Bananas are America’s favourite fruit.
On average each American eats 90 bananas per year.
And they eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined.
A big reason for the popularity of bananas is that they don’t need to ripen on the tree.
This allows them to ripen as they are transported all over the world.
And globally, it is thought that over 100 billion are eaten!
But, even though most bananas will ripen to perfection by the time they are in a fruit bowl, a few always seem to have “not got the memo” and remain stubbornly green.i
I, for one, won’t touch them.
But can I feed an unripe banana to my dog?
The first thing I want to discuss as I try to answer this question is whether an unripe banana contains any worthwhile nutrition.
What is the nutrition in unripe bananas?
This is a very interesting question which it is very difficult to give a straight answer to because so little research has been carried out into it.
And this is because people tend to only eat ripe bananas.
What I have found out is very encouraging.
Green Bananas are packed full of nutrients.
And you know how firm and uninviting a green banana looks?
Well that firmness is starch, which changes into sugar as the banana ripens.
But this starch is an incredible source of dietary fiber.
And this sort of fiber is thought to be very important to our digestive health and the digestive health of our dog as well.
And, in a later section, I will look at whether unripe bananas can help dogs with diarrhea.
And not only that but starch is great when it comes to making your dog feel “fuller” and should stave off hunger pangs for longer.
Could this really work with dogs?!
Next up we have the vitamins.
Unripe bananas are a rich source of vitamin C, B6 and provitamin A.
Now, did you know that dogs make their own vitamin C in their liver?
Which doesn’t mean to say that a dog won’t benefit from a top up now and again- especially if they are stressed.
Dogs who are emotionally and physically stressed will have lower levels of vitamin C than if they were leading a calmer and quieter life.
Vitamin B6 is thought to support a more healthy brain in dogs and it also plays a part in producing red blood cells.
When enough B6 is in the blood it helps to control the levels of a dangerous chemical called homocysteine which is linked to the hardening of arteries.
And finally as far as vitamins are concerned I want to look at provitamin A.
Now don’t be put off by the flashy jargon.
Provitamin A is a nutrient which is converted into a vitamin one it has been ingested.
So once provitamin A is digested by a dog it turns into vitamin A.
And what is vitamin A’s claim to fame?
Well, there are a few but a big one is that it will help keep a dog’s eyesight in tip top shape!
Green banana vs yellow banana. Which is better for dogs?
Do you think that an unripe or a ripe banana is better for your dog?
This real answer to this fascinating question is that they are both great for your dog.
We just need to know why this is.
Bananas like all fruits and vegetables change as they go on a ripening journey.
And as they ripen and change colour from green to yellow to brown, the nutrients inside of them change.
And the benefits that they can bring to our dogs changes as well.
In the previous section, I covered most of the main advantages that feeding your dog green bananas might bring and so in this section I will concentrate on the yellow and brown.
Yellow bananas have higher antioxidant levels than unripe bananas.
This is because most of the starch has been transformed into sugar.
Antioxidants are one of those miracle compounds which help to protect our bodies in the fight against disease.
And they are important to dogs as well.
In dogs, antioxidants are thought to reduce inflammation in their bodies.
And before you say it, inflammation is a pretty standard response to all kinds of threats within a dog’s body.
As it fights against viruses, bacteria etc.
And, if you want to feed your dog a banana with the highest concentration of antioxidants then you need to choose a banana with brown spots.
The last stage of ripening for a banana is when it has turned brown.
This indicates that the banana no longer contains any starch but only sugar.
And although most of us are putting brown bananas either in the compost bin or in a banana cake, it is useful to know that brown bananas contain the most potassium.
And potassium plays a crucial role in the health of a dog because it helps to keep the heart, nerves and muscles healthy.
Can I feed unripe bananas to a dog with diarrhea?
In this section I want to look at whether an unripe banana with all of its dietary fiber might be an excellent natural remedy for diarrhea.
High fiber foods are often used as “go to” foods when it comes to curing diarrhea.
I have had great success using sweet potatoes (with a fiber content of around 3%) in this way to treat my own dogs for diarrhea.
Canned and plain pumpkin is another well known remedy for diarrhea (and also has a fiber content of around 3%.)
So where does that leave green bananas?
Well, we know that yellow bananas are about 2.6% dietary fiber and so unripe bananas should contain even more dietary fiber.
And there are lots of people recommending the use of bananas to cure a mild dose of diarrhea.
But, I can’t find a recommendation to use green bananas anywhere.
It doesn’t only take fiber to treat diarrhea. I think another important quality that any cure needs is that they should contain lots of water.
And any fruit or vegetable qualifies because they are mostly water.
A final quality that a diarrhea cure needs is that it needs to be bland and easy for the stomach to digest.
Rice and chicken are often mentioned as a treatment for diarrhea for this very reason.
Is an unripe banana bland enough?
I suspect not. I think all of that starch in a green banana would put too much of a strain on a dog’s digestion and might just make the diarrhea worse.
But I don’t think that there is anything wrong with using a ripe banana as a cure.
Just make sure that it is more green than brown in colour!
All of this talk about the use of an unripe fruit with dogs has got me thinking if there are any unripe fruits which are dangerous for a dog to eat?
And there is and I will tell you about it in the next section.
Which unripe fruits are dangerous to dogs?
One fruit, when it comes to ripeness, that you shouldn’t mess around with when it comes to dogs is tomatoes.
Tomatoes should only be fed to dogs when they are beautifully red and ripe.
Unripe or green tomatoes contain a toxin that could be harmful to your dog.
The name of this toxin is alkaloid solanine.
Eating the odd green tomato or two should only cause a slight stomach upset but if a dog goes AWOL in your greenhouse and has a feast, things might be more serious.
Symptoms to look out for in these circumstances include lethargy and an increased heart rate.
Can dogs have unripe bananas?
If you are anything like me then you will loathe green bananas and it seems to me that if you are forced to buy unripe bananas whilst out shopping, they only occasionally ripen properly.
If this sounds like you, then you can feed these bananas to your dog.
Just remember that any food which is new to a dog should be given in tiny amounts at first.
But if your dog reacts well to this then all the evidence suggests that feeding them the odd unripe banana here and there could be a welcome boost to their digestive health.
¹ Photo by Joshua Olsen on Unsplash