Power-packed fruits and vegetables are definitely a ‘yes’ in the human diet. Naturally, we think that sharing the bounty of nature is also good for our pets. Ironically though, since we are not created equal, we might have to think twice and research if the specific product or greens is safe for our dogs to eat.
How about figs? Is this slightly underrated yet sweet fruit a good choice for our best friends? Let us find out.
Did you know that figs are touted as “the poor man’s food” or even the “fruit of heaven”?
Figs, part of the mulberry family or Moraceae, are an edible fruit of the ficus tree. It is indigenous to Western Asia and was spread by men throughout the Mediterranean. It is cultivated in warm countries and will not survive in a cold climate.
The tree, part of a family with 850 varieties, is called by many names such as Benjamina Ficus, Climbing fig, Rubber tree or plant, Indian rubber plant and even the morosely sounding, Weeping fig.
The fruit of a ficus plant, meanwhile, has five common varieties including Adriatic, Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna and Kadota. While the level of sweetness and flavor will depend on the variety, it is generally sweet, soft, chewy with somewhat crunchy edible seeds.
It is only recently that people are realizing this nutrient-dense fruit’s versatility.
Is it Safe to Feed Dogs Figs?
Figs are not poisonous. In fact, they are very healthy. Generally, it is safe to feed dogs figs so the answer is ‘yes’. But at the end of the day, it depends on your pet.
Curious? Read along.
Nutritional Benefit of Figs for Dogs
Figs contain significant amounts of the following vitamins and minerals:
● Calcium- we all know that this mineral is great for our dog’s bone health. Especially for growing puppies, it is needed for their proper teeth and bone development. It is also needed for hormone secretion and nerve transmission.
● Fiber- due to the dietary fiber in figs, it will help the dog feel full for a longer time. It also helps regulate bowel movement and is healthy for their colon. Thus, fiber is needed for constipated dogs. It is also great for obese dogs and those who suffer from diabetes. A word of caution though, too much fiber will give them loose stools or even diarrhea.
● Iron- it is responsible for synthesizing blood to prevent anemia. Both humans and animals require iron on a daily basis.
● Potassium- This mineral provides numerous benefits. It regulates blood pressure for dogs to have a proper functioning heart and brain. It is also important for a normal digestion. Dogs suffering from chronic hypertension means that they might be low on potassium.
● Vitamin A- gives our dog good eyesight.
● Vitamin K- important for our dog’s ability to clot blood.
Figs are also rich in natural sugars (not the artificial sugars bad for them) that will give them an energy boost.
Plus, figs are low in calories and have zero fat. Figs will help overweight dogs trim a bit of their weight, too!
Serving Figs to Dogs
Planning to serve them figs? Opt for the fresh and raw ones. Discard the stem first, wash it properly and dice into small, chewable pieces before feeding it to them.
Never give them the whole thing or it will pose a choking hazard. Never give them dry figs, too. Dry figs are loaded with sugar, extra high in calories, and low water content which are bad for them.
When introducing figs in their diet, start with small amounts. Observe them also for allergic reactions. Since some symptoms will only show for 12 hours, continue monitoring them for a day to be on the safe side. If they do not show unusual symptoms, they are free to eat a moderate amount.
How Many Figs Can Dogs Eat?
Whatever fruit or vegetable we feed to our dogs, moderation is always important. Just like their high-quality kibbles, their serving size will depend on their size. For small dogs, one-half fig is enough. For a big canine, one or two pieces is enough.
In terms of frequency, once or twice monthly is already enough. Dogs do not need a lot of sugar in their body or it will just result in hyperactivity. Besides, too much figs can also result in diarrhea.
Remember to consider figs as a treat. That said, as a good rule of thumb, it must only be 10% of their diet.
Warning: Allergic Reaction Possible
While figs are not one of those highly allergenic foods, some dogs, although it rarely happens, exhibit reaction to the fruit.
Some common allergic reaction to figs are:
● Decrease in appetite
● Excessive drooling
● Itchy and watery eyes
● Rashes on the skin and even along the mouth
● Vomiting as a dog’s natural way to expel the allergens
Dogs may also paw at its face or rub it excessively due to distress. If any of the symptoms occur, do not hesitate to visit the vet immediately. When possible, bring a sample of the plant to the vet to help arrive at the cause of the poisoning and therefore, speeding the treatment process.
To help the vet decide on the proper mode of treatment, a blood test, urinalysis and biochemistry profile will be taken. Especially when the dog has not vomited yet, emesis will be performed. The vet might also give an activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the remaining toxins.
In addition, the vet will examine the eyes for remnants of the tree’s sap and perform an eyewash, if the poisoning came from the actual tree. To take away the toxins from the dog’s skin, the vet may also give it a bath with mild detergent and apply topical ointment on irritated areas.
The vet may also give IV fluids to keep the dog hydrated and to encourage proper urination.
Watch Out For These Bad Figs
Even if the dog is not allergic to figs, they should still steer clear of the following:
● Fig Newtons
Some of us might love Fig Newtons and might be tempted to let them taste it. While it is not toxic, snacks with artificial flavor and preservatives should never be part of their diet.
● Fig Bars
Any food that is not in its natural form, including fig bars should not be given to dogs. Even if the fig bar boasts of not having sweeteners or preservatives, it will contain dry fig. And what did we say about it? It is unhealthy for them.
● Fig Tree Leaves
Since Fig is a common houseplant and it is very easy to maintain, it might be present in the garden. Make sure dogs don’t come near the tree itself.
The two enzymes contained in fig’s plant or leaves, ficin and ficusin, maybe too strong for the dog’s stomach to handle. In addition, ficusin can cause skin irritation while ficin destroys protein.
Exposure to the ficin present in the sap can cause skin inflammation. Especially when the leaves of the plant are swallowed, it can cause gastrointestinal distress and can even be life-threatening.
Should dogs be fed the fruit? Yes, why not. But only if the dog is not allergic to it and especially if it is not the dried ones, the artificial types or even the leaves.
Since our dogs cannot decide for themselves what is good for them, our role is always to make sure they eat the right food to stay healthy for life.