Do you love figs? Have you wondered if it’s safe to let your dog eat a fig? Figs pose some interesting issues where dogs are concerned. Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about figs and safety issues with dogs.
Can dogs eat figs?
The short answer to whether dogs can eat figs is yes. Most dogs should be able to eat the fresh fruit from fig trees without any problems. Figs are healthy for both humans and dogs. But … there are some caveats.
Are figs healthy?
Figs are a nutritious fruit for humans. They are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of dietary fiber. However, a large portion of the calories in figs come from the sugars found in the fruit. Figs have just 3 percent protein and 3 percent fat with 94 percent carbohydrates.
Figs do contain vitamin K, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, though not in large amounts.
Many dogs enjoy figs because of their sweetness. Letting your dog have a couple of figs per week can be good for your dog for their dietary fiber. They may help your dog’s colon health and even help your dog feel full. Feeling full can help your dog with weight control.
However, eating too many figs is not good for dogs. Too much fiber can lead to loose stools. In addition, dogs shouldn’t have too much sugar, even when it comes from a natural source such as fruit.
What are the concerns about giving your dog figs?
Figs are very high in fiber. If your dog eats more than a couple of figs per week, he will probably have loose stool or diarrhea. If you have a fig tree in your yard, your dog might be tempted to eat more figs than are good for him so it’s best to pick the figs before your dog eats them. In many cases birds will help themselves to your figs before your dog has a chance to get the figs so this is often a moot point.
What about giving your dog dried figs?
Dried figs are not recommended for dogs because they have several times as many calories as fresh figs. They also have high concentrations of sugar which is not good for your dog. Most dried fruit is not recommended for dogs or similar reasons.
What about giving your dog cookies that contain figs such as Fig Newtons?
No, don’t give your dog Fig Newtons or other cookies or cakes that contain figs. These snacks are not toxic or poisonous but they aren’t a healthy treat for your dog. They contain loads of sugar for one thing. Just two Fig Newtons contain 13 grams or 3 teaspoons of sugar, for example, along with high fructose corn syrup. They also contain artificial flavors and other ingredients that aren’t good for dogs such as sulfur dioxide and sodium benzoate.
How should you give your dog figs?
You can give your dog fresh figs in moderation. For small dogs, a half of one fig would be enough at one time, depending on your dog’s age and health. If you have a larger dog, you could give your dog a whole fig at one time, depending on his age and health. It’s usually best to give your dog no more than a couple of figs per week.
If you are concerned that your dog might be allergic to figs, it’s a good idea to start by giving your dog a small bite to see how he reacts. You can wait to see if there is any reaction before letting your dog have another bite.
What about letting your dog eat other parts of the fig tree?
It’s best not to let your dog eat any part of the fig tree other than the fruit. While some dogs seem to enjoy eating fig leaves and they are not toxic, some dogs can have allergic reactions to the milky white sap in the leaves.
(There is an ornamental plant called a weeping fig that is toxic to pets. This is not the same plant that produces the common fruit from fig trees, though they are related. Some people may confuse these plants/trees.)
If your dog eats leaves from a fig tree and you see signs that he is feeling ill, take him to a veterinarian right away.
Signs of an allergic reaction can include:
- itching near/around the eyes
- rash on the skin or in/around the mouth
- reddened eyes
If you notice anything about your dog that makes you think something is not right, take it seriously. Allergic reactions are not common but they can occur.
Are fig trees toxic or poisonous?
No. There is a great deal of inaccurate information online about fig trees. The fig tree that produces fruit (ficus carica) is not poisonous according to people who grow fig trees and experts at the University of California-Davis. If your dog eats the leaves or chews the bark, he probably won’t do it again because they don’t taste very good. At worst, he might have an allergic reaction to the sap. There are other members of the ficus family that are more dangerous to animals but they don’t produce figs.
If you have a fig tree in your yard your main concern should be to keep an eye on how many figs your dog(s) eat. You don’t really need to worry about your dog coming into contact with the tree. (I say this as someone that had a fig tree in the yard. No dogs ever had an allergic reaction or came to grief from contact with the tree. They did, however, enjoy eating figs.)
Fresh figs can be a healthy treat for dogs. Occasionally a dog can have an allergic reaction to figs but this is not common. You can safely give most dogs one to two figs per week. The dietary fiber found in figs is good for most dogs. You should not give your dog dried figs or cookies or cakes made from figs because of the high sugar content. Trees that produce figs are not poisonous to dogs though some web sites confuse these trees with related trees and plants in the ficus family.