Despite their unassuming wrinkled brown exterior, dates are a standout among fruit.
With a sweet and sticky texture, they’re received as a delicacy by many dogs.
There is a lot to recommend dates as part of your Boxer dog’s diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and packed with dietary fiber and antioxidants. They even offer some protein.
What’s In A Date?
Known alternately as the “tree of life” or “bread of the desert”, date palms have been nourishing people throughout the Middle East and North Africa for 5000 years.
For your Boxer, as for desert-dwelling peoples, dates can provide a concentrated source of nutrients including:
- vitamin K
Benefits Of Dates For Your Boxer Dog
Dates are regarded as one of the healthiest foods in the world, with some ascribing them properties bordering on medicinal.
Potential health benefits of feeding dates to a Boxer dog include improved:
- digestive health
- heart function
- eye condition
- protection against arthritis
Fresh Dates, Not Dried
We are talking here about fresh dates, not dried ones. Dogs can theoretically eat dried dates but the shelf-stable nature of this product introduces the likelihood of preservatives, which should never be fed to your Boxer.
Fresh dates are found in the refrigerated fruit and vegetable section of supermarkets, not the baking aisle.
When selecting dates for your Boxer’s consumption, it’s normal for there to be some white residue on the skin. This is crystallized sugar. Too much, though, can be an indication the dates are a little past their prime.
How To Feed Dates To Your Boxer
It’s important to feed dates separately to meat.
Pre-made raw grinds and recipes that combine meat and plant material are a human invention.
This is not how dogs eat in nature. Which means, it is not how dogs’ bodies are designed and adapted to eat.
In the wild, wolves eat “mono meals”. In other words, they eat only one food type in any one sitting.
When you consider that fruit and meat digest at completely different rates and via the action of different enzymes requiring different stomach acidities, this makes total sense.
Wolves are instinctively eating in harmony with their biology.
Dogs and wolves have essentially the same anatomy and physiology and, by and large, their digestive systems function the exact same way.
Fruit can transit through your dog’s digestive system as quickly as six hours. Meat, on the other hand, can take as long as 24 to 48 hours.
In this way, feeding fruit and meat in different meals supports optimal digestion.
In particular, avoid feeding a (fast-digesting) fruit meal close on the heels of (slow-digesting) meat meal. The other way around is fine: feed fruit at least a few hours ahead of meat and it will be well and truly through the digestive tract by the time the meat catches up to it.
Why Feed Fruit To A Carnivore?
Dogs are carnivores, right? So what is the value in feeding fruit at all?
There are quite a few reasons your Boxer can benefit from eating fruit.
It’s How Dogs Eat In Nature
For a start, unlike cats, dogs are not strict carnivores.
Cats are “obligate” carnivores whereas dogs are “facultative” carnivores. This means that meat is their food of choice but when it’s not available, they can eat a secondary food to tide themselves over. For wolves this food is fruit.
Dogs and wolves share a million years of evolutionary history and so dogs too are adapted to fruit eating.
So, by feeding fruit including dates, you are mirroring a natural canine diet.
Several benefits flow from that.
Digestive Rest Promotes Health
Fruit, being mostly sugars and carbohydrates digests so fast and so easily that it provides essentially “free” calories. Your dog’s body doesn’t have to expend much energy to access the nutrition.
Compare this to the digestion of fat or protein, which is much more labor-intensive.
By offering occasional fruit meals you give your dog’s body a break from the work of digestion, which allows energy to be directed instead to healing and repair. This is the principle behind fasting.
Fruit Gives The Kidneys A Break
High protein diets are natural for dogs, but can tax the kidneys when fed the way they’re fed to domestic dogs.
In the wild, dogs eat maybe three times a week (less in times of scarcity). So, while they’re eating protein-based diets, their bodies aren’t constantly digesting that protein.
Pet dogs, though, are fed daily.
By feeding fruit now and then, you give the kidneys a break. In his book Give Your Dog A Bone, Australian vet Dr Ian Billinghurst credits fruit feeding with avoidance of kidney problems in later life.
Fruit Meals Lower Fat Consumption
Wild dogs eat lean game meats.
Domesticated dogs eat the products of human agriculture, deliberately fattened for slaughter.
This means the overall fat content of the average pet dog’s diet is far higher, while their activity level is far lower than their free-living counterparts who must hunt every time they eat.
Incorporating fruit days lowers the overall fat content of your Boxer’s diet, restoring it to more natural levels.
Even though they’re partially dried, fresh dates contain a decent amount of water.
Hydration is necessary for good health and a well-hydrated body is better able to flush toxins via the lymphatics as well as through the gut and kidneys.
Looking for an even more hydrating fruit to feed your Boxer?
Research has shown watermelon supports urinary tract health in dogs, reducing crystals in the urine.
Can Dogs Eat Date Seeds?
Always serve dates pitted (seeds removed) to avoid all risk of choking or intestinal blockage.
Will Dates Make Your Boxer Dog Fat?
Dates are the highest calorie fruit there is.
There are 277 calories in 100g of Medjool dates. Medjools are so plump and succulent that they’re considered almost a luxury fruit. The flavor is described as deliciously rich with a hint of butter.
Despite containing three times the calories of the equivalent weight of banana, dates are totally fine as part of a well-rounded raw meaty bone-based diet.
Their high calorie content actually makes them a great fruit for maintaining weight in your Boxer when you’re feeding a rotational diet that intersperses plant food with meat.
Are Oxalates In Dates A Problem For Dogs?
Dates are rich in oxalates. (So is spinach.)
Oxalates are substances that bind with calcium during digestion. Diets high in oxalates have been associated with kidney stones.
In a raw diet, though, the main food is meat. Fruit is offered only as a minor component. So, the overall diet won’t have any excess of oxalates.
How Many Dates Should A Boxer Dog Eat?
A dog the size of a Boxer can happily eat a handful of pitted dates in one sitting.
As always, feed a small amount the first time you offer any new food. If your Boxer does fine with half a date, offer a full one next time. Remember to remove the pits.
Ideas For Feeding Dates To Your Boxer
As long as the pits are removed, anything goes.
You can try:
- Smushing some room temperature dates into a kong
- Using date slices as a high-value training treat
- Feeding a fruit meal of bananas, mangoes and dates
- Hiding date pieces into a puzzle or canine enrichment toy
Dates make a healthy addition to your Boxer dog’s diet — as long as they are fresh, pitted and fed separately to meat.
You will probably find your Boxer gets quite excited about them.