We’ve all heard blueberries being referred to as a “superfood.” While you may think this is all just marketing hype, these little blue treats really are nature’s gift to us and our dogs. Blueberries are absolutely jam-packed with nutrition and dogs absolutely love them. Try giving your dog some and they’ll thank you for it. In return, you’ll have a happier, healthier dog.
Can Dogs Really Eat Blueberries?
Absolutely! Blueberries are an excellent treat for dogs. As we will see, they are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There is a large amount of research concluding that the various compounds in blueberries have a wide variety of benefits for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds.
Unlike grapes or raisins, which are highly toxic for our furry friends, blueberries are exceptionally safe. Incidentally, raisins/grapes can cause kidney damage or even failure if ingested by pets.
What Are the Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs?
Blueberries are quite possibly the world’s most famous superfood for dogs and humans. But what’s so super about them? Can they possibly live up to the hype? Let’s take a moment to break them down, nutritionally. Blueberries contain the following:
These yellow, orange, and red pigments can boost canine immunological function. Even though blueberries are obviously blue, they do contain beta-carotene, which is a carotenoid. Carotenoids act as free radical (see below) binders and interact with nasty little molecules and bump into and harm cells. By neutralizing these free radicals, carotenoids help to lessen the damage to the body.
This is a kind of indigestible carbohydrate that has various benefits for dogs. These benefits may include weight loss, blood sugar control, and a healthy gastrointestinal system.
Blueberries can provide folate for dogs. Folate is known as folic acid. This B vitamin is crucial for metabolism, cell growth, and healthy cell membranes. Furthermore, a 2001 study indicates that high doses of folic acid may prevent cancers from forming in the gastrointestinal system of certain dogs.
This is a vital antioxidant that can neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. It can also combat cognitive aging, and reduce inflammation. Vitamin C can fight off certain infections like canine distemper complex. Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that it can prevent the development of a bone disease called canine hypertrophic osteodystrophy.
This is a group of fat-soluble antioxidants. They are necessary nutrients. If a dog develops a severe vitamin E deficiency, it may lead to damage to their retinas. They can also develop anemia, or in extreme cases, suffer from muscular dystrophy.
These are a group of fat-soluble vitamins necessary for bone metabolism, blood clotting, and controlling the levels of calcium in the blood. If dogs have severely insufficient amounts of vitamin K in their diet, they may either develop coagulopathy, or an inability for the blood to clot naturally. There are blood factors that rely on vitamin K for specific functions (Factors II, VII, IX and X) . Sadly, this can result in excessive bleeding and/or hemorrhaging.
This is a mineral and electrolyte that plays a vital role in your dog’s body. Potassium helps to control brain function, nerve impulses, heart function, and muscle activity. If your dog’s potassium levels get too low, they may develop hypokalemia.
Dog’s suffering from hypokalemia may exhibit weakness, fatigue, muscle aches, and digestive problems. More serious symptoms may consist of muscle spasms, heart palpitations, or breathing difficulties.
Blueberries can be a good source of manganese for dogs. This compound helps dogs digest carbohydrates and proteins. Manganese also activates enzymes that break down fatty acids in your dog’s diet.
After potassium, this is the second most common positive ion in the mammalian body. It is involved in over 300 different metabolic processes. Some of these processes include nerve function, muscle activity, and regulating blood sugar levels.
Magnesium also contributes to the synthesis of proteins, bone tissue, and DNA. One study concludes that puppies with magnesium-deficient diets suffered from weight loss, hyper-irritability, and convulsions. Another large-scale study of magnesium deficiency showed a host of health defects, including cardiovascular disease.
This is a mineral that is vital for the proper function of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the blood protein that transports oxygen throughout the mammalian body. Iron deficiency results in a condition called anemia, which can cause various problems in dogs. Iron deficiency can lead to red blood cell and bone marrow dysfunction.
This is also known as Vitamin B2. Blueberries are an excellent way to supply your dog with riboflavin. This water-soluble compound is crucial for dogs. It contributes towards proper metabolism, nutrient absorption, and maintaining healthy tissues.
Although extremely uncommon, the dangers of riboflavin deficiency in dogs can be fatal. This condition may result in sudden collapse and death.
This is also known as Vitamin B3. Niacin is a water-soluble compound that is necessary for glucose, fatty acid, and amino acid metabolism. Chronic niacin deficiency in dogs is also known as black-tongue. A deficiency of niacin may cause anorexia, weight loss, bloody diarrhea, and even death.
These are naturally occurring estrogenic hormones found in plants. These hormones are necessary for steroid synthesis, thyroid function, and healthy skin or coat.
Antioxidants in Blueberries
Let’s step aside for a moment and talk about how blueberries provide antioxidants for dogs. You’ve probably heard of antioxidants and how healthy they are. So what’s the deal? What are they exactly?
Well, the cells inside your dog’s body are in many ways similar to our cells. In both cases, they are like tiny energy factories. Converting various compounds into usable energy. Much like regular factories and the pollution they create, our tiny cellular factories also have some negative byproducts. These are called free radicals. They are the unavoidable result of energy metabolism in mammalian cells.
Imagine these free radicals are like tiny bullets, ricocheting inside your dog’s body. Inevitably, they will cause damage to various structures. In fact, the production and proliferation of free radicals are tied to aging and deterioration. Free radicals also contribute to the formation of tumors and cancerous cells.
However, antioxidants can neutralize free radicals. So any food chock full of these beneficial compounds, like blueberries, will help counter the damaging effects of free radicals. When there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, it is known as oxidative stress.
Adding up the Benefits
What an impressive list! It’s astonishing how much good stuff you can find in blueberries. Just imagine that every time you feed your pooch some of these delicious berries, they’re getting all those precious minerals, vitamins, compounds, and antioxidants listed above.
To sum it up, by feeding your dog blueberries you will be providing beneficial nutrients which will help to promote the following:
- Healthy bones
- Low blood pressure
- Healthy blood sugar and decreased risk of diabetes
- Cardiovascular health
- Preventing cancer
- Protecting brain cells (neurons)
- Healthy digestion
- Weight loss
- Healthy skin and coat
So, by all means, get some blueberries for your dog as a healthy, nutrient-rich addition to their diet. They will be begging and barking for more.
How Many Blueberries Can I Give My Dog?
While blueberries are really safe for dogs, it’s best not to overdo it. As we now know they are rich in fiber. Excessive amounts of fiber may cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea in dogs. No one wants to deal with that! It’s best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best amount to feed them. This is especially true if they have health issues that may impede their ability to digest the berries.
However, a good rule of thumb is that all treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. Besides, you don’t want to completely spoil them rotten!
Ways to Give Blueberries to Your Dog
There is a slight risk of a dog choking on a blueberry. Use caution when feeding blueberries to smaller dog breeds or dogs that tend to scarf meals down. If this is the case, you can always chop or mash them up and add it to their food. You can also take a big spoonful of low-fat, unflavored Greek yogurt, add a small handful of blueberries, and mix it in with your dog’s dry food. Chances are your dog will go bonkers for this blueberry recipe!
You can serve the blueberries fresh or frozen to dogs. Alternating between these two forms will keep them interested. Dogs love variety in the texture of their foods. You can also serve them one berry at a time as a kind of treat.
Although, if you really want to kick it up a notch, then you can go with specially-formulated blueberry treats for dogs. These treats have other nutritious and healthy goodies added in. For example, combining blueberries with ingredients like flaxseed, hemp seed powder, and cannabidiol (CBD) oil will supercharge your dog’s immune system. These treats will give your dog a luxurious coat. They can also help protect dogs from inflammation or gastrointestinal distress. You can even use these healthy and delicious treats to train your dog or teach them new tricks. You can learn more here.