The juicy and sweet flavor of pears (Pyrus communis or Pyrus pyrifolia) make it an ideal and healthy treat for your pets. Not only will your furry buddies enjoy the taste, but they'll also get a surplus of nutrients in every crunchy bite of this fruit. Read on to learn more about pear's benefits for pets.
Where Do Pears Come From?
The pear is a fruit popular for its juicy, sweet taste. It's a relatively old fruit, with dried slices of pears unearthed in Swiss cave dwellings during the Ice Age. This means that pears — or a prehistoric equivalent of pears — were enjoyed by our early ancestors. Pears are also widely documented in historic writings, from Homer's "The Odyssey," and Pliny the Elder's "Historia Naturalis" to Leonardo Da Vinci's "Codex Arundel."1
For hundreds of years, pears have been valued in human health for their anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycemic and diuretic properties.2 But pet owners who like sharing their fruity snacks with pets would be pleased to know that furry friends may also benefit from this fruit — as long as you give them fresh fruits and not the canned variety.3
When given in moderate amounts, pears can be exceptional treats for your pets as they contain numerous essential nutrients that they need for maintaining good health.4 But one common concern some pet parents have about pears is the cyanide found in the seeds,5 similar to apples. However, you shouldn't worry — your pet will not experience any adverse reaction unless they chew and consume an excessive amount of seeds.6 To err on the side of caution, it's best to remove the core and seeds before feeding them this fruit.
A Good Reason to Choose Organic Pears
Pears rank number 9 on the Environmental Working Group's "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce Dirty Dozen" list,7 so make sure to choose organic pears to minimize exposure to potentially harmful pesticides while getting the most nutrition out of these fruits.
What's more, a 2002 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that organic pears contained significantly higher levels of polyphenols and antioxidants than fruits that were conventionally grown.8 So if you're after the nutrients, then going organic will give you more value for your money.
Pears Provide Fiber to Your Pets
Pears contain high levels of fiber, which is important for promoting the metabolic and digestive health of your pets.9 Fiber works in your pet's digestive tract by helping regulate the gut microbiota, which in turn contributes to the maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity and immunity.10 If your dog or cat has been suffering from a mild case of gastrointestinal discomfort, ingesting fiber from fruits like pears may help alleviate the symptoms by modulating transit time and optimizing digestion.11
Pear's Phenolic Compounds May Help Ease Oxidative Stress
Pears contain three main phenolic compounds: chlorogenic acid, arbutin and epicatechin. These three act as strong antioxidants and are abundant in the fruit's flesh and skin. They've been found to help protect your pets from chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, as well as enhance their immune system. Additionally, these phenolic compounds have anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and antibacterial properties.12
Chlorogenic acid is one of the most abundant phenolic compound in the human diet and has been found to have protective properties against chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is due to its effect on lipid metabolism and intracellular glucose regulation. A 2013 review found that chlorogenic acid works by reducing plasma glucose, stimulating insulin release, inhibiting fat absorption.13
Arbutin, a hydroquinone derivative, may help fight inflammation by decreasing toxic substances generated by neutrophils. A 2014 study found that arbutin helps diminish tissue damage by reducing the levels of reactive oxygen species in the body.14
Lastly, epicatechin, a flavonoid also found in green tea, may help preserve muscle strength during aging by increasing markers required for muscle growth.15 In addition, epicatechin has been found to have anti-anxiety and mood-modulating effects by regulating neurotrophic pathways.16
Enhance Immune Function With Vitamins A and C
Pears may help boost your pet's immune function, thanks to both vitamins A and C. As a potent antioxidant, vitamin C combats free radical damage and protects the immune system, while vitamin A enhances immune function by inhibiting inflammation.17,18
But the benefits do not end there. Vitamin C is responsible for activating folic acid, converting cholesterol to bile acids and producing serotonin, while vitamin A is responsible for maintaining eye health and promoting growth and development. For nutritional content, your pets can get 0.375 milligrams of vitamin C and 2 IUs of vitamin A for every tablespoon of fresh pears.19,20
Potassium May Help Improve Organ Function in Pets
A tablespoon of pears will give your pet 10 milligrams of potassium,21 a nutrient that plays a role in keeping your pets' organs in top shape. Potassium has protective effects on the cardiovascular system, kidneys and bones, while optimizing your pet's levels will help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke and chronic kidney damage.22
Here's How to Give Pears Safely to Pets
When feeding pear to your pets, be sure to cut them into small pieces to avoid any choking hazards.23 Feed pears in moderate quantities, so you can sidestep the potentially damaging effects of fructose.24,25 Opt for fresh fruits instead of canned pears submerged in sugary syrup.26
For cat owners, remember that your kitties are carnivorous, and chances are your cats won't be interested in eating fruit of any kind. If your cat shows an interest in pears, they are safe to share with your cat in small quantities, no more than 10% of their daily diet.27
Remember that while human foods like pears are a healthy addition to your pet's diet, you should only give them as treats or snacks. Pears and other types of snacks should only constitute about 10% of your pet's daily caloric consumption to ensure that they're getting enough essential nutrients to support their overall health.