Blueberries have gained popularity in recent years as a superfood. Being high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this popular berry is a delicious and healthy snack for people. Can they be safely shared with your dog, though? For the most part, yes. Although there are things to watch out for if you want to share your blueberries with your best friend.
Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs
Blueberries are known to be nutrient-dense and low in calories. They are high in Vitamins A, C, and K.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin for dogs. "Essential" means your dog requires it in their daily diet. It is utilized in the health and function of your dog's skin, coat, muscles, and even their nerves.
Vitamin C, in addition to boosting your dog's immune system, helps to rid their body of free radicals. Free radicals, simply put, are molecules that have unpaired electrons. The problem with them is that they will snatch an electron from other cells, causing tissue damage that can then lead to inflammation and even cognitive dysfunction. A boost in Vitamin C can not only help your older dog's arthritic joints and keep their mind sharp, but it can also help dogs of all ages that may suffer from an inflammatory illness.
Vitamin K helps your dog's clotting factors to function properly, minimizing bleeding.
These berries are packed with minerals including calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals are essential in bone growth.
This fruit may be a beneficial treat for large breed puppies that are prone to an orthopaedic condition known as panosteitis, sometimes called growing pains.
Blueberries are also high in something called phytochemicals. These compounds are only found in plants and are typically produced by them to ward off any fungal, bacterial, or even viral organisms. The phytochemicals in blueberries are known to be anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting in people and pets.
There are lots of beneficial antioxidants in blueberries. In fact, they are known to have the highest concentration of these in all berries, even higher than acai berries. Antioxidants, similar to Vitamin C, help to fight off free radicals.
Finally, blueberries are rich in fiber, which can help your dog feel more full and keep things moving in their GI tract.
Potential Health Concerns with Blueberries
Blueberries are small, making them a convenient training treat (especially when frozen). They can still range in size, though. Depending on how big they are and how small your dog is, they may pose a choking hazard. If you have a smaller breed dog, only feed blueberries when you can observe them. You can also feed 'wild' blueberries as these tend to be smaller than 'farmed' blueberries.
If your dog happens to gorge themselves on blueberries they may have some gastrointestinal upset. Too much fiber is not always a good thing. Since blueberries are already high in fiber, if your dog eats a large amount of them in one sitting they may have diarrhea and their abdomen might be tender to the touch.
Blueberries are also used a lot in some pre-packaged human foods. Processed, pre-packaged foods are not always the healthiest option for people and that also holds true for our dogs. Pre-packaged foods contain preservatives and added sugars, both of which can cause GI upset and other problems for your dog.
Other Ways to Feed Blueberries to Your Dog
There are other ways for your dog to enjoy blueberries besides fresh, raw berries or fresh, frozen berries.
Some brands are starting to incorporate blueberries into their dog food and treats. You can also find recipes online for homemade dog treats that use blueberries.
If you're concerned about your little dog choking on a berry, you can mash the berries and feed them as a topper on their food. You can even treat your dog to some DIY fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. Simply mix mashed blueberries and plain yogurt together as a treat or a food topper. Alternatively, you can feed your dog another pup-friendly fruit, such as apple, banana, cantaloupe, or seedless watermelon.
Although they can be a safe and healthy snack for you and for your dog, some dogs may be allergic to them. As with any new food, always check with your veterinarian before feeding to your dog and introduce to their diet gradually.