Can Dogs Have Fruit Cake

fruit cake

Sometimes the butt of jokes in the United States because they seem to last forever*, fruit cakes are a delicious cake made with candied or dried fruit, nuts, and spices. They date back to Roman times and it seems that nearly every country has their own version of these traditional cakes. They are often served at Christmas and at weddings. Can dogs have fruitcake? Let’s find out.

*In 2017, a fruit cake that was 106-years-old was discovered. It was said to be in “excellent condition” and “almost” edible.

Fruit Cake Nutrition

As already noted, fruit cakes of different varieties can be found in countries all over the world. Some countries add icing or a dusting of powdered sugar to the top of the cake but the basic ingredients are similar. They consist of candied or dried fruit, nuts, and various spices. The nuts and fruits can vary depending on the country and on the local recipe or individual cook. Popular dried fruits include any selection of apricots, figs, dates, plums, currants, prunes, glace cherries, pineapple, and raisins.

Some of the spices used in fruit cakes can include cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Some people include cocoa or chocolate chips.

Popular nuts in the recipe include almonds, pecans, and walnuts.

Substitutions can always be made when you’re making a fruit cake.

As for nutrition, despite the presence of dried fruit, fruit cake is not a very healthy dish. One piece of commercially-made fruit cake (43 grams) contains 73 percent carbohydrates, 24 percent fat, and 3 percent protein. It’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol but most of the calories come from sugars. That one small piece contains 139 calories and 26.5 grams of carbohydrates. It has 3.9 grams of fat and 12.8 grams of sugar along with 1.2 grams of protein.

Fruit cake contains very little in the way of vitamins and minerals.

If you are looking for nutrition from fruit, you are better off eating fresh fruit. Fruit cake is purely a dessert.

Can You Give Your Dog Fruit Cake to Eat?

In general, it’s not a good idea to give your dog fruit cake to eat. This is especially true if you don’t know all of the ingredients in the cake. Most fruit cakes contain nutmeg, for example, which is toxic to dogs in large amounts. Nutmeg contains a substance called myristicin which is very bad for dogs. It acts as a neurotoxin. At high doses your dog could experience disorientation, hallucinations, increased heart rate and blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and seizures. A fruit cake probably doesn’t contain a large amount of nutmeg but why risk it?

Cinnamon, another ingredient often used in fruit cake, is not toxic to your dog. It’s often used in doggy birthday cakes and cookies. However, too much is not recommended. Large amounts of the powder or exposure to the essential oil could lead to some health problems.

Allspice contains compounds called eugenols which can cause liver toxicity in cats. However, they seem to be relatively safe for dogs.

Ginger isn’t harmful to dogs. It’s often used in dog treats and snacks today and even added to dog foods. However, you probably don’t want your dog to eat it in large amounts. Some fruit cakes include crystallized or candied ginger as an ingredient.

In addition to the spices, fruit cake is loaded with sugars. Depending on the recipe, it can have brown sugar, granulated sugar, or other kinds of sweeteners such as corn syrup. Large amounts of sugar aren’t good for dogs. Too much sugar can affect your dog’s heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

Fruit cakes also feature nuts such as pecans, almonds, and walnuts. One or two of these nuts won’t hurt your dog but eating a lot of nuts can be problematic. In addition, you may not be certain if there are other nuts in the cake that might be more harmful such as macadamia nuts which are toxic to dogs.

With all of the colorful dried fruits in a fruit cake, you might not notice the small, shriveled raisin but they are one of the foods that can be most toxic to dogs, along with currants. All kinds of raisins and currants can be toxic to dogs, including organic and seedless varieties. There is no well-established toxic dose. Some dogs are more sensitive to these fruits than others but there is no way to predict which dogs are most sensitive. A dog that eats raisins or currants can develop kidney failure.

Early symptoms of raisin toxicity

  • Vomiting (usually within 24 hours of ingestion)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Possibly diarrhea within the next 12-24 hours

Signs of acute kidney failure if not treated early

  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Uremic breath (ammonia odor)
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Kidneys stop functioning
  • Coma

Finally, many fruit cakes contain added brandy, rum, or other alcohol. Liquor is a definite no-no for your dog!

How Much Fruit Cake Can You Give Your Dog?

We recommend that you do not give your dog any fruit cake at all without knowing exactly what ingredients it contains. Most fruit cakes contain ingredients, such as raisins and nutmeg, that are toxic to dogs.

If you would like to give your dog some fruitcake, you will need to find a recipe that is made with dog-friendly ingredients: low-sugar or sugar-free, no nuts, no harmful spices, and fruits that are safe for dogs to eat.

We found this recipe that uses dried cranberry, blueberry, and pineapple. All of these fruits are safe for dogs. The other ingredients should be safe as well.

Fruit cake dog treat recipe:


  • 1 cup dried Fruit (cranberry, blueberry, and pineapple)
  • 1/4 cup dried Fruit (cranberry, blueberry, and pineapple)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon Molasses

What If Your Dog Eats Some Fruit Cake?

If your dog steals some fruit cake from your plate it probably won’t do him any harm as long as it’s just a bite.

However, if your dog manages to eat a lot of fruit cake, that requires a trip to the veterinarian immediately, especially if the fruit cake is soaked in rum or if it contains raisins or other toxic ingredients.


Fruit cake has been popular for hundreds of years in countless countries. Unfortunately, it’s not a healthy treat for your dog unless you modify the recipe and leave out some of the ingredients that could be harmful to him. If you are serving fruit cake in your home, make sure to keep the fruit cake far away from your pooch. Remind your guests that this is one dish that they shouldn’t share with your dog under the table.



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