Over the past few years, more and more pet owners have wanted to know what impact plantains can have on their pets. Is it safe to include this fruit in a dog’s diet? What are the benefits and downsides of it?
The question has its merits, and people should always do some research on anything they want to introduce into their pet’s diet.
After all, we all only want what’s best for our loved ones, and when it comes to pets, they have a special place in our hearts.
For the matter at hand, the short answer is that plantains are perfectly safe for consumption. In fact, they are healthier than you might think and make an excellent treat for your furry friend to munch on.
But, before we dive into the details and all the benefits this plant brings to the table, we have to establish what these plants actually are.
What are plantains?
Plantains are a group of banana-like fruits typical of many tropical areas.
Similar to their cousins (bananas), they grow on trees in clusters and have stages of color varying from lighter ones (green and yellow) to darker ones (brown and black).
This type of fruit isn’t as sweet as the dessert variety (bananas with high sugar content) and contains more starch. The fruit itself is much larger than the bananas you are used to seeing in Europe or the United States.
These fruits are often called vegetable banana or cooking banana to distinguish them from their sweeter cousins (dessert bananas).
Before we dive deeper into the subject, there is just one more thing to note about them.
There are two main types of plantains: French and horn plantain.
Horn plantains form smaller bunches on the tree and give fewer fruits. French, on the other hand, have big bunches and yield much more fruit.
My dog sneaked a plantain off the table – should I be worried?
Plantains and bananas are not toxic to dogs (according to the ASPCA). This means that even if your dog ate a plantain, you need not rush to seek veterinary advice as it isn’t as problematic as you might think.
Even if it was an unripe plantain, the worst thing that can happen is that your dog takes a long time to digest it.
If it was a ripe plantain, that is perfectly fine. You should even consider adding them to their diet permanently, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Is it safe to add plantains to my dog’s diet?
We can say without a doubt that plantains are a completely safe and healthy snack for your pup. Not only do they taste delicious, but they can also help with many digestive issues your dog may have.
If you see your doggy is in a bad mood from an upset stomach, you can mash up some plantains and mix them with its dog food.
However, you have to remember that introducing anything new to your dog’s diet should be done with caution. The first time you try to give your pooch plantains, you should start with a small amount and see how it reacts.
Are plantains lily and plantains the same?
No! Even though they sound the same, plantains lily (also known as hosta or hostas) are very toxic plants for dogs and other pets. This plant doesn’t bear any fruit, and it has nothing to do with the banana family of fruits.
If you suspect that your pet might have ingested this plant in any form, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. The toxicity of the plant can lead to serious complications.
Now that we have clarified this possible source of confusion, let’s journey on and learn how exactly these fantastic plants are beneficial to our doggies.
Nutrition facts of plantains
Let’s take a look at the nutritional value of cooked plantains per 200 grams:
• Calories – 232 (971 kJ)
• Water – 135g
• Calcium – 4.0 mg
• Iron – 1.2 mg
• Magnesium – 64.0 mg
• Phosphorus – 56.0 mg
• Potassium – 930 mg
• Sodium – 10.0 mg
• Total Omega-3 fatty acids – 24.0 mg
• Total Omega-6 fatty acids – 42.0 mg
• Vitamin C – 21.8 mg
• Vitamin B6 – 0.5 mg
• Vitamin A – 1818 UI
• Fiber – 4.6 g
What are the health benefits of plantains?
Even though plantains are not a common fruit, they provide numerous benefits, as we’ve seen in the list above.
But what exactly does all of that mean?
You could split the list into two groups:
The macronutrient side contains mostly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, in this case, consist of sugars (fructose), good amino acids, and a tiny amount of healthy fats.
On the other side, we have micronutrients, and they are responsible for most of the vitamins and minerals that every canine needs.
There are a variety of vitamins and nutrients in this amazing fruit, including 4.6 grams of healthy fiber and 232 calories.
Minerals are one of the key things in maintaining a dog’s health. They ensure the healthy growth and development of a puppy.
Many dog owners search for a good way to supplement their dogs with the following minerals, and when they learn about plantains, the search is over.
Photo from @vena_xu
Potassium, Magnesium, and Sodium in dogs
Some researchers suggest that your dog must not consume less than 1 gram of potassium, 150 mg of magnesium, and 100 mg of sodium daily.
These minerals ensure a dog’s body can successfully perform muscle contractions, cell signaling, and nerve impulse transmissions.
Besides all of the benefits that plantains provide, all dog lovers should know that this plant is an excellent source of dietary fiber.
This means that your dog’s digestive process will greatly improve, so you can say goodbye to gastrointestinal upset.
Furthermore, it has been proven that this wonderful fruit has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Recent studies have also concluded that it can help with kennel cough in some dogs.
On top of all that, these magnificent veggies help your dog with obesity and diseases. It also provides a shinier coat and healthier skin.
Do plantains affect blood sugar levels in dogs?
This can be a major factor in deciding whether your dog can be given plantains or not.
If your dog has no metabolic disorders, then everything should be fine. However, if your dog is diabetic, then things get a little tricky.
For instance, raw plantains have high amounts of starch, and that can cause the glycemic index of your doggy to spike and become more elevated than it should. This is why it is not recommended to feed your dog the raw version of this plant.
Cooked plantains are a different story. By cooking this veggie, you can reduce the amount of starch and make it easier on your dog’s tummy.
Fried plantains are also an option as they also contain low levels of starch. We would recommend using coconut oil for frying.
Can dogs eat raw plantains?
As we’ve mentioned before, raw plantains can be bad for your dog’s body. Even if it doesn’t affect his blood sugar levels, it can lead to problems in his digestive system.
Loose stools and stomach ache can be some of the symptoms as this fruit comes with a high dietary fiber count. To prevent this, you should not feed your dog a large amount of this fruit.
Also, there are ways to prepare this treat so that it is easier for them to digest and enjoy. We will look into them a bit down the road.
Can dogs eat plantain chips?
Plantain chips make a sweet, salty, and excellent snack for humans, but when it comes to our four-legged besties, that’s not the case.
In chip form, they are high in fat and have a high sodium content, which is fairly dangerous for dogs. Too much sodium can cause bloating or even sodium poisoning in the worst-case scenario.
Many commercial chips contain other ingredients that can be toxic to dogs, such as cayenne pepper, onion, or garlic.
If you can’t resist the look your pup gives you while you are munching on these sweets, don’t give them more than a few chips. Also, make sure they don’t contain any ingredients that are dangerous for dogs.
It is perhaps better just to stick to raw or cooked versions for your pet.
Can dogs eat fried plantains?
The general opinion on this subject is that you shouldn’t give your dog a fried version of this plant. It may be the best way to prepare it for yourself, but it can be dangerous for your pup.
This is because the process of frying includes additional fat and other ingredients that can be harmful to your dog. Too much fat can cause your dog to develop inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
Can dogs eat dried plantain?
Absolutely! Dog’s can fully enjoy a dried version of this fruit as long as it is fully ripe.
Whether you dry it naturally in the sun or at a temperature of no more than 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven, it will still be considered raw and not cooked.
How long does it take a plantain to ripen?
Since this veggie is sold unripe most of the time, they should not be consumed by either our dogs or us.
When you let the fruit fully ripen, the starch they contain converts into more simple sugars, which means dogs can eat them too. But the process of ripening can take a long time.
It can take from three to five weeks for plantain to fully ripen! But there are some tips and tricks that can help reduce this time.
Tips to reduce the time it takes
• Put your plantain in a large enough paper bag so that it has room inside.
• Add an apple next to it; apples release a gas called ethylene, and this gas helps to ripen fruits faster.
• Close the bag but not completely. Let it have some “breathing room.”
• Take the bag to a warm place and check the fruit daily. You should see it turn deep yellow in about six to nine days.
• After that, you should wait for another ten to fifteen days to get it black and soft.
• When the color changes to black, they are ready. Take them out of the bag and peel the skin, which should come off easily.
Warning! A green or yellow plantain is unripe, and you should not feed it to your dog. Only when it gets to the dark black stage is it ready to be consumed!
What is the healthiest way to prepare plantains for your dog?
Before you decide how to prepare this super veggie for your pooch, you should start by peeling off the skin and cutting the fruit into smaller pieces.
Not only will this make them easier to cook, but it will ensure that your dog doesn’t have a problem eating them. We all know that dogs can be very greedy and fast eaters, so the smaller the piece, the less chance there is of choking on it.
Now that you have peeled and cut the plantains, it is time to decide how you want to prepare them:
1. If you do not have the time or will to cook the plant, you can give them a dried plantain. Just be sure to cut it into small pieces. This is one of the healthiest ways you can feed it to your pup. It does take a long time to fully ripen a plantain, so you have to think a few days/weeks ahead.
2. Another healthy way to prepare them is to boil them or even steam them. This ensures that the nutritional ingredients are preserved and not destroyed. It will also make the fruit soft for your doggy, and the starch in it will be dissolved.
3. A slightly less healthy way is to bake this fruit in an oven until they change to a caramel-like brown color. This way, the veggies lose most of their nutritional value, but the taste is a little bit better. Note that this way can be difficult for your dog to digest if he eats a large portion.
4. The last way to prepare plantains is to focus more on humans than dogs. This is because, as we mentioned, frying usually involves oil and other ingredients which may harm your dog.
After you cook the meal in whichever way you like (preferably one of the first two), keep in mind that you have to leave them at room temperature for a while.
It is not safe to give them to your dog straight out of the oven or hot. Note that you shouldn’t use any spices while serving this dish to your puppy.
What if my dog doesn’t like cooked plantains?
Like humans, every dog has a personality. There might be dogs that love some foods and others that hate the same, and that is perfectly fine!
If it doesn’t like the cooked version, you can try to give it a piece of a raw but ripe one. Some dogs prefer to eat raw foods instead of cooked, so you might get lucky with that.
If that doesn’t work, then you should not force the pup to eat it and instead try to give it some other fruits or vegetables that he likes more.
In short – are plantains safe or hazardous?
This healthy, nutritious fruit is one of the best things you can add to your dog’s dish.
Aside from its great taste, it has numerous health benefits for both humans and dogs alike.
Things to keep in mind:
• Don’t force them on your dog if he doesn’t like the taste.
• Never give it to your dog unless the fruit is fully ripe.
• Try to avoid giving them the fried version of this fruit.
If you apply these simple rules, you might introduce a new favorite treat into your dog’s life! And in yours too!