Dates are a delicious source of fiber and chock full of vitamins and minerals. Are they suitable for your dog to eat, though? Read on to find out more.
The good news is that dates are non-toxic and safe for dogs to eat in small quantities.
However, while fruits like dates contain lots of essential nutrients, the majority of your dog’s diet should consist of a nutritionally balanced dog food. Dates should only ever be an occasional sweet treat, as their high fiber, calorie, and sugar content can cause unwanted side effects.
Also, be aware that the small date pit can be a choking or blockage hazard, and it should always be removed.
Pitted dates are unlikely to be harmful to your dog when eaten in small quantities. Dates are non-toxic and contain a lot of essential vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
While dates can be an occasional healthy treat for your dog, given their high fiber content, they shouldn’t be fed in large amounts.
Excessive quantities of fiber can make food move through your dog’s digestive system too quickly, and this can lead to stomach upsets or diarrhea. It can also create a build up of gas, and can even prevent nutrients from being absorbed properly.
Dates are also packed with sugar. There is around 16 grams per date, which is a lot even for humans! Allowing your dog to have too much sugar in their diet can cause problems with obesity and cavities. It can even lead to more serious conditions, such as diabetes.
There’s also a small risk that, as with any new food, your dog could have an allergy to dates. You should always introduce any new food to your dog gradually to check if it’s an allergen. Allergic reactions commonly result in dogs having itchy, irritated skin. They can also cause stomach upsets and, in severe cases, respiratory issues.
If you notice any symptoms like this after your dog has eaten dates, especially if they’re having breathing problems, you shouldn’t delay in seeking advice from your vet.
Even if your dog doesn’t have allergies, dates should only be given in small quantities and not too frequently. Giving your dog a date once every few weeks, however, may offer several benefits. Some of these include:
There are a variety of date types, but the two most common are the Medjool and the Deglet Noor. The Medjool is bigger and contains more sugar and fiber per gram, which is something to keep in mind.
Note: Raisins can sometimes be mistaken for a small, dried date. Care should be taken to ensure you never feed your dog raisins or sultanas. They’re highly toxic for dogs, and eating too many can be fatal due to kidney failure.
Despite being small, date pits can be a choking hazard and could lead to an intestinal blockage. Both of these issues can be serious and even life-threatening.
You should always select dates with the pit removed, or take the time to remove them yourself before letting your dog have any.
If you suspect your dog has eaten dates with their pits, you should take advice from your vet. A full intestinal blockage will usually result in serious vomiting and a lack of bowel movements and needs speedy intervention.
While dates are not toxic for dogs and can have several health benefits, they shouldn’t be fed as part of your dog’s regular diet. Dates have high sugar content and are rich in fiber, so they could cause your dog to have an upset stomach.
If you’re giving your dog an occasional piece of date as a treat, always make sure that the pit has been removed to prevent any choking or blockage risk.
Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.