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Can dogs eat blueberries?

A bunch of blueberries
Love sharing a snack with your doggo? They love it, too! And after all, it’s almost impossible to resist those begging eyes when there’s food around.
 
Of course, as any dog owner knows, not all ‘people foods’ are good for dogs—no matter what their eyes are saying. In fact, some foods can cause anything from an upset tummy to serious health conditions. Others can be downright dangerous.
 
So, let's talk about foods that dogs can and can't eat. There are lots of 'human' foods out there that harbor great nutritional benefits for both us and dogs.
 
Fruits are a tricky one because of the enormous variety out there. While many fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, they also contain skins, pits, stems, leaves, and other parts that aren’t easy to digest. Some fruits pose risks—especially if they contain stones. Of course, dogs don’t know this!
 
But what about small fruits like blueberries? Blueberries are considered the ‘queen’ of the berry fruit as they have no thorns and have no need for spraying. They’re also a superfood! So, can dogs eat blueberries?
 

Are blueberries good for dogs to eat?

Yes! Blueberries are a fantastic treat for dogs. They’re not only a rich source of nutrients, but they’re sweet and low in calories. What’s more, they’re small and soft, so the risk of choking is very low. Blueberries are so good, many commercial dog treats and meals even contain them!
 

The benefits of giving your dog blueberries

Loaded with nutrients, blueberries are like a mini-multivitamin!
  • Blueberries are rich in antioxidants. Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin. This not only provides their blue color, but also a huge number of health benefits. Anthocyanins help lower blood pressure, support eye health, reduce cancer cell proliferation, prevent diabetes, and reduce inflammation. They fight free radicals that can cause damage to cells.
  • Blueberries support bone health. Blueberries are a great source of all the nutrients required for healthy bone formation. These include iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. These nutrients is important for building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Iron and zinc are particularly crucial for maintaining the strength and elasticity of your dog’s bones and joints, while vitamin K intake can help to improve calcium absorption.
  • Blueberries provide dogs with Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a highly valuable nutrient for dogs of all ages. It’s a potent antioxidant that helps to protect their cells from free radical damage. Vitamin C also helps to boost your dog’s natural production of collagen, which is required for healthy connective tissue and a shiny coat.
  • Blueberries support a dog’s heart health. Blueberries are packed with fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrients: the most beneficial nutrients for a dog’s heart. Fiber is especially important for reducing the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and lowering the risk of heart disease. Vitamin B6 and folate help the body to remove homocysteine, a compound that can damage blood vessels and lead to cardiovascular problems if it accumulates.
  • Blueberries aid digestive function. The rich fiber content of blueberries helps to keep your dog regular by encouraging the movement of waste through his digestive tract. Fiber works as a bulking agent to prevent constipation and support the microbiome of your dog’s intestines.
  • Blueberries can help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is one of the most common contributors to long-term disease, which makes blueberries all the more valuable. The rich flavonoid content has been shown to reduce inflammation in both animals and humans, which can go a long way in preventing serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers.

Can blueberries be bad for dogs?

As with any food, there are a few precautions you should be aware of before giving your dog blueberries. The high fiber content of blueberries is beneficial in small amounts, but too many in one sitting can cause an upset tummy and diarrhea. If you grow blueberries at home in your yard, keep them fenced off so your dog can’t help himself.
 
Remember also that some blueberry-flavored treats don’t contain real blueberries at all. Artificial flavorings are never good for dogs, especially if they also contain chemicals, preservatives, or other manufactured substances. These kinds of products may also contain added sugars which can increase the risk of inflammation and weight gain.
 
While fresh blueberries are nice and soft for easy chewing, frozen blueberries can be hard enough to pose a choking hazard in some dogs. The risk is pretty low, but it’s best to avoid it altogether by only giving your dog fresh or defrosted blueberries.
 

How to prepare blueberries for dogs

It’s always recommended that you talk to your veterinarian before feeding new foods to your dog, no matter how healthy they are. Your vet can advise you on how many blueberries are safe for your particular dog, and any other precautions.
 
A great way to feed your dog blueberries is to mash them up and mix them into his main meal. This is like adding a natural multivitamin to his dinner! You could even blend a few blueberries with other ingredients such as goat’s milk and strawberries to make a yummy dog-friendly smoothie.
 
Of course, you can still give your dog fresh raw blueberries. These actually make excellent treats for dogs in training sessions. Just be sure to choose only organic, pesticide-free blueberries to reduce the risk of harmful contaminants. Wash any fruit before feeding it to your dog.
 
Learn more about foods that dogs can and can't eat

The article was written by Katie Stone on September 28, 2020.

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