Summer's in full swing, and that means it's blueberry season!
Blueberries are as delicious as they are hard to hold onto. When these tasty spheres drop to the floor, many pet owners might wonder: “Wait, can dogs eat blueberries?”
Heck yeah, they can!
These healthy little snacks are considered safe for dogs to eat and are included on almost every list of fruits and vegetables that dogs can eat safely. Just keep the muffins and other blueberry baked goods safely out of your dog's reach.
Let's do a little digging and find out if we should consider blueberries for dogs as a healthy snack. So, sit back, grab a blueberry muffin, and join Volhard Dog Nutrition as we uncover the truth about dogs and blueberries. Canine nutrition is about to get a berry-licious twist!
Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are bite-sized superfoods that act as natural multivitamins for dogs. They are perfectly safe for dogs to eat as long as moderation is observed.
It's not just dogs who indulge in these healthful treats. Research has shown that their wolven counterparts gorge themselves with blueberries whenever they're in season. No need to pass up on a nutrient-rich snack!
Are Blueberries Healthy for Dogs?
Curious about the power-packed punch that blueberries can deliver to your dog's health? With a plethora of nutritional benefits up their sleeves, blueberries are the superhero of superfoods! They're so healthy, we should be asking: Is there anything blueberries CAN'T do for your dog's well-being?
A quick look at blueberries' chemical composition is already enough to appreciate their nutritional worth:
- Vitamin A: Essential for optimal vision, a stronger immune system, and proper growth and development.
- Vitamin C: A natural antioxidant every dog needs for a strong immune system. Blueberries are so rich in vitamin C that one cup covers 25% of our daily recommended amount of this amazing nutrient!
- Vitamin E: The optimal nutrient for improved cell function and fat metabolism.
- Vitamin K: The nutrient responsible for blood clotting. One cup of blueberries delivers 36% of our daily recommended vitamin K intake!
- Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Blueberries are Packed With Antioxidants!
But, by far, the cherry on top of blueberries' impressive nutrient gamut are antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E. In fact, blueberries are synonymous with these essential nutrients, as they boast the highest number of antioxidants of any dog-friendly fruit!
Antioxidants are every cell's superhero defenders, offering protection against damage caused by oxidation (that is, when oxygen interacts with cells). Generally, this perfectly natural process helps the body's cellular structure ward off pathogens and infections. However, oxidation also results in free radicals, a natural byproduct of metabolism.
A healthy body has enough antioxidants at its disposal to balance the free radicals resulting from oxidation. Unfortunately, our dogs are exposed to multiple other sources of free radicals, such as processed dog food, medications, pesticides, yard chemicals, and household cleaning products. Too many of these free radicals, and your dog will be at risk for DNA damage and chronic disease.
The more blueberries your dog enjoys in their diet (in moderation, naturally), the more stable the balance between antioxidants and free radicals will be!
The Health Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs Don't Stop There!
Aside from being the supreme source of antioxidants, blueberries provide a litany of health benefits touching all the main functions of your dog's body!
- Supporting brain health: Various studies conducted on seniors have determined that blueberries support cognitive function and combat brain aging — a healthy way to keep your senior dog's mind sharp!
- Supporting a healthy inflammatory response: Blueberries will help your dog's immune system respond to external threats without resorting to chronic inflammation.
- Supporting proper heart function: A healthy inflammatory response will minimize your dog's risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Supporting gut health: Anthocyanins (the colorful pigment found in various flowers and fruits) go further than providing blueberries with their iconic shade of blue. These antioxidants join the ranks of vitamins A, C, and E to neutralize free radicals and support a healthy immune response
- Managing your dog's weight: The low-sugar content found in blueberries is ideal for dogs with weight management issues. Furthermore, feeding blueberries to your dog slows down the development of fat cells, lending a helping hand in managing obesity.
- Promoting healthy urinary tract function: Blueberries assist dogs with UTIs by preventing harmful bacteria from attaching to the bladder walls.
- Support eye function: The high concentrations of vitamins A and C found in blueberries will help dogs keep their eyes sharp at any age!
- Helping your dog's body recover from exercise: Antioxidants are the key nutrient toward reducing post-exercise oxidative stress. Whether we're talking about couch potatoes taking their daily walk or the hardy sled dogs braving the Iditarod race, a handful of blueberries after are the perfect post-exercise treat!
How to Pick the Healthiest Blueberries for Your Dog
The key to turning blueberries into a healthy treat lies in quality.
Steer clear from blueberries originating from treated crops. Pesticides might keep pests at bay, but at the cost of increasing your dog's oxidative stress. Instead, we always recommend feeding fresh, organic blueberries.
Always inspect the blueberries before feeding them to your dog. If you notice any signs of mold, it's best to discard them altogether.
How to Include Blueberries in Your Dog's Diet
Once you find some nice, healthy blueberries, simply add them to your dog's meal or feed them as delicious treats! If your dog is on a raw diet, you can mix in blueberries and other fruits and vegetables when preparing the meals. Likewise, blueberries are a great nutrient-rich addition even if you feed a processed diet!
How Many Blueberries Should You Feed Your Dog?
A caring dog parent will also know how to avoid feeding too many blueberries to their dogs.
Although deliciously healthy, blueberries cannot make up for all the other nutrients a dog needs for a healthy life. Also, dogs are smart enough to trick parents into feeding them more and more treats — up to the point of displacing actual food!
Blueberries are only supposed to be special treats, never the bulk of your dog's food bowl.
How Can I Feed My Dog Blueberries When They're Not in Season?
Dogs can still enjoy a scrumptious blueberry treat even when they're not in season! Aside from purchasing blueberry supplements, you can:
- Store fresh blueberries in the freezer. Some dogs are finicky about thawed blueberries (they get a bit mushy), so consider feeding them as a frozen treat. The same applies during the hot summer days, when your dog will absolutely adore frozen blueberries!
- Grow blueberries yourself!
Can Dogs Eat Blueberries in Excess?
It's always best to keep an eye on the number of blueberries your furry friend gulps down. Moderation is the safest way to prevent issues such as:
- An upset stomach: Unless they're used to fiber-rich foods, your dog might respond to excess blueberries with an upset tummy.
- Choking hazard: Don't let your puppy wolf down their precious berries or they might choke on them.
- Food sensitivities: You never know how your dog's body will react to blueberries, so start by feeding a few at a time.
Can My Dog Eat Wild Berries?
Erring on the side of caution is the safest approach to wild blueberries. The wilderness is rife with fruits that are seemingly innocuous at first, and only a few of us possess the required foraging knowledge to discern friend from foe. That's why you should set aside a couple of hours, visit an organic-certified farm, and pick the berries yourself
If you're looking to add variety to your dog's berry intake, be sure to stay away from the following options:
- Dogwood berries
- Holly berries
- Juniper berries
- Mistletoe berries
- Nightshade berries
Should I Share My Blueberry Muffin With My Dog?
If your dog's eyeing those leftover blueberry muffins left on the table, better store them somewhere safe. Blueberry muffins are often made with toxic ingredients, such as chocolate, nutmeg, and xylitol, which dogs must always steer clear of. Fortunately, you can make your dog feel included by preparing pup-friendly blueberry muffins!
Are Blueberries Good for Dogs? You Bet They Are!
This is the season to start feeding blueberries to your dog! They are healthy, packed with nutrients, and serve as the most scrumptious treats during the hot summer days. Just remember to feed blueberries from organic-certified farms while observing moderation to reap their innumerable health benefits. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!