As the seasons rotate, so do our diet preferences, according to whatever new vegetables and fruits begin to ripen during that specific time. When colder temperatures finally arrive, we tend to turn more to fruits such as walnuts, grapes, quinces and pears to quench our craving for autumnal delights.
Pears are extremely delicious, juicy and nutritious and make excellent healthy snacks for us humans at any point during the colder months. But how about our dogs? Can we share our new-found joy with them as well? You may already know that there are certain human foods that not only will your dog also enjoy, but that will also be healthy for your four-legged friend. Before we delve deeper into this subject, let’s see what exactly it is that dogs require from a nutritional point of view and then establish which fruits tick off the boxes.
What Are Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs?
Dogs belong to the scientific order Carnivora, which encompasses three different categories of mammals with three different sets of dietary needs: carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. Can dogs eat fruits? Can dogs eat pears?
- While cats are known to be obligate carnivores, which means they absolutely need to have meat in their diets, dogs are just like humans – omnivores.
- Since they are omnivores, this means that dogs can get their nutritional needs met by eating a diet that’s composed both of meat and plants. In time, their teeth structure and digestive system have adapted so much to the omnivore diet, that you can easily feed your dogs other foods as well, not only meat.
- If you want to feed your dog a healthy diet, it’s important to remember these amazing pets require a balanced blend of minerals, vitamins, specific amino-acids from proteins and specific essential fatty acids, which can be found in fats. Of course, the ratio between all these components will shift with the various development stages in your dog’s life.
- Dogs typically use proteins as their energy source, but they can also source their energy from carbohydrates. However it’s recommended that you cook foods that contain more complex carbohydrates, such as grains.
What Fruits Can Dogs Eat?
Knowing dogs are omnivores changes the entire palette of feeding options at your disposal. As mentioned before, there are certain fruits that not only do they enjoy nibbling on, but that also help strengthen their immune system, improve their digestive system and provide them with the necessary antioxidants to keep them as active as they need to be throughout the day.
These fruits span across all seasons, so there’s always a right time to feed your dog some fruits.
So what fruits can dogs eat after all? Here are some of them:
- Blueberries – 2 or 3 blueberries per individual treat given regularly to your dog will also support it benefit from more antioxidants, iron, selenium and zinc.
- Apples – These ubiquitous fruits are excellent nutrient sources for your furry friend as well, as they contain much-needed vitamin C, phytonutrients, potassium, flavonoids and fiber.
- Cranberries – These are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese and fiber. Just as they do with humans, cranberries will help your dog’s body fight off urinary tract infections.
- Bananas – We love them and they love them too. They are abundant in potassium and carbohydrates – feeding them one inch at a time is more than enough.
- Kiwis – These are a more surprising appearance in this list, but dogs do in fact like kiwis. Apart from this, kiwis also supply your furry friend with vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
- Cantaloupe – 1 inch of cantaloupe wedge is more than enough if fed regularly to your dog – it will help it benefit from a wide range of nutrients, among which vitamins A and C, the vitamin B complex, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene and folic acid.
- Strawberries – These are also true powerhouses when it comes to minerals and vitamins, as they contain iodine, magnesium, fiber, potassium, omega 3-fats, folic acids, iodine and vitamins B1, B6, C and K.
- Pears – These are also extremely nutritious fruits to feed your dog, as they contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals that will strengthen your four-legged friend’s immune system. Each treat should be composed of one or two pear cubes.
What’s In a Pear?
So now that we’ve established the answer to the question ‘Are pears good for dogs?’ and that’s a resounding ‘yes’, let’s take a closer look at a pear’s nutritional value. A medium-sized pear at around 178 grams will bring to the table the following nutrients:
Protein: 1 gram
Carbs: 27 grams
Vitamin K: 6% of DV
Potassium: 4% of the DV
Fiber: 6 grams
Copper: 16% of DV
Vitamin C: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)
Pears are excellent antioxidant fruits, which means they offer important antioxidative protection. This in turn means that serving your dog a slice of pear from time to time will help keep it feeling active and looking fresh. Copper does wonders when it comes to protecting the immune system, maintaining proper nerve function and cholesterol metabolism.
Vitamin A supports wound healing and overall skin health, while the fiber contained by pears will most likely help with your dog’s gastrointestinal processes running smoothly.
What Do You Need to Know Before Feeding Your Dog Pears?
However healthy pears may be, you need to feed them in moderation to your dog. Otherwise you may risk seeing your dog suddenly not feeling well, since its stomach is not used to such a harsh transition.
Moderation is essential because their high-water content and other elements from their composition may make pears the culprits when your dog gets an upset stomach.
An indication of how much pear you should feed your dog is given by veterinarians that recommend limiting your dog’s pear intake at around 10% of its daily normal food intake.
Even the most harmless fruits can represent a choking hazard if not cut properly. So make sure you’re cutting your pears into bite-sized portions that fit your dog’s dimensions and watch your friend as it gobbles down on the delicious treats. Just to be safe.
How to Pick the Right Pears
Now that we’ve established the answer to the question ‘Can dogs have pears?’, let’s take a closer look at the tips and tricks you need to know if you want to serve the best pears to your dog.
When picking pears from the farmer’s market, it’s important to distinguish between the many varieties of pears, since they all may have different specific characteristics when ripe. The shape differs, the color and the firmness of the pear itself will all be different things to look for when choosing the right pear.
Types of Pears
Across the globe there are currently more than 3,000 pear cultivars. Pears are mainly divided between two types: the Asian type and the European type. Asian pears seem to resemble apples more, with their crisp texture and yellow-tan color. What we typically see in supermarkets are actually of the European type – these have smooth skin and a heavier bottom.
There are several well-known pear varieties you can choose from and these are:
- Bartlett Pears – This is a soft variety and will bruise easily when finally ripe. They are the traditional canning pears and often hold a citrus aroma.
- Anjou Pears – These are extremely juicy and will drip when you bite out of them. These are also great for cooking.
- Red Anjou Pears – These look almost exactly the same as the original Anjou Pears, except for the strong red shade they boast.
- Comice Pears – This variety is among the most beloved for eating raw. The texture is less grainy than in other pears and the aroma is very fruity. They are also great ingredients for baked goods.
- Bosc Pears – These pears are very crisp when raw and they also maintain their beautiful shape intact when cooked. They boast an intense pear aroma, especially when you smell them at the head.
- Concorde Pears – These pears are easily recognizable due to their long, tapered necks. They are in fact sort of a combination between the Bosc and the Comice varieties and they become more mellow-scented, with a hint of vanilla, when they ripen.
- Seckel Pears – These pears are the kind that stand out of the crowd and this is because of their size. They are really tiny, no more than a few bites, and are the perfect ingredients if you’re thinking about canning, poaching and baking.
Picking Your Pears
Interested in picking the right pears? You should know it all boils down to how quickly you want to eat them. If you want to eat them straight away, you’ll want to get pears that are at their ripest point in their development stage.
- Pears tend to ripen better while they’re off the branch. This means they’re usually harvested mature, not fully ripe. This means that most pears you’ll find on the market will still need a bit of time before they fully ripen and become their most delicious, juicy version.
- The way to establish if a pear is ripe is by pressing against its skin with your finger. You can do this around the point where the stem meets the fruit and if it gives in, this means your pear is ready to be enjoyed.
- If your pears are soft anywhere else on their body, it means they’re already overripe and they’re past their ideal consumption point.
- However if you don’t want to eat your pears straight away, you need to look for the ones that still have their tops hard. This way you can let them ripen still on your counter for a few extra days, at room temperature.
How to Store Pears
You won’t be able to give your four-legged friend the best-quality pears if you store them poorly. This is why it’s important to look at some pears storing guidelines and see how you can make the best of them for the longest period of time:
- Depending on how ripe your pears were when you’ve bought them, they can be stored on the counter for a few days after the purchase day. This is if they’re still crisp. Each variety has different ripening requests, so you’ll need to let the Bartletts out at room temperature for 4-5 days to ripen, while the Bosch and Comice need around 5-7 days to get to their juiciest form. Finally, the Anjou variety requires the most time to ripen – you can confidently leave these pears out on the counter for 7-10 days.
- Check up on your pears daily while they’re in the ripening process. Be sure to press your thumb against the skin and see how it feels.
- If you want to speed up the ripening process, you can even place them in a paper bag, together with a ripe banana or apple. These fruits tend to give off ethylene gas, which will be transferred to the pears, making them produce their own ethylene gas as well.
- If you want your pears to last as long as possible, you need to remember that temperature is of the essence. The ideal storing temperature for them would be 30 degree F (-1 degree C) and a humidity level of 85% – 90%. The winter varieties will stay fresh at this temperature for around 3-5 months, while Bartlett pears will last about 2-3 months. So, if you manage to maintain this sweet spot in terms of temperatures and you buy enough pears to begin with, you’ll have healthy snacks for your dog for months at a time.
Are pears safe for dogs? Absolutely! Pears are the ideal treats for your dogs. They are healthy antioxidant fruits that can benefit your friends from plenty of minerals, vitamins and fiber. They are delicious and your dog will probably like the taste, since dogs are omnivores and tend to get along with a wide range of food types.
However, be certain to introduce this new snack gradually into their diet, since any sudden food additions of any kind can cause them digestive issues and plenty of discomfort. Apart from this, pears also contain a naturally high amount of sugar, so please exclude them from your dog snacks list if your dog is diabetic.
When feeding pears to your dog, also make sure to leave aside the stems, leaves and seeds. It’s especially important to avoid feeding your dog pear seeds, since they contain traces of toxic cyanide.
All in all, pears are excellent fruits to feed your dog and make for delicious and healthy little snacks that are best served from time to time, only in small quantities (one or two slices at a time).
Have you fed your dogs any pears yet? How has this experience been for you? How did your four-legged friend react to these delicious treats? Share your experience with the world by commenting below so more and more people can offer their furry companions richer experiences and healthier diets.