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Can Dogs Eat Apples? Are Apples Safe or Toxic to Dogs?

Is your dog is salivating over an apple slice while you make yourself a snack? Many dogs love apples, and few dog owners ever question if they are good or bad for our canine companions. But are apples really safe? What parts of the apple are not good for your pup? Veterinarian Joanna Woodnutt examines if apples are safe for dogs, and in what quantities.

Rebecca MacMillan

Last Updated: July 2, 2021 | 5 min read

Small Brown Dog Eating Apple From Tree

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate apples and is acting adversely, contact your local veterinarian.

Dogs enjoy eating all sorts of things, including fruits and vegetables, but it can be confusing to know what is safe for them. Apples are a fruit that many of us enjoy, particularly with apple trees being common in many domestic gardens too. So can dogs safely eat apples, and are they healthy for dogs?

Apples contain many healthy nutrients for humans. They also have some nutritional value for dogs. It’s often a good idea to give your dog a variety of different fruits and veggies mixed in with their dry kibble to provide them with something different. This keeps dinner time interesting.

Dogs can eat peaches, watermelon, and many other fruits without a problem. So, in the following article, we look at whether or not dogs can eat apples and any issues that you should be aware of.

Are Apples Safe For Dogs?

Small Black Dog with Apple in Mouth
Apples can be a healthy snack for most dogs.

Although dogs primarily eat meat, they are omnivorous and will eat fruit, vegetables, and grains as well. Generally speaking, apples are a safe fruit to feed your dog, as long as they are given in moderate amounts. The flesh and skin of apples are not toxic to dogs, but large quantities of apple seeds could potentially be harmful as could the tough, undigestible core. This applies to all varieties of apple from pink lady to gala, to cooking apples.

It is best to offer your pet raw, unsweetened wedges of apple to eat. Apple skin is unlikely to cause too much of an issue to dogs, so you don’t have to necessarily peel the apple, but make sure it has been well washed. This will ensure any harmful pesticides have been removed before you give it to your pet.

Are They Good For Dogs?

Small Black Dog with Apple in Mouth
Apples are a good source of nutrients for dogs.

Apples are unlikely to cause harm to most dogs and could give them a little bit of a nutrient boost. They make a great crunchy, low-calorie snack that some dogs quite enjoy.

It is worth noting that unlike us, dogs don’t require any external vitamin C so they won’t benefit hugely from the dose that apples give us. As with any fruit or vegetable, you should feed apples in moderation, especially as they contain high amounts of natural sugars.

It is best not to serve apple whole. There’s a risk of consuming the apple core and seeds this way, or, in the case of some large or giant breeds of dog, swallowing the apple whole! Apples can make a good low-calorie treat and contain the following nutrients:

Vitamin C

Humans (and guinea pigs) can’t produce their own vitamin C, so require external sources from fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C is responsible for boosting the immune system and maintaining healthy skin and connective tissue. Dogs however can manufacture their own, but it’s not going to hurt them to have a little bit extra.

Fiber

Fruit and vegetables contain fiber, which is essential for helping maintain healthy digestion. In dogs, fiber is associated with improving stool quality and helping with issues such as anal gland problems. Fiber can also help your pet feel fuller, which can help when they are on a weight loss regime. So a little extra fiber from some apple may help your pet’s digestion.

Antioxidants

Apples contain antioxidants including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid, which have proven health benefits in people. These can help reduce the risk of certain health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Some of these benefits may be seen in our pets too, though further research is needed.

How Much Apple Can I Give My Dog?

Dog Laying in Grass Next to Basket of Apples
In moderation, apples are a healthy, tasty snack.

You should only ever feed moderate amounts of apple at a time to your pet. Too much of any fruit or vegetable could cause stomach upsets. It is recommended that fruit and vegetables make up a maximum of 10% of their total daily rations. Introduce any new food item slowly to your pet, offering a small amount initially, to check for any adverse reactions or tummy troubles. Other safe fruits that you could also try your pet with include:

When Are Apples Bad?

Big Dog Laying in Front of an Apple
Make sure to properly prepare apples before feeding them to your dog.

Although the flesh of apples isn’t toxic to dogs, eaten in larger quantities it may cause a stomach upset. If they eat too much fruit, your dog could experience vomiting and diarrhea, as well as bloating or excessive gas.

The parts of the apple you should avoid feeding a dog are the seeds and the core. Apple seeds contain small amounts of cyanide, and while the odd one is very unlikely to cause any harm if lots of seeds were consumed, then it could potentially cause problems. Dogs do need to actively chew the seed to release the cyanide it contains though. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:

  • Red Mucous Membranes
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Problems Breathing
  • Collapse

While the actual risk of cyanide poisoning is extremely low, it is still better not to actively give your dog apple seeds. The apple core is quite tough and is usually the part of the fruit that we end up discarding. Don’t be tempted to offer it as a treat, as not only is this where the seeds are, but it is also quite tough and hard to digest.

In small breed dogs, there could be a risk of an obstruction occurring where the apple core becomes lodged in your dog’s stomach or intestines. This could lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, and lethargy. Surgery is sometimes required to correct an obstruction.

Apple Types & Products To Avoid

Apple Pie on Table
There are certain Apple products that are not safe to feed your dog.

Rotten apples

You shouldn’t allow your dog to eat rotting fruit, because as it ferments it produces ethanol (alcohol). Dogs are especially susceptible to the effects of alcohol so could experience signs of toxicity at lower levels than we do. You should try and clear up any fallen fruit in your garden promptly to prevent this from occurring.

Hard Cider

Cider is made from fermented apples and should never be given to dogs. This alcoholic drink could cause toxic side effects and has no nutritional benefits. Dogs with alcohol poisoning will be disorientated, wobbly, and vomiting. It could also make them have breathing issues and collapse. Make sure you don’t leave drinks unattended at social gatherings to avoid Fido helping himself.

Stewed Apples

Stewed apples usually contain a high quantity of added sugar, which is not good for dogs, and will add unwanted calories. Stick to plain, raw apple as a treat instead.

Apple Juice

It is not recommended that dogs consume apple juice. Many store-bought varieties contain extra ingredients like sugar or sweeteners that could be harmful to dogs. The lack of fiber in this product also means your pet won’t be getting much nutritionally from it, so it’s best avoided.

Apple Sauce

Like apple juice, there will be minimal nutritional benefits in giving apple sauce to most canines. Most of the fiber will have been removed, leaving a concentrated source of sugar. So, although not toxic, it is not recommended for our canine companions.

Apple Pie

Don’t be tempted to feed your dog apple pie. This tasty dessert contains high amounts of sugar, and the pastry is high in fat too. This could lead to tummy troubles, or even possibly more serious pancreatitis.

This condition occurs when the pancreas (a small organ that aids digestion) becomes inflamed, which can sometimes occur if a dog is given too much fatty food. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Creams or other dairy products often served alongside apple pie could cause problems too.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many apples can dogs eat a day?

    There is no simple answer to this as it depends on your dog’s size, weight, and health status. Generally speaking, apples (and other safe fruit and vegetables) should make up no more than 10% of their daily rations. Feeding too many apples could cause digestive upset.

  • Can dogs eat windfall apples?

    It is not advisable to let your pup eat apples that have fallen to the ground from your garden tree. These apples can soon start to rot and ferment, releasing ethanol alcohol. So not only could your dog get an upset stomach from eating large amounts of fallen apples, but he could also succumb to alcohol toxicity if the fruit is rotten.

  • How many apple seeds will kill a dog?

    It would take quite a lot of apple seeds to kill a dog, as the amount of cyanide that each seed contains is very small. The seed also has to be crushed or chewed to release cyanide, rather than swallowed whole. Reports of fatalities in dogs are extremely rare.

  • What happens if a dog eats an apple core?

    Apple cores are very tough and not easy to digest. In large breeds of dog, it may be possible for your pup to pass any undigestible material, but in smaller breeds, there is the chance of an obstruction occurring. If see signs of a blockage, such as vomiting, abdominal pain, or lethargy, then call your veterinarian.

Final Thoughts

Yes, you can feed apples to your dog in moderation. Just make sure they have been properly washed and prepared, removing the core and seeds. When introducing anything new to your pet make sure you only give them a small amount to begin with, to check for any possible tummy troubles, before giving them any more.

Feed only raw apples to your pet—don’t be tempted to give them apples that have been baked or stewed in sugar. Don’t ever force your pet to eat apples, he may not like them and could prefer to stick to his normal diet instead. If your pet is acting unwell, then always seek the advice of your veterinarian, especially if your pup has eaten large quantities of rotten apples.

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