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Figs have become one of my favorite go-to snacks when I am looking for a sweet treat.
As I am treating myself, I often find my dog looking up at me with big round eyes, wanting to share this delicious morsel with me. But is it OK to give my dog a piece of my fig?
The short answer to this question is yes. It is perfectly safe, and even healthy, to give your dog a fresh fig on occasion. In fact, they even make great alternatives to processed dog treats.
However, you should never give your dog dried figs, or fig-based recipes, and you should always test your dog for fig allergies before making this delicious treat a regular part of their diet.
Moreover, if you have a fig tree, your dog should definitely not be allowed near it!
Read on to discover everything you need to know about dogs and figs. The benefits, the risks, and how to go about feeding your dog figs the right way.
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Health Benefits Of Figs
Figs are not only safe to give your dog on occasion, but actually offer a range of important health benefits.
First and foremost, figs are rich in natural sugars, which is a great, healthy source of energy and a superior alternative to the refined sugars that are found in many processed dog snacks.
Natural sugars release energy more steadily over time, giving your dog more energy for longer.
Food rich in refined sugars can give your dog a rapid energy boost, but this is usually followed by a crash as the sugar leaves their system. Too many refined sugars are also a contributing factor to doggy diabetes.
Figs are also high in fiber, which is great for regulating bowel movements in dogs as well as humans.
While it may not seem like it when your dog is doing their business at the most inconvenient moment, dogs can often suffer from constipation.
This is because they need a diet that is high in animal-based protein, and high protein diets often mean slow bowel movements.
The occasional fig can be very helpful for dogs with slow digestive processes. But beware, if you give them too much, you may also find yourself cleaning up dog diarrhea.
As well as regulating bowel movements, fiber can help regulate your dog’s hunger instincts.
If you find that once your pooch finishes his appropriate food portion, they are still sniffing around for food, a small portion of figs can help satisfy their taste buds and their hunger hormones until their next meal.
Finally, figs are also very high in potassium, which is essential for dogs to manage their blood pressure. As such, an occasional fig can contribute to your dog’s long-term cardiovascular health.
Risk Associated With Figs
While figs offer a variety of potential health benefits, they also pose a number of serious risks to your dog if fed to them inappropriately.
Figs are high in sugar, and when dogs eat too much sugar, even the natural, healthy sort found in figs, their digestive system can enter chaos.
In the short-term, it can result in vomiting and diarrhea, as well as inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation can result in conditions such as arthritis, dermatitis, and pancreatitis.
For this reason, dogs should also never be given dry figs. The drying process concentrates the sugar, resulting in a sugar hit that can be very difficult for your dog to handle.
The other main concern with figs is not the fruit, but rather its leaves, which are toxic to dogs and can cause severe skin inflammation. Obviously, dogs should never be given fig leaves to eat.
Also, if you happen to have a fig tree, your dog should be kept well clear. Just touching the leaves can severely irritate their skin. If they then go ahead and eat the leaves and fruit, you will need to rush them off to the vet.
How To Feed Your Dog Figs
Considering the dangers associated with figs, how can you make figs a healthy addition to your dog’s diet?
First and foremost, only feed your dog fresh figs. As already discussed, steer clear of dried figs as they are just too high in sugar.
You also shouldn’t try and get fancy and feed your dog any cakes or other recipes containing figs that you have made. These likely contain other ingredients that aren’t great for your dog’s health.
For a full list of what your dog should and should not be eating, check out our comprehensive guide.
Secondly, only feed your dog figs in moderation to ensure you are not adding too much sugar into their diet.
It is generally safe to feed your dog between one and two figs per week, with smaller dogs receiving a maximum of one and larger dogs having up to two.
Never give your dog a whole fig at once. Not only is that probably too much sugar for them to have in one go, but as your dog will probably look to gobble it up in one bite, it can be a choking hazard.
Cut figs into small pieces about the same size as the tip of your thumb. These make great alternatives to processed dog treats, which are often high in artificial, added sugars.
Finally, ensure that your dog doesn’t have an allergy to figs before making them a regular part of their diet.
Just like humans, dogs’ allergies can be unpredictable, so it is always a good idea to test them for allergies before introducing a new food into their diet.
To do this, simply start by giving your dog a small piece of fig, and then observe them for the next 24 to 48 hours to gauge their reaction. Watch out for allergy warning signs including:
- Excessive salivation
- Skin inflammation
- Eye itchiness
- Decreased appetite
In order to ensure that you know what is causing your dog’s reaction, only ever introduce one new food into their diet at a time. Once you are satisfied that they are not allergic, you can then increase their fig intake as you wish.
But Does My Dog Really Need Figs?
Considering the list of health benefits associated with figs outlined above, you might be asking yourself why everyone isn’t including figs in their dog’s diet on a regular basis.
In reality, if you are feeding your dog a diet of high-quality commercial dog food, you probably don’t need to add figs to their meals as a nutritional extra.
Good-quality dog foods are designed to give your dog all the nutrition that they need, and in the right balance.
They have the right balance of meat-based protein, carbohydrates, and fiber and are topped up with vitamin and mineral packs that contain all the nutrients that they need to survive.
Therefore, if your dog is on a diet of high-quality commercial dog food, they are already receiving all of the potassium and fiber that they need.
So, not only do they not need figs, but adding too much of it to their diet can throw off the delicate balance that is being achieved by feeding them meals that are specifically designed for dogs.
For this reason, in the case of most dogs, figs should be limited to the occasional treat and should not be a regular part of your dog’s diet.
However, if you are feeding your dog home-cooked meals, or a raw meat diet, figs can be a great way to introduce more of the fiber that they need into their diet. If this is the case, they can receive figs as a more regular dietary treat.
For more information about what exactly should go in the diet of a Labrador and other dogs, check out our nutrition and diet pages.
So, what is the final word on figs?
Fresh figs can be used to give your dog a healthy treat. In particular, they offer a snack high in natural sugars, which makes them a better alternative to processed dog treats that often contain refined, artificial sugars.
But figs are high in sugar, so they should only ever be given to your dog in moderation. Give them pieces only about the size of the tip of your thumb, and make sure they do not eat more than one to two figs per week.
Only give your dog fresh figs, and never the dried versions, as the drying processes intensify the sugar concentration, making them a dangerous sugar hit for your pooch.
Also, make sure your dog stays well clear of fig trees, as their leaves are toxic to dogs and can cause serious inflammation.
If your dog is on a stable diet of high-quality dog food, they don’t really have a particular need for figs in their diet, but they still make a great, occasional healthy treat.
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