Can Dogs Eat Apple Cores?

Photo by Mark on Flickr

Dogs get their teeth into just about anything. 

If you’ve ever left an apple core on the table and come back to find that it disappeared into thin air, you might worry that your dog ate the apple core. 

Because most humans don’t eat apple cores, right? But why? What about dogs, can dogs eat apple cores?

A study done in 2019 by Frontiers in Microbiology showed that an apple contains about 100 million bacteria. 

This isn’t the kind of bacteria you should wash off of you to prevent yourself from getting sick, this is the good kind of bacteria that are usually called probiotics. 

What’s surprising is that around 90% of the good bacteria is in the apple core. 

Does this mean you should give your dog apple cores? 

But why do some people say it’s toxic?

Why might apple cores be toxic to dogs?

Apple cores contain seeds inside of them. 

A lot of fruit seeds, including apple’s, are known to contain cyanide. 

Because cyanide is one of the most widely known poisonous substances, people worry that swallowing them might result in fatal poisoning.

As far as apples are concerned, there is very little to worry about. 

First of all, apple seeds don’t readily contain cyanide. 

What they contain is a compound called amygdalin which degrades into cyanide when broken down in the digestive system. 

The thing is, in order for that to happen, the seed needs to be chewed and crushed first.

On top of that, apples only contain a small amount of amygdalin, not enough to kill a dog. 

If you saw your dog swallow a stray apple core, don’t fret over it, it’s not going to cause them harm as long as they don’t eat it often and they don’t chew it.

How many seeds can hurt a dog?

So how often do dogs need to eat apple cores to make them sick? 

One apple seed contains about 1-4 milligrams of amygdalin and not all of it will break down into cyanide.

For a healthy dog, it would take around 1000 seeds to poison a 10 kg dog. 

One apple only contains about 5 seeds, so your dog would need to eat around 200 apple cores in order to suffer from side effects.

Which is quite ridiculous when you think about it?! 

Have I set your mind at ease, now? 

Keep in mind that dogs with liver disease are more prone to poisoning, so if your dog has liver disease you should be extra careful not to let them consume the seeds.

Has an apple core got any other nutrition?

You bet they have.

It turns out that apple cores actually contain a big chunk of the fruit’s nutrition. 

The study by Frontiers in Microbiology showed that by eating apple cores you obtain 10 times more bacteria than if you throw it out. 

These bacteria are the kind of microbiome that are good for maintaining gut health. 

This is really good for dogs because it prevents digestive issues, immune system reactions, and diabetes.

Aside from that, apple cores also contain all the good nutrition contained in all the other parts of the fruit, such as flavonoid, vitamin C, and fibre. 

Flavonoids? Yeah, I thought that would stump you!

These are compounds which are found in many fruits and vegetables and they are important for a dog’s health because they are rich in antioxidant activity

And remember that antioxidants are thought to be the first line of defence against some big health threats such as heart disease and cancer. 

OK- let’s move back onto more familiar ground: vitamin C. 

Meanwhile, vitamin C has been observed to reduce inflammation, help treat stress, and might prevent skin conditions in dogs. 

Eating an apple to the core means you’re not wasting any of the good stuff the fruit offers.

It should be noted that the way the apples are grown plays a big role in the nutrition it contains. 

Organic apples contain more diverse bacteria that are good for gut health, while apples that use artificial chemicals and hormones have less diverse good bacteria and instead contain some pathogen-inducing bacteria.

If you buy apples for your dog from the store, look for the organic ones.

Alternatives for gut bacteria

The main nutrition value that an apple core has is the high amount of good gut bacteria it provides. 

However, because of the potential risk of cyanide poisoning, it’s not recommended to give your dog apple cores on a regular basis. 

On top of that, we can’t really make sure our dog does not chew on the seeds, inducing hydrogen cyanide. 

So, rather than risking poisoning, you can give your dog other foods that are just as good for maintaining species-rich gut microbiome. 

The first and easy choice is dog foods with probiotics. 

Pickled vegetables such as gherkins are great as is natural yogurt with “live” bacteria. 

What are the symptoms of a dog eating apple seeds?

To repeat myself- the chances of your dog being poisoned from eating an apple core are vanishingly small.

But just in case your dog does start acting “off colour” soon after an apple core snack, here are a few symptoms to look out for. 

I won’t list all of the symptoms because the list could be endless but here are the five most common symptoms:

  • salivation
  • rapid or difficulty of breathing
  • red gums
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain

If your dog is experiencing any of those symptoms, immediately consult with a vet. 

Keep an eye on your dog and make sure to report every single sign. 

If your dog has liver disease, immediately come to the vet for a check.

How can I stop my dog from eating apple cores?

Some owners may have no problem keeping their dog away from apple cores, they simply need to put away their apple cores in the trash can (or even better in the food waste bin or on the compost pile) before the dog can even get a whiff. 

Others might have a harder time because their dog might have eaten whole apples, not just leftover apple cores from their owners. 

Apple trees are almost everywhere- some of us are lucky to have them in our gardens, others of us might come across them in a favourite park or even on the way to the park. 

And now is the time. 

Autumn is apple harvest time and apples which aren’t picked will simply fall from a tree and lay on the ground to rot or to be eaten by opportunist thieves, such as your dog!

If you’re on the way to the park and your dog immediately bites into a windfall apple, the easiest way to stop them from eating the core is to take the apple from them, clean it and slice it for them. 

But if the apples fall from your own apple tree in the yard and it’s hard for you to keep track of every time your dog eats an apple, you should try teaching them to bring the apple to you when they want to eat it and you will slice it for them. 

First go to the yard together with the dog and cut the apple in front of them then give it to them to eat. 

They should understand that you will cut it for them and it makes it easier for them to eat.

How nutritious is the apple skin?

If your dog eats windfall apples, that means they also consume the skin. 

But it turns out that this isn’t a cause of worry because apple skin is also extremely nutritious. 

Unpeeled apples contain up to 332% more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium, and 19% more potassium.

All of those nutrients are needed by dogs. 

Vitamin K helps wounds heal faster, vitamin K deficiency in dogs can lead to severe bleeding even from a small wound and easy bruising. 

Vitamin A is needed for eye, skin, and coat health, it’s especially needed by growing dogs because it’s needed for muscle and neurological development. 

Vitamin C reduces inflammation, helps treat stress, and prevents skin condition in dogs.

Calcium plays a big role in bone development and prevents health complications. Potassium improves dogs’ overall health, potassium deficiency leads to the dog feeling tired all the time and has zero appetite.

What other fruit seeds are dangerous for dogs?

As mentioned before, a lot of fruit seeds contain the cyanide-inducing amygdalin. 

Aside from apples seeds, some other examples are:

  • Cherry pits
  • Peach pits
  • Apricot pits
  • Plum seeds
  • Greengage plum seeds
  • Pear seeds
  • Nectarine seeds

It doesn’t take Einstein to realise the larger the seed or pit in the fruit the dangerous it is for your dog.

Firstly because the seed will contain more poison.

And larger fruit seeds are choking hazards- particularly for dogs who don’t tend to chew their food.

Closing Thoughts

All in all, considering the tiny amount of possibility that it would poison your dog, if your dog accidentally ate an apple core, they should be fine. 

However, it is not recommended to voluntarily give your dog apple cores as treats because we can never be sure how much of it will lead to danger, or at least not on a regular basis. 

On top of that, eating apple cores (or a whole apple) can easily lead to choking.

If your beloved dog loves apples, it would be wiser to give them sliced apples. 

And if you want to provide them with healthy gut bacteria, you can serve them some probiotic dog foods instead. 

After all, it’s better to give them the safest alternative than risk their health.