Strawberries are quintessential and versatile fruits that people add to many kinds of desserts. If you enjoy these berries, you may wonder: Can your pets have them, too? Read further to find out if it's OK for your dogs and cats to eat them, and what benefits they might get from snacking on them.
Are Strawberries Good for Dogs?
Strawberries are good for dogs.1 They are low-glycemic fruits that may help lower your canine pets' risk of Type 2 diabetes.2 Some of the nutrients found in strawberries are protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins C and A, folate and potassium3
A strawberry's red color comes from natural compounds called flavonoids, which may help lessen your dog's risk of inflammation and cancer.4 It is also a low-calorie and low-fat fruit5 that may help manage your dog's weight. Strawberries also have phytochemicals,6 which exhibit antioxidant and anti-neurodegenerative properties.7
If you're wondering if raw strawberries are safe for dogs, the answer is yes. However, since strawberries are on the EWG's "Dirty Dozen" list,8 just remember to wash them thoroughly, remove the stem and leaves, and then cut them in small pieces for digestibility. For smaller dogs, mashed or pureed strawberries may be mixed with their food. Remember, though, that treats like strawberries should make up only 10% (or less) of their daily diet.9
I recommend feeding your dogs a few pieces of strawberry first. If changes in their behavior or digestion occur, remove this fruit from their meals,10 and seek a veterinarian's advice for proper care and treatment.
Are Strawberries Bad for Dogs?
Strawberries are only bad for dogs when they are not raw and fresh, such as when they're canned in syrup, which may contain artificial food coloring and too much sugar11 — both of which may cause inflammation, upset stomach, cavities, metabolic changes, weight gain and diabetes.12 Also, avoid chocolate-covered strawberries because chocolates are toxic for dogs.13 Bottom line: Only feed your pet raw, fresh, organic strawberries.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) considers strawberries as a nontoxic fruit for cats, so it's OK for them to eat this fruit.14 However, cats lack receptors for sweetness;15 thus, they may not fully enjoy eating strawberries. If they do show interest in this fruit, let them have a few small bites.
Turn Strawberries Into Delightful Treats for Your Pets
Excessive intake of sugar may negatively affect your pets' health, so if you intend to give them treats, be sure that they do not contain harmful ingredients such as the artificial sweetener xylitol and refined sugar.16 Strawberries may be given to your pets in small pieces, but for a more fun and healthy snack time, here's an easy-to-follow frosty paws recipe from Golden Woofs,17 which is perfect for cooling your pets during warm days.
✓ 4 medium-sized strawberries
✓ Grass fed plain yogurt
- Fill one-third of each paw-shaped mold with yogurt then freeze for an hour.
- Blend the strawberries using a mixer, and then pour on top of the frozen yogurt. Freeze for an hour.
- Add another layer of yogurt and freeze for another hour.
Aside from strawberries, this recipe includes grass fed plain yogurt,18 which is a good source of probiotics, calcium, B vitamins and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Remember that some store-bought yogurt may contain sugar, which can affect its quality, so remember to choose the organic, unflavored kind made from pastured milk. Using a starter culture and raw grass fed milk, you can also make homemade yogurt — check out this easy yogurt recipe.
Remember This Tip if You Give Strawberries to Your Pets
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the fields where strawberries are grown are sprayed with "jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases" to sterilize them and to eliminate pests and weeds growing in the soil. This is why strawberries are consistently at the top of the list of goods contaminated with pesticide residues — potential carcinogens that be linked to reproductive, developmental and neurological problems.19 In fact, in the "Dirty Dozen" list of EWG's 2020 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, strawberries ranked first.20
Generally, strawberries are not poisonous for dogs, but remember to choose the organic type to keep them safe from potentially toxic pesticides. You may also grow your own strawberries, which can easily be planted in a reusable shopping bag, in pots or in a garden bed. Read this article from Dr. Mercola, "How to Grow Strawberries," for useful tips when planting this fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Feeding Strawberries to Your Pets
Q: Can dogs eat strawberry yogurt?
A: Flavored yogurts are not recommended for dogs because they may contain high levels of lactose,21 which could be harmful if your pet is lactose-intolerant. Also, some yogurts may contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs.22 Your best option is to whip up homemade strawberry yogurt by mixing grass fed plain yogurt with small pieces of strawberries.
Q: Can dogs eat strawberries and blueberries?
A: Yes, dogs can eat both strawberries and blueberries. Just remember to feed them these treats in moderation and to puree and chop up the fruits for smaller dogs to avoid a choking hazard.23
Q: Can dogs and cats eat strawberry ice cream?
A: Because some dogs24 and cats may experience digestive problems when fed milk or cream,25 it's not advisable to give them flavored ice cream made for humans. Instead, you can make homemade ice cream by freezing a mixture of grass fed plain yogurt and strawberries, as long as your pet is not dairy-sensitive.
Q: Can cats eat strawberry leaves?
A: Strawberry leaves are not toxic if ingested.26 But according to International Cat Care, cats that come in contact with strawberry leaves may experience sneezing and eye problems, so it's probably better to keep cats away from the plant leaves.27
Q: Can dogs eat strawberry jelly?
A: Dogs should not eat strawberry jelly as it's high in sugar and low in nutritive value. If you want to give your dog strawberries, offer raw, plain organic strawberries and not strawberry jelly.28