Dogs are known to be omnivorous, meaning they can eat both plants and meat. There are plants and fruits known for their benefits in dogs and are given a simple yes, whereas others get a hard no following their high toxicity. With plums, however, the answer is not as direct.
Some site the benefits of adding plums into a dog’s diet, while others stand with plums not being a risk worth taking.
So, which is which? Is it advisable to feed a dog plums?
Let us look at both sides of the equation to provide a satisfactory answer.
How Does a Dog Benefit from Plums?
Regarding nutritional value, plums are not as enriched as most safe-to-eat fruits for dogs. Regardless, one may be advised to include plum flesh and skin servings in a dog’s diet as they contain:
Vital Vitamins and Minerals
Plums contain small amounts of potassium and vitamin K. They are also a good source of antioxidants and Vitamin C, vital for immune system control, and vitamin A which boosts eye health and healthy skin.
It is good for facilitating proper digestion, regulating bowel movement, and maintaining blood sugar levels. The digestive fiber becomes highly concentrated in the dried version of the fruit. Thus if a dog experiences constipation, plums come in handy.
The Danger Posed by Plums
The plum pit, foliage, and stems contain a chemical compound, amygdalin. Moreover, once chewed and broken down into small pieces, the pit releases hydrogen cyanide- a deadly poison for all mammals. Along with cyanide and amygdalin, parts of the plum fruit contain prunasin and cyanogen.
Cyanide poisoning, also known as plum poisoning, can lead to kidney failure and even death. These risks are higher in small dog breeds because smaller quantities of the cyanide compound lead to toxicity in smaller bodies.
Also, swallowing the pit could get it lodged in the dog’s esophagus, causing a choking hazard. If the pit successfully passes through the esophagus, there’s a chance it can get trapped further down the digestive tract. The stuck pit could cause intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening and may require surgery.
To avoid this, always remove the pit and dispose of it safely before feeding a plum to your dog.
Too Much Sugar
Plums, like most fruits, contain natural sugars, making them a delicious treat. However, in plums, the sugar level is exceptionally high.
For instance, a 60-gram watermelon contains 4 grams of sugar, and 60 grams strawberries have about 3 grams of sugar. A 60-gram plum contains 6 grams of sugar. This sugar concentration is relatively high.
As most fiber is contained in dried plums, so is the sugar content. Too much sugar can lead to unnecessary weight gain and amplify complexities like dog obesity and diabetes.
For this reason, giving your dog plums in the form of juice is not a good idea. Besides, the juice is sugar-packed but lacks the fiber content necessary to provide a real health benefit.
My Dog Accidentally Consumed Plums, What Should I Do?
Once you notice your dog has ingested some plums, the first action is to determine precisely how much and what parts of the fruit they have taken in. If a dog eats plum flesh, there probably will not be any cause for alarm. But if they ate the whole fruit, including the pit, contact your vet.
If, for any reason, you are under the impression that a dog has eaten broken pieces of the pit, or has chewed on the leaves, stem, bark, or plum tree roots, be watchful for the following signs of cyanide poisoning: difficulty breathing, trembling, loss of balance, and seizures. Also, confusion or distress, foaming at the mouth, dilated pupils, redness in the mouth especially darkening on the gums and tongue, loss of balance, respiratory failure, and death.
Your dog may also experience intestinal blockage, showing the following signs: loss of appetite, aversion to belly rubs, lethargy, panting, stomach pain, constipation, and vomiting.
If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the vet. It might need treatment for cyanide/plum poisoning. For blockage, your vet can help the dog safely pass the pit or perform emergency surgery.
In some cases, it has been reported that using sodium nitrite administered through an intravenous drip may aid in displacing the cyanide traces from the dog’s bloodstream.
Alternatives to Plums
It is not always that a dog will show enthusiasm toward food and fruits. Let them be if your dog is not interested in eating plums.
There are several other fruits that one may consider feeding their dog in the place of plums, fruits with higher nutritional value, lower sugar levels, and zero negative effects. A dog can safely eat watermelon, bananas, apples, and berries like strawberries, raspberries, and black and blueberries. Oranges, kiwi fruit, and pumpkin are good choices too.
These are fruits and veggies that would make a healthy snack for a dog, following they are often lacking in commercially available dog food.
Nevertheless, it is advisable to start by introducing a few bites per meal. You can increase the quantity if your dog likes a given fruit.
Moreover, consult your vet before introducing new foods to your dog’s diet.
While technically, a dog can eat some parts of a plum, it is not an ideal fruit to add to its diet. The pits, stems, tree leaves, bark, and roots are highly toxic and can lead to fatal poisoning.
Additionally, the fruit does not provide significant health benefits, and its high sugar content does not help the case.
However, when eating the fruit, you may find your dog’s puppy eyes irresistible and decide to share some. Plums will not harm them as long as you take out the pit, slice the fleshy part, and exercise moderation.
After feeding your dog some plums for the first time, monitor their reaction. Keep an eye on their energy levels and stool. You may consult a vet if you need more information or are unsure how your dog will react to the fruit.