What is your first thought when someone mentions durians to you? Do you start drooling, or do you want to plug your nose? Whether you love or loathe the intense odor and taste of durians, there is a chance that your dog is into these prickly Southeast Asian fruits.
Can I be honest with you? If I had my way, I’d keep those smelly fruits out of my home. Yet my dog loves them. And who am I to tell him he can’t have them? But here’s the thing. If your dog is the one craving durians, you need to know whether it is safe to feed them to your doggo.
In small amounts, many dogs can eat durian fruit—the flesh only! But the rest of the fruit? No way.
You probably have a lot of questions about feeding durian to your dog. What is the best way to do it? How much can he have? How will the nutrition improve his well-being? How will you know if he is reacting poorly to it?
Let’s dive in and answer these questions in-depth!
What is Durian?
First things first. Don’t know what durian is? If you live in the western world, you may never have encountered a durian before. It is a prickly fruit with creamy yellow flesh. Some people love it. Others find its odor and taste beyond revolting. The flavor of durian has received comparisons to everything from onions to sewage to rotting flesh. But it also is compared to such delights as caramel, custard and ice cream. Weird, right?
Is Durian Safe For Dogs?
The short answer to this question is "yes." It is safe to give durian fruit to your dog. But there are some caveats regarding the parts of the fruit which are and are not safe to consume. You also need to make sure you are not feeding your dog too much durian.
Health Benefits of Durian for Dogs
Not eaten to excess, fruits such as durian can contribute ample nutrition to your dog's diet.
According to this nutritional data, durian fruits are high in fiber, protein, vitamins C, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. They also contain iron and zinc.
Fiber can promote digestive regularity. Meanwhile, protein is essential for building muscle tissue. The vitamins and minerals in durian can help improve healthy nerves, support immunity, and more.
But wait—there's more. Durian fruits also contain ample antioxidants that can help fight harmful free radicals, providing even more nutritious boost for your dog.
Are There Concerns?
Although it is okay for your dog to eat the flesh of the durian fruit, there are a few concerns that you need to be aware of so that you can feed your dog durian safely.
There are also several concerns which relate to portion size. Read on to discover what they are and how much durian fruit you can safely feed your pet.
How Much Durian Can Your Dog Eat?
The flesh of a durian fruit. Janeen/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Okay, there are three important reasons to limit your dog’s durian portions.
To begin with, durian is rich in natural sugars, just like other fruits. Too much sugar can cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar and even lead to diabetes. It is vital not to let your dog overindulge in sugary foods.
Secondly, just as durian contains significant sugar, it also is surprisingly high in fat. You don't want to feed your dog too many fattening foods. Think about it. If you eat sugary, fatty foods all day, what would happen to you? You'd get fat. That is true for your dog as well.
On the other hand, an underweight dog could benefit from plumping out a little bit. If that describes your pet, you might be able to make durian treats a more frequent event. Just make sure you do not overdo it.
Thirdly, there is something else you need to know about durian, which concerns cardiovascular health.
“The effect of durian on cardiovascular health remains controversial … Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure remained normal for groups given durian. However, a significant increase in heart rate was observed in the group given 500 g of durian at 0.5–2 h. A modest amount of durian intake did not affect blood pressure and heart rate in healthy individuals.”
So, it appears that eating a large amount of durian fruit could speed up the heart rate. It seems conceivable that this effect could be observable across species.
It also stands to reason that it would take significantly less durian to produce this effect in a canine than a human. So, you should only feed your dog durian in very small quantities. That makes durian fruit appropriate for a treat, but not a meal.
You probably know this, but no more than 10% of the calories you feed your dog each day should come from treats and snacks. But that doesn’t mean 10% of your dog’s calories should come from durian!
That would be too much fat and sugar. Instead, you should feed your dog no more than a few bites of durian per serving. Durian should not be a daily treat either. Give your dog durian no more than a couple times a week.
Can a Dog Be Allergic to Durian?
If you feed your dog durian for the first time, be on the lookout for signs of an allergic reaction. While most dogs should not be allergic to durian, some might be. Itching, hives, indigestion, infections of the paws or ears, or swelling in the face all may indicate an allergic reaction. Some dogs that are not flat-out allergic to durian could still be sensitive to it and may have difficulty digesting it.
Is Your Dog Reacting Badly to Durian?
Look, we just went over some physical signs when your dog is having an allergic reaction to durian—but that isn't all you need to be on the lookout for.
A dog who is sensitive to durian but not allergic or simply doesn't like it may react differently. You could see signs of digestive discomfort like diarrhea or constipation. Your dog could also behave differently than normal, either by sitting around listlessly or becoming hyper (yep, either extreme is possible).
These could also be signs you simply gave your dog too much durian. You might even notice panting, whimpering, weakness or ears sticking up.
Did Your Dog Eat Cyanide?
Now, here’s the scary thing—your dog could get cyanide poisoning from durian if he eats the seeds or any part of the fruit other than the safe flesh.
How can you catch the signs? Check for dilated pupils, skin problems, fast breathing, digestive inflammation, or an unusual heartbeat. If your dog pukes after eating durian, that could also be a sign of poisoning. Your dog might go into shock as well.
This should NEVER happen if you do not feed your dog the wrong parts of the durian. But it could occur if your dog somehow gets at the discarded seeds! So throw them away securely where your pet cannot reach.
I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but if you have any reason to suspect your dog is sick after eating durian, it is time to go straight to the vet!
How to Feed Your Dog Durian
Here’s the deal. If you want to give your dog durian, you need to do it right.
That means that you should start by cutting open the spiky rind. Scoop the flesh out and get rid of the rind (somewhere your dog will not find it).
Next, carefully remove all of the seeds, safely discarding them as well. Note that if the stem or leaves were still attached to your fruit when you were removing the rind, you need to get rid of these as well.
Now all you should have left is the flesh of the durian fruit. You can now try cautiously feeding your dog a small piece of durian. If he seems to enjoy it and doesn’t react badly, you can make a habit out of giving him the occasional small piece of durian as a treat or snack.
That is all there is to it!
Oh yeah, before I forget—consider doing all this outdoors. If you have never had durian before, you will be shocked at how much it stinks.
It's quite simple—the durian fruit's flesh is safe for your dog, but the seeds, rind, leaves and stem are not. Because of the high-fat content of durian as well as the sugar and potential cardiovascular concerns of large amounts, you need to restrict your dog’s portion sizes to just the occasional treat.
If your dog enjoys durian, he'll be getting extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to nourish his health. He'll love you for sharing the most malodorous fruit on the planet with him.