Fruits and vegetables can be good for dogs. Fresh produce can be a fantastic, low-calorie, high-nutrient way to reward your dog while adding variety to his diet. However, when the food has inedible parts, such as seeds, stems, and pits, they should be removed before offering a piece to your dog. While peaches, nectarines, and cherries are summer staples, the stone fruits can cause many problems for your dog.
- Teeth: Anything as complicated or more complex than your dog’s teeth can fracture them. For example, cherry stones are rugged, and if the whole fruit is fed to your dog, he may bite right into the seed and break a tooth. Fractures that reach the gumline mean the entire tooth needs to be extracted because of the high risk of infection and even disease of the jaw bone. Fractures can be very painful.
- Esophagus: Some pits have rough edges that can damage the esophagus. The lining of the esophagus is fragile and can be worn away by physical or chemical damage. This can cause esophagitis or an esophageal ulcer. Both of these conditions can make a dog too uncomfortable to eat. A complete tear is very painful and could lead to severe complications like pneumonia. A stricture can make it difficult or painful for food to pass. Signs include gagging, vomiting and regurgitation, lethargy, and not eating.
- Obstruction: If the pit reaches the stomach, it could get stuck in the intestines or down the line. It then becomes a foreign body obstruction. The same thing can happen if too many small pits are swallowed. Foreign body obstructions often require surgery. Signs of a foreign body include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and decreased or absent appetite. This is the most commonly reported adverse result of ingesting fruit pits and seeds. Do not assume that your dog is less at risk if he is very small or large. If your dog consumes indigestible fruit components, it is worth consulting your veterinarian.
- Cyanide poisoning: According to veterinary toxicologists, it requires many pits to cause signs of concern. The exact number needed to make a dog sick from cyanide depends on the size of the dog and whether or not it chews on the pit. Cyanide toxicity can be deadly in only a few minutes. If only a tiny amount is consumed, signs of cyanide toxicity include salivation, rapid or difficulty breathing, and even convulsions and paralysis. When the gums turn bright cherry red, the blood oxygen can’t reach the cells, which means that the person is suffocating. Cyanide toxicity is a medical emergency.
- Molded seeds or fruit: While some molds are harmless, others can cause illnesses ranging from gastrointestinal upset to liver failure to tremors and seizures. The pit may be moldy even if the fruit is still fresh, which is another reason to open the fruit and only give the flesh to your dog.
- Rotting fruit: When fruit rots, it can ferment. Fermentation changes sugars in the fruit into alcohol. There are many reports of wild animals getting drunk and eating their fill of fermenting fruit in orchards, including this unfortunate moose. This intoxication is unlikely to affect your pet unless she gets loose in an orchard.
While these scenarios are scary, they are easily avoided by cutting up fruit and only offering the flesh to your dog. According to veterinary nutritionists, treatments of any kind should make up no more than 10 percent of a dog’s total caloric intake. If you want to feed your dog off your plate, fruits and veggies are the way to go. Just prepare them properly so your dog can enjoy them safely.
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