Papayas, also known as pawpaws or papaws, are exotic tropical fruits. Today it is readily available in many grocery stores and markets outside their native Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.
More people are adding them to their daily food regimen because of their taste, texture, fiber, color, and, of course, the many health benefits.
But can dogs eat papaya, and do they have the same benefits for your pets too?
The short answer is – yes, as occasional treats and when appropriately prepped. They can be safe for most dogs and can help boost your pup’s wellbeing and health. Often, a little bit of papaya can also help alleviate digestive problems in canines.
Read on for a detailed overview of the advantages and potential risks of treating your four-legged companion with some mouthwatering papaya fruit.
Is it safe to give papaya to dogs?
While the general answer is yes, it is a good idea for dog parents to familiarize themselves with the pros and cons of adding papaya to the list of treats for their pups.
As with any other human food, you should serve the papaya to your dog responsibly and safely.
First, it is essential to avoid giving it the tough skin or the seeds of this exotic food because they can lead to choking or intestinal blockage, especially in larger quantities or in smaller dogs.
The skin of this tropical fruit is hard to digest and can obstruct the gastrointestinal tract of a dog. Also, giving your pet too much papaya can lead to digestive upsets, mainly due to the high fiber content of this fruit.
So, you should always remove the skin and seeds of the fruit and cut or dice it into manageable pieces.
The quantity of papaya you can give your pup is also important for its safety. A rule of thumb is to portion the servings of papaya in a ratio of ½ gram of fruit for every pound of the dog’s body weight.
The amount should be even lower if you have already added other fruits or veggies to the dog’s daily menu.
Avoid feeding your pup with dehydrated papaya. It is highly concentrated and increases the risk of adverse side effects for dogs.
It is recommended that you choose fresh papaya instead. Once you peel it and remove the seeds, cut the flesh into pieces small enough to ensure that your pet will not choke and can swallow them easily.
This tropical fruit contains compounds that require DAO enzymes for digestion, which are also responsible for the breakdown of histamines in the dog’s body. So, suppose your pup has histamine-related health issues, such as an environmental allergy or mast cell tumors. In that case, you should limit the quantities or avoid feeding it papaya altogether.
You should always start by adding very small portions of new food to your pup’s diet. Watch your furbaby for any adverse reactions. Once you are sure it is not allergic or sensitive to papaya, you gradually increase the quantity over time.
Common symptoms of the dog not reacting well to the papaya include loose stools or itching. If you notice these, you should stop treating it with this particular fruit altogether.
One of the key benefits of adding papaya to the dog’s diet is that it contains less fructose (fruit sugar) than other dog-friendly fruits such as cherries, apples, or blueberries. This is good news for overweight dogs or prone to undesired weight gain. It can be a good treat for dogs suffering from diabetes too.
Always speak to your vet before adding new fruits and other foods to your pup’s diet, especially if it has health issues.
How can papaya benefit the dog’s health?
Papayas are nutrient-packed and high in antioxidants. They help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. And can help lower blood pressure, improve blood glucose levels, and speed up wound healing in humans.
But how can these delicious fruits benefit the health and wellbeing of canines?
Read on to find out more about the multiple advantages of adding some papaya to your pup’s diet:
Papain – this is a digestive enzyme that helps break down protein. It is only contained in the flesh of the raw fruit. Cooked or processed papaya does not include this helpful proteolytic enzyme.
Even though there are a wide variety of dog supplements containing papain, it is best to treat your pup with fresh, peeled, deseeded, and diced papaya fruit instead. Papain is especially good for senior dogs whose digestive system is declining with age.
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Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A) – while dogs usually get the recommended quantity of vitamin A from their dry dog food, papaya fruit contains beta-carotene, which is a precursor of this essential nutrient.
The beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in the dog’s liver and is an excellent antioxidant for pups that are already getting enough of the vitamin’s elemental form.
Lutein – this is a chemical compound found in plants, which is known as a carotenoid and is a powerful antioxidant.
Research has shown that it can help prevent Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other cancers in humans and in canines. It helps prevent the rapid decline of cognitive abilities of senior dogs, so it is perfect if your pet is in its golden years.
Lycopene – this is another carotenoid produced by plants such as papaya. It is an antioxidant that can help boost the functioning and health of your dog’s vision, brain, heart, and skin.
Lycopene has also been found to prevent Parkinson’s disease and reduce the development of bladder or prostate cancer in humans but is rarely found in dog foods.
Research has shown that it can help reduce the risk of the esophagus and lung cancer in dogs and prostate cancer in canines that are not neutered.
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Vitamin C – it may come as a surprise to many that papaya contains 25% more vitamin C than the same serving of orange does. This essential nutrient is key to preventing joint damage from the free radicals. It also helps boost the dog’s immune system, thus reducing its risk of becoming ill.
Canines can synthesize vitamin C, but it can also help add some more dietary vitamin C from healthy whole food sources, such as papaya.
Vitamin K – the papaya fruit is loaded with this fat-soluble vitamin. It helps improve the health of the dog’s heart and liver and ensures efficient blood clotting and wound healing.
Fiber – it helps the normal bowel movement in both humans and canines and can prevent constipation. It also adds to the diversity of the good bacteria in the dog’s gut. A healthy microbiome ensures that the pup is healthy and happy too.
But remember that some dogs can be more sensitive to fiber than others, and consuming too much of it can lead to adverse effects on the dog’s digestive system. So, feed it with papaya in small amounts or give it some probiotic supplements if your vet advises you to.
Potassium – this tropical fruit is packed with potassium, which is a mineral that facilitates the absorption of essential nutrients by the dog’s body. It can also help boost bone health, the growth and strength of the muscles, and the neural function in pups.
Calcium – papaya contains an abundant amount of calcium, which is essential for your dog’s health. Calcium helps keep the pup’s bones and teeth strong and aids the healthy growth and functioning of its muscles. The mineral will also boost your pet’s nervous system and strengthen its heart.
Magnesium – similarly to the other minerals (calcium and potassium), magnesium is used for energy creation in the cells. It helps boost the heart health, the functioning of the nervous system, and the muscle function of the dog.
What is the proper and safe way to feed papaya to a dog?
Once again, we advise all dog parents to always speak to their veterinarians before adding new human foods to their dog’s menu.
If your vet approves, you can start adding fresh papaya as a treat or as a supplement to your dog’s regular food.
Always opt for fresh papaya fruit rather than processed or dehydrated. Peel the tough skin off and remove all seeds from it. Then dice it up or blend it into manageable small pieces to significantly reduce the risk of choking or obstruction for your pup.
You can store the remaining cut papaya in an airtight container in your refrigerator for next time.
Start adding this exotic fruit to your dog’s daily regimen gradually. Begin with small quantities and monitor it carefully for any adverse side effects.
If it is okay, you can increase the quantity, but do not exceed more than ¼ gram of papaya per pound of your pup’s body weight.
Papaya has many health benefits for both humans and dogs. If your dog is healthy and reacts well to it, small pieces of papaya can become excellent treats or toppers for its primary dog food.
In some cases, this tasty tropical fruit can help prevent some serious illnesses and help relieve the symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, and others in canines.