Yes, dogs can eat blueberries, but as with everything else, only feed these berries in moderation to avoid adverse effects. When fed properly, blueberries can be very beneficial to your dog's well-being.
Blueberries are Nutritious
Veterinarians and canine nutritionists have determined that, in moderation, blueberries are safe for dogs. Blueberries are often included in commercial dog food and treats. They are low in fat and high in vitamin C and fiber. While no conclusive studies have confirmed that blueberries are actually beneficial for dogs, some studies have shown positive effects of feeding dogs blueberries.
Blueberries contain phytochemicals, which are biologically active compounds produced by plants. There are several different kinds of these compounds in blueberries. Phytochemicals act as antioxidants in the system, helping to protect cells against free radicals that cause cell damage. For example, these compounds may help reduce cognitive dysfunction in aging canines. Blueberries have also been shown to have cancer-fighting benefits in humans, which may extend to dogs.
One study was conducted in 2006 by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and published by the National Institutes of Health. In the study, sled dogs were fed blueberries as a dietary supplement while exercising. The results showed that the sled dogs had increased levels of antioxidants in the blood. This may have a positive effect on your pet, offering protection against conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
How Many Blueberries Can Your Dog Have?
These berries should be considered an occasional treat, not a daily supplement. The amount depends on the body weight of your pet. However, 10 blueberries or less should be fine for all but the smallest dog. If a dog eats too many blueberries, the result may be gastric upset and diarrhea.
Be watchful for a reaction the first time you give them to your dog. If your pet has any history of stomach upset or digestive problems, you should not give your dog blueberries without talking with your veterinarian first. If you are confused about how much to give your dog, check with your vet for guidance.
How to Prepare Blueberries
You want to ensure that the blueberries you give your dog are clean and fresh. Don't feed old or moldy blueberries to your dog. If you wouldn't eat them, neither should your dog.
Offering washed, raw berries is the best way to give your dog this fruit. Many owners offer their pets frozen blueberries as a crunchy treat, which is fine, as long as you follow the same guidelines and don't overfeed.
Of course, your dog may have a mind of their own and eat a few raw blueberries off a bush. That's acceptable, although your dog really shouldn't eat something unless you have given it to them.
Avoid Blueberry Pancakes and Muffins
Do not feed blueberries that are included in human food, such as pancakes, muffins, or pie. The problem is not the berries; it is the high sugar and fat content of these sweet treats. Too much sugar is not good for dogs, so they should not have human food containing high levels of sugar. Instead of those sugary treats, try making your own blueberry dog treat.
Consult Your Veterinarian with Concerns
Are blueberries safe for dogs? The answer is basically yes, dogs can eat blueberries, but only in small amounts. If you have any concern about what to feed your dog, consult with your vet. In moderation, blueberries may have health benefits for dogs, and might help you keep your dog healthy and happy for a long time.