Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries on top of a summer fruit salad are mouthwatering as well as nutritious. If one’s dog sees blueberries and is tempted to eat them, should one feed these tiny fruits to the pooch?
The good news is that the answer is ‘yes’! If dog owners are curious about the reasons and want to confirm this fact, here’s why they can feed their pup blueberries.
Updated: March 7, 2023.
Health Benefits of Blueberries For Dogs
Blueberries are packed with vitamins and minerals and contain an incredible amount of antioxidants for their tiny size. But that is not all! It’s also high in fiber and low in calories and consists of phytonutrients, including anthocyanins. This is an excellent combination that works as a healthy punch for dogs of any age. Here’s what blueberries contain:
This tiny berry contains vitamins A, C, and K that work like magic for dogs’ immune system, reduce inflammation and help proper functioning and quality of coat, skin, nerves, and muscles, and increase bone density.
Blueberries contain important minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus that can play a major role in a dog’s health. They promote bone growth and the body’s ability to utilize vitamins and minerals more efficiently.
Phytochemicals are chemicals that occur in plants. They are also beneficial for humans’ and dogs’ health. Research has found that phytochemicals can fight cancer and decrease inflammation in chronic diseases.
The reason why blueberries are famous as a superfood is probably because of the antioxidants they contain.
For example, polyphenols and vitamin C in blueberries are very important antioxidants.
Antioxidants are an essential ingredient in the diets of humans as well as animals. They fight free radical damage that weakens various body cells, and they slow down the aging process.
An interesting study conducted on sled dogs after heavy exercise showed that adding blueberries to the dogs’ diets reduced their recovery time after strenuous exercise. This can be of great benefit for active dogs whose mobility may increase as they age.
Research has also found that antioxidants slow down the aging process or cognitive dysfunction in senior dogs.
Antioxidants also do an important job of removing toxins from one’s dog’s body. Dogs are in the habit of licking everything that may include chemically treated lawns and floors cleaned with chemical cleansers, and so, are more vulnerable to accumulating toxins. Antioxidants like polyphenols in blueberries fight them and thus reduce the risk of dangerous diseases like cancer, heart disease, and bone disease, among others.
Especially elderly dogs should be given a diet that includes antioxidants like polyphenols, and blueberries can be a great option for this.
Anthocyanins cause the blue-purple color in blueberries. They work together with antioxidants to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer.
Blueberries offer so many health benefits that several dog food manufacturers have included them in their dog food recipes.
Are Blueberries Safe For Dogs?
Yes! Whether given fresh, dried, frozen, or mashed, blueberries are a safe food for dogs most of the time.
A cup of blueberries contains only 84 calories, so they are also a safe treat for diabetic dogs or as a training reward. Plus, they are cholesterol-free and low in protein and fat.
Note: dog owners should check with their vet before offering blueberries or any similar treat to their four-legged friend.
When Can Blueberries Be Bad For Dogs?
Like any other food, blueberries can also be bad for dogs if served in excess. Excessive consumption can cause stomach upset due to the high amount of fiber in them.
Although cavities are rare in dogs, they can occur if the dogs consume too much sugar, even in the form of blueberries eaten in excess.
Also, blueberries can cause choking in small dogs, especially if frozen.
Dog owners should never feed their dogs canned or sugared blueberries or give them blueberry syrup because they all contain a high amount of sugar, preservatives, and sweeteners like xylitol which are dangerous for dogs.
Does Dog Food Contain Blueberries?
As mentioned earlier, some dog food brands do include blueberries in their products to add variety to the pooches’ diets.
However, it should also be noted that the amount of berries added to dog foods is insufficient to provide many nutritional benefits.
How Many Blueberries Are Safe For Dogs?
Just like with any other fruit or vegetable, portion control is important for blueberries too. Treats should form only 10% of a dog’s diet and should be given only occasionally.
For most small dog breeds, ten blueberries are enough. Dogs of large breeds can consume more; however, the owner should keep the proportion of 10% in mind while serving them.
As blueberries are small, a large dog may chow down more of them. They even tend to gulp them without chewing and so can finish them before the owner even realizes they’ve snagged them. This may result in stomach aches and choking problems.
Choking is easier and more common in small dogs if they gulp down the berries or are served frozen berries.
If the dog owners have grown blueberries in their garden, they should keep their dogs away from the bushes as dogs can gobble up the sweet fruits.
Regarding toxicity, the bush on its own is not toxic to dogs, but if it’s sprayed with herbicides or pesticides, the dog can be affected.
Are Dogs Allergic To Blueberries?
Around 10% of dogs may be intolerant or allergic to any new foods, not just blueberries.
Therefore, dog owners should watch their dogs keenly if they show any sneezing, coughing, stomach upset, hives, itchiness, ear inflammation, or chronic gas after eating blueberries for the first time.
If they notice any of these symptoms, they should stop serving berries to their dog and consult their vet.
Can Dogs Eat Blueberry Muffins or Other Foods Containing Blueberries?
Feeding blueberry muffins prepared for human consumption to a dog is not a good idea because they have certain ingredients that can lead to an upset stomach and food intolerances - not to mention all the simple carbs, sugars included, that can be found in blueberry muffins.
For this same reason, dog owners should avoid giving their dog foods like blueberry pancakes, blueberry yogurt, blueberry pie, or any food containing artificial blueberry flavoring.
Even sugar-free blueberry muffins should not be given to dogs because they contain sweeteners like xylitol which can be deadly for dogs.
How To Give Blueberries To Dogs
As such, dogs love blueberries as they are. However, dog owners should first talk to their vet about feeding them to their doggo.
Vets are the best person to instruct on whether blueberries can be given to one’s dog in the first place, if they can be given, how many, and what quantity can be good or adversely affect the fido’s health.
Once dog owners get their vet’s permission to feed their pets tasty berries, they can bring variations in them to make them more interesting for their furry child.
Most often, blueberries are served to dogs in their raw form. The berries are soft and don’t carry a huge risk of choking. While serving them raw to dogs, the owner should wash them with water and check for any moldy berries.
Choosing only organic berries is the best idea to avoid the consumption of chemicals.
Mashing blueberries and adding them to the dogs’ food bowls is an excellent idea. One can even mix them with other berries like blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries to make them even healthier - just be careful about the total amount of berries.
Frozen blueberries are slightly unsafe because they carry the risk of choking, particularly in small-breed dogs.
But one can melt and mash them before serving. Larger dogs need to be supervised while they eat berries to avoid choking.
Serving only one or two at a time is recommended if the berries are frozen.
Dogs also love pureed berries added to coconut water or yogurt. In summer, it’s a good idea to add this mixture to ice cube trays and freeze them. This can be a cool snack for doggies on hot summer days.
Adding to Smoothies
Adding blueberries to smoothies together with other fruits and vegetables and offering these smoothies to dogs is also a good idea. Other ingredients in the smoothies may be bananas, cranberries, raspberries, watermelon, blackberries, etc.
These are only a few ideas on how dog owners can feed their pets blueberries. But the internet has so many dog-friendly recipes made with blueberries.
Homegrown and dried (using, for example, a dehydrator) blueberries can also be used as a healthy treat.
Commercial dried blueberries are often loaded with preservatives and sugars, and as such, should not be given to the dog.
Playtime With Blueberries
As it’s now clear that dog owners can feed blueberries to their pups, they can add fun to the treat. Their four-legged friends can have a great playtime with the berries as the owners can toss them in the air and teach their pooch to catch them.
It’s sheer joy for any dog owner to share healthy and tasty food like blueberries with their doggo. The only precaution they should take is to feed them in moderation. That way, the dog will remain physically and mentally happy and healthy, active and motivated!