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Can Dogs Eat Dates? | Are Dates Bad for Dogs?

are dates bad for dogs

Dates have been around for 50 million years and have gained a sizable following over the years. They’ve had a role throughout history and have been found to be present in many countries dating back hundreds of thousands of years ago. From Italy, to Egypt, to the Middle East, to Asia, this fruit has left remnants to mark its existence in history.  Maybe your dog would like to try this historic fruit!  But of course we must first ask, “can dogs eat dates?”  Or, are dates bad for dogs?

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Can Dogs Eat Dates Safely? (The Short Answer)

Yes, dogs can safely eat dates!  Dates have few calories, but are high in important nutrients such as protein and fiber.  They contain a ton of vitamins and minerals which are healthy, but only in moderation.  Fiber is important, but too much can cause your pup to experience some digestive issues.  Additionally, dates have a high sugar content, and giving excess sugar to your dog should be kept to a minimum.

It’s important to remember, that even with the best of intentions, accidents happen and dogs can easily eat things they shouldn’t.  Unfortunately, even if those accidents aren’t fatal, they can result in huge, unexpected veterinary expenses.  That’s why we recommend all responsible dog owners get a free, online pet insurance quote from Healthy Paws.

Are Dates Good For Dogs?

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat dates?” Now, let’s learn about the benefits of feeding your dog this food! Are dates good for dogs?

Yes, dates are good for dogs!  That being said, they shouldn’t be a regular on your dog’s menu, but instead should a treat for special occasions.  Dates are packed with nutrients—there’s a long list of all the vitamins and minerals that are in dates.  They also contain high amounts of fiber and protein and few calories which makes this a great new treat option. 

Important aspects of dates are the amount of fiber and protein. Fiber, of course, is good for digestive health. That being said, too much fiber can have a negative effect on the digestive system. It’s important to remember to only give dates in moderation because, while fiber is healthy, too much can be a bad thing.  Additionally, dates contain 3.6 grams of protein per cup.  For a fruit, that’s a pretty significant amount!  Compare that to an apple which has only 0.5 grams of protein or an orange which contains a little less than one gram of protein.  Protein is broken down into its amino acids, which are then used to build muscle, repair damage, build other proteins, as well as synthesize hormones and neurotransmitters.  In an entire cup of dates, there are only 414 calories, so in one date there are about 20 calories.  We never want to add too many calories to our dog’s diet in between their main meals.  With only a few dates given to your dog, it’s unlikely to cause any weight issues due to excessive caloric intake. 

Let’s look at some of the vitamins and minerals in dates!  Dates contain vitamins A, C, and many B vitamins.  Minerals consist of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.  Here’s how these can help your pups!

Vitamin A: Responsible for growth, fetal development, immune function, and cell function!

Vitamin C: Main benefits include reducing inflammation, slowing cognitive aging, and can help rid the body of free radicals. 

B Vitamins: B vitamins are a whole group of vitamins that play a lot of different roles. They do just about everything from regulating energy and carbohydrate metabolism, to facilitating enzyme function, to mitochondrial protein synthesis, to red blood cell and nervous system function.  We could go on forever about all the benefits of B vitamins, but I’ll spare you the nutrition lesson and just leave it with this—B vitamins play an important role in a lot of processes. 

Magnesium: A cofactor used in hormone secretions, maintaining balance across the cell membranes, and maintaining calcium movement into muscles. 

Calcium: Important for bones, teeth, muscles, and blood clotting. 

Potassium: An electrolyte within the body, good for controlling nerve impulses, brain function, muscle activity, and heart function. Too much or too little of this electrolyte can have serious consequences. 

Iron: Priority function is helping with transport of oxygen on the hemoglobin of red blood cells. 

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Are Dates Bad for Dogs?

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat dates?” Now, let’s learn about the dangers of feeding your dog this food! Are dates bad for dogs?

No, dates aren’t bad for dogs!  Despite their striking resemblance to raisins, which are toxic to dogs, they aren’t related at all.  They’re more comparable with prunes or figs in terms of dietary allotment, due to their higher sugar and fiber quantities. For more specific information on the precautions to take with figs or prunes, check out their articles, “Can Dogs Eat Prunes?” and, “Can Dogs Eat Figs?” 

One of the bigger issues with dates is their sugar content.  One cup of chopped dates consists of 93 grams of sugar!  Dates are a smaller fruit, so they only contain about 4.5 grams of sugar in each one, which is still significant given their size.  Ideally, dogs should have very limited sugar in their diet.  While some sugar is fine in moderation, too much sugar can contribute to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, decaying of teeth, and many more health problems.  Thinking more short-term, too much sugar can cause your dog to experience an upset stomach, which both you and your dog would like to avoid. 

Other than the sugar, there is another reason this food should only be given in small quantities.  The fiber content is about 12 grams per cup or 0.6 grams per date.  Yes, fiber is good for dogs in moderation, but too much can easily cause some less-than-pleasant gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting. 

Some other tips to keep your dog safe include removing the pit before serving and giving your dog bite-sized pieces.  Both of these are precautionary measures to avoid choking.  The pit may or may not already be removed, but you should always check and remove it if it is present.  Additionally, depending on the size of your dog, different sized pieces may be necessary. 

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Other Varieties & Related Foods

Can Dogs Eat Dates from Palm Trees?

Yes, dogs can eat dates from palm trees.  All dates are grown on the date palm tree which is a common tree in tropical regions of the world.  They’re high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals and can make a new flavorful addition to your pet’s favorite snacks. 

Can Dogs Eat Dates Fruit?

Yes, dogs can enjoy dates fruit!  This fruit is high in protein compared to other fruits, making it a great option to introduce to your dog. 

Can Dogs Eat Dried Dates?

No, dogs should not eat dried dates.  Dried dates are significantly higher in calories and sugar than fresh dates, making it a less healthy option for dogs.  That in mind, if your dog does happen to get a small piece of dried date, they will likely be fine.  However, if a large portion was consumed, you may want to contact a veterinarian. 

Are Fresh Dates Safe for Your Pup?

Yes, fresh dates are a great choice for your furry friend!  Fresh dates may have a harder exterior than you’re used to but it shouldn’t be too hard.  To avoid any risk of choking or abdominal obstruction, cut them up into smaller pieces.  Remember to remove the pits before serving to your dog as they also pose a choking risk.  Other than that, they’re essentially just a fresher, more recently picked version of other dates. 

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Have Dates?

Yes!  You can set your dog up on a “date” with this fruit!  You dog can experience the sweet taste of a date while you can enjoy knowing you gave your dog a healthy, high protein, high fiber, low calorie snack.  Be cautious with how much you give your dog, as they do have a lot of sugar and fiber which can cause some gastrointestinal distress when given in high quantities.  Also be sure to remove the pit to lessen the risk of choking.

Want to Learn More?

Check out these related articles from our “Read Before You Feed” series for more advice on safe foods for dogs!

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and this article should not be taken as medical or veterinary advice.  If you have any questions about your pet’s health or dietary needs, please contact your local veterinarian.