All dogs love to eat whatever they can get their paws on, but Labradors seem to go above and beyond in this regard. No matter what you place in front of them, Labradors usually gobble it up without a second thought. This can be cute when the food is safe for them to eat ‒ but it’s terrifying when you’re not sure.
Can a Labrador eat pomegranate? Yes, a Labrador can eat pomegranate. No part of the pomegranate is toxic to Labradors. However, eating large amounts of pomegranate can give your Lab an upset stomach, so try to limit their intake.
The rest of this article will cover the main beneficial nutrients in pomegranates. We’ll also cover the situations in which you might want to supplement your Labrador’s diet with this tasty fruit.
Are pomegranates good for Labradors?
It’s good to know that pomegranates aren’t toxic to dogs. That knowledge should provide some peace of mind if your Labrador ever gets into one. But are they actually good for dogs? Can pomegranates provide nutritional value for your pup?
The answer is actually yes. Pomegranates have a variety of nutrients that can help your Labrador deal with all sorts of health problems. The most prominent and helpful nutrients include fiber, antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid.
Fiber is an extremely healthy nutrient that can help with your dog’s digestive system. While most dog owners use more conventional sources ‒ like fiber-fortified dog food ‒ to supplement their dog’s diet, pomegranate is a decent source of it as well.
The main reason fiber is so good for your Lab’s digestive tract is that it helps prevent the excessive growth of harmful bacteria in the colon and intestine. The helpful bacteria that live in your Lab’s intestine ferment the fiber, which converts it into fatty acids. These acids prevent bacteria overgrowth, which provides a number of digestion-related health benefits.
The most obvious health benefit of fiber is that it reduces the risk of colon cancer in your Lab. It does this by speeding up the digestion of toxic carcinogens, which means they spend less time poisoning your dog’s body.
Fiber is also quite useful for managing your dog’s weight, as it makes your dog feel fuller. A dog that feels full will probably spend less time eating than it normally would, which will eventually result in weight loss.
So if you have some extra pomegranates on your hands, the fiber content alone would make it worth giving them to your Lab. If you don’t, there are a number of other dog-friendly foods that are rich in fiber:
- Rice bran
- Beet pulp
- Dried peas
- Dried beans
Antioxidants also play an important role in keeping your Labrador healthy. To understand how antioxidants benefit your dog’s health, we need to dive down to the molecular level.
When your dog’s metabolism operates, it emits molecular structures called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that contain oxygen and lack an electron. This lack of an electron makes them exceptionally reactive toward other structures ‒ including DNA, proteins, cell membranes, and other things that are necessary for a healthy body.
Antioxidants are molecular structures that can give electrons to free radicals. The value in antioxidants lies in their ability to resist becoming free radicals themselves when they donate an electron. So a diet rich in antioxidants will prevent the molecular and cellular damage caused by these free radicals, thus improving your Lab’s immune system and enabling them to live a healthier, happier life.
Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants, and feeding your Lab small portions of the juicy fruit is a great way to supplement the normal amount of antioxidants typically present in dog food. If you don’t have pomegranates, these foods also provide healthy levels of antioxidants:
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
Potassium is a mineral found in pomegranates that helps maintain a number of critical organs, including the kidneys, heart, stomach, and intestines. While most pet food formulas contain an adequate amount of potassium, there are a number of ways your Labrador’s potassium levels can drop to dangerously low levels:
- A high sodium diet
- Irritable bowel disease (IBD)
Low potassium results in a medical condition known as hypokalemia. If your Labrador is suffering from hypokalemia, they will have to deal with unpleasant symptoms like lethargy, overall weakness, and muscle cramps. It can also cause them to develop an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to even more serious cardiac problems.
Low potassium in Labradors is typically treated with potassium supplements. However, if you don’t have any on hand ‒ or don’t have the cash on hand to pay for them ‒ pomegranate can act as a suitable substitute. If you also don’t have any pomegranates available, these foods are also a decent alternative to expensive supplements:
- Popcorn… Yes, seriously. Just don’t let your dog have too much.
When many people think of vitamin C, they think about how a lack of it caused generations of sailors to develop scurvy ‒ a painful disease affecting the gums. While most dogs aren’t going to spend years out at sea, they’re still vulnerable to scurvy, as well as a bunch of other health problems stemming from a vitamin C deficiency.
Until quite recently, scientists didn’t think dogs needed any extra vitamin C in their diets. Most dogs ‒ including Labradors ‒ can produce their own vitamin C. Because of this self-production mechanism, nobody thought supplementing doggie diets with vitamin C would do them any good.
That perspective has since changed though. In 1942, a study found that dogs that are sick have abnormally low amounts of vitamin C. The body depletes it faster than it can reproduce it, leaving dogs that are already sick with the additional complications of vitamin C deficiency. Additional studies have shown that this also applies to dogs who are stressed.
A vitamin C deficiency isn’t something to play around with. Left untreated, it can result in a seriously decreased quality of life and a substantially lower expected lifespan.
In addition to the gum problems associated with scurvy, Labradors that aren’t getting enough vitamin C can develop the following problems:
- Joint pain
- Weakness in the bones
- Weakness in the muscles
- Seemingly random bleeding
- Bad-smelling breath
- Delayed healing of cuts
- Bloody urine
So even though your Labrador produces vitamin C on its own, a period of illness or elevated stress levels can make that a moot point. If your dog does need a vitamin C boost, pomegranate is a pretty good way to get it to them. If you don’t have any pomegranates, you can use one of these foods instead:
- Red peppers
- Green peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Rounding out the list of nutrients that are beneficial to dogs in pomegranates is folic acid. Also known as vitamin B9, this substance plays an integral role in many cellular processes, including protein synthesis, cellular division, and neurotransmitter synthesis.
Like vitamin C, folic acid supplementation isn’t typically needed in healthy dogs. But while vitamin C deficiency occurs in dogs that are sick or stressed, folic acid deficiency occurs in dogs that are pregnant or have recently given birth. A folic acid deficiency in a recent mother is quite serious for the puppies, as it can lead to improper spinal column formation and a decrease in the formation of brain tissues.
Feeding your pregnant Labrador thin slices of pomegranate is one way to ensure they get enough folic acid to ensure their babies are happy and healthy. If you don’t have any pomegranates, you can also get folic acid from the following sources:
- Formulaic supplements
- Brown rice
- Split peas
- Brussel sprouts
Although most of the other nutrients mentioned in this article can typically be derived from dog food, getting folic acid from your dog food can be a bit challenging. This is because the B vitamins are more fragile than other nutrients, and they can deteriorate during the creation, transport, and storage of the dog food. As such, folic acid supplementation from non-traditional sources (like pomegranates) is more common than with the other nutrients mentioned.