Dates might look like giant raisins, but these delightful fruits actually come from the date palm and are no relation to currants.
They’re also considered the oldest cultivated fruit in the world! Most of the dates sold in our shops are dehydrated and dried, but you can also have fresh dates too which have a more vibrant colour.
I love dates, and my dog seems to have a bit of a sweet tooth and has often given me a hopeful glance whenever I’ve tucked into some. If your pooch has a penchant for sweets you might wonder whether dogs can eat dates, so let’s take a look at whether your pooch can munch one, or if they’re another food dogs can not eat.
Yep, your dog can eat dates. What’s more, most dogs find the sticky, sweet treat paw-sitiviely delicious!
Dates are a healthy little fruit full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They also happen to taste incredible and they’re so sweet they are often used as a natural sweetener in some foods. So if you ever wanted to make some special homemade doggy biscuits, you could consider using a date or two to add some sweetness to your homemade goodies.
Dates on their own are just as scrumptious and you can safely share this snack with your furry friend. Just remember to remove the hard pit before feeding it to your pooch, and don’t let them scoff too many.
Dates aren’t safe for every dog to eat though. They contain a lot of natural sugars which can contribute towards weight gain if overeaten or when a dog is not eating a balanced diet. They also aren’t suitable for pooches with diabetes because of the large number of natural sugars inside them.
Dates aren’t necessarily bad for dogs because they are safe to eat and contain a lot of nutrients. However, like many human foods, there are caveats when it comes to feeding them to your furry friend.
Firstly, dates are packed full of natural fibre. This is usually great for your dog’s gut, but you can have too much of a good thing. If your pooch eats a lot of dates it can go the other way and upset their stomach. A bit of fibre might help to ease constipation and firm up your dog’s stools, but too much fibre can actually give them diarrhoea.
Secondly, dates are chock full of natural sugars. While this makes them deliciously sweet, it can lead to problems if your pooch is scoffing them regularly. Dogs don’t need a lot of sugar in their diet, and too much in the short term can make them hyperactive. Long term, it can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sugars can also contribute to poor oral health and cavities in your dog’s teeth, so you must remember to brush their teeth regularly. However, a bit of date every now and then shouldn’t cause your fur-iend any serious harm. You just need to moderate how much they eat and make sure they’re still eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Because dates are partially dehydrated, it does mean all their nutritional content is concentrated. That includes all the vitamins and minerals, but also the sugar and calories. This is im-paw-tent to remember because although dates are small, they’re nutritionally dense so your dog shouldn’t eat a lot of them.
Finally, if your dog manages to scoff a whole date, the hard pit (or stone) inside the fruit can cause problems. If you have a small dog, this hard stone can be a choking hazard. And for any size dog, there is the possibility that the pit will cause irritation or even a blockage in their intestines. It’s easy to prevent any problems though by just removing the pit from the date before feeding it to your best buddy.
Just tear or cut the date in half and push the pit out. You can buy pitted dates that have already had their seed removed, but there is the odd occasion a date slips through with the seed intact, so it’s always best to double-check it’s pit-free for Fido.
No, dates are not poisonous to dogs. Confusion can arise because they can look like a large raisin, given they are another brown, partially dehydrated fruit. But, dates are paw-fectly safe for your pooch to eat. Dates are made from a completely different fruit that grows on the date palm, so you don’t have to worry about them being toxic.
Raisins on the other hands ARE poisonous to dogs and your dog should never eat grapes or raisins because they can cause kidney failure and may even prove fatal.
As well as wondering “can dogs eat dates?” you’ve probably pondered whether they are as healthy for your furry friend as they are for you. Well, as far as sweet treats go, dates are actually pretty healthy!
Dates are full of fibre which is good for your dog’s digestive system, helping to keep their bowel movements regular and it feeds the good bacteria in their gut. It’ll also help to prevent diarrhoea and firm up their stools, and firm stools and regular bowel movements will naturally express their anal glands, which will help to prevent anal gland problems.
Dates are also rich in minerals including potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
Potassium helps to regulate and maintain all the electrical impulses in your dog’s body. These are im-paw-tent because they allow their muscles to move, the nerves to send signals, and it keeps their heartbeat regular. Potassium also contributes to your pooch’s enzyme function and the balance of fluids in their body.
You might think of copper as the metal we use for pennies and wires, but it’s an im-paw-tent mineral for humans and hounds alike. Your dog needs copper for healthy bones, collagen, and connective tissues, and it helps them to absorb iron, (which they need for healthy blood cells and to prevent anaemia.) Copper is also an antioxidant and is used in a number of enzymes.
Magnesium is a super mineral that helps your pup’s body to absorb other vitamins and minerals. Meanwhile, your dog needs Manganese in their diet for creating and maintaining enzymes and for metabolising protein and carbs and making energy.
Dates also have a good amount of vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine. B6 aids the use of amino acids, which means it has a big impact on your pooch’s overall wellbeing from growing and repairing muscles, to growing healthy skin, and even keeping their organs functioning.
There are also lots of polyphenols in dates, a natural compound with powerful antioxidant properties. They can act as an anti-inflammatory and it’s also believed that they help prevent certain diseases like cancer.
It depends on the size of your dog! The real issue with dates is the stacks of sugar inside them. A single date weighs about 25g but it contains about 16g of sugar! Because of this, less is more. Even a very big dog should only eat a single pitted date at most. A little breed like a Yorkie should probably not have any more than a quarter a date. And regardless of how much they eat, the date must always be pitted.
Yes, your dog can eat dates and they will probably find this sticky, sweet treat irresistible. Because they are very sugary you shouldn’t let your dog eat a lot, only let them munch a single date at most. Dates are also perfect for adding some sweetness to any homemade dog treats you might be making.
However, if your dog has diabetes or is obese and needs to limit their sugar or calorie intake, then a date isn’t the perfect snack for them and you should opt for healthy treats that don’t have as much sugar or calories, like carrots, apple, or cucumber.
Also, make sure to always feed your dog nutritionally balanced and complete food so they're always getting the most from their meals. Pure recipes are tailored to your dog, taking into account their age, breed, size, allergies and ailments, to create a menu totally suited to your dog.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.