Can Golden Retrievers Eat Fruit? (Good Fruit Options Versus Bad)


Recently, while eating some fruit, an odd piece inadvertently got dropped on the floor. Our Golden Retriever – being the food-motivated dog he is – swiftly took advantage of the opportunity to gobble up the reward, which got me thinking about whether Golden Retrievers can eat fruit.

Golden Retrievers can eat some fruits in moderation. Many are a healthy source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. However, a Golden Retriever’s digestive system differs from ours. Some fruits can be toxic or cause digestive issues, and those fruits should be avoided. 

We often think that if something is healthy for us, then it must be for our dogs. However, a dog’s digestive system is not the same as ours. And, many of the foods we can eat can cause issues for our Golden Retrievers. 

Some fruits are toxic to our dogs. Others are not harmful, but they can cause digestive distress, resulting in gas, bloating, and diarrhea in your Golden Retriever. The key is to know which are acceptable and always limit the amounts given. 

Just like junk food is a nice indulgence for us on occasion, there are consequences if we eat these unhealthy foods non-stop and in large quantities. Fruits for your Golden Retriever are much the same. 

Let’s start with reviewing the unhealthy or outright toxic fruits that your Golden Retriever should not eat. Then we’ll discuss the healthy fruit options that your Golden can enjoy in moderation on occasion.

I also wrote a part 2 to this article that discusses the best and worst vegetables to feed your Golden Retriever, and it can be found here if you’re interested:

Golden Retrievers: Can They Eat Vegetables?

The Unhealthy Fruits: Your Golden Retriever Should Avoid These

The fruits on the unhealthy list can range from causing stomach upset to deadly. Some fruits can contain harmful toxins, while others are not harmful perse, but typically don’t mesh well with a Golden Retriever’s digestive tract. With so many options available to your Golden Retriever, it’s best to avoid these. 

Avocado 

Avocados contain persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting or gastric upset (diarrhea) in dogs. The pit and skin have the most persin, but the flesh or inside of the avocado fruit also contains persin. Best to avoid the avocado; pit, skin, and meat of the fruit. 

Cherries

Like apple seeds, the cherry pits and plant parts contain cyanide. While the fruit’s meat or flesh (the fleshy part surrounding the pit) is OK to eat, the remaining parts are not. Cherries in large quantities can cause diarrhea in dogs, and pits swallowed can cause intestinal obstructions.

Err on the side of caution and avoid giving your Golden Retriever any cherries. There’s no reason to take a risk when the list of safe options is so plentiful. If you decide to give cherries to your Golden Retriever, keep the portion size small to avoid stomach upset.

While cherries are on the “naughty” list, they are technically safe in small quantities. The cherry pits and plant parts are a legitimate risk. That risk, combined with the potential for stomach upset from the fruit, tipped the scales away from the good or healthy list.

Grapes/Raisins

Grapes are easily the worst fruit for your Golden Retriever because they’re toxic to dogs, all dogs. No matter the breed, size, or age, grapes, and raisins are potentially deadly to your dog. Grapes can cause kidney failure in Golden Retrievers due to their toxicity, so keep this fruit away from your Golden at all costs. 

Grapefruit 

Your dog can eat the flesh of grapefruit; however, the high citrus content has the potential to cause big issues with your Golden Retriever’s digestive system. Avoid giving your Golden the rind or plant parts, which contain essential oils that are toxic to your dog. 

The chances are that your Golden Retriever will pass on the grapefruit due to its very sour taste. However, even if your Golden will eat it, it’s best to avoid giving this fruit to your dog since there are so many better options.

Oranges and tangerines both make better and safer options if you’re looking to give your dog a citrus fruit snack. 

Plums

While the plum’s flesh can be eaten safely by dogs, the pit is a big concern. The plum’s pit is sharp and jagged and can cause damage to a dog’s stomach and intestines. Intestinal blockages are also a concern.

Equally concerning is the plum pit contains cyanide and is toxic to your dog.

Because the potential harm from parts of the plum significantly outweighs any small benefits from the fruit’s flesh, the plum makes the list of fruits to avoid for your Golden Retriever. 

Tomatoes 

The green parts of tomatoes contain a toxin called solanine. Solanine can cause heart issues, difficulty breathing, and gastric issues. A ripened tomato (red tomato) is fine, but your dog should avoid any of the tomato’s green parts.

While your dog must eat a large number of green tomato parts for it to be harmful, it’s still good to keep this fruit away from Golden Retrievers (warning to gardeners).

Depending on your Golden’s gastric sensitivity, the fruit’s flesh may even cause stomach upset and issues. Best to avoid the tomato to be safe. 

The Healthy Fruits: Your Golden Retriever Can Eat These in Small Quantities

The fruits discussed below are safe for your Golden Retriever to eat. However, keep in mind that many fruits are high in sugar and fiber, so beware that large amounts can cause some gastric issues such as diarrhea or vomiting.

In moderation, the fruits on this list are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them excellent options for healthy Golden retriever snacks. 

Apples 

Apples are an excellent snack for dogs. This snack is high in fiber, vitamin C and A. Apples are a carbohydrate, so they’re low in protein and fat, and high in water content. The high water content makes them an excellent snack for the summer, especially if you freeze them. 

While apples are an excellent snack for your dog, apple seeds are not. Apple seeds contain cyanide, so it’s best when feeding your Golden Retriever apples that the core and seeds are not part of the snack. 

Cyanide is extremely toxic. Cyanide impedes your dog’s blood cells from getting enough oxygen. Signs that your dog has been exposed to cyanide poisoning include red gums, difficulty breathing, and dilated pupils. If you suspect your Golden has ingested cyanide, take it to a vet emergency clinic immediately. 

Apricots

Apricots are safe to eat for your dog. Apricots are low in fat, calories, and sugar (one of the lowest glycemic index scores). Apricots are a good source of fiber and vitamins C and A. A word of caution; apricot stems, leaves, or pits contain cyanide and are toxic to your Golden Retriever, so be careful it does not ingest those. 

Bananas

Bananas like apples are an excellent snack for your dog and can be frozen as well. The banana is high in sugar, so be mindful of giving your Golden too much. On the plus side, however, the banana is loaded with potassium and contains vitamins, biotin, copper, and fiber.

The sweetness of the banana makes it a great treat and high-value reward. 

Blackberries

Blackberries are safe for dogs, and like blueberries, the blackberry packs a lot of antioxidant power. Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Blackberries are moderately low in sugar content and low in calories, making them a perfect snack for your Golden Retriever. Blackberries are high in vitamin C and K, manganese, and fiber.

You can feed your Golden Retriever blackberries frozen or raw, and they’re soft to chew. Blackberries make a low calorie and healthy alternative to commercial dog treats. 

Blueberries

Our pup Bailey loves blueberries, and we have no reservations about giving him this great snack. Blueberries are a great fruit snack for your Golden. Blueberries are loaded with phytonutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits and are an excellent source of vitamin C and K, manganese, and about 85% water.

The same thing that makes Blueberries an excellent snack for us makes it a perfect snack for your Golden as well. They’re great frozen or unfrozen. Like Blackberries, Blueberries are moderate in sugar and low in calories, making them great snacks but go easy on the portion sizes.

Cantaloupe

Like bananas, cantaloupe contains a lot of sugar, so you should only give it to your dog in small quantities. Otherwise, cantaloupe is perfectly fine to give to your Golden. Cantaloupes are high in beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, and potassium.

Cantaloupes are sweet, delicious, and contain a high water content making them very low in calories—all good things for your Golden Retriever. 

Cranberries

Dried or raw, cranberries are a safe fruit for your dog. Like blueberries, they are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients. The cranberry is tart, though, and your Golden Retriever may or not enjoy these.

You can give it a try and if your Golden enjoys them, be sure to limit their quantity to avoid causing any stomach upset. 

Honeydew

Honeydew melon is a refreshing summer fruit that is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. Honeydew is comprised of 90% water and is a very hydrating snack for both pets and people on a hot day.

Honeydew is high in sugar as well, so a little, not a lot, is the way to go. 

Mango

Mangos fall in the same category as bananas and cantaloupe, an excellent snack for dogs but only in small quantities. The high sugar and calorie content is their only downfall and the reason for moderation. The mango is high in beta carotene, vitamin C, and polyphenols (antioxidants). Mangos also contain a lot of potassium, copper, fiber, and vitamin E.  

Oranges 

Oranges can be hit or miss in terms of an enjoyable snack for your dogs. Like cranberries, your Golden Retriever may be turned off by the tart or sour taste. The sweeter the orange, the more your dog will enjoy them (just like us). Oranges can be a great snack for your Golden Retriever in small quantities. 

Oranges are packed with vitamins C and B, calcium, potassium, fiber, and phytochemicals that help protect the body from some illnesses. Avoid giving your Golden Retriever any of the peels, though, which might cause stomach upset in your dog. 

Peaches 

Toss the pit, and peaches are tasty, sweet treats for your dog and are safe. Like cherries, the pit is toxic, so that’s a no-no. Still, otherwise, peaches are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and A, and potassium. 

Peaches also have a high water content, so they make a great summer snack. Be mindful of portion sizes; peaches have a more elevated sugar content than many other fruits. And avoid the canned version due to the high sugar content. 

Pears 

Pears are safe for your dog. Just go easy on the portion size and amounts, as too much may cause some stomach upset. Like apple seeds, the pear seeds contain small cyanide amounts, so remove the pit and seeds first. 

Pears provide a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, and copper. Pears are an excellent source of polyphenols, which protect against oxidative damage.

The pear peels contain six times the amount of polyphenols, so it’s safe and reasonable to include peels as part of the snack. 

Pineapple

Just like we won’t eat parts of the pineapple, your dog shouldn’t either. Toss the spikey skin and hard inner core, and the pineapple meat is a great, tasty snack for your Golden Retriever. Not only are pineapples safe for your dog, but they pack a nutritional wallop.

Pineapples are high in bromelain. Bromelain not only provides anti-inflammatory properties, but this enzyme helps the absorption of proteins.

Pineapples are high in vitamins and minerals, including manganese, vitamins C and B. Pineapples provide a good source of antioxidants and fiber, and they’re 82% water, so they’re great for a summer snack. 

Raspberries 

Yes, your Golden Retriever can eat raspberries. They’re delicious and provide an abundance of health benefits. Like most other berries, the raspberry is low in sugar and calories, high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raspberries are an excellent source of vitamins C, K, B complex and potassium, copper, folic acid, manganese, and magnesium. 

Like all fruits, moderation is vital, but with raspberries, that is especially important due to xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener in some fruits, but raspberries contain one of the highest levels. Large quantities may cause your Golden some gastric issues, including diarrhea or constipation.  

Strawberries

Another winner for your Golden Retriever is the delicious strawberry. So, what makes them so good, other than the sweet, delicious taste? Strawberries are high in water content, fiber, vitamin c and are loaded with antioxidants.

Strawberries are pretty high in sugar, so go easy on the amounts. Like peaches, avoid the canned variety as the syrup is just too rich and high in sugar. 

And here’s a cool little factoid. Strawberries contain an enzyme that whitens teeth, so your Golden gets the added benefit of a whiter smile.

This Golden must eat strawberries. Just look at those pearly white teeth!

Tangerines

The cousin to the delicious orange, so yes, tangerines are OK to feed to your Golden Retriever. Tangerines are high in vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, potassium, and other nutrients. They’re also high in sugar, and too much of a high sugar fruit can cause stomach issues for your Golden, so moderation again is the word of the day. 

Watermelon 

Watermelon is safe to eat for your dog, except for the rind and seeds. But the meat of the fruit is fine. Watermelons beat the pineapple and honeydew in hydration at 92% water, making it a great summer snack. Watermelon has an abundance of beneficial nutrients, including potassium and vitamins A, B6, and C, and it’s high in fiber.

Watermelon can be frozen or eaten raw; your dog will like both. Watermelon is low in calories and is fat and sodium-free. Watermelon is also high in lycopene, which may help prevent certain cancers, so that’s a big plus for Golden Retrievers.

How Much Fruit Can I Feed My Golden Retriever Daily? 

When it comes to fruit, the key is moderation. Humans are herbivores meaning we can eat both meat and plant-based food. Golden Retrievers are carnivores, meaning their diets are mostly meat and protein.

Fruit consumption should follow the 90/10 rule. 90% of a Golden Retriever’s daily calories should come from a high nutrient dog food, which will provide them with the required macro and micronutrients they need for a healthy life. The other 10% of the calories can be allocated to snacks, including fruits. 

While the odd piece of an approved fruit makes a healthy snack for your Golden Retriever, it should supplement their diet, not be a primary staple. 

Are There Any Concerns With Golden Retrievers Eating Healthy Fruits?

High Sugar Content

The most critical consideration in giving your Golden Retriever fruit is the high sugar content of many fruits. The high sugar content of most fruits is significant if your Golden Retriever has diabetes. You should choose fruits that are lower in sugar and high in fiber or eliminate fruit altogether in such cases.

The high fiber content in some fruits slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Some good options might be apples, apricots, oranges, and pears. However, always consult your vet before providing a diabetic Golden Retriever any sugary foods, including fruit. 

High Calories

Another potential issue with fruit is if your Golden Retriever is struggling with weight issues. Golden Retrievers have a high food drive and are prone to weight gain. With the high sugar content and calories of most fruits, moderation is critical when providing fruit as a snack. Watch your Golden Retrievers weight, and be sure to limit all snacks to 10% of calories.

If your Golden Retriever already has a weight problem or is gaining weight, cut out the fruit altogether. Other lower calories snacks are better suited than fruit. Like with diabetes, talk to your vet if there are weight issues. 

Digestive Issues

The last area of concern is digestive problems. Some fruits may cause your Golden Retriever some stomach issues, while others not so much. Provided your Golden Retriever is only getting a small amount, there should be few issues. Be watchful of your Golden’s behavior and bowel movements. If there seems to be cause for any concern, eliminate that fruit off the list.

Also, be aware that your Golden Retriever’s digestive system may become more finicky as it ages. A specific fruit may cause no issues in a young Golden Retriever, but that same fruit may cause a stomach upset for an older or senior Golden Retriever. 

Final Thoughts

Fruits can be a great snack for your Golden Retriever. Healthy fruits provide a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients – all good things for your Golden Retriever.

Be cautious of the unhealthy fruit, which at best will only cause some stomach upset, and at worst, can be deadly to your Golden Retriever.

The key to providing fruit snacks to your Golden Retriever is moderation. Keep snacks for your Golden Retriever to 10% or fewer of its total calories. Stick to the healthy fruit options and be mindful of the sugar content if your Golden has diabetes or weight issues.

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