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Can dogs eat bananas?

Black dog holding a banana in his mouth

As any dog owner knows, you can’t be too careful about what your beloved companion eats. Dogs may seem quite happy to eat just about anything, but that doesn’t mean anything is good for them! 

Like kids, some dogs seem to be hungry all the time, while others are just curious about how something might taste. It can actually be difficult to stop your doggo from wolfing down something he’s come across in his travels! Unfortunately, this means that he might end up eating something that doesn’t agree with him, or may even make him sick. 

Of course, owners can sometimes be confused about what’s good for their pet and what isn’t. It can be very tempting to share a snack with your dog when he’s looking at you with those ‘puppy eyes.’ Fortunately, there are lots of foods out there that harbor nutritional benefits for both humans and dogs, and that you can indeed share. But how do you know what’s good for him and what’s not? 

One food group that often confuses dog owners is fruit. We all know that fruit is good for humans, but we also have the means of eating fruit properly. That is, we can peel the skin or take out the pits. Dogs can’t! That said, it’s still possible for your dog to enjoy a variety of fruits if they’re prepared properly. Let’s look at a very popular fruit: bananas.

Bananas are a sweet, yellow fruit that grows in hot climates all over the world. Bananas vary somewhat in size, color, and firmness, but they are usually long and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch. Banana skin can be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. 

Are bananas good for dogs to eat?

Yes! Bananas are safe for dogs. But like all fruits, they’re best enjoyed in moderation. 

Bananas are known as a super fruit—and for good reason. They’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals including potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. These are all highly important for proper daily function in both humans and dogs. 

The benefits of giving your dog bananas

  • Rich in nutrients: Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, which helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Potassium is particularly important for reducing high blood pressure and water retention, which is good news for older dogs. Bananas are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 as well as manganese, biotin, and copper, all of which benefit your dog's overall health. The magnesium in bananas is also helpful for the efficient uptake and absorption of other vitamins, as well as promoting healthy bones.

  • Good source of fiber: A medium-sized banana has about 3 grams of fiber, which is a helpful addition to your dog’s daily fiber intake. In fact, bananas contain two main types of fiber: pectin and resistant starch. Resistant starch cannot be broken down in the gut, so it moves on to the large intestine, where it becomes ‘fuel’ for the beneficial bacteria in the colon.
    Bananas can also be helpful for dogs with diarrhea or constipation, as they help to absorb water in the stool and keep bowel movements regular.

  • Powerful antioxidants: Bananas contain several types of potent antioxidants, including dopamine and catechins. These antioxidants provide a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses. The dopamine in bananas is not a neurotransmitter, but an antioxidant that helps ward off harmful free radicals.

  • Can support insulin sensitivity: Like humans, dogs can be prone to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, the resistant starch in unripe bananas has been shown to balance blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. It also helps your dog feel full for longer!

  • Can support kidney health: As an excellent dietary source of potassium, bananas may be especially beneficial for maintaining the health of your dog’s kidneys. What’s more, bananas are low in sodium and cholesterol, so they’re a much healthier choice than fatty or salty dog treats.

Can bananas be bad for dogs?

Like many other fruits, bananas have a high content of natural sugar. Too much of any type of sugar can increase the risk of weight gain, which in turn can lead to inflammation and other health issues. That’s why it’s important to limit your dog’s intake of any type of fruit, particularly ripe bananas. Stick to the 90/10 rule: ninety percent of your dog’s daily calories should come from his dog food and the other ten percent from treats.

It’s also important to avoid feeding the banana skin to your dog. The peels aren’t toxic, but they are very fibrous and can be difficult to digest. Your dog is unlikely to find the skin very tasty, anyway. 

While the fiber content of bananas can help to improve symptoms of digestive upset like diarrhea or constipation, they shouldn’t be used as a cure-all for these issues. Instead, observe your dog’s diet closely and note what he can and can’t tolerate. 

What is the best way to prepare bananas for dogs?

If you have any concerns about feeding your dog new foods, ask your veterinarian first. They will be able to suggest the right serving size based on your dog’s age, size, and breed. 

In general, the best way to serve your dog a banana is to peel it and cut it into small, bite-sized pieces. You can also mash a banana up and add it to your dog’s regular meal for a boost in nutrients and flavor. 

For a fun treat, try adding a little peanut butter to a piece of banana and feeding it to your dog. You can also freeze the whole banana, peel it, and slice it up for a cool snack on hot days!

Learn more about foods that dogs can and can't eat

The article was written by Katie Stone on September 21, 2020.

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