What Nutrients Do Bananas Provide for Your German Shepherds?
Banana is a fruit that is rich in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, magnesium, and fiber.
Potassium can be found abundantly in all foods. It has many health benefits:
- It helps promote muscle growth and strength, which is important for your GSD to perform training and exercise.
- It assists in the breaking down of fats and carbs, so your dog can digest and absorb nutrients better.
- Healthy doses of Potassium boosts the brain function of your GSD, so your GSD will be able to learn and remember better.
- A daily dose of Potassium contributes to a higher bone density and healthy teeth in German Shepherds.
- Potassium also a necessary nutrient to keep the heart, kidney and liver functioning normally.
A loss of Potassium can be caused by certain health conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, malnutrition, or irritable bowel disease, which lead to a medical condition known as Hypokalemia, or low Potassium level. Aside from getting ill, the most common cause of Hypokalemia is too much of a loss of Potassium in the urine or intestines.
This condition is also common in older GSDs suffering from a chronic kidney condition or kidney failure. Since Potassium is eliminated in the urine, older GSDs with kidney failure might not be able to absorb it from their stomach or intestines resulting in Hypokalemia.
A deficiency of Potassium may result in weakness, lack of energy, irregular heartbeat, stomach problems, and muscle cramps.
For healthy dogs without an underlying medical condition, a quality dry kibble or a raw diet incorporates fruits and vegetables rich in Potassium such as banana is usually enough to get all the Potassium he needs without adding extra supplements.
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that acts as an oxygen interceptor and a catalyst of free radicals. It also plays a role in maintaining the proper function of the immune system by enhancing white blood cell function and activity.
According to a recent study, vitamin C has the ability to reduce the risk of cancer, tooth, and gum disease, and many other health conditions. How? Because it has the ability to increase the blood level of interferon and antibodies. Interferon is a body’s natural antiviral and anticancer compound, while antibodies are proteins that can bind and destroy bacteria, viruses, and toxins.
Stress is the most common cause of vitamin C deficiency in dogs whether it’s physical stress or emotional stress. Emotional stress can be caused by many things such as moving, weaning, or intense training. While physical stress is often seen in German Shepherds who have exercised to their limits (German Shepherds that are used for herding, hunting, tracking, competing, etc). Other forms of physical stress include illness, injuries, growth, lactation, ear-cropping, and tail-docking.
Healthy dogs can produce their own vitamin C needs in their liver, therefore you don’t need to add extra vitamin C supplements to their diet. However, for German Shepherds with injuries or illness, supplementing vitamin C in their diet can help him recover faster.
How much vitamin C that dogs need will vary depending on the size, weight, breeds, and medical conditions. However, for most dogs, 100 to 500 mg per day is enough to fulfill their daily needs. It’s not recommended to give more than that amount because too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea and stomach upset.
Just like vitamin C, vitamin E is also a great source of antioxidants. It helps to protect dogs’ bodies from free radicals that can damage cell membranes, proteins, DNA and other parts of the body.
Vitamin E can provide a wide range of health benefits.
- Vitamin E can help promote a healthy, lustrous coat. A lack of vitamin E can cause your dog to become vulnerable to a wide range of skin problems including dry skin, flea allergy, dandruff, rashes, skin lesions, and skin infections. Vitamin E is often added in dog shampoo because of its anti-inflammatory feature.
- As an antioxidant, it has an ability to protect the immune system from the damage from free radicals thus strengthening the immune system response against infection.
- Vitamin E is good for the eyes’ health. It can reduce the risk of developing cataracts and poor eyesight.
- Vitamin E deficiency has been linked to fertility problems in both male and female dogs.
- Getting adequate amounts is important for better muscle function which is important for working dogs like German Shepherds.
- Vitamin E can help the blood to circulate properly through the blood vessels thus improving the cardiovascular health of your dog.
Although it’s quite rare, vitamin E deficiency can cause poor vision, an impaired immune system, reproductive issues, and neurologic dysfunction. Once again, how much vitamin E that dogs need will vary depending on several factors. But generally speaking, most dogs need a daily intake of 400 IU to 800 IU of vitamin E.
Vitamin E can naturally be found in fruits and vegetables, such as banana, green leafy vegetables, coconut, olive, sunflower oils, and others. Giving your dog additional vitamin E supplement may not be necessary if you feed your dog with high-quality dog food. Some commercially-available dog foods have included the ingredients listed before in their formula. However, dogs with medical conditions such as dry or itchy skin could benefit from extra vitamin E supplements in their diet.
Vitamin B6 plays a high role in dogs’ health, primarily in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. It promotes red cell production that is needed for normal brain function. It is also used for antibody formations and immune system functioning. According to a study, vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked to a risk of heart disease. Vitamin B6 is also beneficial for dogs with insulin resistance, diabetes, or crushing disease, giving your dog added vitamin B6 can help him since it works well to stabilize blood sugar level and thyroid hormones.
Vitamin B6 can naturally be found in sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, banana, fish, eggs, meat, spinach, carrot, broccoli, brown rice, whole grains, avocados, soybean, walnuts, lentils, lima beans, wheat, green foods, wheat germ, buckwheat flour, alfalfa, and catnip. Adding one of these ingredients in your dog’s diet is enough for your dog’s daily needs.
Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral found in the dog’s body after Potassium. Magnesium is needed for almost all of the dog’s bodily function. Every time your dog makes a movement, or experiences a heartbeat, or simply thinks about his dinner, magnesium acts as a conduit that facilitates the transfer of energy. Together with sodium, potassium, and calcium, these four minerals support a healthy heart function, muscle movement, nervous system signaling, and dog’s mental and emotional well-being.
Magnesium deficiency has been known to cause muscle weakness, walking abnormalities, muscle pain, heart arrhythmia, improperly triggered reflexes, and lethargy. Magnesium can naturally be found in banana, wheat germ, soybean, whole grains, peanuts, cashews, almonds, quinoa, and edamame.
Considering the impact of potassium and magnesium on a dog’s health, you should regularly include one of those ingredients in your dog’s diet. Some commercially available dog food such as [amazon link=”B00CNTK2L8″ title=”Blue Wildness” /] has included some of those ingredients in their formula which is enough to meet your dog’s daily potassium and magnesium needs.
Fiber is an essential nutrient that supports the proper function of a dog’s digestive system. It’s available in plentiful in plant-based foods like grains, apples, bran, canned pumpkin, brown rice, and vegetables. Aside from maintaining the overall health of a dog’s digestive tract, adding fiber to your dog’s diet also helps with weight management, diarrhea, constipation, and diabetes mellitus. Realizing the importance of fiber, it’s no wonder that this nutrient is present in most commercial dog food.
So to conclude, can your German Shepherd eat bananas? Yes, he can but it should be given in moderation. Having too many bananas is just having too much of a good thing and may result in your dog getting constipation.
By including a banana in your dog’s diet, your dog will get all the benefits listed above. When I have free time, I like to make homemade banana treats for my dog. Somehow, it just makes me feel good when I look at how fast he could gobble the treats. You may want to look at the videos below to find some ideas if you want to make homemade banana treats for your dog. Trust me, there is nothing in this world that will make your dog happier than eating his owner’s homemade treats.