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November 23, 2020 4 min read
Who doesn't love a fresh orange, or maybe a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ to go with breakfast? Oranges are one of nature's sweetest fruits, and if you ever played sports as a kid you may have fond memories of having some as a snack during halftime of your games. That's because they've got lots of nutrients, not to mention they're nice and refreshing.
But that begs the important question that we're here to answer - can dogs eat oranges?
For the most part, oranges are indeed safe and healthy for dogs to eat. They have plenty of nutritional benefits, which is great, though they do have some downsides and potential risks. You can definitely let your dog have oranges, just make sure to do so in a safe, healthy way.
Oranges do have a lot of nutrients - you've probably heard that they're packed with vitamin C, which is very important for dogs just as it is for humans. It's an antioxidant, which means that it can help reduce inflammation in your dog as well as help to stave off cognitive decline. Beyond that, they have lots of potassium and some fiber as well. Fiber is important to any dog's digestive system, and it can help to promote and maintain good health in the colon and the rest of the digestive tract. For overweight dogs, fiber can also help dogs to feel full, so if you're putting your pooch on a diet, ensuring that any snacks he receives are high in fiber will help take away the sting of not being able to eat quite as much as he'd like.
There are a few things to bear in mind before letting your dog have a few orange slices. First, as you can probably guess from their sweet taste, oranges do have a fair bit of sugar. It's not an enormous amount and nothing to be worried about as long as your dog is healthy and you give her oranges in moderation, but for dogs that need to be extra careful about sugar intake (for example, those with diabetes and those that are overweight), oranges aren't going to be a good choice. Even for dogs that are healthy, a slice or two of orange should be more than enough.
The other thing to bear in mind is that oranges are fairly acidic, which can be tough on sensitive stomachs. If you're not sure whether this describes your dog, stick to small amounts at first, and look for symptoms of upset stomachs like loose stool, vomiting and lethargy. If your dog doesn't seem to be happy after eating oranges, don't let him have any more.
Lastly, remember that it's best to keep your dog away from anything orange-flavored, from soda to candy to that delicious orange chicken from your favorite Chinese place. Virtually everything that's orange flavored comes with far too much sugar to be appropriate for dogs to eat.
If you do choose to feed your dog oranges, make sure you're just giving them the flesh of the orange. Both the peel and seeds are hard to digest, which can lead to stomach issues for your dog. Additionally, orange peels many contain some toxic compounds that are definitely not okay for your dog. So make sure you take the peel off the orange and dispose of it safely before you give any part of the orange to your pup.
Unfortunately, it's not at all a good idea to let your dog have orange juice. This may be a bit counterintuitive, since if they're eating oranges they're obviously getting the juice inside them, but straight orange juice is a different story. The big issue with orange juice is that it's relatively concentrated - so while a little bit from the inside of an orange is okay, pouring a glass (even a small one) from an OJ bottle is a bad idea. It will have far too much sugar and acid for your dog, and it will almost certainly lead to stomach issues in any meaningful amounts.
This is doubly true for much of the orange juice sold on store shelves, because it has added sugar. And of course you should give an extremely wide berth to any orange drinks besides juice. If you were watching TV in the 90s, you'll almost certainly remember ads for Sunny Delight - while it sure made those kids in the commercials happy, it won't do the same for you or your dog. While it's orange flavored, the reality is it's mostly just sugar water with virtually no actual orange in it. It has absolutely no health benefits to anyone, human or canine, and is simply not appropriate for dogs. The same goes for Tang, in case you remember that as well.
The vast majority of dogs can safely and happily snack on an orange slice or two. Just make sure that your dog can handle them by starting with small amounts and making sure those go over okay. You should also know that even though oranges are generally safe, many dogs will avoid them because of the smells generated by the oils on the peels as well as the acidic taste of the flesh itself.
Unfortunately, dogs can't drink orange juice or eat just about anything that's orange-flavored. No orange soda, orange chicken, or orange-flavored Starburst. None of those have any actual relationship to real oranges outside of some artificial flavoring, and none of them are at all appropriate for dogs.
Lastly, as with all snacks that you might be thinking about feeding to your dog, oranges should only comprise a small part of their diet. Most veterinarians recommend that snacks of all kinds should make up no more than 10% of what a dog eats, and they should always be accompanied by healthy food.
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