5 min read


Why Dogs Don't Like Fruit



5 min read


Why Dogs Don't Like Fruit




Diet and eating correctly is a widely debated subject in nutritional circles for both humans and canines. There are many different schools of thought on this topic. In the last few years, this aspect of animal management has become a subject of debate and the value of eating fruit is part of the discussion. Dogs are carnivorous creatures and would not be expected to be fruit eaters. Fruit does not look or smell like the carnivore’s natural diet of meat and bones. There has been a great deal of research put into making the best foods for dogs. 

Dogs in the wild were generally disinterested in fruit because of the smell and texture of the raw fruit. These sensory alerts would warn them of possible harmful substances because there are many fruits that are poisonous or harmful to dogs. Nature has not designed dogs to be fruit eaters as their digestive systems are not equipped to eat plant material. Dogs do not have the right teeth to encourage fruit-eating and this is another factor influencing their ability to enjoy fruit. Some dogs will eat anything, but many dogs do not like fruit or any other unusual substances as they have been raised on specially formulated canine diet foods.

The Root of the Behavior

Dogs are born to be carnivorous. This is a biological fact based on the type of digestive system they have and their teeth. These vital points make them different from the herbivores in the animal kingdom. Dogs are not good at digesting fruit because they have a short intestinal tract and the food passes through it very quickly. They also lack the salivary amylase that is needed to break down carbohydrates and starch before it enters the stomach. A simple look at dog’s teeth will confirm that they are not equipped to grind plant material into a digestible pulp to swallow. A dog's canine incisors are situated in the right place in their jaws to tear at meat and then chew it at the back of their mouths with sharp back molars. The dog’s saliva is used to moisten the food, so it can be swallowed quickly as the sharp teeth tear and rip the meat apart. Instinctively, dogs seem to know what is manageable for their diet and will avoid plants and fruits that are not suited to their digestive system. 

Watching a dog try to eat or avoid eating a lemon will testify to the fact that the smell and taste of citrus fruit, for example, is very contrary to what a dog would normally include in his diet. The dog’s stomach is smaller than the herbivore’s stomach and their system equips them to eat small animals. There are some references to wolves eating the stomach contents of their prey, but at the same time it is noted that often the wolf will shake out the contents of the stomach, so it can avoid eating the plant matter. Observers have commented that if a dog should try some wild fruit the fruit passes through the dog’s digestive system and does not get ingested in the process. Dogs hunt for their food in the wild following the scent trail of small animals Some fruits, like the lemon, are toxic to dogs and would not attract a canine nose to its source necessarily. Hunting for food in the wild, the wolf searches for his natural prey but has been observed eating wild berries and some plant material. On the home-front, domestic dogs are fed by their owners and receive a controlled balanced diet. Fruits like grapes are very toxic to dogs. Also, the avocado and other fruit with seeds or pits may cause obstructions in the digestive system. Dogs usually avoid food not suited to their dietary needs. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

There are different opinions held by experts involved in creating a canine diet. Family pets need to be fed by their owners as they no longer live in the wild. Domestic dogs would not necessarily bite into an apple or a carrot and be grateful for the treat. Their sense of smell tells them that this is a different class of food that does not smell like meat or bones. Most domestic dogs are raised on scientifically based pet diets. They are balanced, and they have the right minerals and vitamins for the needs of different breeds and ages of dogs. There are some dog owners that like to prepare their own raw food diets. Prey model diets are based on a type of diet that dogs would have eaten in the wild. 

The BARF diet (Bones And Raw Food} advocates, feel the prey diet is limited in its options and the raw food should include a variety of foods. These diets are carefully prepared but do follow different dietary systems. Given their own free choice, most dogs will choose their wolf pack diet of meat and bones. Many varieties of fruit grow on trees and are not easily accessible for dogs. A bowl of apples on the table would not be a tempting snack for a dog as it does not smell right or feel right to bite and chew. However, a dish of meat would have a totally different touch, taste, and smell to the dog who wanders into your kitchen.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Animal diets are very important factors in assuring the proper growth and health of your canine companion. Some dogs are unable to resist any food that is lying around, but judging by the reaction to a lemon, dogs are not going to be going out foraging for fruit. The wolf in his natural environment may have enjoyed berries and leafy plants growing in the wild, but it would have been a supplement to his food and not the whole diet. A dog's instinct would tell them that the smell and texture of fruit is foreign to their normal food. It is safe to say the dog food manufactured and recommended by vets is the food your dog will choose before fruit. Professionally prepared, commercial food is the food you would choose for your dog. In today’s busy world, buying a food with a good reputation and a balance of minerals and vitamins is going to ensure your dog is healthy. 


The fact that dogs are designed by nature to follow a carnivorous diet is a clear indication that they do not really enjoy fruit. The fairy tale wolf in Little Red Riding Hood has a classic reply to the comment Red Riding Hood makes when she says, “What big teeth you have!” Referring to the wolf’s big canine teeth. He replies: “All the better to eat you with, my dear.” Although he is dressed up to look like the grandma, he clearly prefers meat to any other diet.

By a Rhodesian Ridgeback lover Christina Wither

Published: 04/04/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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