Can dogs have apricots? Are there advantages to feeding your dog apricots?
Or should you worry if you find your dog chewing on an apricot?
As well as enjoying fresh apricots, many of us love eating a range of produce made with these tasty fruits. But if you’re wondering, “Can my dog eat apricots, too?” We can help answer that question!
Read on for our guide to whether or not apricots are safe for dogs.
Interesting facts about apricots
The origin of the apricot tree can be traced back to China. Now, apricots can be found growing on all continents apart from Antarctica.
Their Latin name, Prunus armeniaca, hints that apricots came to Europe via Armenia. Spanish missionaries then brought the fruit to the United States in 1792. From then on, apricots have been grown in the US and all over the world.
The countries currently producing the most apricots are Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Algeria, and Italy. In the US, California is responsible for almost 85% of apricot production.
Apricots are close relations of peaches, plums, cherries, and almonds. A popular and versatile fruit, apricots are known for their smooth skin and juicy yellow flesh.
As one of the first summer fruits, fresh apricots are a real treat. As well as enjoying them in season, dried apricots have become a popular snack to be eaten all year round.
But, as much as we might enjoy eating apricots, will your dog like them too?
First let’s take a look at some general reasons why you might like to add fruit to your dog’s diet.
Is fruit good for dogs?
You might like the idea of feeding your dog fruit, but is it a good idea?
Dogs don’t need carbohydrates in their diet, but adding carbohydrates in the form of fruit can have some benefits.
Many fruits are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our bodies from free radicals. These molecules are unstable and attack cells within our bodies.
Free radicals are found in pollution, cigarette smoke, and radiation, among other things.
Like us, dogs are exposed to free radicals, so it’s important to consider if your dog has an adequate supply of antioxidants in their diet. This means that dogs might also benefit from eating fruit.
A 2007 study found that a diet rich in antioxidants, combined with behavioral enrichment, helped improve cognition in elderly dogs.
How nutritious are apricots?
In addition to being very tasty, apricots are high in antioxidants in the form of vitamin A and vitamin C. They also contain good levels of iron, potassium, and sugar.
Fresh apricots might taste the most delicious, but it’s the dried fruit that contains higher levels of potassium, iron, and antioxidants.
As many of us know, it’s often tempting to add foods we like to our dog’s meals because we think they may like them, too.
But it’s important to be aware that certain fruits can actually be toxic to your dog.
Now let’s look at whether apricots fall into that category.
Are apricots safe for dogs?
Before we look at dogs and apricots in more detail, first let’s look at whether apricots are actually safe for dogs.
The answer is yes and no, depending on which part of the tree we’re looking at.
The most important thing to know about apricots is that the stone (also known as the kernel or pit), stem, and leaves all contain cyanide, a poisonous substance which can prove very dangerous if ingested.
The cyanide is found in the form of amygdalin, a compound of sugar which also contains a molecule of cyanide. Once ingested, amygdalin is metabolized into hydrogen cyanide.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists the apricot plant itself as toxic to dogs.
Importantly though, this doesn’t apply to the fleshy fruit, as it doesn’t contain cyanide.
But if you have an apricot tree in your garden, be aware that your dog could easily help themselves to fallen fruit. As well as containing cyanide, the pit could block your dog’s esophagus or intestines.
Now we’ve established that the soft flesh of an apricot isn’t toxic to dogs, let’s take a look at if there are any advantages or disadvantages to feeding this fruit to your dog.
Are apricots bad for dogs?
As with many fruits, apricots contain sugars.
Dogs don’t need sugar in their diets, so your dog can be perfectly healthy without eating apricots.
This means that while you might enjoy letting your dogs eat apricots occasionally, they don’t need to.
Let’s take a look at some of the nutritional benefits of apricots.
Are apricots good for dogs?
Although apricots contain a good range of nutrients and antioxidants, they don’t provide anything that can’t be found in a well-balanced diet designed for dogs.
As discussed earlier, there’s evidence to suggest that antioxidants are beneficial for dogs and for that reason, many owners are keen to include these in their dog’s diet.
Bear in mind, though, that many dog foods now come enriched with antioxidants.
Can dogs have dried apricots?
As well as enjoying apricots in season, many of us have a packet of dried apricots in our pantries. So what about dried apricots and dogs?
While that’s great for us, it’s not such a concern for your dog.
Many brands of dog food meet the recommended amounts for both potassium and antioxidants, so you shouldn’t need to worry about supplementing your dog’s diet.
That said, if you’re wondering about dried apricots for dogs, the same rules apply as for feeding fresh apricots. Let’s take a look at those now.
Feeding your dog apricots? Here’s how to do it safely
If you’ve decided you’d like to try feeding your dog apricots, there’s a few considerations to bear in mind to make sure you feed them safely.
Wash the apricots before cutting them into small pieces. Dispose of the pit in a safe place, so your dog cannot access it.
If feeding dried apricots, sometimes a small piece of the pit can be left over from the manufacturing process, so check carefully for this.
As with any new food, it’s advisable to start off with a small amount first, as too much fruit could give your dog an upset tummy.
It’s a good idea to clean your dog’s teeth after any sugary treat as well.
Can dogs have apricots every day?
While you might enjoy a piece of fruit for breakfast each day, or a handful of dried apricots as a snack, that doesn’t mean your dog should, too.
Many dogs have sensitive stomachs and due to the high fiber content of apricots, could develop diarrhea as a result of eating them too often.
This, combined with the high sugar content of apricots, means it’s probably best to save them as an occasional treat.
What to do if your dog eats an apricot pit
First of all, don’t panic. One apricot pit will probably not be enough to cause harm.
But it’s definitely a good idea to call your vet and ask them for advice.
Depending on the size of your dog, the pit could also block their esophagus or intestine.
If your dog has eaten a few apricot pits, it’s best to take them to your vet for a check-up, as they could develop cyanide poisoning.
Signs to look out for include:
- Brick red mucus membranes
- Convulsions, spasms or seizures
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing
Can dogs have apricots? Summary
Apricots, especially those that have been dried, are a great source of antioxidants. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants is important for both people and dogs.
So, can dogs eat dried apricots and fresh apricots?
Apricot flesh isn’t dangerous for your dog, and some might enjoy the taste. Too much could give them a sore tummy, though. As well as containing antioxidants, apricots are high in sugar. The disadvantages of selecting such a sugary treat for your dog probably outweigh any benefits he might gain from the other nutrients.
The apricot pit, tree, and leaves are toxic, so you definitely want to avoid letting your dog eat those.
Keeping your dog healthy takes a combination of a balanced diet, exercise, and providing them with a loving home. While the odd apricot treat won’t harm your dog, it shouldn’t form a large part of their diet.
For more interesting reads, take a look at our guide to hydrogen peroxide and dogs.
References and Further Reading
- Silverstein and Hopper. 2008. Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. Publisher: Saunders.
- Carlsen et al, 2010. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutrition Journal.
- Dodds and Laverdure. Canine Nutrigenomics: The new science of feeding your dog for optimum health. Publisher: Dogwise Publishing.
- White. 2018. Cyanide, cyanogenic plant poisoning in dogs. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Pet Poison Helpline. http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/apricot/
- Head. 2007. Combining an antioxidant-fortified diet with behavioural enrichment leads to cognitive improvement and reduced brain pathology in aging canines. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
- Self Nutrition Data. Raw Apricots.
- Self Nutrition Data. Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked.
- Growing Apricots in California: An Overview, University of California