My dog is very keen to try eating anything once. He’s also super motivated by novelty, and extra interested in previously unseen foodstuffs. So finding new snacks for him to try is a fun way of enriching his daily life. If you’re in the same boat, perhaps you’ve considered whether rambutan is a safe option. Can dogs eat rambutan, or is this fruit best saved for yourself? Well, dogs can eat rambutan flesh, but it’s important not to give them the whole fruit. Here’s why.
What is rambutan?
There’s a good chance that if you’re not sure whether your dog can have rambutan, it’s because you’re not very familiar with this fruit at all, but it’s listed as an ingredient in something else. Which is understandable, because this fruit isn’t widely known outside of the tropical countries it grows in. This is largely because they will only ripen whilst they are still on their tree, and once ripe they only have a very short shelf life. In other words, fresh rambutan don’t travel well. So in North America or Europe you’re more likely to find them canned or turned into jelly, either on their own or in a mix with other tropical fruits.
Freshly harvested rambutan look very similar to the closely related lychee, but with long soft spines on their skin rather than rough little bumps. Their skin is either red or yellow, but the flesh inside is white, and like a lychee they have a small stone at their center. Their flesh is sweet and aromatic – its smell has notes of rose, vanilla, and honey. Rambutan is most often used in curries, drinks, desserts and jellies, or as a snacking fruit.
Can dogs eat rambutan?
Dogs can eat the flesh of rambutan fruits, but you should avoid giving them the skin, and the stone can be toxic to them. Here’s more information on each of those three parts in turn:
Like many fruits, rambutan flesh consists mostly of water, sugar and fiber, with a low concentration of volatile organic compounds that are responsible for their flavor. The flesh is safe for dogs to eat.
Rambutan skin is non-toxic to dogs, but its unusual texture makes it a choking hazard. Since it is tough and indigestible, it can also cause intestinal blockages.
The seeds, or stones, in rambutan fruit are a choking hazard. They also contain saponin, which can be toxic to dogs. Symptoms of saponin poisoning include
- Loss of appetite
It’s not currently known exactly how saponins cause these problems, but it’s thought they irritate the lining of their digestive tract.
Is rambutan good for dogs?
Rambutan fruit mostly consists of water and sugar. It contains a small amount of fiber, which is helpful for healthy digestion. Like many fruits, it is rich in vitamin C, and it also contains traces of other useful minerals, like copper and manganese.
Since the beginnings of domestication, dogs have adapted to digest a more omnivorous diet than their wild ancestors. However, fruit snacks should still only make up a small proportion of what they eat. In order to stay healthy, at least 90% of their daily calories should come from a nutritionally complete diet – be that a store bought kibble or canned food, or a homemade raw diet agreed with your veterinarian. The remaining 10% can include some fruits, but bear in mind that fruit isn’t as nutritionally important to dogs as it is to us. For example, dogs can make their own vitamin C – they don’t need to get it from their diet like we do!
Do dogs like rambutan?
Dogs do have some taste receptors for fruity-sweet flavors like rambutan, which means your pooch may enjoy eating it. How much they like it comes down to individual preference though. Some dogs (I’m looking at you Labradors!) are hardly discerning about what they will eat at all, whilst others have a strong preference for meaty and savory flavors. If your dog hoovers up rambutan, but your neighbor’s dog spurns it, that’s nothing to worry about.
Incidentally, the saponins in rambutan stones give them an unpleasant bitter taste if they are chewed. However, it’s not safe to rely on this putting your dog off eating them (especially if your dog is a gulper not a chewer) so alway remove the stones and serve the flesh only.
Is rambutan safe for dogs?
Rambutan flesh is safe for dogs to eat in moderation as an occasional treat, but you should peel the fruit and remove the stone before serving. Don’t offer your dog whole rambutan fruits, and if they do get hold of some, ask your vet for advice.
If your pup does enjoy fruity snacks, remember that the sugar in them can accelerate tooth decay, so don’t forget to brush!
Can rambutan cause bloat?
If you’re a gardener as well as a dog owner, the mention of saponins might have made your ears prick up. Saponins mixed vigorously with water form a foamy lather. In fact, saponin rich plants like soapwort were traditionally used to make (you guessed it) soap. Another family of saponin containing plants are hostas, and there’s a long standing myth that eating hostas can cause bloat in dogs, because the saponins in the leaves will foam up in their bellies.
However, this won’t happen. The saponins in plants doesn’t bubble up in the digestive system. But, your dog is still likely to get sick with the other symptoms of saponin poisoning.
Can dogs eat rambutan – summary
The flesh of rambutan fruit is a safe occasional treat for dogs. It doesn’t offer them much in the way of nutritional value, but if they enjoy it there is no harm in consuming small quantities. Always remove the stone and skin before offering it to them though, as these can make them sick.
Has your dog already tried rambutan? What did they think of it? Let us know in the comments box down below!
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa’s online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website