Blueberries are found everywhere - in jellies, jams, muffins, pies, snacks, pancakes, and even breakfast cereals. But have you seen blueberries in dog food?
Don’t get surprised if you do because blueberries are actually safe and healthy for a dog. It’s often called the antioxidant superfood that’s also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
But if you’re wondering how these nutrients work together to benefit your dog, then continue reading. In this article, we have discussed the many health benefits of feeding blueberries to your dog and some fun ways in which you can add this fruit to your dog’s diet.
6 Health Benefits of Blueberries For a Dog
Let’s first start by exploring 6 amazing health benefits of feeding blueberries to your dog:
1. Less Calories More Vitamins
Blueberries are low-calorie and vitamin-rich fruits. You can feed these to your dog without worrying about weight gain or obesity.
The vitamin break-down of a blueberry is as followed:
Vitamin A: This is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s essential for nearly every organ system in your dog’s body. It promotes healthy vision, skin, and fur and even supports the dog’s immune system by assisting in making white blood cells. These cells help the body fight against foreign invaders and cellular irregularities thus preventing infections.
Vitamin K: This vitamin is known to support healthy bone structure, heart health, and glucose metabolism in a dog’s body. It also supports calcium accumulation in the bones and prevents it from depositing in the soft tissues, heart, arteries, and other muscles.
Another very important function of this vitamin is that it supports healthy blood clotting or coagulation. This process prevents excessive blood loss. Without this ability, even the smallest wounds on your dog’s body would continue to bleed and can become fatal.
Vitamin C: This is an antioxidant that’s synthesized in a dog’s liver. But various environmental factors and stress can cause vitamin C depletion.
You need to ensure your dog meets their daily vitamin C requirement as it’s vital for their healthy growth. It helps fight inflammation and supports the immune system by increasing the activity of the white cells and the production of antibodies that protects a dog’s body.
If you have an older dog, vitamin C will help increase their collagen production that’ll benefit their joints and bone health.
Vitamin E: It is also a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps your dog’s body fight against the damage caused by free radicals. It also promotes a healthy gut, cell membranes, and supports eyes and skin health.
2. Antioxidant Powerhouse
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, E, polyphenols, anthocyanidins, etc. These help a dog’s body fight oxidation or damage caused by free radicals.
Now although free radicals are a natural by-product of metabolism when produced in excess they can cause many health problems including skin allergies, respiratory diseases, cataracts, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, other joint problems, and heart diseases.
The antioxidants in blueberries can prevent all these and help improve cognitive functions in aging dogs.
3. High Fiber to Aid Digestion
Fiber is an essential nutrient in your dog’s diet as it supports the proper functioning of their digestive system. Blueberries contain a high amount of fiber that works to aid digestion and promote bowel regularity.
If your dog often struggles with tummy issues like diarrhea or constipation, adding fiber-rich fruit like blueberries to their diet can be beneficial.
Apart from that, fiber is known to improve your dog’s gut health as it ferments into fatty acids that support the bacteria in your dog’s intestine. These acids prevent the overgrowth of any bad bacteria and protect the gut lining.
But if your dog isn’t used to a fiber-rich diet, feed them small amounts of blueberries first. Eating too much fiber abruptly can increase the chances of vomiting and diarrhea. Consult with a veterinarian to decide how much fiber your dog needs.
4. Manage Urinary Tract Infections
Cranberries are popularly used to prevent UTIs in dogs. But if your dog doesn’t like the sour taste of cranberries, you can instead feed them blueberries.
It prevents bacteria like E.coli from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract of a dog. Thus significantly reducing the chances of your dog getting an infection.
But remember that if your dog already has UTI, you cannot use blueberries as a remedy. They’ll need proper medical treatment by a veterinarian.
5. Supports Overall Growth
Apart from other vitamins, blueberries also contain many essential minerals that play an important role in promoting your dog’s overall health. The complete mineral breakdown of blueberries includes:
Manganese: It helps in the absorption and digestion of protein and carbohydrates to form fatty acids and energy. It’s also essential in the development of strong and healthy ligaments.
Calcium: It contributes to the growth of healthy bones, muscles, and teeth in your dog’s body.
Iron: It’s involved in the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin in your dog’s body. It’s also responsible for transporting oxygen in hemoglobin throughout the body so it can produce energy.
Magnesium: It helps maintain a healthy nerve and muscle function and supports heart health.
Phosphorus: It works with other minerals especially calcium to promote healthy bones and teeth in your dog’s body. It’s also critical in maintaining kidney function.
Zinc: It’s a mineral and an antioxidant that supports healthy skin and coat, strengthens your dog’s immune system, and boosts cognitive function.
Potassium: It’s an electrolyte that’s needed for the transmission of nerve impulses from your dog’s brain to his body. These impulses control every bodily activity including muscle movement and heartbeats. Apart from that, potassium works with sodium to prevent dehydration and regulate the pH of the blood.
6. Provides Hydration
Blueberries consist of 84% water which can be beneficial for your pup, especially during summers. By adding this water-rich fruit you can help keep them hydrated. But it is recommended to always have clean, fresh water available.
How Many Blueberries Can a Dog Eat?
Blueberries should be used as a healthy treat to supplement your dog’s well-balanced diet. Your veterinarian will be able to better guide you on how many blueberries you can safely feed your dog. Ideally, the number will depend on your dog’s breed, age, weight, activity level, and existing health conditions.
But it’s recommended that you follow a 90/10 rule while feeding blueberries to a dog. That means 90% of your dog’s daily calorie intake should come from a healthy well-balanced meal and the remaining 10% from treats like blueberries.
It is important to take the portion size seriously as blueberries are rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Exceeding the nutritional requirements of a dog can cause nutritional imbalance and many health problems like diarrhea, constipation, etc.
Can Puppies Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are safe to eat for a puppy. You can feed them 5-7 blueberries a few times a week. But try to mash it before feeding it as a whole blueberry can be hard to chew and can be a choking hazard.
It’s also important to note that puppies usually have a planned diet that contains all the essential nutrients that support their growth and development. Hence they might be getting all the vitamins and minerals that are present in blueberries from other food supplements.
A few blueberries once in a while will not hurt them but if you wish to feed them blueberries regularly, check with your veterinarian first.
How to Feed Blueberries to a Dog?
Blueberries are a no-hassle fruit as you can easily serve them raw to your dog. They will enjoy the sweet taste of this fruit while getting all the nutrients.
Just make sure to properly wash the blueberries to remove any dust or harmful chemicals sprayed on top.
If you want to try something different then let’s discuss some other popular methods of feeding blueberries to a dog:
1. Frozen Blueberries
You can either freeze some blueberries at home or buy a frozen blueberries pack from the store. But make sure it’s unsweetened and doesn’t contain any additional ingredients or seasonings. These might not be safe for your dog.
You can serve these frozen treats on a hot summer day or use them for some training activities.
2. Mashed Blueberries
If you have a puppy or a small bread dog, you should be careful as a whole blueberry can be a choking hazard. You can instead try mashing the fruit and add it to their food bowl to make sure it’s easy to chew and digest.
You can also freeze mashed blueberries into ice cubes or fill the mashed mixture into a kong to let them enjoy the fruit while having fun.
3. Dried Blueberries
These are safe for a dog and they contain almost the same nutritional value as fresh blueberries. If you choose to feed your dog dried blueberries, buy the pack that’s safe for dogs and doesn’t contain additional ingredients/seasonings.
4. Blueberry Yogurt
Blueberry yogurt that you buy for yourself may not be safe for your dog. It could contain many other ingredients, seasonings, preservatives, added flavors, and sugar. All of which can be harmful to a dog.
You can either buy blueberry yogurt that’s made for dogs or DIY at home. All you’ll have to do is mash the blueberries and mix them in with dog-safe unsweetened yogurt. Serve it as it is or freeze the mixture in silicone molds to make fun shapes.
Also note that if your dog is lactose intolerant, this isn’t a safe option for them.
5. Blueberry Muffin or Pancakes
Blueberry muffins and pancakes contain a lot of fat that isn’t healthy for a dog. If you are making them for yourself, you’ll probably add many other ingredients like butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, none of which are safe for a dog.
Also, remember that regularly feeding fatty foods to your dog can cause many health issues including obesity and pancreatitis.
If there’s a special occasion like their birthday you can make a blueberry muffin at home using a dog-friendly recipe. But monitor the portion sizes and don’t go overboard.
Are There Any Side Effects of Feeding Blueberries to a Dog?
Blueberries are a safe and healthy fruit for a dog. But you need to take certain precautions while feeding them to ensure your dog gets the maximum benefits without any risks.
1. Introduce Gradually
Every time you introduce a new food to your dog’s diet, do it gradually in small amounts. Start with feeding 1-2 blueberries and monitor your dog’s reaction. If they are reluctant to eat, don’t force them.
2. Buy Organic
If possible, buy organic blueberries as they are free from pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. Also before serving, wash them properly to remove the layer of dirt, germs, manure, or any pesticide residue.
3. Commercial-Dog Food Ingredients
If you buy snacks for your dog from the store, read the ingredients list. Some commercially available dog food brands add blueberries to their product.
If the product you are buying already contains blueberries, you should refrain from feeding more, or consult with your veterinarian.
4. Avoid Artificial Ingredients
Blueberries are healthy for a dog and it’s recommended that you always buy and feed them real blueberries. You might find packed food items that contain artificial blueberry flavors and although the flavoring isn't harmful to a dog, it has no nutritional value.
5. Choking hazard
As also mentioned above, blueberries can be a choking hazard for small breed dogs and puppies. So try mashing or pureeing the blueberries before feeding it to them.
6. High Sugar Content
Just like any other fruit, blueberries also contain natural sugars. If you overfeed them it can lead to many health complications including high sugar levels, tooth decay, upset stomach, etc. To avoid this situation, stick to the recommended portion size and use it as a supplement to a well-balanced diet.
Although it’s rare, your dog can still be allergic to blueberries. When you introduce this fruit to their diet for the first time, monitor their reaction for 24-48 hours. Watch out for any sign of an allergic reaction like excessive licking, scratching, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling on the face, sneezing, inflamed skin, etc.
If you notice any one of these signs, stop feeding and consult a veterinarian immediately.
Final Thoughts: Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. It’s a great source of antioxidants that can protect your dog’s body against various types of illness caused by free radicals. Furthermore, the fiber content of blueberries can support digestion and the vitamins can promote the overall health and wellbeing of your dog.
But remember to avoid overindulgence and serve in moderation. It’s a treat that should never replace your dog’s actual well-balanced diet.
If you still have any doubts, you can talk to your veterinarian before feeding blueberries to your dog.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding blueberries to a dog:
1. Can a dog eat blueberry muffins?
Blueberry muffins made for humans contain many additional ingredients like butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla extract that aren’t safe for a dog. Plus it contains a lot of fat that can cause various health complications including obesity and pancreatitis.
If you want to make a blueberry muffin for a special occasion, try using a dog-friendly recipe.
2. Can a dog eat dried blueberries?
Yes, your dog can eat dried blueberries. It has almost the same nutritional value as of fresh blueberries. But make sure you buy dog-friendly unsweetened dried blueberries. The ones made for human consumption might contain additional ingredients, seasonings, sugar, and flavors that can be harmful to your dog.
3. Can a dog eat fresh blueberries?
Yes, fresh blueberries are a safe and healthy treat for a dog. They contain antioxidants, fibers, vitamins, and minerals that can perfectly supplement your dog’s diet.
4. How many blueberries can a dog eat?
The ideal amount of blueberries your dog can eat will depend on their age, breed, weight, and existing health condition. But since it’s a treat you should follow the 90/10 rule where 90% of your dog’s daily calorie intake comes from a healthy well-balanced meal and the rest 10% from treats like blueberries.
You can consult with a veterinarian to decide on how many blueberries you can feed your dog.
5. Can a dog eat blueberries every day?
It depends on your dog's health conditions and nutritional requirements. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals but these nutrients are most likely available in the commercial dog food that you feed your dog.
A veterinarian will better guide you on how often you should feed blueberries to your dog.
Otherwise, a safe option is to feed blueberries 2-3 days a week only.
6. Can a dog with diabetes eat blueberries?
Blueberries contain natural sugar but it’s less compared to other fruits. Hence you can feed your dog blueberries if they have diabetes.
But it’s always recommended to consult a veterinarian before making changes to the diet of a dog who’s suffering from any health condition.