Can dogs eat prunes?

So, can dogs eat prunes? In short, no – dogs should not eat prunes.

Prunes have quite the reputation in the human world for helping with digestive problems, especially constipation. You might think it is logical if your dog seems to be struggling to pass feces that it’s time to reach for the prunes to help them go, but you should not. 

There may not be any issues after your dog has eaten the odd bit of prune flesh, but they have the potential to cause more problems than they’re worth

Let’s look at why prunes may not make the best addition to your canine friend’s diet.

Table of Contents

What are prunes?

Prunes are dried plums that have a chewy texture and are both sweet and savory in flavor. Prunes offer health benefits in humans that include aiding digestion, lowering blood pressure, and reducing cholesterol. 

Prunes are a great source of Vitamin K, Magnesium, and Phosphorus. Whilst these vitamins make a great addition to a dog’s diet, there are safer and more nutrient-filled options available.

Can dogs eat plums?

So, if they can’t eat prunes, can dogs eat plums? In short, no, dogs should not eat plums either. 

While the flesh of plums is not toxic to dogs, the pit in the middle of the fruit and the plum plant contain toxic elements such as cyanide, cyanogen, and prunasin.

What are the risks of dogs eating prunes?

Prune flesh is not toxic to dogs, however, as prunes are dried plums, the same toxic elements apply. The pit of the fruit, the flower, stem, leaves, and even the roots of the plant are toxic if ingested by a dog.

Cyanide poisoning

If parts of the plant have been ingested that contain cyanide, then cyanide poisoning can occur. Tissues within a dog’s body need oxygen in order to function correctly, however, cyanide lowers a tissue’s ability to use oxygen. As a result of this, the tissues begin to become necrotic and die. 

Cyanide poisoning is an extremely serious condition and symptoms of poisoning can present in as little as 20 – 30 minutes. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Bright red gums
  • Hyperactivity followed by depression
  • Death

Cyanogen poisoning

Cyanogen is one of the fastest-acting natural toxins found in nature. It is incredibly potent and veterinary help should be sought immediately if cyanogen poisoning is suspected. 

Cyanogen is found within the pit of the prune, as well in the plum plant itself. Symptoms include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Breathing difficulties (dyspnea)
  • Body tremors
  • Collapse
  • Foaming from the mouth
  • Excessive panting

If you suspect that your dog has ingested prune pits or parts of the plum plant, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.

Prunes can cause gastro-intestinal issues

If your dog has eaten a large amount of prunes, it is highly likely that they will experience gastrointestinal upset. The obvious symptoms may present as vomiting and diarrhea, however, prunes can also damage your dog’s digestive organs.

Prunes can often have a rough, wrinkled skin, even when they have been boiled or stewed. This can cause damage to the stomach and intestines resulting in gastric bleeding and inflammation. Symptoms such as dark, black-colored feces and abdominal tenderness may occur.

Prunes also contain a high level of insoluble fiber. As prunes are often used as a natural laxative in humans, symptoms such as diarrhea will often affect dogs.

Due to prunes causing gastrointestinal upset, bloat can also be a problem. Bloat is an extremely dangerous condition, especially in large breed dogs.

If your large breed dog shows any symptoms such as a bloated abdomen and unproductive vomiting, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

Other foods that should be avoided by dogs: Oreos, Pepperoni

Can dogs drink prune juice?

No, dogs should drink prune juice. Although it may be a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber for humans, prune juice contains concentrations of sugars that are too high for dogs. Concentrated sugars are bad for dogs and in excessive amounts, can be harmful. 

Conditions such as dental disease, obesity, and diabetes can occur if concentrated sugars are continually offered. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration may also occur following prune juice ingestion.

Diagnosing prune poisoning

If you believe that your dog has ingested prune pits, or any part of the plum plant, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. 

Multiple prune pits can drastically increase toxic levels within the body, so it is especially important to act quickly if your dog has eaten multiple prunes. It is likely that your vet may administer a drug to induce emesis (vomiting), so that your dog will expel the ingested toxins.

A full health check may be carried out, examining your dog’s gums, neurological function, and heart rate. Your vet may carry out blood and urine samples to check how your dog’s organs have been affected by the toxin, looking specifically at phosphorus, nitrogen, and creatinine levels in the body.

Your dog may need to be hospitalized and kept on supportive medication as well as placed on intravenous fluid therapy (a drip) to help flush any toxins out of the dog’s body. 

Recovery all depends on the number of toxins ingested, as well as the dog’s age and any existing underlying health conditions. The prognosis is usually good if immediate action is taken.

What are the alternatives to prunes?

While prunes should not be fed to dogs, they do contain nutritional elements that they could benefit from. But other food sources can offer these benefits in a higher concentration and in a safer way. 

Potassium

Prunes contain high levels of potassium which assists organ function in a dog’s body. Potassium helps to maintain blood pressure, support heart function as well as assist nerve impulses.

Safer alternatives to prunes that include high levels of potassium include bananas, apples, and melon.

Iron

Iron can be found in prunes which is an important mineral that supports the production of hemoglobin in the circulatory system of a dog’s body. This helps to produce red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body to the vital organs and tissues.

Safer alternatives to prunes that include high levels of iron are fish, lean meats, and egg yolks.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in prunes. Vitamin A plays a role in sustaining a healthy immune system and aids in good eyesight. Vitamin A also contributes to keeping a dog’s coat and skin in good condition.

A safer addition to your dog’s diet includes cod liver oil, salmon, and liver. These contain high levels of Vitamin A and are a better alternative to prunes.

Natural anti-inflammatory

Prunes can act as a natural anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories can especially help older dogs who suffer from arthritis or joint pain. Anti-inflammatory properties in food can help to reduce swelling and minimize pain.

Basil, turmeric, and broccoli are safer and healthier alternatives to prunes and can be offered to your dog as part of a wider, more varied diet.

Source of antioxidants

Prunes contain high levels of antioxidants, especially neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid. These help to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and protect cells within the body from damage.

There are loads of foods that can act as a natural antioxidant for dogs including blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, sweet potato, and blueberries to name just a few!

It is important to remember that natural remedies should not be used as a treatment for ailments in dogs. Veterinary advice should always be sought.

While natural foods may aid in some aspects of a dog’s health, such as anti-inflammatory properties, they may not be as effective as prescription medication. Foods with additional properties should be offered as health support and not a complete remedy.

Final thoughts on prunes

I think it’s safe to say that prunes should be kept well off the doggy treat list! While they are packed full of vitamins and minerals, these are not metabolized by dogs in the same way that they are in humans. 

There are plenty of other foods available that will be more beneficial to dogs and offer a better concentration of goodness for your dog’s body. Foods such as basil, papaya and plantains may also be a good addition to your dog’s diet.

It’s important to remember that if your dog eats a small amount of prune flesh, it is likely that nothing drastic will happen. In some cases, it may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

However, if your dog ingests a whole prune, including the pip, or a large number of prunes, then veterinary advice should be sought immediately.

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