Can Dogs Eat Figs? - Possible Benefits
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Figs are the fruit of the fig tree, although more specifically they are their infructescence. This is because they are not one fruit, but an arrangement of fruits which are naturally adapted for better seed dispersal. They are a delicious fruit which are often considered a delicacy. Although some people only eat the insides of figs, the entire fruit is edible for people. While they are delicious fresh, they are often eaten dried as it means they can be preserved for a long time.
Despite their deliciousness and health benefits to humans, you may want to know can dogs eat figs? AnimalWised looks at the potential benefits of figs for dogs and how you can feed them as part of a balanced diet.
Are figs bad for dogs?
Some fruits and vegetables are not good for dogs because they contain substances which are toxic for canines. Fortunately, dogs can eat figs because there are no toxic compounds. This means they are on the list of fruit and vegetables good for dogs.
However, this does not mean we can give figs to dogs anytime we want. Dogs do not have the same nutritional needs and metabolic processes as humans. Fruit can make up a part of their diet, but not to the same degree as humans.
Even for humans, figs are not generally good to be eaten in large doses. Along with fruit such as bananas and grapes, figs are known for their concentrated sugar content. They need to be eaten in moderation to avoid having negative effects on their health. We will expand on this in the next sections where we look at the benefits of figs and how to offer figs to dogs as part of a balanced diet.
Benefits of figs for dogs
Although figs should only be eaten in moderation, they can still provide the following benefits to dogs:
- Although its protein content is not high, it contains a large part of the essential amino acids dogs require. These are the amino acids that the body is not capable of synthesizing and that need to be ingested through the diet. Learn more about these essential amino acids with our article on taurine for dogs.
- It has a significant amount of fiber. Although it is a nutrient that dogs cannot digest, it is essential in their diet. This is because it helps to regulate their food intake, improves intestinal transit and contributes to the maintenance of the beneficial microbiota of the intestine.
- Fig fruit has a high proportion of potassium and contains appreciable amounts of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
- In terms of vitamins, it contains small amounts of provitamin A and vitamins C, B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin) and B6 (pyridoxine).
You can find out about other important nutrients with our article on the best omega-3 rich foods for dogs.
How to give fresh figs to my dog
Now that we know that dogs can eat figs, we need to explain how we can offer them so their contribution is safe and beneficial. As we have explained above, there are different types of figs for consumption. Generally speaking, we can give fresh figs to our dog.
As with all fruit, figs can be in different states of maturity. While dogs can eat figs, it is important they are only eaten when sufficiently ripe. When figs are too green, they contain a milky-white latex sap which is also present in the leaves and stems. This is an irritant to the skin and can cause digestive issues if consumed. For this reason, it is very important you do not leave unripe figs around dogs. If the dog ingests unripe figs, it can cause intoxication which you can learn more about in our article on poisoning in dogs.
Unripe figs are green in color. When they are sufficiently mature, ripe figs will have a purplish exterior which will darken the more ripe they become. Once they are ripe, you can prepare the figs by removing any leaves and stems. While dogs can eat the whole fruit, it is best to peel them and only give them the inside of the fig.
Can I give dry figs to my dog?
A dried fig is the product obtained from the dehydration of a fresh fig. By considerably reducing its water content, the sugars are concentrated. This turns it into a product with a caloric content almost 4 times higher than that of fresh fig fruits. For this reason dried figs are not recommended for dogs. Although they can eat them without causing intoxication, they will not provide much benefit and large amounts can promote obesity and diabetes in dogs.
Other preparations of figs are generally not recommended for dogs. It is common to eat fig as a jam or as part of another sauce. In these cases, the other ingredients are harmful for a dog, especially if they have high levels of salt or sugar.
How many figs can a dog eat?
Being a fruit very rich in sugars, figs should be offered in moderation. It is best to give them to your dog as an occasional treat or reward.
Generally speaking, you should only really offer figs as a prize once or twice a month. As a reference, you can offer 2-3 cubes of the fruit to small dogs, 3-5 to medium dogs and 5-7 to large dogs.
Side effects of figs for dogs
Figs are capable of producing negative effects on the health of dogs. This is especially so when they are provided without taking into account the considerations we have mentioned throughout this article:
- When excessive amounts of this fruit are provided, weight-related problems such as obesity and diabetes may appear. The contribution of dried figs can have similar consequences, due to their concentration of sugars and high caloric content.
- When green (immature) figs are offered or accidentally ingested by dogs, it can lead to intoxication. This is due to the action of compounds known as furanocoumarin which are found in the sap of this fruit. When ingested it can cause excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea and other signs of gastrointestinal distress. When the dog's skin comes in contact with this substance, it can cause irritation, photosensitivity, blisters, etc.
Learn about another fruit you may not know much about with our article on can dogs eat loquats?
Contraindications of figs for dogs
Although we have already commented that dogs can eat figs in moderation, there are certain situations in which their contribution may be contraindicated. For example:
- Dogs with diabetes
- Obese or overweight dogs
- Dogs with allergies or food intolerances
- Dogs with a digestive system that is especially sensitive to diet changes
If your dog presents any symptoms after eating figs or you suspect that it may be within these groups, avoid giving it this fruit. In these cases, you can choose other treats for them to be rewarded.
Learn about the other benefits of other foods for canines with our articles on whether dogs can eat chayote or whether dogs can eat hazelnuts.
If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Eat Figs? - Possible Benefits, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA). Fig. Ficus carica. Retrieved from: https://www.mapa.gob.es/es/ministerio/servicios/informacion/higo_tcm30-102933.pdf