Blueberries are a favorite summer fruit full of multiple vitamins and minerals for people. But can dogs eat blueberries as well, and are blueberries for dogs safe to consume? What are the benefits of feeding blueberries to dogs, and are there any side effects? Let's take a closer look.
If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog blueberries,” the answer is YES – dogs can eat blueberries and they are not toxic to dogs. In fact, feeding blueberries to a dog may be a very good idea due to high amount of nutrients and antioxidants they provide.
That said, blueberries for dogs are only good in moderation and as an occasional treat. They should not become a regular snack for a dog, and it's best to use them in homemade dog food meals or as a healthy doggy treat for your canine now and again.
In this article, I'll take a science-based look at how blueberries may affect dogs.
Table of Contents
What are blueberries?
Blueberries are a low calorie, highly nutritious and sweet tasting fruit (botanically, a berry) from the Vaccinium genus. The blueberry is a flowering shrub that produces blue or purple berries which are green at first and darken as they ripen.
Highbush blueberries are domestic to the United States, and lowbush blueberries are considered wild grown. They are more closely related to huckleberries and cranberries than they are related to other popular berries like raspberries or strawberries.
This is what fresh raw blueberries look like:
Blueberries have been known as an incredibly healthy food for centuries. They are considered a superfood for dogs and humans due to the many nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they provide. Below, we'll analyze all of their benefits.
Blueberries for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?
So can dogs eat blueberries just as well as humans can? Yes, absolutely – blueberries are safe for dogs to eat, and they are as nutritious a treat for canines as they are for us. Be sure to feed blueberries in moderation to avoid any digestive upset in your dog.
In fact, one study found that blueberry extract can be healthy and safe to dogs even when mixed with grape extract (1), which was surprising to see since feeding grapes to dogs in general can be considered as a dangerous practice.
Blueberries are chock-full of nutrition, and these below are some of the most essential vitamins and minerals found in blueberries that are good for dogs:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Similar to many other berries we've already covered, blueberries can improve both human and animal health when given in moderation. For example, feeding your dog two of three blueberries as a bi-daily treat can provide some definite health benefits over time.
Some studies have shown that in working dogs in particular (2), feeding blueberries can help with preventing oxidative damage which results from strenuous exercise. The exact same result from blueberries was observed in human clinical trials which I talk about below. It tells us that for athletic dogs in particular, blueberries can be very effective.
Let's take a look at some of the scientific research on blueberries and the proven benefits they have as observed in both human and animal studies. I'll start with some of the most powerful plant compounds found in blueberries:
Quercetin, flavonol that lowers blood pressure and reduces risk of heart disease (3)
Anthocyanins, antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease (4)
Myricetin, flavonol that may reduce risk of diabetes and cancer (5)
The above three plant compounds are responsible for some of the main benefits of blueberries. These, alongside vitamins and minerals in blueberries, in particular Vitamin C (6), Vitamin K1 (7) and Manganese (8) make blueberries one of the best superfoods.
Here's an evidence-based breakdown of how blueberries for dogs and humans are healthy and some very good reasons to add them to your canine's diet in moderate amounts:
- Blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants of all foods (9, 10)
- Blueberries protect cholesterol from damage and improve heart (11)
- Blueberries improve blood pressure (12, 13)
- Blueberries protect against aging and cancer (14)
- Blueberries may prevent heart disease and heart strokes (15)
- Blueberries help fight diabetes (16)
- Blueberries help fight urinary tract inflections (17)
- Blueberries reduce oxidative stress and muscle damage (2, 18)
- Blueberries improve memory and brain function (19, 20)
The above is just a brief breakdown of studies on blueberries and how they affect humans and animals. There are about another 100 papers I was able to locate on the positive effects of blueberries, but I'm not going to bore you with those.
As you can see, there's a very good reason to consume blueberries yourself, and it's likely that since blueberries for dogs are safe and non-toxic, it could be a good addition to your dog's diet. Note that only some of the studies are done with dogs, while majority of observed health benefits of blueberries were from human clinical trials.
Can dogs drink blueberry juice?
Since blueberry juice is basically blueberries in liquid form – a blueberry extract – it's safe to assume that dogs can drink blueberry juice with no issues, provided that only a small amount is given at a time, and it's not part of your dog's regular diet.
While blueberry juice will have many of the health benefits of whole blueberries for dogs, it will also lack in others, in particular – fiber. Fiber is important for many aspects in dog's body and especially when consuming sweet fruit like a blueberry high in natural sugars.
Needless to say, it's best not to give your dog any type of artificial or processed blueberry juices. If you were to give a little bit, make sure it's natural and freshly squeezed.
Berries for dogs
We have previously covered several other types of berries for dogs, all of which are safe and healthy for canines to consume in moderate amounts. The same applies to blueberries, as studies clearly show some immensely huge benefits they can provide.
The four main types of berries for dogs to eat are:
Adding any or all of the above berries into your dog's diet or giving them as an occasional treat can boost your canine's health and overall well-being. Now, let's take a closer look at the specific health benefits of blueberries for dogs and where they come from.
10 Potential Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs
We've already established a clear-cut answer to the question, “can I feed blueberries to my dog,” and since blueberries are non-toxic and safe for dogs, it may be a good idea to start giving them to your canine now and again in small to moderate amounts.
Here are the ten potential health benefits of feeding blueberries to dogs:
1. The high antioxidant content in blueberries helps fight aging and cancer.
Blueberries are believed to have the highest antioxidant capacity of all vegetables and fruits on the planet, as the above mentioned studies have shown.
These antioxidants prevent DNA damage in both humans and animals which is caused by free radicals in the body. DNA damage leads to aging and the development of cancer.
Antioxidants in blueberries help to directly fight the aging process in many different ways, no least of which is by maintaining brain function and improving memory.
2. Silicon in blueberries helps strengthen bone and skin structures.
Silicon is a mineral found in moderate amounts in blueberries that may encourage healthy bone growth and the strengthening of connective tissues in the canine body.
This mineral may help your dog’s joints remain supple and fight off osteoporosis, arthritis as the dog ages. Silicon also promotes healthy growth of hair, nails, and skin.
3. Vitamin A promotes eye health.
The beta-carotene of Vitamin A , which is found in small amounts in blueberries, promotes overall eye health. While blueberries aren't the main source of it, the vitamin is still there.
This vitamin may also improve a dog’s coat and skin. On top of that, Vitamin A works to improve healthy bone growth and other bone related processes in the body.
4. Vitamin B complex helps maintain multiple body functions.
Blueberries contain small amounts of Vitamin B complex, meaning a variety of different B vitamins. These vitamins are responsible for critical cell functions and development, such as the production of energy to cells and the division and regeneration of cells.
Vitamin B complex may also assist in neural regeneration and growth in the canine body, as well as the prevention of bladder stone formation.
5. Blueberries have Vitamin C, an important antioxidant for the body.
Blueberries contain significant amounts of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which may improve many different and important parameters within a dog’s body.
In particular, Vitamin C reduces oxidative cell damage, improves the immune system and may prevent cancer and autoimmune diseases in dogs.
6. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and promotes cell metabolism.
The Vitamin E in blueberries is an antioxidant that also produces the membranes surrounding cells, fat metabolism, and cell respiration.
7. Vitamin K improves a dog’s blood and liver health.
Blueberries have Vitamin K in them which has a significant impact on your dog’s body.
Vitamin K may improve blood and liver health in dogs, as well as have positive effects on heart and bone diseases in canines.
8. Selenium encourages the development of a healthy immune system.
Alongside Vitamin C in blueberries, selenium may also be vital to the formation of a healthy immune system in your dog. This benefit also extends to the thyroid gland.
Additionally, selenium has been found to help with joint health, improved skin and coat conditions, and in the prevention of cancers in human clinical trials.
9. Zinc is necessary for proper metabolic body processes.
Zinc found in small amounts in blueberries is crucial to the immune system as a whole, and also the production of many vital hormones. It plays a key role in the synthesis of DNA and the replication of DNA and RNA.
Zinc also promotes healthy eyesight, strong hair, skin, and nails as well as improves brain function and memory. It is vital to skeletal structure and collagen synthesis.
10. Iron is key to development of hemoglobin and enzyme functions.
Blueberries provide iron, a crucial chemical element that is necessary for the body to survive. Iron creates hemoglobin and institutes proper enzyme function.
“So, can I give my dog blueberries?”
With all the above, it's clear that yes – you can give your dog blueberries as an occasional treat, and it would be a good idea to keep blueberries in your dog's diet.
Blueberries make a very healthy snack for your dog when given in small amounts. It's best to give them a few times a week and observe your dog and how he reacts to it.
Fresh, natural, whole blueberries that have been thoroughly washed are the best choice for the dog over blueberry juice, dried blueberries and especially anything processed.
The Bottom Line: Blueberries are not only safe for dogs but they are a nutritional powerhouse of a snack that provides your dog with whole body health.
1 Potential Side Effects of Blueberries for Dogs
Blueberries are one of the few berries that have been studied and tested with dogs, and have been shown to be safe and even improve their health. Feeding blueberries to dogs have no side effects, provided that you do so in moderation and monitor your canine.
However, when giving too many blueberries for dogs, there's one potential adverse effect:
1. Gastrointestinal issues in dogs.
Feeding an excess of blueberries to your dog may upset his stomach, causing either constipation or diarrhea due to high amount of natural sugars in blueberries.
Dogs with sensitive stomachs are more prone to develop gastrointestinal discomfort and irritability, which is why it's not recommended to feed blueberries to these dogs.
Can My Dog Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are scientifically proven to be an extremely highly nutritious treat with the highest amount of antioxidants of all foods on the planet.
They provide tons of benefits for the overall body and brain health, from stronger bones to a tougher immune system to preventative care against disease and cancer.
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