More dog food companies are striving to create a balanced, well-rounded food that meets a dog’s nutritional needs. In the wild, dogs survive off of a diet composed mainly of meal while scavenging for additional foods to meet fluctuating mineral and vitamin deficiencies. While your dog has retained many of their evolutionary instincts, they don’t have the access to the diet that a wild dog does. Quality dog food companies have put thousands of dollars and years of research into finding the perfect combination of meat, fruit, vegetables, and additional supplements to ensure your domesticated dog is as healthy as possible.
Is Fruit Actually Necessary for Dogs?
If you are a habitual label reader, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of higher-end dog foods contain more ingredients than just meat and grains. Many of these quality recipes have a variety of fruits added to create nutritional density. Some brands use berries, while others use apples or bananas. When you see these “filler ingredients”, though, you probably ask yourself if they’re necessary.When you look at the diet of a wolf, you’ll see that they do eat more than just meat. The majority of their nutrition does come from meat, primarily hooved animals like deer, moose, and elk. On average, a wolf needs about three to ten pounds of meat per day. They mostly consume the fatty meat of the animal, as well as organs like the liver, heart, and lungs.
They crush the bones to eat the marrow inside, and they’ll even eat pieces of the bone. Sometimes they’ll even consume skin and hair. If no fresh meat is available, they will scavenge for carrion in dead animal carcasses. Wolves will also eat small animals like squirrels, mice, and rabbits if they’re unable to kill a larger hooved animal. Biologists have also noticed wolves eating grass, and it’s believed that they do this when they’ve eaten something that doesn’t quite agree with their digestive systems. Other research has hypothesized that eating grass or leaves can help purge the intestines of parasites. Some wolves even eat fish as a small percentage of their diet, eating the entire fish, including the bones.
Finally, wolves will forage for a variety of berries and other fruit as a very small part of their diet. Experts disagree on why wolves eat berries, though. Some say it’s to fill a nutritional void, while others say it’s because they’re sugary, sweet, and simply taste good to the wolves.
When it comes to fruit being added to dog foods, skeptics say it’s added as a cheap filler, while others say it’s added to give your dog nutrition from natural sources. When you look at the big picture of a wolf’s diet compared to that of a domesticated dog, they’re quite different. Meat is the primary food source, yes, but the meat actually consumed is completely different between the two. Your domesticated dogs aren’t eating organs or marrow like a wolf is, so they’re getting different nutrition eating only meat.
The Benefits of Adding Fruit to Your Dog’s Diet
It’s guaranteed that the fruits inside commercial dog foods are safe, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions if you’re giving your dog fresh fruits. First, not all fruits are safe for dogs. There are some that will merely cause gastric upset, while others can actually be deadly.
Fruits are necessary in a raw diet. If you’re opting to give your dog a diet of raw meat, organs, and bones, then you’ll have to add a variety of (safe) fruits and vegetables to ensure they’re getting optimal nutrition.
If your dog is eating a dry commercial food, they don’t need fruit to be healthy. Dog food is formulated with plenty of vitamins and minerals, guaranteeing your pup is getting everything they need. Fruits can be beneficial as a replacement for high-calorie dog treats for dogs with a weight problem. Substitute their Pupperoni with a few blueberries and they won’t feel like they’re missing out on their favorite goodie.
When fruits are given in moderation, they can have small, positive impacts on your dog. Avocados, which are safe as long as you remove the pit, provide your dog with healthy fats that are good for the heart, brain, and coat. Watermelon will give your dog some much needed hydration during the heat of summer, and it’s easily digested as long as the seeds are removed. Apples will clean your dog’s teeth of minor plaque build-up, and they’re relatively well-digested as long as the skin is peeled off.
The Dangers of Feeding Dogs Fruit
Like anything else, if precautions aren’t taken, fruit can be dangerous for your dog. Of all of the fruits, grapes are the most dangerous to canines. It’s not clear why they’re so dangerous, but grapes in any form (including raisins) and amount can cause irreversible kidney damage.
Choking is another concern. Dogs don’t have the teeth of an omnivore. While your teeth are designed to effectively chew fruit, dogs don’t have that luxury. They can only break their food down so much before they have to swallow it. Most fruit is hard for dogs to chew, so it shouldn’t ever be given whole.
Too much fruit of any kind is going to lead to some yucky digestive problems. A small amount of fruit shouldn’t effect the stool at all, but if that line is crossed, your dog will start to experience diarrhea. If they eat a ton of fruit at once, they may even start to vomit. You should always retain the idea that fruit should be nothing more than a small snack. Just like you shouldn’t eat a bunch of cookies at frequent intervals, you shouldn’t allow fruit to become a staple in your dog’s diet.
It’s important to remember that just because something is good for you, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for your dog. Before adding any fruit into your dog’s diet, you should always consult with their veterinarian. Most likely, their quality food is giving them every bit of nutrition they need, and you don’t want to upset that balance no matter how good your intentions are.