can dogs eat strawberries?

can dogs eat strawberries?
Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on Jun 15 2020

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.

Yes, dogs can eat strawberries, but there are some considerations to keep in mind.

Health benefits

In addition to being a mouth-watering food, strawberries are incredibly healthy: they’re an excellent source of vitamin C and packed full of powerful antioxidants. Flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals, and ellagic acid make this colorful fruit one of my go-to summer fruits for dogs.

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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.

A cup of strawberries contains more than three grams of natural fiber and 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 or trying to lose weight.

When is strawberry season?

The peak season for strawberry picking is typically April through June.

Strawberries are grown in every state, but most U.S. strawberries are grown in California and Florida. If you check your local farmer’s market during spring to early summer, chances are you’ll find stalls brimming with these berries 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!

How to feed strawberries to your dog

When feeding your dog strawberries, fresh or frozen berries alone are best. 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.”

Risks for dogs

It's safe for dogs to 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. I also don’t recommend feeding your dog canned strawberries or those packed in syrup since that adds even more sugar and unnatural ingredients which may not be safe for your pet, like xylitol. I’d much rather have fruit-based sugars coupled with natural fibers over junk-food dog treats any day, but it's still something to watch.

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 they are. Otherwise, enjoy this special first fruit of the season with your entire human and canine family!

Related Reading: Why bananas are a healthy snack for pets

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