One of the hallmarks of summertime is the unmistakably sweet fragrance of one of my favorite fruits: strawberries. Bursting with flavor and packed with powerful nutrients, I’m often asked if dogs can safely eat them. The short answer is a resounding “Yes!” with the longer answer being, “Yes, but…”

The benefits of strawberries for dogs

Strawberries are a healthy fruit best enjoyed fresh. They are grown in every state, with the peak season for picking typically April through June. Most U.S. strawberries are grown in California and Florida, but if you check your local farmer’s market during spring to early summer, chances are you’ll find stalls brimming with this delicacy from nearby farms. I’ve spent many a hot June morning picking strawberries with my family and can attest firsthand that my dogs have always appreciated our labor!

In addition to being a mouth-watering food, strawberries are incredibly healthy (they’re an excellent source of vitamin C). Dogs are able to manufacture their own vitamin C, so that doesn’t impress me much. What excites me are the powerful antioxidants tucked inside each strawberry.

Flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals, and ellagic acid make this colorful fruit one of my go-to summer fruit treats for dogs. Strawberries are also an excellent source of ligament strengthening manganese.

In fact, a cup of strawberries contains nearly one-third (0.6 mcg) of a dog’s daily dose (1.9 mcg) of this essential mineral. More than three grams of natural fiber is stuffed into a cup of delicious strawberries, and one cup contains about 49 calories. In comparison, a cup of raspberries yields 64 calories, an appreciable difference—especially if you or your pet is on a diet.

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Strawberry recipe ideas for dogs

Fresh or frozen strawberries are best; I don’t recommend feeding your dog canned strawberries or those packed in syrup. To maximize and preserve nutrients, try to feed them in season whenever possible. Flash frozen is fine in winter, especially as an addition to a dog-friendly vegetable-and-fruit smoothie.

My favorite way to feed my dogs strawberries is to cut in halves and offer as a treat after playtime or a run. I’ll also top off a special meal as a dessert whenever we’re celebrating with friends and family on a warm summer evening. When we’re really ambitious, we’ll mix a bowl containing a few thin slices of banana, watermelon, apple, and a few blueberries. My dogs have grown to anticipate and appreciate this seasonal special.

Another tasty, nutritious, and cooling summer treat is to freeze thinly sliced or cubed strawberries in an ice tray with a little water. It’s an “Ice Surprise” and my dogs enjoy slurping this icy treat on a sweltering day. You can substitute any dog-safe fruit or vegetable in your own “Ice Surprise.”

So dogs can absolutely eat strawberries, but as with all things, moderation is key. Those 49 calories per cup are almost all sugars, meaning a potential insulin-spike and risk of adding unhealthy pounds. Of course, I’d much rather have fruit-based sugars coupled with natural fibers over junk-food dog treats any day.

If your dog suffers from urinary tract or digestive problems, it’s always best to check with your personal veterinarian before adding any new foods, no matter how healthy. Otherwise, enjoy this special first fruit of the season with your entire human and canine family!

Sep 7, 2016
Pet Health

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