Labrador Retrievers love to eat, sometimes it seems like they live to eat. Anyone who has had a pet Labrador knows this only too well. Nothing is off the menu in their mind.
But should they be eating everything they want to eat? I know a lot of people who give their Labrador a Banana as a little treat, the dog loves it but is it good for them?
It can be easy to think that it is. Everyone knows that bananas are a great food for humans to eat so why not treat your Labrador Retriever to a lovely, scrumptious banana?
In this article I’m going to take a look into whether Labrador Retrievers should eat bananas, whether bananas are good for them and even more importantly, can eating bananas actually harm Labrador Retrievers?
Labradors can eat bananas. Just like humans, it is important for Labrador Retrievers to eat bananas in moderation. Labrador Retrievers will get some health benefits to eating bananas but too many will be bad for them. If you want to know more detail then read on.
If in doubt, ask your vet
I can give you all the information I know about labradors and bananas but ultimately every dog is different.
There are many people who have an intolerance to bananas so naturally there will be pets that shouldn’t eat bananas either.
One of my own black labradors (George) was highly allergic to all kinds of foods so I know only too well the importance of consulting with your vet if you have any dietary concerns.
Ultimately, if you think even a small amount of banana is making your dog unwell then just don’t give any to them at all.
With that said, the majority of Labrador Retrievers should be perfectly able to eat some banana with issue, so let’s look at the benefits.
Health benefits of bananas for Labradors
Bananas can be good for you Labrador for many of the same reasons they are great for humans.
They are one of nature’s super fruits and contain a huge number of vitamins and minerals as well as being a great natural source of fiber.
They are packed so much goodness and energy which can be very beneficial to an active breed like the Labrador Retriever.
Here’s a list of some of the main elements found in bananas which can really benefit the health of a Labrador Retriever.
Source of fiber
Fiber is fantastic for keeping the digestive system of your Labrador in good order. It helps to prevent bowel issues such as constipation and diarrhea.
It may also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer as some bacteria within a dog’s gut will ferment fiber to form ‘short-chain fatty acids’, a product which helps the colon repair itself.
Fiber also helps Labradors keep a healthy weight, the fiber helps to reduce the caloric content of other food which the dog eats, helping to prevent Labradors from gaining excess weight, which is always a danger for this notoriously greedy breed!
Source of Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential macromineral. The body needs Magnesium simply to function.
It helps to maintain good nerve and muscle function, supporting the immune system, keeping bones nice and strong and maintaining a steady heartbeat.
Source of Potassium
Bananas are rich in Potassium and Potassium is vital for dogs. It has large benefits in improved regulation of fluid, principly the balance between water and acid-base in the blood.
Having the correct amount of potassium in a dog’s system also helps to regulate muscle and heart contractions and it is crucial for maintaining well-functioning nerve signals.
Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a great natural antioxidant for your Labrador. It can help to reduce inflammation and slow cognitive aging.
Source of Vitamin B6
Bananas are a great source of Vitamin B6. This vitamin has all sorts of great health benefits for your Labrador, especially when they are a growing puppy.
It’s an important vitamin with lots of benefits, it’s responsible for glucose generation, improves the function of red blood cells and the nervous system and it aids with hormone regulation and immune response.
Health risks of bananas for Labradors
There’s no doubt that bananas possess qualities that can certainly aid or even improve the health of most Labrador Retrievers. But as ever when it comes to diet, there is always the danger of having too much of a good thing.
This has to be kept in mind when choosing to feed your Labrador bananas.
An excess can lead to the dog having far more issues from the diet than benefits so it is vital that bananas are only given to a dog in moderation, remember that dogs, even a great big Labrador, are much smaller than people!
They should only have bananas in small qualities rather than eating whole bananas at a time.
For a guide on how much banana your Labrador Retriever should be safe to eat scroll down to the end of the article.
Here are some of the main issues which can occur if your Labrador Retriever eats too much banana.
Heart function issues
Potassium is very important for a Labrador’s health but too much can cause an issue known as Hyperkalemia.
This can lead to interference in the electric signals of the Myocardium, a thick muscle layer of the heart. This can lead to a slowing of the heart rate and in the most serious cases, cardiac arrest.
Hyperkalemia can also have other impacts on your Labrador, including diarrhea and difficulty urinating.
Excess fiber intake can also cause your Labrador an issue, with problems occurring related to constipation, gas and in extreme instances intestinal blockage.
Like most fruits, bananas are very high in sugar. Too much banana and your Labrador may start to have a blood sugar imbalance.
They may also experience weight gain as excessive sugar cannot be converted to energy and is instead stored as fat.
Can Labrador Retrievers eat banana peel
It is best not to feed your Labrador Retriever banana peel.
Whilst the peel is technically edible and not toxic to Labradors, it is extremely high in fiber which can cause the issues that I’ve mentioned above.
As you can imagine, banana peels are also very hard for the stomach to digest and could cause your Labrador to vomit or develop constipation.
So, whilst you Labrador should not have any long term side effects from eating a banana peel, if they do manage to steal one off the kitchen counter then you should monitor them for the next day or so just to make sure that their digestion seems to be functioning normally.
Has my Labrador Retriever eaten too many bananas
If you’re concerned that your Labrador may have already eaten too many bananas then you should monitor them for a couple of days for any symptoms.
The easiest ones to spot will be vomiting, diarrhea or difficulty in passing a bowel movement.
Some of the more serious symptoms I’ve mentioned above are unlikely to occur unless your Labrador has been eating bananas (or food with similar elements) for a prolonged period.
If your Labrador does show symptoms then it may be best to consult with your vet.
How much banana can a Labrador Retriever eat
In small amounts, bananas are perfectly safe for your Labrador Retriever to eat, and indeed in moderation, they actually have many health benefits for the breed as I’ve laid out above.
Labradors should never be fed a whole banana as it is simply an unnecessary amount, even as a treat, and is likely to cause issues.
However, giving your Labrador a quarter, or at most, half a banana as a treat is perfectly fine.
I would suggest giving your Labrador this amount no more often than every few days. Of course, you can give smaller amounts more frequently if you wish.
A little banana can go a long way, so if you really want your Labrador Retriever to enjoy it treats then you can mush it in with its normal meal to really make it one big tasty treat!
A final note – All Labradors are different
Just like people, all Labradors are different, some have greater intolerance to certain foods than others and of course, age can play its part in a dog’s ability to properly digest food and absorb the correct amount of vitamins and minerals from it.
Always keep in mind that an eleven-year-old dog might not be able to digest the fiber and convert the sugar of a banana as easily as a four-year-old dog.
If you have any doubts about your Labrador’s tolerance of bananas then I would advise not feeding them bananas at all and consulting with your vet.