can cause gas and gastrointestinal upset. Never give pickled okra due to the garlic and high salt content.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamins B and C, Folic Acid, Calcium, helps regulate blood sugar

orange

Oranges

Serving: Peeled and seeds removed. 1 to 2 segments = 8 to16 calories

Toxicity: The seeds, peel, leaves, and stem are toxic

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamin C 

papaya fruit

Papaya

Serving: Peeled, no seeds and ripe flesh. ½ of a small bite-sized piece to 3 bite-sized pieces = 2 to 8 calories.

Warning: The seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, and they can be a choking hazard as well as cause intestinal blockage. Avoid other preparations such as dried, canned, or juices since they contain added sugars and possibly xylitol (which is toxic).

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, High water content, Vitamins, Minerals

peach

Peaches

Serving: 2 to 3 pieces = 7 to 14 calories

Warning: If swallowed, the pit can cause an obstruction of the esophagus and intestinal tract.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber

pear

Pears

Serving: Cored. 2 to 3 pieces = 16 to 32 calories

Toxicity: Like apple seeds, pear seeds contain a little bit of cyanide.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber

pineapple

Pineapple

Serving: Peeled and cored. 2 to 3 pieces cut small = 20 to 27 calories

Warning: This fruit is high in sugar content. ½ a cup has over 8 grams of sugar.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, contains a lot of vitamins and minerals

pomegranate for pets

Pomegranate – use with caution – the fruit itself isn't toxic

Serving: No peel and de-seed – ½ tsp to 1 tsp. 1 tsp = 6 calories

Warning: Pomegranates have high acidity. The seeds are not digestible. They can cause stomach upset and/or vomiting since pets cannot digest the fruit and seeds like humans. Too many can cause intestinal blockage, and they can be a choking hazard for smaller pets. The peel is tough and cannot be digested. The peel can be a choking hazard and/or create an intestinal blockage. They also contain tannins. Tannins in large amounts cause can severe stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamin C, Folic acid, Potassium

pumpkin for pets

Pumpkin

Serving: 100% pumpkin puree. Dependent on the size of pet – 1 tsp to 3 tbsp (3-tbsp amount is for giant breeds). 1 tsp = 2 calories

Warning: Too much of a good thing can cause issues. Pumpkin is high in calories. It can also cause problems due to high fiber content. Consult with your veterinarian before giving if your pet has pre-existing medical issues. Do NOT feed pumpkin pie filling.

Due to pumpkin's high fiber content, do not give to pets that have protein absorption issues because the increased fiber will cause a decrease in appetite potentially causing nutritional deficiencies.

If your pet has not pooped or continues with diarrhea for more than 36 hours, do not continue to try to continue treating at home. Additionally, if you note that your pet is severely straining to poop, do not give pumpkin but seek medical attention.

Note: Dogs can handle raw pumpkin (though it is not ideal). It is best served cooked and pureed. 

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins like A, C, and E, Minerals like iron and potassium

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti Squash

Serving: No seeds, plain, and cooked. 1 tsp – 1 to 2 tbsp = .88 to 5.25 calories

Warning: Do not feed the shell since it can cause your pet to choke. Feeding too much spaghetti squash or too often can cause diarrhea.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins A and C, Potassium, Magnesium, Antioxidants

strawberryStrawberries

Serving: ½ to 1 berry cut up = 3 calories

Warning: Due to the high sugar content, if given too many, dogs can suffer stomach upset. Weight gain is also possible if you give your pet too much. Additionally, some dogs can have allergic reactions to them which can cause intense itching. Monitor your pet after giving. Whole strawberries can be a choking hazard for pets. Therefore, it is important to cut them up.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamin C, high water content, even contains a teeth whitening enzyme

Try our Fluffernutter Kisses treat recipe. It uses freeze-dried strawberries or you can use strawberry powder. This tasty weight-loss dog treat recipe was developed by Dr. Sarah Wallace. Sarah is a veterinarian and certified pet nutrition coach, specializing in formulating healthy, wholesome diets and treats for pets.

Fluffernutter Kisses dog treats

watermelon

Watermelon

Serving: 1 cup of diced pieces = 45 calories

Warning: If swallowed, a couple of small seeds should be fine, but don't serve a piece riddled with seeds, as it can cause an intestinal blockage.

Note: Even though watermelon is high in sugar, it does not cause unhealthy spikes in sugar due to the fact that the fiber in the fruit helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Additionally, it contains no sodium, fat, or cholesterol. Also, it is 92% water which helps in hydrating pets.

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, rich in Potassium, Vitamins A, B6, and C

yellow summer squash

Yellow Squash

Serving: Peeled, chopped, and seed removed. ½ to 1 cup = 5 to 20 calories

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins A, B6, C, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus

zucchini for pets

Zucchini

Serving: Peeled, chopped, and seed removed. ½ to 1 cup = 5 to 20 calories

Nutritional Benefit: Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, low-calorie

Fruits Cats May Like

Cats do not have sweet taste receptors on their tongues (do you think that is why they get grumpy?), and therefore they aren’t interested in the sweetness of fruit. But they may enjoy a special snack.cat hugging a banana

Be sure to cut/slice the pieces small enough that they won’t choke on them. Remember, cats are not small dogs, so do not give as much as you would to even a tiny dog. Here is a list of the more likely choices cats may try:

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon (seedless)

Pumpkin for Cats

If your cat will eat it, pumpkin puree (not pie filling) is great for constipated cats. Cats do not do well with raw pumpkin, and it's not ideal to give pumpkin to a cat suffering from diarrhea.

Fruits That Are Bad for Dogs and Cats or Should Be Avoided

With the good, there always seems to be some bad. While we may not be able to mentally accept that some items are fruits, we can all agree on which ones are toxic or what aspects of the fruit to avoid.

  1. Avocados – The avocado leaves, fruit, bark, and seeds contain a toxin called persin. Dogs and cats are rarely affected by the amounts in the fruit itself. But it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The high-fat content can cause pancreatitis as well. The pit is a significant choke hazard and can cause intestinal blockages.

  2. Grapes (and raisins) – These fruits can cause kidney failure and even small amounts can cause illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc., for dogs and cats. Unfortunately, the exact cause of toxicity or exact amount to cause issues is not fully known. Each pet reacts differently and if your pet has an underlying kidney issue, that you're not aware of yet, this could be even more troublesome. Toxic dose: The dose that can cause serious problems is 0.7 ounces per kilogram of grapes and 0.1 ounces per kilogram of raisins. This means that 3 grapes (or 3 raisins) could be fatal for a 2.5-pound puppy, and 12 grapes (or 12 to 15 raisins) could potentially kill a 10-pound animal.

  3. Cherries, especially the pit

  4. Corn (another veggie fruit!) – Generally recommended avoiding due to allergies to it. And the cob can be a choking hazard, as well as cause digestive obstruction.

  5. Currants

  6. Eggplant – toxic to cats; fine for dogs. However, it is not recommended for pets with inflammatory issues as it can make them worse.

  7. Lemons, limes, and grapefruit – They can cause significant stomach upset due to their high acidity.

  8. Persimmon seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestines as well as intestinal blockage (especially in small breed dogs). However, just the fruit itself in small amounts is safe.

  9. Raspberries – They contain small amounts of the natural sweetener xylitol. Likely given in moderation, they are fine but likely just easier to avoid.

  10. Rhubarb – It contains soluble oxalate crystals. Ingested in large enough quantities, the soluble oxalates are absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and bind to calcium. This causes calcium levels to decline suddenly. This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, tremors, etc.

  11. Star Fruit – This fruit is a soluble oxalate-containing plant that contains oxalic acid and oxalate salt. It binds calcium in the body. Sudden drops in calcium can lead to acute kidney failure. The exact toxic amount is unknown but just one ounce of this fruit has shown toxicity in some pets. Signs of toxicity include drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, and bloody urine.

  12. Tomato – The unripe tomato and the plant can contain a toxin called tomatine. It can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. While the ripe tomato also contains it, the amounts are very small.

    Note: Small amounts of ripe tomatoes are OK. Avoid for pets with sensitive stomachs. Do not give a lot since they are acidic and can cause stomach upset even in pets that do not have sensitive systems.

  13. Wild berries – While some berries may be safe, it is often hard to determine those from ones that are toxic. Wild berries vary a lot in their levels of toxicity. Some may only cause mild issues such as an upset stomach or dermatitis whereas others may be fatal.

    Some toxic wild berries are: Holly berries, Juniper berries, Poke berries, Mistletoe berries, Dogwood berries, and Jerusalem cherries

heart shape of fruit

Can Pets Be Allergic to Fruit?

While pets don’t tend to have food allergies relating to fruit, it is possible. If, after feeding your pet fruit, you notice hives, itchy skin or paws, rashes, etc., be sure to discontinue those fruits and any relatives of that fruit. For example, apples, pears, and apricots are in the Rosaceae family. Be sure to contact your veterinarian in the event of an allergic reaction.

If your pet has any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, etc., it is recommended that you consult with their veterinarian before giving them any fruits.

Benefits of Fruits for Dogs and Cats

woman in wheelchair preparing fruit with her cat

When I was a kid and sadly my child is the same, no amount of conversation would convince me there were any benefits to eating fruit. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few I would eat, especially if they had whipped cream or ice cream with them. But beyond that, it wasn’t happening. The good news is that most pets (I am clearly not including cats here) are not fussy about their fruits. These are some of the benefits of adding some fruit treats to your pet’s diet, but see the list above for more detail.

  1. Provides vitamins (Vitamin A, B, C, beta-carotene, etc.) and minerals, like manganese
  2. Boosts the immune system
  3. Source of fiber
  4. Antioxidants
  5. Source of potassium (bananas), which can support heart and kidney functions
  6. Potential low-calorie options to aid in weight loss (peeled cucumbers are great for this)
  7. Some are potentially anti-inflammatory (e.g., cantaloupe)

I hope you and your furry friend have a wonderful time bonding over some fresh fruit!

About the author

Profile picture for Dr. Beth Turner

Dr. Beth Turner

Beth Turner is a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience. She graduated from North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and following graduation, she began her career as an associate veterinarian and worked closely with the local shelter.

In 2007 she accomplished her dream of practice ownership, designing and building her own clinic. Another meaningful role, while running her clinic, was serving as her county's shelter veterinarian. This gave her the opportunity to help improve the lives of many animals in her community as well as work with the rescue she loved. She sold her practice in 2019 to move across the country.

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