If your dog has ever tried to levitate a jar of applesauce off the table with his eyes you might have wondered if it’s safe. Can dogs eat applesauce? Apples are a common fruit and harmless surely?
Let’s take a look at the risks and benefits of applesauce and whether Rover can have a spoonful on his meal tonight.
Is It Safe For My Dog To Eat Applesauce?
The quickest answer is no. Applesauce is not safe for dogs because it contains spices and either sugar or an artificial sweetener like xylitol which are not good news for our canine friends, in fact, they can be toxic.
However, plain apples are safe for dogs and they are packed with health benefits. If you’re willing to stew down some apples without any sugar or spice then your dog can eat applesauce with relish. One caveat though, apple pips are not good for dogs (or any pets) because they contain cyanide. Core the apples first.
What Is Applesauce?
Applesauce is pureed apple flesh with sweetener or spice usually added to enhance the flavor. Its been a popular sauce for centuries in Europe alongside meats and in cakes.
Even though applesauce is easy to make at home, commercial applesauce is popular. By 2026 it’s thought the market will be worth $2169.3 million in the US alone!
Did you know that apples (Malus Domestica) are native to Asia and lag only behind grapes and bananas as the most internationally traded fruit? They’re a popular fruit across the globe and were brought to America by the first colonists.
The Benefits of Applesauce
There are no benefits of sweetened applesauce because the risk of xylitol poisoning outweighs any vitamin intake. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and capable of causing hypoglycemia in a few hours. Applesauce made with sugar is also unsuitable because sugar is calorific and bad for their teeth. Frequent portions of sugary applesauce contribute to obesity.
And let’s not forget spices. Some people prefer their applesauce sour or savory. Commercial versions may still contain xylitol and there’s the risk it may contain other ingredients toxic to dogs such as nutmeg or garlic. More about highly dog-toxic foods a bit later on.
But all is not lost.
Dogs can eat stewed apple if it’s plain and the seeds are removed. Apples contain plenty of dog-friendly nutrients.
- Vitamin A – essential for good eyesight and a healthy immune system
- Vitamin C – boosts the immune system, helps absorb iron and repairs cells
- Potassium – maintains fluid levels in cells and supports healthy blood pressure
- Antioxidants – protects against free radicals and diseases such as cancer
- Fiber – mostly in the peel, fiber maintains healthy bowels.
- Low calorie – there are barely any calories in apples and traces of fat, so it’s an excellent low-cal treat.
The Risks of Applesauce
Dogs can eat applesauce if it’s plain, but the majority of store-bought applesauce contains the following:
Sugar: It’s is calorific and contributes to obesity. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says 56% of dogs are overweight in the States, that’s around 50 million dogs. Obesity decreases a dog’s quality of life and shortens its lifespan. It also damages teeth and can contribute to diabetes.
Xylitol: An artificial sweetener that’s high on the list of toxic dog food. Xylitol creates a huge drop in blood sugar which can turn into fatal hypoglycemia. It’s not worth the risk.
Spices: A tricky one because some like ginger and cinnamon are fine in small amounts, but others including nutmeg are not safe at all. The compounds in nutmeg can cause hallucinations, high blood pressure, and seizures.
Speak to a vet immediately if your dog has snaffled apple sauce from the dinner table or made off with an apple cake.
Homemade apple sauce isn’t without risks, but you can manage these in a sensible way.
First off, too many apples can lead to gastric upset including diarrhoea and vomiting. This is uncomfortable for dogs and the flatulence is uncomfortable for you.
If your dog develops a gastric upset from homemade apple sauce, provide plenty of clean fresh water and feed them plain amounts of rice and chicken or sweet potato and turkey to firm up their stools and sooth their belly aches.
If it lasts more than a few days, speak to a vet because constant diarrhoea can lead to dehydration.
A spoonful is enough for a large dog and a quarter spoonful for small dogs. However, every dog is different, so if they develop a stomach upset, give them less. The ASPCA recommends treats such as applesauce should form no more than 10% of a dog’s diet, the rest should come from nutritionally balanced dog food.
Is It OK to Feed my Dog Apple Puree?
Plain unsweetened or unspiced apple puree is fine for dogs. Just stick to the above amounts.
Apple treats such as dried apples aren’t suitable because they are sweetened. Stick to a slice of fresh apple or a small amount of plain sauce.
How to Make Dog-Safe Applesauce
You can buy plain unsweetened or spiced applesauce, but if you have a tree or enjoy cooking you may want to conjure your own. It’s very easy and you can make dog-friendly applesauce alongside your own pie filling.
- Simply wash down the apples and slice them up being sure to remove all the pips.
- Put a saucepan on low heat and stew the apple slices until they’re soft
- Mash them up – no sugar!
Spoon potions into an ice cube tray and freeze it for summer day treats or add them to your dog’s main meal to introduce extra flavor. Of course, they can lick it from a spoon too for a spot of dog and owner bonding.
If all that sounds like hard work, many dogs enjoy a crunchy slice of fresh apple, so they can reap the benefits without any cooking on your part.
What About Low Sugar Applesauce?
This is also a no for dogs. Low sugar doesn’t mean no sugar and usually low sugar applesauce has xylitol instead. Plain, unsweetened, spice-free applesauce is the only type that’s safe.
What About Cats?
It’s a rare cat that will eat applesauce, but if your feline friend does like it then the same rule of plain unsweetened applesauce applies.
My Dog Has Eaten Applesauce, What Should I Do?
If the applesauce contained xylitol or spices like nutmeg speak to a vet as soon as possible.
If it was a large amount of unsweetened applesauce or contained just sugar, monitor them over the next few days in case they develop a stomach upset.
A small amount of unsweetened illicit applesauce shouldn’t harm them.
Food Dogs Should Avoid
So we’ve learned that small amounts of plain applesauce are good for dogs, but there are foods they 100% must avoid. If your dog eats any of the following, call your vet straight away.
Garlic and Onions
The allium family, including onions, garlic, leeks and shallots, is toxic to dogs. They can’t digest the compounds, instead they stick to red blood cells and cause anemia. The symptoms include pale gums, lethargy, collapse and stomach pains.
Sweet little grapes pack a big toxic punch in all their forms of juice, wine, and raisins. Dogs can’t digest their compounds like we can and they lead to kidney failure.
Chocs contain theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants that put too much pressure on a dog’s organs. It can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, collapse and even be fatal.
Along with nutmeg, macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and cause serious complications like weak back legs, vomiting, and collapse. Macadamia nuts pop up in cake and biscuits, so its always important to keep sweet treats locked away.
Is Applesauce Dangerous For Dogs?
Let’s recap on our question can dogs eat applesauce?
The answer is, it depends.
Plain, applesauce without sugar, xylitol, or spice is fine for a dog in small amounts and boosts their intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber with barely any calorie intake. Plus, it’s tasty for them!
On the flip side, sweet or spiced applesauce in any form is dangerous for dogs, read the ingredient list carefully or make your own fresh dog-safe puree to be certain.
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.
The Featured Image
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is applesauce safe for dogs?
Applesauce is not safe for dogs because it contains spices and either sugar or an artificial sweetener like xylitol which are not good news for our canine friends, in fact, they can be toxic.
What's an alternative to apple sauce to feed to dogs?
You can buy plain unsweetened or spiced applesauce, but if you have a tree or enjoy cooking you may want to conjure your own.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- Science Direct, Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1938973613000305
- Purina, Available here: https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/dogs/feeding/what-dogs-eat/can-dogs-eat-applesauce
- Pet Obesity Prevention, Available here: https://petobesityprevention.org/