Can Dogs Eat Blackberries?

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Blackberries are sweet, juicy, delicious, packed with vitamins, and can be included in a variety of dishes, but is it appropriate to share this fruit with our canine friends?

The short answer is yes, blackberries are safe for your dog to eat and they may even offer some benefits when fed in small amounts regularly.

The Benefits of Blackberries For Your Dog

Although there are many benefits to eating blackberries for humans, it is fair to mention that not all of these are fully understood when it comes to dogs. Some of the benefits touted, won't be relevant for dogs either. For example, this fruit is known for being a great source of Vitamin C, but dogs produce this naturally and don't usually need any additional supplementation.

Blackberries are a great source of manganese, vitamin K, water, and fiber. Adding fiber to your dog's diet is a great way to promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

They are also low in carbs. fat, and calories. Canine obesity is a major problem for the doggy population and can wreak havoc on your dog's body, especially if they are prone to joint issues like hip dysplasia. Offering low-fat treat options like blackberries can be a great way to help keep their waists trim.

Potential Health Concerns for Dogs Eating Blackberries

A few blackberries here and there can make for a healthy treat for your dogs. However, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, it is best to skip this snack. Too many blackberries can cause GI upset and they are always best introduced gradually and fed in moderation. 

Also, blackberries naturally contain a small amount of the substitute sweetener Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. While your dog would have to eat a massive quantity of blackberries to be poisoned, you should limit your dog to a small handful of blackberries a day to be safe.

This fruit is also high in sugar and may not be a good choice for diabetic dogs.

You should avoid feeding blackberry jams to your dog since can they contain many additives and are often high in sugars. The artificial sweetener xylitol could also be present.

If your dog experiences any of the following symptoms after eating blackberries, consult with your veterinarian:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Lethargy 

What if Your Dog Eats Wild Blackberries?

Blackberries start blooming in April and May and are ripe and ready to pick in June through August, depending upon where you are located.  Many regions of North America have wild blackberry bushes growing in abundance. If you come across one on a dog walk, it isn't unusual for dogs to try picking them directly from the shrubs.

It isn't uncommon for blackberry shrubs to be sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, in garden or park settings. These chemicals are absorbed into the plant through the leaves and roots and can cause mild to severe health problems if ingested.

For this reason, it is best to prevent your dog from eating wild blackberries and, if they do eat a lot, monitor them for common signs of chemical poisoning. If you are concerned, or you do spot any problematic signs, don't delay in getting in touch with your veterinarian. The ASPCA Poison Helpline can also be a helpful resource.

Warning

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of coordination (trouble walking)
  • Hypersalivation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Seizures

In addition to possible chemicals on wild berries, blackberry bushes are thorny and are frequently inhabited by wasps and mosquitos so more reason to avoid letting your dog forage through them. 

Suggested Ways to Feed Blackberries to Your Dog

As with all fruit, it is important to wash and scrub the outer surface to remove dirt, manure, herbicide, and pesticide residue prior to preparation. Feed blackberries to your dog as a special treat and not part of their regular diet.  Some alternative options for feeding this fruit to your dog include:

  • As Part of a Treat Toy Stuffing: Blackberries can be included as part of a tasty Kong (or other treat toys) stuffing - these are often frozen for an extra challenge. This is a great way to provide mental stimulation for your dog without overfeeding.
  • Frozen: Popping the blackberries in the freezer before feeding them means they will stay fresh until you want to feed them. You'll could have a supply of this fruit for months rather than days. It can even be combined in a healthy frozen fruit or veg popsicle for helping to keep your dog cool on a hot day.
  • Baked: You might want to add some fresh blackberries into a homemade dog treat. There are a lot of wonderful dog-friendly recipes online and you can use a fun cookie cutter shape to make homemade baked cookies.
  • Pureed: You can blend blackberries with other doggy-safe fruit or veg or a little peanut butter (make sure it is the type without xylitol) or plain yogurt to make a dog smoothie. A small bit of this could be poured on the top of your dog's dry kibble to encourage them to eat it if they are fussy or it could be made into a frozen popsicle or kong stuffing.

In summary, blackberries can be given to dogs as an occasional treat but skip the wild berries outside. 

Remember, however, that not all berries are created equal. When it comes to feeding them to your dog, avoid cherries, holly berries, juniper berries, and mistletoe berries. These contain pits and/or toxins that can be health hazards for your dog.

If you have questions or concerns about feeding your dog blackberries, consult a veterinarian