Dragon fruit (also known as pitaya) is one of nature’s most weird and wonderful fruits! From the alien-like spiky outside, to the vibrantly colored flesh on the inside, dragon fruit is both beautiful and delicious. But can dogs eat dragon fruit? In this blog, we look at whether this tropical fruit from Central America is safe for your dog, plus the health benefits and risks of feeding pitaya to your pup.
You’ve probably come across dragon fruit at your local market, or in smoothie bowls and smoothies at cafes. This exotic fruit is trending because it’s not only pretty, but super healthy as an addition to the dog food you currently feed your pet.
Just as we appreciate mixing up our daily diet routine to get a variety of different flavors and nutrients, it’s also good for your dog to have some variety – as kibble and meat can get pretty boring for them every day!
Let’s take a look at whether dogs can have dragon fruit as a snack.
Can dogs eat dragon fruit?
The good news is yes – dogs can eat dragon fruit in moderation!
It’s totally safe and non-toxic for your dog. But like most fruits, it’s sweet and sugary, and it contains a lot of fiber, so too much can be unhealthy for your dog.
Dragon fruit (also referred to as pitaya or pitahaya) is the fruit of several different cactus species indigenous to the Americas..Today, it’s grown in Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, India, the Caribbean, the USA, Australia, and through most tropical and subtropical regions.
While their names are used interchangeably, Pitaya usually refers to fruit of the genus Stenocereus, while pitahaya or dragon fruit refers to the fruit of the genus Selenicereus.
Let’s look at the different types of this fruit you might be able to buy locally, and whether each variety is okay to feed to your dog.
Which types of dragon fruit are okay for dogs?
Depending on where dragon fruit is grown, and the variety of the plant, it will come in different colors. There are four common species: pink and white (the most common), red, yellow, and purple. And they’re all equally beautiful and delicious!
The French are credited with distributing this fruit from South America around the globe in the late 1800s. It’s generally served fresh and cold, or added to juices, sorbets, smoothies, and other desserts.
The brightly colored varieties are also used to dye food and textiles, or as medicine in some Asian countries.
Can dogs have white dragon fruit?
White dragon fruit is the most common variety. It’s pink on the outside, but white on the inside, with hundreds of tiny, edible black seeds. This variety is typically grown in South East Asia.
It’s not as sweet as the fruits with colourful flesh, but still full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This variety is totally safe to give your dog.
Can dogs eat pink dragon fruit?
The beautiful pink dragon fruit is safe to feed your dog too!
Countries such as Nicaragua and Ecuador in South America grow the pink dragon fruit species, which looks the same as the white flesh variety on the outside, but has light to bright pink flesh when you cut into it.
Can dogs eat red dragon fruit?
As its name implies, the red dragon fruit has rich, dark red flesh inside its spiky outer skin. This variety is also totally safe for your dog to eat.
Red dragon fruit is often found in countries like Costa Rica and other Latin American areas.
Can dogs eat yellow dragon fruit?
The spectacular yellow dragon fruit is also safe for your dog to snack on. A popular South American variety, it’s bright yellow on the outside with white flesh and the characteristic black seeds that make this fruit so attractive.
Yellow dragon fruit has the highest vitamin C quantities out of all the dragon fruit varieties – which makes it extra good for you (and your dog!)
Can dogs have purple dragon fruit?
Purple dragon fruit is rich in natural antioxidants that are beneficial for your dog’s health. Due to the vibrant purple color, it’s also high in beta-carotene which supports your dog’s eye health and vision.
So if you’re at your local store or market and you spot some dragon fruit, now you know that any color and variety of this fruit is totally fine to share with your dog.
Dragon fruit and dogs
Did our ancestors share dragon fruit with the local dogs? While there’s no concrete evidence, it’s likely that people would have shared the odd fruit snack with their dogs. And dogs that roamed around dragon fruit plantations would most likely have helped themselves to fallen fruit, or waste fruit that was discarded.
Can Dogs Eat Dragon Fruit Skin?
Is dragon fruit skin poisonous for dogs? The answer is no – it’s non-toxic to dogs, but you shouldn’t feed it to them because it’s a potential choking hazard, and it’s difficult for them to chew and digest.
Much like the skin of pineapples, dragon fruit skin is tough, leathery, spiky, and difficult for your dog to chew. As we all know, dogs often rush their treats and can swallow things whole. If they eat a large piece of dragon fruit skin, this could get stuck in their throat or cause a blockage in their esophagus or stomach – which could mean an expensive trip to the vet.
Remember: only feed your dog the part of the dragon fruit that you’d eat yourself – which is the soft, tasty flesh inside. Remove the skin before serving dragon fruit to your dog!
Can dogs have dragon fruit if it’s dried?
Yes and no – it all depends on how the fruit is dried. Commercial dried dragon fruit, or dragon fruit chips, can have added preservatives, flavorings, and sugar, all of which can be harmful for your dog.
If you want to feed your dog dehydrated dragon fruit, check the label on commercial packages carefully to ensure the dried slices are pure and natural, or better still – dry your own dragon fruit at home in your dehydrator. They’re delicious for both you and your dog.
Make sure you remove the skin from the dragon fruit before putting thin slices in your dehydrator – and always keep an eye on your dog when they’re eating these dried crispy treats, in case they swallow one whole and need your assistance!
Can dogs have dragon fruit seeds?
Unlike most other fruits, dragon fruit seeds don’t contain any traces of cyanide, and are totally safe for your dog – which is lucky, because this fruit contains millions of tiny seeds that would be incredibly annoying to try and remove!
The seeds are tiny, crunchy, black, and edible, and contain natural oils and omega 3 fatty acids which are all healthy and beneficial for your dog.
Can dogs have dragon fruit juice?
Like all fruit juices, dragon fruit juice contains more concentrated amounts of sugar than giving your dog pieces of the raw fruit – so it’s not recommended to feed them much dragon fruit juice.
Giving your dog water is always a better option, but you can safely add a splash of dragon fruit juice to your dog’s water bowl or meals to liven them up a bit!
Is dragon fruit good for dogs?
The health benefits of dragon fruit have been known for centuries. It has been used to help support eyesight and relieve symptoms of high blood pressure and headaches. People with diabetes also believe that the seeds can assist with regulating their blood sugar levels.
This fruit is well known to be packed with minerals and vitamins that are great for both you and your dog.
The main benefits of dragon fruit for your dog are:
Vitamin C to boost your dog’s immune system
Packed full of vitamin C, this exotic fruit can help give your dog’s immunity and cognitive function a boost, giving your dog’s immune system a nice boost.
Vitamin C also assists with reducing inflammation, which can be beneficial for senior dogs, or dogs with arthritis.
Low In Calories
On average, dragon fruit has 62 calories per 100 grams of fruit. So if your dog is overweight, this is a sensible fruit treat which has much less calorie load for your dog’s diet than other fruits such as pineapple or mango.
High In Fiber
Fiber helps your dog regulate their blood sugar, and it also keeps them “regular”! Every 3.5 ounces of dragon fruit contains 1.8 grams of fiber.
As dragon fruit has a high fiber content, there’s a fine line between keeping your dog’s bowel movements regular and…overdoing things. Giving your dog too much dragon fruit can lead to:
- Unpleasant gas!
- Accidents inside the house due to urgency to defecate
- Stomach upsets
Always feed dogs this fresh treat in small amounts to avoid any unwanted side effects.
Antioxidants that fight free radicals
Along with vitamins and minerals, dragon fruit contains potent antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenolic acids that are linked to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. These antioxidants are compounds that combat free radicals which can damage cells in your dog’s body and cause premature aging.
Good source of Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9
Around 50% of fatty acids contained in dragon fruit are Omega-6 (linoleic acid). This fruit also contains Omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and Omega-9 (oleic acid). The seeds contain traces of palmitic acid and stearic acid. All of these fatty acids will help keep your dog in great shape!
Omega oils are superfoods that can boost your dog’s skin and coat health, and decrease inflammation in the joints and body.
In addition, Omega oils can:
- Increase energy
- Reduced allergy symptoms
- Reduce arthritis symptoms
- Increase cognitive function in puppies and senior dogs
High in calcium and iron
Dragon fruit can help keep your dog’s bones and teeth healthy and strong due to the high calcium and iron content.
Calcium also supports heart function, nerve function, and blood health to keep your dog energetic and alert. And if your dog has anemia or is low in iron, dragon fruit can give them a nice iron boost to keep them vibrant and healthy.
Other beneficial vitamins and minerals in dragon fruit for dogs
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1, B2, and B3
Is dragon fruit safe for dogs?
If you’re wondering – can dogs have dragon fruit safely, the answer is yes – as long as it’s peeled and you only feed them this fruit in moderation.
As you’ve read above, this fruit is not only safe for dogs, but it can provide lots of wonderful health benefits to keep your dog’s health in peak condition, and they’ll enjoy experiencing the new taste and texture of this sweet fruit.
Is dragon fruit bad for dogs in any way?
Dragon fruit isn’t toxic to dogs, and most dogs enjoy the taste. The main risk associated with your dog eating dragon fruit is giving them too much fruit (or too often). Due to the high fiber and sugar content, overfeeding this tropical fruit can be bad for dogs.
Potential negative side effects from feeding your dog too much dragon fruit can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depilation (fur loss) and endocrine disorders from excess sugar
- Dental and gum problems that can lead to tooth decay – due to the high sugar content in dragon fruit
- Obesity – again, the sugar in dragon fruit can lead to unwanted weight gain in your dog if you give them too much
Always monitor your dog after giving them their first taste of dragon fruit to check if they’re feeling okay afterwards.
Is dragon fruit plant poisonous to dogs?
The dragon fruit plant is not toxic to dogs, and it’s unlikely that your pet would want to eat it. However, you should discourage your dog from eating this plant if you see them doing it, as the fruit is tastier and much better for them!
How to safely feed your dog dragon fruit
Fresh dragon fruits are the best choice to feed your canine friends. Simply remove the tough, leathery skin, and serve your dog one or two spoonfuls (or a couple of cubes) of the inner soft fruit to see if they enjoy it. Most dogs enjoy the sweeter varieties of dragon fruit due to the higher sugar concentration.
You can also freeze cubes of raw dragon fruit for your dog to enjoy in hot weather, or add some to your dog’s favorite smoothie or pupsicle recipe to keep them cool.
As a tasty meal topper, mash a small amount of dragon fruit and add it to your dog’s normal morning or evening meal.
If your dog loves dragon fruit, get creative and experiment with the different ways you could add small amounts to your dog’s regular balanced diet.
How much dragon fruit can dogs eat? Here’s what to remember when you feed dogs dragon fruit:
- Limit servings to a couple of cubes (or 1-2 teaspoons)
- Don’t give dogs dragon fruit if it upsets their stomach
- NEVER feed dogs dragon fruit skin!
Most dogs don’t have a problem eating dragon fruit, but remember to always start with a tiny bit of any new food – just in case!
If you have any questions about adding this fruit to your dog’s diet consult your vet for advice first.
Signs your dog likes dragon fruit
Most dogs love eating dragon fruit because it’s juicy and sweet. When your pet sees you eating it, they may start getting excited in the hope that you’ll share a piece with them!
While dogs tend to enjoy all fruit, some dogs might not enjoy the texture or taste of dragon fruit specifically. This could be because it tastes odd to them, or because they don’t enjoy the squishy, soft feel of the raw fruit in their mouth. They might prefer some fresh pineapple instead!
How to tell if your dog enjoys dragon fruit:
- Sitting beside you and staring while you have a dragon fruit snack
- Raised and alert ears
- Licking their lips
- Pawing at your leg while you eat the fruit
- Wagging their tail
If you notice any of these attention-getting behaviors while you’re enjoying dragon fruit, it’s fine to give your dog a small piece to see if they enjoy it. If they eat it all and come back for more, it’s a good sign your dog likes dragon fruit!
In summary – can dogs eat dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit is completely safe and non-toxic for humans and dogs, plus it contains health benefits from nutrients like Vitamin C that are great for your canine friends, and can improve your dog’s coat and skin condition. The leathery skin of the pitaya is hard to digest – so make sure to peel it off before serving this fruit, as dogs can’t safely eat the skin.
Remember that all fruits should be given to your dog as an occasional treat, and served to them in moderation as an addition to their usual, balanced diet.
Feeding too much dragon fruit to your dog (or any other fruit) can lead to gastric upsets, dental problems, and unwanted weight gain.
If you have any questions or concerns about giving dogs dragon fruit – speak to your vet first, and they can advise you on how much, and how often to feed your pup.