You might think that a dog's diet is limited to boring, strange-sounding dog food found in the pet aisle. In fact, many human foods are perfectly safe for dogs! One of these foods, among other fruits and vegetables, is blueberries. With tiny seeds and big flavour, blueberries are delicious in smoothies and muffins, sprinkled onto your morning porridge, or grabbed by the handful as you run out the door to start your day. But did you know that they are perfectly safe for your dog, too?
Anyone with an inquisitive pup knows that whenever a wrapped is peeled back, or a packet is popped open, the sound of doggy paws is not far behind. As you have enjoyed a few blue pearls of deliciousness, have you ever wondered: "can dogs eat blueberries?". You may be surprised, but the answer is yes! These sweet fruits make great treats that your dog will love.
That's right, these blue and purple berries are full of goodness and make the perfect healthy treat for not only us humans but also our dogs.
You may be thinking, "how can dogs eat blueberries?". We understand your confusion, as not all human foods are good for dogs. Even some healthy fruits can be dangerous for our four-legged friends. However, blueberries are one fruit that dogs can eat. The American Kennel Club not only approve the fruit, but actually encourage that we let dogs eat blueberries.
Blueberries are loved across the world thanks to their health benefits, and have even earned a reputation as a 'superfood'. What makes blueberries good for human and canine health?
Health benefits of blueberries
Blueberries are bursting with the nutrients and vitamins we need to stay healthy. Just some of their benefits are:
They contain a variety of nutrients
These little powerhouses are low in calories but high in nutrients, making them a great treat for your dog's balanced diet. They are low in protein and fat, meaning they won't ruin your dog's dinner! What eating blueberries will do is keep your dog hydrated and provide a balanced diet. This is important to not only prevent illness but to manage pre existing conditions.
Blueberries are high in vitamin K, which promotes a healthy heart.
Also found in the humble blueberry is calcium, which helps to increase bone density.
The presence of vitamin C in blueberries boosts the body's ability to combat free radicals, which we will learn more about below.
Another reason that makes blueberries good for dogs and humans is that they contain potassium, a mineral that helps our nerves and muscles function properly.
They boast antioxidant properties
When compared to other fruits, blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants are superpower compounds that can benefit senior dogs in particular, as they have been shown to reduce cognitive dysfunction and the aging process when incorporated into a dog's daily diet.
Antioxidants are crucial as they protect the body from unstable molecules called free radicals. These molecules can cause cellular and molecular damage. In severe cases, they can contribute to the onset of diseases such as cancer. The antioxidants in blueberries can help delay cellular damage and fight cancer.
They can lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is a huge risk factor for heart disease, but a serving of blueberries each day can bring down blood pressure.
They can help maintain brain function
As they are full of antioxidants, blueberries can help cognition and delay mental aging.
They can help regulate the immune system
Blueberries are bursting with a type of antioxidant called flavonoids that have anti inflammatory properties. They can reduce chronic inflammation and in turn regulate human and canine immune systems.
How many blueberries can I give my dog?
Blueberries may be healthy, but they should still be an occasional treat for your dog. Veterinarians recommend that treats make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily calorie intake.
Too many blueberries can cause an upset stomach.
How should I feed blueberries to my dog?
When it comes to feeding blueberries to your dog, you should opt for organic blueberries that have not been exposed to pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals are sprayed on crops to protect them from pests, diseases, and weeds, but they can make dogs sick. You should also always wash the berries before feeding them to your dog. Most dogs will eat fruits any way they are served, but here are a few ideas to get your dog to eat blueberries.
Fresh blueberries are soft and easy to chew, and so straight from the pack and washed to rinse any debris is the most common way to feed your dog blueberries.
Keeping berries and other fruits fresh can be difficult, so you can take steps to preserve them and make sure you always have a great low calorie treat on hand. To make fresh blueberries last longer, you can freeze them. As well as preventing waste, frozen blueberries will provide your dog with a burst of vitamin C and a refreshing treat on hot summer days.
It is important to note that frozen blueberries can be a choking hazard as they become harder to chew, especially for small dogs. If you do decide to freeze blueberries, you can let them thaw for a few minutes before feeding them to your dog to avoid choking.
You can also mash or blend blueberries and add them to dog food for an easy way to boost your dog's immune system.
Alternatively, add the puree to natural yogurt or coconut water and freeze in ice cube trays. Pop the cold blocks out when needed and treat your dog to some tasty fruit in the summertime.
One of the most exciting special treats that delivers a huge boost of vitamins is a doggy-friendly fruit salad. Add blueberries to a selection of other berries such as strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries, to give your dog a snack that tastes too good to be healthy!
Or, to really test your baking skills, why not make some all-natural, dog-friendly granola bars? They can be made using peanut butter, oats, honey, blueberries, and other safe fruits such as bananas. Ensure that all the ingredients you use are approved by your veterinarian as being safe for dogs - which means no artificial sweeteners such as xylitol.
Can dogs eat blueberry-filled foods?
A batch of delicious blueberry muffins straight from the oven - or picked up at the store - is one of the true joys of life. They contain fruit, so are good for us - right? We may be able to tell ourselves that as we indulge in a coffee and baked treat, but blueberry muffins are not compatible with your dog's diet. Pastries made for human consumption are filled with sugar which is bad for your dog's health. In the worst case, they can be made with artificial sweeteners that are toxic to pups.
To err on the side of caution, we recommend that you don't let your dogs eat blueberry muffins, or other products such as blueberry yogurt, blueberry pie, or pancakes.
If you would like to feed your dogs something more exciting than just a few berries, you can cook up a storm with some pup-approved treat recipes.
How many blueberries can a dog eat in a day?
This leads us on to instances where blueberries can be bad for dogs...
When are blueberries bad for dogs?
The answer to "can dogs eat blueberries?" may be yes, but there are things to bear in mind before you bring blueberries into your dog's diet.
Most pups will chow down on a whole punnet of tasty blueberries given half the chance, but eating this fruit in large quantities can be very dangerous for your dog. You should feed your dog a few blueberries at a time, making sure that they are eating them safely. You must supervise larger dogs to minimise the risk of choking on the small fruits. Too many blueberries at once can cause gastrointestinal upset as they are high in fibre.
When giving blueberries to your dog, remember that they are classed as treats. As such, they should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily calorie intake. To ensure you are feeding your dog the correct amount of blueberries, you should consult your veterinarian. They can advise you on the correct serving size to ensure that the treats are good for your dog's health.
What fruit is bad for dogs?
Us dog owners are reminded to eat most fruits, especially blueberries and other berries, as they are a great source of essential vitamins. It is crucial to do your research before feeding your dog fruit, as not all varieties are suitable treats. According to the American Kennel Club, the following fruits should never be given to dogs as they can cause symptoms ranging from short-term tummy ache to more serious illness.
Cherry plants contain cyanide, a chemical that is toxic to dogs. Never feed your dog cherries to avoid the risk of poisoning.
Grapes have been proven to be extremely toxic to dogs of all breeds, so should never be fed to any dog. Raisins - dried grapes - are also toxic to dogs, so avoid both of these fruits.
Another fruit that is not safe for your dog is tomatoes. The red, ripened fruit of the tomato plant is thought to be safe for dogs, but the green parts of the plants are toxic as they contain a substance called solanine. To be safe, no part of the tomato plant should be fed to dogs.
What to remember
Whenever you introduce new foods to your pup's diet, it is important that you monitor them for any reaction. If your dog exhibits symptoms such as a stomach upset or vomiting, seek medical help.
If you follow the guidance on preparation and serving, dogs can eat blueberries as one of their designated treats.