Can Dogs Eat Dates or Not? What Science Says

Dates and date palm leaves on white background

Written by Shaunice Lewis

Published: June 6, 2022

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You may be wondering if it is safe for your dog to consume dates — especially since they look like they’d be related to raisins, which dogs cannot have, as they cause kidney failure. The truth is that dates are actually completely different than raisins and they are perfectly safe for your dog to have. Dates are the fruit of desert palm trees, which some cultures deem to be the “tree of life.”

Dates are essentially a seed that is surrounded by a sweet, fleshy pulp. It is this pulp that is safe for your dog to consume and it’s loaded with nutrition that’s both healthy for us and our dogs. However, there are a few things you’ll need to be aware of if you plan on giving your dog a taste of dates as a treat. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of dates and things you might want to be cautious of.

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Health Benefits of Dates for Dogs

There are about 3,000 different varieties of dates in the world, with Medjool and Deglet Noir being the most common dates you can find in stores. Either of these varieties will offer roughly the same nutrition for your dog. Let’s take a look at some of the nutritional benefits your dog can get from eating dates.

  • Fiber: Even though dogs cannot digest fiber, it is one of the biggest health benefits of eating dates. Fiber contributes to having a healthy digestive system by promoting regular bowel movements and keeping your dog’s stool firm. Just having a few dates every week can be very beneficial for your dog’s digestive system. Fiber is also known to keep you fuller for longer, therefore it might help decrease hunger cravings if your dog seems to always be hungry. Keep in mind that too much fiber can upset your dog’s stomach, so be sure not to feed your dog too much at one time.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Dates are packed with vitamins and minerals that help fight off diseases and boost your dog’s immune system, keeping him strong and fit. Dates contain vitamins like B6, vitamin A, Niacin, Folate, and Chlorine, as well as minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, and calcium. Vitamins and minerals both help boost immunity and prepare cellular damage. They also assist with nutrient absorption, help convert food into energy, and promote a feeling of overall wellness for your dog.
  • High in Energy: Dates are high in fructose, glucose, and sucrose which are various forms of natural sugars that give your dog a boost of energy. This would make it a great snack to bring along with your dog on long walks or a hike. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and don’t give your dog too many, as even natural sugars can cause health issues over time.
  • Low Cholesterol: Store-bought, commercial dog treats are sometimes known to be full of fat and low in nutrition. By replacing these treats with dates, you will be providing your dog with extra nutrition. Dates are low in cholesterol which helps keep your dog’s cardiovascular system healthy. They also have potassium which helps stabilize his blood pressure.
  • Bone Health: Since dates are high in vitamin D, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, they help to contribute to your dog having healthy bones and strong teeth. Having healthy dates as a snack can help lower your dog’s risk of developing bone diseases later on in its life.
  • Improved Brain Function: Dates have been found to help improve learning ability and memory function compared to dogs that do not eat them, therefore feeding your dog dates can help improve his brain health and cognitive ability.
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How Many Dates Can I Feed My Dog?

Dates have a wide variety of nutrition for humans and the same is true for our canine friends. But like all things sweet, they should still be given in moderation, even though they’re nutritious. really, you would want to give your dog anywhere from 1/2 a date to 2 dates at a time, depending on whether you have a small dog or a large dog. You should avoid giving your dog 2 dates if it is a smaller breed as this could be way too much sugar for it. Feeding your dog too much sugar can give it an upset stomach and, over time, lead to illnesses such as diabetes.

Larger dogs may be able to handle up to 2 dates at a time, but you should still start off with smaller amounts for any size dog so that you don’t cause it to have an upset stomach since you’re introducing a new food that it has never had before. Feeding your dog dates once or twice a week is an appropriate amount for your dog to receive the health benefits without the risk of negative health effects such as weight gain. They make a great-tasting, nutritious reward that can be given in place of traditional, store-bought treats that can sometimes be loaded with unnecessary ingredients that can be harmful to your dog’s health.

You can add dates to your dog’s already healthy and nutritious dog food to add an extra layer of benefits, or you can combine them with some other dog-friendly fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or mangos and some plain yogurt for a healthy, refreshing treat.

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Can Dates Be Bad for Dogs?

Even with all of the wonderful health benefits that dates have, there are still a few things you’ll want to be cautious of if you plan on feeding them to your dog. First, you want to be sure that the dates you feed your dog are pitted. This means that the large inner seed has been taken out. The label on the package of your dates should clearly state whether or not the pits have already been removed so be sure to check there first. If there aren’t removed, it is still very easy to remove the pits yourself, but you’ll have to be sure that you do this before giving them to your dog.

The pits are rather large and can easily pose a choking hazard for your dog if swallowed. If this happens your dog could also be at risk for an intestinal blockage if it makes it to his digestive system. If this is your first time giving your dog dates, you should always start off by giving him just a small amount to be sure that he doesn’t react badly to them. 

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  • Complex carbs control glycemic response
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Dates make a great tasting treat for your dog and they are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that help keep your dog healthy and happy. The only precautions you want to keep in mind are to make sure that the dates are pitted before you serve them to your dog and if not, just be sure to open them and remove the pit yourself, which is very simple since date flesh is very soft. Dates are also high in sugar so if your dog has diabetes or obesity, you might want to steer clear of giving them to your dog. As long as you feed your dog dates in moderation, they make great treats and can help boost your dog’s health in a positive way. 

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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

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