As a dog owner, it's natural to have concerns about your pet's diet. You want your dog to eat well so they can be healthy and strong. However, you also want them to enjoy the food they eat and have variety, so they don't get bored.
You might be considering adding fruits or other human foods to your dog's diet to keep things interesting. But is this safe?
You should always check with your veterinarian before introducing human foods to your pet's diet. Some fruits, such as grapes and raisins, are definitely harmful to dogs, as they can cause kidney failure.
But what about blueberries? Can your dog safely reap the benefits of this nutrient-rich superfood? Should any precautions be taken when giving blueberries to your dog?
Read on to learn all you need to know about incorporating this nutritious berry into your dog's regular diet.
Can Dogs Eat Blueberries Safely?
Yes, indeed they can! Blueberries do not contain anything harmful or toxic to dogs.
Many dog food manufacturers use blueberries as an ingredient in their kibble mixes.
However, there are some things to watch out for when feeding blueberries to your dog:
Keep Allergies in Mind
For one thing, dogs can sometimes be allergic to new foods. So after you begin introducing blueberries into their diet, keep an eye out to see if they have an allergic reaction. If this is the case, speak to your veterinarian and consider other dietary options.
Even though they are not toxic to dogs, blueberries do present a potential choking hazard due to their small size.
Dogs tend to eat without chewing, which means that the likelihood of them choking on small foods is fairly high.
Frozen blueberries can present a significant choking hazard, especially to small dogs, since they are difficult to chew. Fresh blueberries are a safer option, or the frozen ones can be thawed out and mashed to reduce the risk.
This fruit's small size also means that dogs can eat a large amount of them very quickly. This not only creates a choking hazard but can also lead to stomach aches. Be sure to supervise your dog and moderate their diet.
Avoid Complex Foods
Do not feed your pet baked goods or prepared humans foods that contain blueberries, or any artificially flavored blueberry products, as these are usually harmful to dogs.
The Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs
Antioxidants for an Immune System Boost
Blueberries have more antioxidants than any other fruit. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals, which cause damage to cells. A dog's immune system does not fight against free radicals on their own—this has to be managed through diet.
Antioxidants also help to reduce cognitive dysfunction and other negative effects of aging and can improve mobility. They only come from plant-based sources and so won't be present in the diet of an animal that eats only meat.
Vitamins and Minerals for a Healthy Body
Blueberries are also packed with vitamins, such as vitamin C. Diets high in vitamin C can help your dog's immune system, muscles, nerves, skin, and coat and can increase their bone density.
If your dog cannot eat blueberries, another way to make sure that they get enough vitamins and minerals in their diet is to give them a supplement, such as the Biopel™ Plus Dietary Supplement from Innovet.
How Many Blueberries Can a Dog Have in a Day?
Like other fruits and vegetables, you should consider blueberries as a treat for your pet rather than a dietary staple. As such, they should make up only a small portion of the overall diet.
How Many Berries are Appropriate for Your Pet?
As a rule, if your pet is fed primarily fresh food, blueberries should make up 5% of the overall diet. If your pet eats kibble, then this can increase to 10%.
When feeding blueberries to your pets as a treat, small dogs can have about ten berries in a day. Larger breeds can have slightly more.
Don't Overfeed Them!
Another thing to be mindful of is that blueberries are very high in fiber. This is wonderful in small doses, but an excess of fiber in your pet's diet can lead to gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. Remember that your pet should only eat this fruit in moderation.
How to Feed Your Dog Blueberries
Your pet can enjoy blueberries in a variety of different ways. The safest and easiest way to serve them would be fresh and raw. The fruit will be soft and chewable, so there will be no choking hazard.
Preparing Your Berries
Be sure to rinse the berries thoroughly in water to clean them before serving them to your pet. This can clean off any dirt and pesticides left on the surface. It is also a good idea to check them for mold, which could make your pet sick.
Serving the berries frozen is another viable option.
However, as previously discussed, this can create a choking risk.
When feeding your pet frozen berries, be sure to keep them under close supervision, so you will be present if they start to choke.
It is also a good idea to only feed them a couple of frozen berries at a time.
If the only blueberries you have are frozen and you don't want to worry about the hazards, another option is to thaw them out and mash them. This makes them quite a bit safer and easier to chew.
Mashed berries, starting from fresh or frozen, can always be added to your pet's kibble or fresh food for a healthy boost of minerals.
Blueberries are not only safe for dogs, but they can actually be really good for them in moderation.
However you choose to serve your berries, your pet is sure to love them. Experiment with different methods and see what works for you, but always remember that moderation is paramount!