Nectarines are sweet, tasty, and on a hot day, a perfect treat. What’s more, they are in season from May through to October. But can dogs eat nectarines? Yes, but only in moderation so if you fancy sharing with your dog, read on to find out more.
Nectarines belong to the Rosaceae family of fruits that also include peaches and plums. Just like peaches (Prunus persica), they are packed full of goodness. So are they good for our dogs too?
What are nectarines?
Nectarines are smooth skin mutations of a peach. They look very similar to each other, with the only visible difference being that the nectarine has smooth skin rather than fuzzy skin. Genetically the two fruits are almost the same, with only one gene variant between the two.
Nectarines can have white or yellow flesh and, just like peaches, have similar sugar levels. White nectarines taste sweeter than yellow nectarines because they contain less acid. However, white nectarines can be less flavorful than their yellow counterparts, but if you like your fruit on the sweet side, opt for white varieties.
Just as with peaches, plums and apricots, nectarines are classified as either freestone or clingstone varieties. The pit of a freestone fruit is not attached to the fruit’s flesh, whereas the clingstone fruits have pits that cling.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell them apart from the outside. The difference between the two becomes noticeable when you cut into the fruit. The flesh of a freestone nectarine variety will come away from the pit very easily; this makes freestone varieties perfect for slicing. In contrast, the pit clings to the flesh of the clingstone variety, which makes it a bad choice for cooking flans but ideal for eating as you can nibble your way around the pit.
What are the benefits of nectarines?
Although it’s unnecessary to give your dog fruit a balanced diet, nectarines are packed full of vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious treat. They contain beta-carotene and vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy skin, teeth, and bones.
Also, it’s worth knowing that nectarines also provide a good amount of fiber for healthy digestion, as well as potassium for general health and wellbeing.
Can dogs eat nectarines? Yes, but as with all fruit and vegetables, it’s best if you start by giving your dog a small amount. It would be best if you then watched your dog. If they don’t show any ill effects, then you can increase the amount or frequency.
Despite being low on the glycemic index, remember that all fruits contain sugar. Never overindulge your dog as their teeth and waistline won’t thank you for it.
What are the risks of nectarines?
Although not toxic, there are some risks associated with giving your dog nectarines. The flesh of nectarines and peaches is fine for your dog to eat, but you need to be careful of the pit.
The pit contains traces of cyanide. There is some debate as to whether the cyanide seeps out from the pit into the surrounding flesh. However, as long as you cut around the pit carefully, there shouldn’t be any issues.
Never be tempted to give your dog canned fruits or ready-prepared fruit salads. These often contain highly concentrated sugar syrup. Your dog may enjoy the taste, but it won’t do them any good at all.
If your dog does accidentally ingest a nectarine or peach pit, take them to the vet if you notice any of the following signs;
- Painful stomach
A dog’s body size and weight play an important role in how susceptible they are to toxins. It is possible, although it’s unlikely, that they will suffer side-effects from swallowing a single peach pit. Potentially they could suffer acute cyanide poisoning.
Dogs have a much lower tolerance to some toxins than we do. If your dog regularly eats fruit with seeds or pits, there is a chance that cyanide traces will have a cumulative effect over time and cause toxicity.
Be particularly careful if you grow fruit at home. Once the fruit has fallen from the tree, it can become a major health hazard to your dog. As fruit decomposes, it produces ethanol (also known as alcohol – one of the things not to feed your dog) and is extremely toxic to dogs. Never leave your dog unattended where they can have free access to windfall fruit.
The greater risk, however, is that the pit presents a choking hazard. If your dog gets hold of the pit, try to remove it at once as it could get stuck in their throat or cause a blockage in their intestinal tract. So to be on the safe side, always prepare fruit for your dog and give it to them in slices. Never leave your dog unsupervised or in a position where they can help themselves to fruit.
Anything harder than your dog’s teeth is potentially dangerous and can damage them, and the pit of a nectarine is no exception. Fractures are very painful and can result in the need to remove the damaged tooth. As dogs are rarely delicate when they eat, protect them by keeping whole fruits out of reach or remove the pit before offering it to your dog.
While nectarines offer some health benefits to your dog, it’s also worth remembering that they are very high in sugars. Too much sugar can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and vomiting.
The same is true for eating too much dietary fiber, so keep the fruit treats to a minimum. Always buy fresh fruit and wash it well before cutting it into bite-size pieces to feed your dog. Avoid canned nectarines and ready-prepared fruit salads. These often contain highly concentrated sugar syrup. Your dog may enjoy the taste, but it won’t do them any good at all.
Can dogs eat nectarines?
Yes, nectarines are safe for dogs in small doses.
Despite the possible risks, it’s highly unlikely that your dog will be affected by cyanide poisoning from eating a single pit. A more pressing concern is that if the stone is ingested, it will cause a blockage. So if you do like to share fruit with your dog, then a good rule of thumb is to remove the pits and avoid pips, seeds, and stones, as these can all contain chemicals that present danger and can be toxic to your dog.
However, a much more likely scenario is that despite the great vitamin profile, and the gut-friendly fiber, letting your dog eat too much fresh nectarine will result in an upset stomach. Although unpleasant for both you and your dog, mild gastrointestinal issues should clear up in a couple of days. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of clean water and monitor them closely.
If you fancy trying your dog with nectarine, why not substitute one for the peach in the tasty treat below. But remember that too many treats can lead to weight gain in dogs, so little and often keep your dog healthy