Yes, Dogs Can Eat Oranges! Here’s Why

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Updated: September 12, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Foto-front
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Whenever snack time rolls around for us, our dogs are right at our feet waiting for us to hand them a small taste. But you may find yourself wondering which foods are safe to give them and which ones are not. If you’re wondering whether or not it is safe to give your dog oranges, the answer is yes. Oranges are safe for your dog to eat and they offer wonderful health benefits. Let’s take a look at some of those health benefits below. Read on to learn more about giving your dog oranges.

What Are the Health Benefits of Feeding Oranges to My Dog?

Although dogs should get most of their nutrition from healthy, well-balanced dog food, there’s nothing wrong with your dog having a snack every now and then—especially if it is a healthy one like oranges. Offering your fog fruits and vegetables that you may have on hand in your refrigerator is a cheaper and healthier alternative to pre-packaged commercial dog treats that are available in most pet stores. Citrus fruits like oranges are one of the healthy fruits that dogs can eat without presenting too much risk.

Oranges, and all other citrus fruits, are jam-packed with Vitamin C and potassium. In fact, oranges have more potassium than bananas do! They are also loaded with fiber and are low in sodium. They contain thiamine, folate, and antioxidants, which are all important nutrients for maintaining your dog’s health and wellness. Let’s take a closer look at some of the vitamins and minerals that can be found in oranges:

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  • Vitamin C: This is a powerful antioxidant that is able to search out and eliminate free radicals in your dog’s body that can cause damage to his cells. It also helps to support the dog’s immune system by reducing the amount of inflammation in its body. This helps to fight off some cancers and reduces the effects of cognitive aging. Dogs synthesize Vitamin C naturally in their livers. Dogs that are very active or have acute anxiety can show a decreased liver function and may be able to benefit greatly from supplements of Vitamin C, or from consuming oranges that contain Vitamin C naturally.
  • Potassium: This is an important mineral that helps keep your dog’s kidneys functioning properly. It also supports healthy heart functioning, muscle function, and a healthy digestive system.
  • Dietary Fiber: The fiber that can be found in fruits is soluble fiber. This means that its benefits tie into encouraging the growth of healthy, beneficial gut bacteria, as well as healthy cells in your dog’s colon. The fiber also holds water, which helps with your dog’s stool consistency and regularity. Having enough fiber in your dog’s diet also helps with transit time, which is the time that it takes for the food your dog eats to move through its digestive system.
  • Manganese: This supports healthy bones in your dog as well as healthy cartilage in its joints. Manganese also helps in the production of fatty acids by metabolizing both carbohydrates and protein. These work to support your dog’s energy levels. Manganese is not available in meats, but can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and eggs.
  • Moderate natural sugar: Along with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that we’ve mentioned above, it is also worth mentioning that oranges do contain a moderate amount of natural sugar. This can raise a dog’s blood sugar, so if your dog has diabetes, you may want to be cautious about how much oranges you give him. Natural sugar can also contribute to diabetes if consumed in access even though it occurs naturally in fruit and is not added.

As you can see, there are many health benefits of oranges that make them great snacks for your dog. Now, let’s take a look at some of the safety measures you may want to take before you give your dog his first slice.

Can I Feed My Dog a Whole Orange?

If you have a large dog, then yes, you can offer him a whole orange—just be sure to peel it first. The only risk in giving your dog an entire orange is that it will be high in sugar. If your dog has diabetes or is overweight, you may want to give your dog less so that it doesn’t cause his blood sugar to spike. Even the sugar that’s found in healthy foods can lead to obesity and other health issues if consumed in excess. For small dogs, you will want to refrain from feeding them an entire orange as it would be too much fiber, citric acid, and sugar for their systems. Feeding a small dog an entire orange could cause gastrointestinal upset and discomfort.

The safest way to offer your dog an orange, especially if it is his first one is to give them one small section at a time. Be sure to peel the orange first and remove all the seeds that are on the inside before you feed it to him so that they don’t pose a choking hazard. After you feed your dog the first small pieces, keep an eye out on your dog for a while to make sure it’s not experiencing any stomach aches or signs of discomfort. If you have a puppy and want to feed him pieces of oranges, be aware that at that age they are even more susceptible to GI upsets. Only small bits should be given until you know that there is no reaction to the citric acid or high fiber content.

As for the peel and seeds of the orange, they are not toxic. However, they are very hard for your dog to digest and should not be given to them to consume. The peels and the seeds can both cause choking or a blockage problem if consumed, which can be life-threatening. The skin also contains oil that could cause an upset stomach in dogs that are prone to gastrointestinal issues.

The pith (the white stringy part of the orange that is between the peel and orange flesh) is okay for the dog to consume in small amounts. It actually contains antioxidants and fiber that can be beneficial to your dog. Just keep in mind that the orange peel and the seeds are not digestible.

Are All Citrus Fruits Safe for Dogs?

This article generally refers to oranges, tangerines, and clementines, but all citrus fruits are safe for dogs to eat as long as they are not offered in large amounts. Most dogs do not like citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and grapefruits, but will be more willing to try a slice of sweet orange. The smell of some citrus fruits can be too strong for dogs and many will refuse it when offered.

Orange juice, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice are all highly concentrated fruit juices that are not healthy for your dog to consume. The sugar content in them will also be way too high to be considered safe for your dog. Diabetic dogs and overweight dogs should especially stay away from concentrated fruit juices, even though they’re not healthy for any dog, regardless of weight or health. These juices do not contain beneficial fiber either, so there is no reason to give them to your dog as a treat.

What Are Some Ways I Can Feed Oranges to My Dog?

The best and most simplest way to feed oranges to your dog is to peel the orange and remove the seeds from the inside. Offer your dog the fresh slices one piece at a time and keep an eye out for how your dog responds to it to make sure it doesn’t give him an upset stomach. A good thing to keep in mind is the 10% rule in which your dog’s daily caloric needs should not comprise of over 10% of fresh fruits or veggies.

Larger dogs can eat up to one whole orange if there are no GI issues and small dogs should only be given one or two slices to avoid consuming too much fiber and sugar for their bodies. If your dog has diabetes or is overweight, you will need to check with your vet first before giving him oranges to be sure it is safe for your dog’s health. Oranges are considered to be a much healthier snack than many commercial dog treats that are available on the market—especially when given in small quantities, but your vet will always know what’s best for your dog’s individual health needs.

Another great snack idea for serving your dog oranges is to add the orange slices into a plain yogurt along with other dog-safe fruits like blueberries or bananas, in order to make a healthy smoothie treat. Oranges are also high in water content so they can be very hydrating and refreshing. This makes it a perfect snack for your dog to keep cool on hot summer days. You can also add small pieces of oranges or orange slices to your dog’s food bowl to give his regular healthy dog food an additional boost of nutrition at mealtime.

Overall

Oranges make a very healthy snack for your dog to enjoy since they are not toxic and carry no risk if fed properly. As long as you remove the peel and the seeds prior to serving it to your dog, your dog should be able to enjoy the treat with no issue. Only serve your dog the proper amount of orange pieces based on his size and weight. If your dog has any underlying health issues like diabetes or obesity, be sure to check with your veterinarian first before serving your dog oranges.

While oranges are a healthy treat, we recommend one of the following dog foods for complete daily nutrition.

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Maltese Puppy with oranges on a grey background
Oranges are a healthy treat for dogs as long as you follow certain safety guidelines.
iStock.com/Foto-front
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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

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