Bananas are a popular health fruit because they are full of nutrients. Plus they’re readily available, easy to carry around for a quick snack, and loaded with natural sugars. But are they great for sharing with your furry friends?
The good news is that bananas are safe for your dog. They’re a tasty treat that can provide dietary fiber, potassium, and other vitamins to your dogs. But you can go overboard as bananas also contain a lot of sugar.
So what is the right serving size for your dog? And are there any other precautions you need to take while feeding bananas to your dog? You’ll find answers to these questions in this article.
5 Awesome Health Benefits of Bananas For a Dog
Let’s first start by discussing the nutritional value of bananas and how these benefit your dog's health:
1. Can Support Digestive Health
Bananas contain both soluble and insoluble fibers that are essential for your dog’s digestive system. The soluble fiber absorbs water and gets fermented in the large intestine. It helps add bulk to the stool thus reducing diarrhea.
Also, their fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids that prevent the growth of bad bacteria in the gut and helps increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals.
Insoluble fibers on the other hand help soften the dog’s stool by attracting water into the intestines and preventing constipation.
2. Provides Essential Vitamins
Essentially bananas are rich in 3 types of vitamins - vitamin C, B6, and B7. All of which play a critical role in supporting your dog’s overall health.
Vitamin C is very important for your dog’s immune system as it supports the production of white blood cells that help the body fight against infection. Its also a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells against free radical damages, reduce inflammation and cognitive aging in dogs.
And although a dog’s body can synthesize vitamin C on its own, various environmental reasons like stress, growth, injuries, vaccinations, or illnesses can lead to its depletion. In such cases, fruits like bananas can help dogs fulfill their daily nutritional requirements.
Vitamin B6 also serves an important role in your dog’s body as it’s responsible for the production of red blood cells and healthy brain function. It also supports glucose generation, hormone regulation, and immune response in dogs. And unlike vitamin C, a dog’s body cannot make its own vitamin B6, hence you need to feed them supplements like bananas.
The third vitamin that’s found in bananas is B7 more commonly known as biotin. It benefits your dog’s body from the inside to the outside. It promotes healthy skin and coat, proper muscle formation, and supports digestion by metabolizing proteins and fatty acids.
3. Rich Source of Potassium
Bananas are loaded with potassium which is a primary electrolyte for dogs. It aids in the transmission of nerve impulses from the brain to the body. This exchange is critical as it controls a majority of body functions including heartbeats and contracting and relaxing of muscles.
Potassium also supports muscle growth, kidney function, and absorption of nutrients in your dog's body. Furthermore, it works with sodium to prevent dehydration and move water in and out of the cells.
Although the dry dog food that you feed your dog contains potassium, it might not be enough for your dog's daily requirements. Especially if you have a very active dog, they might need more potassium which they can get from bananas.
4. Loaded With Many Other Minerals
Apart from potassium, bananas also contain manganese, magnesium, and copper.
Manganese which is an essential trace mineral is required by a dog’s body to activate many enzymes that support bodily functions including energy production, fat and protein metabolism, bone development, and nerve function.
Magnesium which is found in bone and soft tissues is required for multiple metabolic functions in a dog’s body. It acts as an activator or catalyst for various enzyme systems including the one that transports energy within cells for metabolism and helps build protein.
And lastly, copper aids in the absorption of iron and the formation of dogs' bones, collagen, and connective tissue. It also plays a major role in the creation of myelin, a membrane that protects the nerves in the dog’s body.
5. Aids in Weight-loss
The fat content of bananas is very low, thus making them a perfect treat for your dog. You can feed it instead of other fatty and salty foods to manage their weight.
How to Feed a Banana to a Dog?
Now that you know all the potential benefits of feeding bananas, let’s move on to discussing the right ways to feed bananas to a dog.
The Right Portion Size
The first few questions that’ll come to a pet owner's mind are how many bananas can dogs eat and how often can dogs eat a banana?
Truth be told, even though bananas are loaded with nutrients and fiber, overfeeding them can lead to various health issues like upset stomach or diarrhea due to the extra fiber content. Natural sugar can also pose a problem if eaten in large quantities.
It’s important that you use bananas as a treat that you serve in between meals. It should never replace their healthy and well-balanced meal.
Now to decide the right amount of bananas you can feed your dog, you should take into account various factors like their age, breed, weight, and existing health conditions.A general guideline is to offer up to half a banana to a large dog and 2-3 slices to smaller dogs.
Talking about the frequency, it’s safe to feed a dog bananas every day. But that could increase their fiber intake and blood sugar levels, so try sticking to 2-3 times a week only. You can alternatively switch between bananas and other healthy treats.
You can also follow the 90/10 rule here by making sure 90% of their daily calorie intake comes from a complete and balanced diet and 10% from treats like bananas.
If your dog suffers from sensitivities or other health conditions, consult with a veterinarian before feeding them bananas.
Can Dogs Eat Banana Peels?
No, you shouldn’t feed banana peels to your dog. Even though they’re nontoxic, they contain too much fiber that can be hard to digest and cause an upset stomach. Plus the thick skin can cause an internal blockage.
If your dog accidentally eats the banana peel, they might experience vomiting or distress. In such cases, get in touch with your veterinarian just to be on the safe side.
Bananas for Puppies
Bananas are safe for puppies. You can feed them 2-3 slices of bananas a few times a week. But remember that puppies usually have a special diet that is made to support their growth. So chances are they are getting the nutrients that are available in a banana from their regular meal.
Hence, it would be ideal to first check with your veterinarian if you wish to add bananas to your puppy’s diet.
Safe Ways of Feeding Bananas to a Dog
There are a few different ways in which you can safely feed bananas to your dog. But before discussing those, let's talk about the ripeness of bananas and what's the best stage to feed them.
1. Unripe or Green Bananas
The unripe bananas contain a high amount of resistant starch and low sugar content. If your dog suffers from diabetes, you can feed them unripe bananas. But the high amount of starch can make it a little hard to digest.
There’s also a chance that your dog might not like the taste of green bananas as they taste a little bitter.
2. Ripe or Yellow Bananas
This is a preferable option for dogs because a ripe banana is easier to digest as the resistant starch gets converted to simple sugar. It's also a rich source of potassium and contains many other essential vitamins and minerals. All of which can be beneficial for your dog's health.
3. Overripe or Brown Bananas
An overripe banana contains many antioxidants that can help your dog fight inflammation but it also contains high sugar content that can be harmful to your dog especially if they have any preexisting health condition like diabetes.
Banana Recipes for Dogs
The most convenient and healthy way to feed bananas to a dog is to simply peel and serve. Due to its sweet taste and smooshy texture, your dog will definitely enjoy this treat.
But if you want to take things up a notch, here’re some more popular ways of feeding bananas to a dog:
1. Mix With Other Food Items
Bananas can be easily mashed and mixed into any food item. Some pet owners like to add it to their dog’s daily meal, while others like to mix it with dog-friendly peanut butter or yogurt to serve as a treat.
If you choose this option, make sure you use natural peanut butter as the store-bought options are made for humans and can contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol. It can be highly toxic to a dog.
If your veterinarian has recommended oatmeal for your dog, you can add banana to that recipe too.
2. Frozen Bananas
You can simply freeze a few slices of banana in the freezer and serve them as treats on hot summer days. Or you can mash the banana and freeze it into a dog toy such as a kong. Your dog will enjoy licking the treat from the toy and it will keep them busy for awhile.
3. Banana Chips
Banana chips are another safe treat option for your dog. But you have to be careful about the ones you buy from the store. They might contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, salt, or some other seasoning added to increase the flavor. These can be toxic for your dog.
Buy dog-safe banana chips or make some at home by dehydrating banana slices. But remember to keep the recipe simple and not add any additional ingredients.
4. Banana Bread
Banana bread made for human consumption contains a lot of butter, sugar, raisins, and vanilla extract, all of which can be harmful to a dog.
If you want to feed them banana bread you can make some at home using a dog-friendly recipe that contains ingredients that are safe for dogs.
5. Homemade Banana Treats
If you’re a pet parent who loves cooking at home then you can definitely try making some delicious homemade dog-friendly treats using bananas.
You can search for dog-friendly recipes for banana cookies, muffins, ice cream, snack bars, etc.
But remember cooking or baking will affect the nutritional value of the fruit. If you’re feeding bananas only for the nutritional benefits, stick to raw ripe bananas.
When to Avoid Feeding Bananas to Your Dog
It's perfectly safe to feed bananas to a dog but in moderation. The high amount of fiber and sugar can disturb your dog's digestive system and blood sugar level if eaten in large quantities.
Also if your dog is suffering from certain health conditions you might want to consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to their diet.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Bananas?
Unfortunately yes, some dogs can have a food intolerance and an allergy to bananas.
When feeding bananas for the first time, monitor their health for 24-48 hours for any signs of allergies. Look out for some or any of the following signs:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Constant itchiness
- Swelling anywhere on the face, ears, or lips
- Gasping and trouble breathing
- Continuous sneezing or coughing
- Itchy or runny eyes
You should get emergency care for your dog if any of these symptoms appear after eating a banana.
Final Thoughts: Can Dogs Eat Bananas
Bananas are a safe and healthy treat for your dog. You can add an appropriate amount of this fruit as a treat to supplement their well-balanced diet. The fiber content will keep their digestive system healthy and the antioxidants like vitamin C will protect their immune systems. Plus the other vitamins and minerals will work together to promote the overall health of your dog.
If you still have any doubts, consider consulting with a veterinarian before adding bananas to your dog’s diet.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding bananas to a dog:
1. Can a dog eat dried bananas?
Yes, dogs can eat dried and dehydrated bananas. But make sure they don’t contain any additional ingredients like artificial sweeteners, preservatives, salt, or other seasonings. These can be harmful to a dog.
2. Can a dog eat ripe bananas?
Yes, your dog can eat ripe bananas. In fact, it is the safest and healthiest way of feeding bananas to a dog.
The unripe bananas contain a high amount of resistant starch which makes them harder to digest and the overripe bananas contain a high amount of sugar which can increase your dog’s blood sugar level.
3. Can a dog eat bananas for diarrhea?
Yes, dogs can eat bananas for diarrhea. It contains high fiber content that can help the food move along the intestinal tract and add bulk to the stool.
But bananas are not a remedy, if your dog has severe diarrhea they’ll need proper medical care and assistance.
4. Can a diabetic dog eat bananas?
A banana's high amount of natural sugars can pose a problem for dogs already suffering from diabetes. It’s best that you consult with your veterinarian to decide whether or not to add bananas to your dog's diet.
5. Can a dog eat fried bananas?
Fried foods in general are unhealthy for a dog. They usually contain a lot of unhealthy fats that can lead to many health problems including weight gain or heart diseases.
6. Can a dog eat banana bread?
You shouldn't feed banana bread made for human consumption to your dog. It might contain additional ingredients like raisins and vanilla extract which can be harmful to a dog.
If you want to feed banana bread to your dog, stick to a dog-friendly recipe that contains ingredients that are safe for dogs.
7. Can a dog with pancreatitis eat bananas?
Bananas are easy to digest and their anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful for a dog who suffers from pancreatitis. But you shouldn’t make changes in their diet, without consulting with a veterinarian.
8. Can a dog eat bananas when sick?
It’ll depend on the kind of sickness your dog is suffering from.
9. Can a dog eat banana peels?
Banana peels are not toxic for a dog but they contain too much fiber that can be hard to digest for some dogs. It can cause an upset stomach and its thick skin can cause an internal blockage. Thus you should refrain from feeding banana peels to your dog.