Yes, but it's complicated.

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girl, dog, and pomegrante
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If you're busy planning holiday meal prep and thinking of all the recipes in which you'll use the juicy, pearl-like pomegranate fruit, you may wonder if your dog can eat a pomegranate seed or two. But hold those jewel-tone seeds! The relationship between dogs and pomegranate is complicated.

Raw pomegranate isn't toxic to dogs, but it can make them sick. "Eating more than a few of the seeds or any of the peel can cause digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain," says Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian and consultant with PetKeen.com, a pet advice site.

"That's because dogs aren't as set up to digest these high fiber foods. Also, pomegranate contains tannins which can make a dog sick to their stomach," Dr. Bonk says. What's more, though the seeds are small, a dog could choke if he ate a handful quickly.

What are Tannins?

Tannins are complex chemical substances derived from phenolic acids that are found in some fruits and trees. Dogs can react to the tannins in pomegranate, and it can cause vomiting and diarrhea due to how their stomach reacts to the compound.

"Having a seed or two is not likely a big deal but if you catch your dog eating a whole pomegranate, I would highly recommend contacting your vet for advice and evaluation right away," says Dr. Aziza Glass, a Freshpet expert and veterinarian based in Houston, Texas.

Aren't Pomegranates Good for Us?

"All parts of the fruit including the skin, flesh, and seeds are high in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, fiber, and antioxidants making it great for humans," says Dr. Glass. But, dogs may not receive the same benefits, she says.

Aren't Pomegranates on the Label of Some Dog Products?

But wait, why do so many dog treats and foods include dried pomegranate or pomegranate extracts in their products if they're not good for dogs? That's where it gets complicated. "Pomegranates are a "superfood" thanks to all of their healthy qualities," says Dr. Glass. And as humans we always want what's best for our pets, so brands are attempting to provide the benefits of pomegranates to pets in a way that meets this need, Dr. Glass explains.

Typically, you'll find pomegranate or pomegranate extracts in dog food to promote the rich levels of antioxidants that the fruit provides as well as to support health and joint inflammation. Several studies show the health benefits of pomegranate in treating inflammation and osteoarthritis.

"Also, pomegranate extracts have been studied for treating canine oral health issues like halitosis, or stinky dog breath. You can find water additives that contain pomegranate extract that promote dogs' oral hygiene," says Dr. Glass. Plus, using extract in products doesn't upset a dog's tummy the way eating the fruit raw can.

"Pomegranate is low in fat and contains compounds that may help to prevent heart disease. Perhaps the most beneficial part of pomegranate for dogs is its antioxidants. With high antioxidants, pomegranate may help prevent some cancers and help your dog age more gracefully," says Dr. Bonk.

If you're looking for other fruits that may offer high levels of antioxidants while also being easier on a dogs' stomach, consider incorporating blueberries into their diet. Dr. Glass says blueberries are also rich in antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage, and contain fiber and other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your dog.