Food Fact: Are Papayas Safe or Not for Pet Dogs and Cats?
Papayas have forever been known as the wonder-fruit. Besides the goodness of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, this fruit is loaded with water that keeps you hydrated. Apart from the direct health benefits of these nutrients, papaya is famous across the world as an essential ingredient in Asian delicacies. It is also increasingly used in skin products, given its richness in vitamins that are good for the epidermis. In some cultures, Papaya is used as a traditional medicine against dengue, malaria & a host of other diseases.
But should you be sharing this wonder-fruit with your pet?
Yes, of course, but in limited portions. To understand how the Papaya fruit affects your pet, you must understand the nutritional constituents of the fruit, and how your dog or cat’s body responds to them. This will also explain why moderation is recommended while feeding papayas to your pet, in spite of being a rockstar of a fruit, that it is.
Where did papayas come from?
Papayas were originally a Caribbean delicacy. The soil, temperature and moisture conditions of the tropic and the semi-tropic areas encourage the growth of fruits that are rich in moisture and citrus content. Hence, natively, Papayas come from Mexico and the Central American countries like Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica.
Why are papayas so popular in India, then?
After the boom of the Renaissance, a spirit of adventure and humanism encouraged many travelers to set their sail and go beyond the big blue sea. Passing through the Cape of Good Hope, many explorers came to India and Indonesia and carried the seeds of one of their favorite fruits – the Papaya. Owing to the favorable latitudinal extent that it enjoys, India served as a fertile ground for the germination of the seeds. Slowly, the area under this fruit kept increasing, decade after decade, thanks to the health benefits it provides. Today, India is the largest producer of Papaya, producing 5.6 million tonnes of the Papaya fruit annually.
That’s great to know! But how does Papaya help my pet, nutritionally?
Papaya is 88% water, 11% carbohydrates (sugars & fiber), and trace amounts of fat and protein. The sugars in the fruit provide energy in optimum amounts, keeping your pet’s obesity issues at bay. 100 grams of Papaya give you 43 kcal of calories and an abundant amount of Vitamin C and Folate (Vitamin B-9). The many benefits of Vitamin C include growth, development, and repair of body tissues, the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, wound healing and maintenance of your pet’s cartilage, bone, muscles, skin and teeth. It can also prevent heart problems such as atherosclerosis. A portion of Papaya in your pet’s diet, thus, is a great way to ensure that he stays in the prime of his health.
If you haven’t ever tried papaya with your pet yet, you may try it in small portions to check if his tummy can take it. Make sure you remove the seeds before feeding papaya to your furball, as they may pose a choking hazard. A very small percentage of animals are found to have an allergy to Papaya. Administer caution during your pet’s first papaya session; start with a small serving. If he doesn’t throw up, you’re all set on your paw-paw-ya adventure. Papaya will always come to your rescue when your pet has an upset stomach!
Good for my pet’s stomach? Really? How?
If you think your dog needs a natural boost to his digestive system, papaya is the way to go! Natural papaya is a great belly savior for your cutie. Papaya is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which combine to treat your baby’s indigestion, bloating and flatulence.
But the nutrient that makes papaya eligible for the title of ‘wonder-fruit’ is the enzyme Papain. Humans, dogs and cats secrete an enzyme called Pepsin that aids digestion of proteins in the body. Sometimes, due to age, weakened immunity, excessive use of antibiotics, etc, the body’s ability to secrete this enzyme decreases. These are people and pets that have trouble digesting proteins. Papain, which is almost identical to Pepsin in structure, supplements the digestion of proteins in the body. It is for this reason, that Papaya is extensively used in meat-based cuisines and even as a meat tenderizer in industrial food processing. Better digestion of protein equates to faster growth.
PLEASE NOTE: Excess Papaya for a pet who doesn’t consume enough protein (meat) can disrupt the enzyme balance in their gut, and may result in irregular bowel movements. Caution must be exercised while feeding papaya to a pregnant or lactating pet.
I’ve heard about dried Papaya. Is that safe too?
Dried Papaya tends to have concentrated sugar. That is why you must NEVER give dried fruits to your pet. Concentrated sugar can have side effects of itching, and tends to increase fat in your dog’s body, and may lead to obesity and diabetes.
Remember, your pet’s food must always be real! Raw papaya will be more digestible by your pet because their body is built to take in simpler sugars and provide energy. Complex sugars do not fully break down to glucose, and add to the fat tissue, increasing health problems for your pet.
Papayas are great for your pet! But you must keep the portions limited for your pet’s body to be able to digest them fully and make a positive difference to his health. This fruit is absolutely recommended if your pet has constipation troubles or fussy eating habits.
FOR INFORMATION ONLY – NOT VETERINARY CARE
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