Can Dogs Eat Bananas?

Dogs can safely eat bananas. 

Be sure to feed them very ripe, with lots and lots of brown spots.

The photograph above shows you what ours look like when I feed them.

Much riper than we humans typically prefer.

Basically as ripe as they can be without starting to go off.

As fruits ripen the carbohydrate content decreases and the sugar content increases, making them easier to digest.

According to Australian vet Dr Ian Billinghurst who wrote Give Your Dog a Bone, if you feed fruit that’s not ripe enough you are battling cell walls.

He explains that the canine digestive system is not equipped to digest cellulose.

Dogs also don’t have the right teeth to grind their food and break open the cellulose in cell walls, releasing the nutrients. Compare dog teeth to those of herbivores like cattle or sheep and you’ll see what I mean.

Feed super ripe fruit and you ensure all the vitamins are bioavailable to your pup.

Bananas as a source of omega 3 fatty acids

According to Dr Billinghurst, most modern dogs fed on processed foods and poorly constructed homemade diets lack sufficient levels of these essential fatty acids.

This deficiency can cause nervous and vision problems in pups.

Dr Billinghurst also blames a lack of omega 3s for the prevalence of so many “allergic” and inflammatory skin problems and so much arthritis in the pet dog population. 

The most common source of omega 3 fatty acids is fish and fish oils. 

But omega 3s can also be found in plants. Bananas, Dr Billinghurst says, contain “small but significant” amounts of omega 3s. Spinach is another source. 

Are banana peels dangerous for dogs? 

Don’t let your dog scoff banana skin because it’s very fibrous.

In his enthusiasm my dog has accidentally eaten the odd bit of banana peel once or twice and been fine, but I’m not sure that would be the case with larger quantities.

Best to avoid. 

Are dogs carnivores or omnivores?

Depending on who you ask, dogs are either omnivores of facultative carnivores.

Omnivores can eat both plants and meat.

Facultative carnivores are similar to omnivores.

Meat is a facultative carnivore’s primary food of choice but they can use a secondary food (in the case of dogs, fruit) to maintain themselves when meat is scarce.

For evidence of this we need look no further than wolves. 

What do wolves eat in the wild? 

Check out this gorgeous footage captured by the Voyageurs Wolf Project’s remote cameras, of a wolf grazing on blueberry bushes in summer 2019.

Analysis of scat from a single wolf pack in northeastern Minnesota by the Voyageurs Wolf Project found berries comprise 56 to 83 per cent of the gray wolf’s weekly diet at the height of summer.

A caveat to feeding fruit

Feed bananas, and all fruit, separately to meat. 

Ideally you should feed fruit on separate days to meat but at the very least feed it in a separate meal.

For optimal digestion it’s important fruit be fed ahead of a meat meal, rather than behind a meat meal.

Fruit moves through the dog digestive system (and ours too) much faster than meat due to its ease of digestion.

If you feed it at the same time or close on the heels of meat it will get stuck behind the meat in the digestive tract.

The delay will cause it to ferment.

This results in inefficient digestion and the creation of waste products, which you don’t want.

Can dogs eat A LOT of bananas? 

The standard advice online is to feed bananas sparingly as a treat only. 

But you can actually feed meals entirely of banana as part of a rotational monofeeding protocol.

Rotational monofeeding seeks to emulate the way dogs eat in the wild, alternating raw meat meals with meals of fruit.

If you’re doing this, be aware you’ll need to feed dramatically more fruit by weight compared to meat in order to provide your dog with the same number of calories.

For instance, 100g of banana contains only 89 calories. To put that in context, 100g of raw chicken breast contains 123 calories.

There is also much less protein in fruit than meat, so meat still needs to form the basis of the diet.

What fruit can dogs eat?

Dogs can eat a wide variety of fruits.

Bananas are among the most calorie-dense options.

Mango has just 60 calories per 100g.

Practically the only fruit with a higher caloric content than a banana is a date.

Fresh pitted dates (from the fruit and veg department, not the dry goods aisle) are suitable for dogs and they contain 277 calories per 100g.

Benefits of feeding fruit to dogs

Of the three macronutrients, fat is the toughest to digest, followed by protein and then carbohydrate.

Simple sugars, contained in ripe fruit, are the easiest of all, providing calories that the body doesn’t have to work very hard to access.

Compare this to the energy it takes to emulsify and break down fats, for instance. 

Picture the meat coma dogs can lapse into after a big feed. 

So, fruit as part of a meat-based diet can offer periods of digestive rest, allowing the body’s energy to go towards processes of healing and regeneration.

Feeding fruit also reduces the overall fat content of your dog’s diet, which has many benefits.

Wondering how to hydrate a dog in hot weather? Feed fruit.

It’s thought the high water content of fruit can help to flush lymph, aiding the body’s natural detoxification process.

The products of fruit digestion are alkaline, whereas the products of meat digestion are acidic.

Though contested, there is a school of thought that alkalizing foods convey health benefits by helping to neutralize acidic metabolic wastes.

Proponents of plant food diets also point out that cancer grows faster in acidic environments. So it’s possible an alkaline diet can offer protection in that regard.

In conclusion: Are bananas safe for dogs?

Dogs and bananas go well together.

As with any new food, it’s advisable to try a little the first time and increase gradually until you’re confident banana agrees with your dog.

Fair warning: fruits will produce more peeing because of the high water content and voluminous poops because of the fibre.

So you’ll want to feed bananas earlier in the day to minimize unscheduled toilet breaks through the evening.

The bulky poops can be helpful in keeping anal glands expressed. 

As with any food, if you see banana coming out looking the same as it did going in (i.e. improperly digested), avoid feeding it for a while. Try again a few months down the track.

Consider whether the fruit you gave wasn’t ripe enough.

More reading

Can dogs eat bones?

Mucus in dog’s poop: Why it’s not always a bad sign

Are you speaking your dog’s language?

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