Just the thought of biting into a bright red, juicy, sweet strawberry on a hot summer day makes me want to drool. Not only are they downright delicious, but they’re also super healthy! Loaded with antioxidants and various plant compounds, key vitamins, minerals, and a high water content, strawberries are often called a “powerhouse fruit” for people. So, now the question is: Can dogs eat strawberries too?
Short answer: Yes!
Strawberry Nutritional Facts
When feeding strawberries to your pup, moderation is key. So, let’s take a look at the nutritional facts for 1 large strawberry (that’s about 1-3/8″ in diameter). According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- Water – 91%
- Calories – 6
- Total Fat – 0.054g
- Protein – 0.121g
- Fiber – 0.36g
- Sugar – 0.88g
- Calcium – 2.88mg
- Iron – .074mg
- Magnesium – 2.34mg
- Phosphorus – 4.32mg
- Potassium – 27.5mg
- Sodium – 0.18mg
- Zinc – 0.025mg
- Manganese – 0.069mg
- Selenium – 0.072µg
- Folate – 4.32µg
- Carotene – 1.26µg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin – 4.68 µg
- Vitamin A – 2.16IU
- Vitamin B-6 – 0.008mg
- Vitamin C – 10.6mg
- Vitamin E – 0.052mg
- Vitamin K – 0.396µg
The Health Benefits of Strawberries
- Aids Strong Immune System – Strawberries are rich in a variety of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. Plus, they’re high in a variety of antioxidants that help fight against free-radicals in the body, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells. If there are too many free radicals in the body, it can damage your dog’s DNA and lead to chronic disease.
- Anti-Cancer Food – Here’s a sad statistic: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost half of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. Research shows that antioxidants can help lower the risks of many kinds of cancer by reducing cancer cell growth and increase apoptosis (cancer cell death).
- Decreases Chronic Inflammation – Chronic inflammation is at the root of almost all diseases. Studies show the antioxidants in strawberries help control inflammation.
- Boosts Brain Health – Strawberries are known to improve cognitive health in humans, but did you know experts say they have a similar impact on our pups?! Studies show that adding antioxidants to a dog’s diet can help slow the brain’s aging process. Just like in people, the aging process can be riddled with challenges. For humans, older people may develop Alzheimer’s disease. In the canine world, its equivalent is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS). Feeding brain food (AKA a diet rich in antioxidants) has been known to help.
- Improves Heart Health – Eating strawberries reportedly helps lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
- Benefits Eye Health – As dogs age, it’s not uncommon for them to develop eye issues. Researchers claim the nutrients in strawberries, such as vitamin C, may actually help preserve their healthy eyes! Vitamin A protects the cornea (the eye’s surface), and lutein promotes healthy cells in the eyes.
- Helps Whiten Teeth – The tooth whitening enzyme, malic acid in strawberries has been known to make those pearly whites sparkle!
- Gastrointestinal and Digestive Health – Strawberries offer up fiber, vitamin C, and a high water content (they’re 91% water), which can all aid in healthy digestion and good bowels.
- Great Snack For Overweight Dogs – Strawberries are a wonderful low-calorie snack that – if used to replace high-carb treats – might even help Fido shed a few unwanted pounds over time.
- A Hydrating Bite – Since strawberries are 91% water, they make for a great hydrating treat for your dog. This is especially beneficial on those hot summer days!
First things first: Strawberries are one of those fruits that are always featured on the Dirty Dozen list, which means they’re ranked one of the most pesticide-laden fruits in the marketplace. If your budget allows, when purchasing strawberries, buy organic. If not, wash the berries thoroughly before eating or serving.
When food shopping for strawberries that you can share with your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Opt for fresh or frozen
- Never feed canned, as they’re usually loaded with sugar and other ingredients that aren’t good for your dog
- Don’t feed strawberry-flavored foods, like strawberry-flavored yogurt or strawberry-flavored ice cream.
When offering strawberries to your dog:
- Cut them up into small pieces to avoid a choking hazard
- For small dogs, pureeing or mashing is a great option!
Strawberries can be added to Fido’s food bowl or offered as a treat. If your dog loves little nibbles of straight-up strawberries, that’s great! You can also chop them up and add them to homemade biscuits and frozen snacks. If you have my book Proud Dog Chef: Tail-Wagging Good Treat Recipes, you’ll find recipes for this rosy red fruit gem on:
- p.133 Yogurt & Fruit Bark
- p.137 Melt My Heart frozen treats
- p.165 Americana frozen treats
- p. 177 Which is a Christmas cookie, but no worries – just ditch the tree mold and use a bone or another biscuit cutter and voila! It’s a biscuit that’s perfect for any day of the year!
When it comes to feeding strawberries to your pooch, moderation is key. Overfeeding can result in a tummyache and digestive upset. So, start off by offering just a few small bites and keep an eye on your pup to see how he handles them. If you have any questions or concerns, consult with your veterinarian!
Get More Doggy Food Facts
This feature is part of a weekly web series called Food Facts Friday. Every Friday, we share foods that are great for our canine companions. Check out other foods highlighted in this series HERE!