The short answer to the question can dogs eat dates?: Yes!
Dates do not pose any immediate danger to a dog’s health upon consumption. In fact, these sweet treats have a lot of health benefits for our canine friends.
But that doesn’t mean you should feed dates to your dog at every opportunity. Figuring out how exactly dates fit into your dog’s diet depends on a number of factors, including your dog’s size, age, and state of health. However, one of the most practical ways to determine that is to weigh the pros and cons to eating dates.
A little background on dates
Date palm trees are native to the Middle East and can be found throughout Africa and Asia as well. They thrive in places with lots of sun, and the dry climates that usually accompany sunny places keep the moisture in the fruits at a minimum, ensuring high concentrations of natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals.
They grow in clusters and can be eaten fresh, but have pits that need to be removed. They’ve been referred to as nature’s candy because of their natural sugars. Before refined sugars, they were used as natural sweeteners for cakes and other baked goods.
They’re ordinarily served dried to extend their already long shelf life. While dogs can eat dates, they’re only meant to be an occasional snack. Unprocessed dates are already sweet due to the lack of moisture, so dried dates will be even sweeter. It’s recommended that you only feed them 2 dates at a time max, less if they’re dried.
What makes dates good for your dog
Dogs are actually very fond of sweets, so dates make for great treats to reward your dog with. Their texture makes them perfect for dogs who love to chew. How to stop a dog from chewing on metal crate? Give them chew toy varieties and treats like dates! Plus the dietary fiber content helps to improve digestion.
This fiber content ends up feeding your dog’s gut bacteria, aiding their bowel movements. Good bowel movements are absolutely essential to ensure that your dog’s anal glands remain as healthy as possible. (Check our guide on how to express dog anal glands)
It’s also got plenty of amino acids, some of which cannot be found in common fruits like oranges.
To add to that, it’s also a great source of essential B vitamins such as vitamins B(1) thiamine and B(2) riboflavin. It’s also got decent amounts of vitamin A and nicotinic acid. There’s a little bit of vitamin C in that mix too.
In terms of minerals, there’s a good bit of potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium in every piece.
How dates can be harmful to your dog
While dates themselves pose no immediate harm to dogs, too many dates can still harm your dog’s health.
A dog’s normal diet is meant to be largely sugar-free . So naturally, too many dates won’t be good for their bodies.
Too much sugar can be very detrimental to your dog’s digestive system. At best, your dog can get away with only an upset tummy and loss of appetite. At worst, they can end up vomiting, having indigestion or diarrhea, and inflammation throughout the body.
This is only a worst case scenario, but inflammation can complicate into arthritis, dermatitis, pancreatic disease, and other diseases.
Not to mention that sugar has much of the same effect on dogs as it does on humans. If dogs eat dates too much, it can cause excessive weight gain, cavities and other dental issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, and can deteriorate bone health. These are all exacerbated if your dog doesn’t get enough exercise. As pet parents, you should know how much exercise a dog needs.
Diabetes can in turn evolve into kidney failure, immune system issues, and other serious harm.
And some may think that just because us humans can get away with swallowing a date pit or two, that dogs can too. While non-toxic, date pits are a much bigger potential choking hazard to dogs. Not to mention that they’re much more likely to give them intestinal blockage,
Given all of these hazards, it’s of utmost importance that you keep a close eye on how many dates you’ve been feeding your dog. You need to ensure that the amount your dog eats
As with any food item, you’re best advised to give your pet very small amounts to see how they’ll react to them. As soon as you see any severe reaction, ask a veterinarian’s opinion about whether it’s safe to give your dog dates.
How to safely feed dates to your dog
There are a few best practices you ought to follow if you intend to let your dogs eat dates. These are:
Recall your dog’s history with sugar.
Every dog reacts to sugar differently. Try to remember how your dog reacted when you fed it sugar in the past. If you’ve never done so, introduce it in sparing amounts.
If your dog is diabetic or its family has a history of diabetes, it may be best to refrain from anything sweet. Canine diabetes can be found in 1 out of every 200 dogs, and it is just as likely to be passed on to their offspring as it is for us.
Make sure to remove the pits.
As we’ve discussed, date pits can be very harmful to a dog’s healthy digestion. Always check to see if you’ve removed the pits before feeding. Either that or make sure you buy pitted dates.
Feed them smaller pieces
Dogs can sometimes eat treats up too quickly, especially if they’re the type of dog that likes to chew. This would make them feel like they haven’t had enough yet, which can lead to him always asking for more—so you must also know how to stop a dog from begging! To prevent this, cut up the dates into small pieces. This will also help you temper the amount of sugar they consume. Plus they’d be easier to digest.
Keep an eye on them after they eat dates
Just because they seemed okay immediately after eating dates doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. You should keep an eye on them for anything that might go awry, whether it’s choking or any signs of ill health. If there’s something out of the ordinary, it may be wise to call your vet. You should also get regular checkups to see if eating dates has affected their bodies in any way that would cause alarm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can dogs have dates?
Yes. Dates do not pose any immediate danger to a dog and can be consumed safely provided the pit has been removed. However, letting your dog eat too many dates isn’t good for their health because of its high sugar content.
Are date pits toxic?
No, date pits aren’t toxic for either dogs or humans. They are choking hazards for dogs, though.
Can dogs eat dried dates?
Yes. Dried dates are not much different from fresh dates, except that they’re sweeter. Feed these to your dogs at smaller amounts than you would fresh dates, as too many can cause stomach upset and other issues.