by Savannah Welna,Dogly Nutrition Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Blueberries are a dark pigmented berry that are not onlysafe for dogs, but can provide dogs with numerous benefits.Feeding blueberries requires minimal prep compared to other fruits andveggies and they’re alsolow calorie. This makes for an easy addition to balanceddog food and an all-around greatsuperfood dog treat.
AreBlueberries Safe for Dogs?
Blueberries aresafe for dogs and unlike many other fruits, there is no need to cut away parts of the berry. However, blueberries can be achoking hazard forsmall dogs. This risk can be reduced by blending the fruit.
Whenfeeding blueberries, opt forfresh blueberries. Frozen blueberries are great so long as there are no other added ingredients as frozen blueberries still maintain theirantioxidant potential. Avoid canned berries as those often have harmful added sugars or other ingredients notsafe for dogs.
Blueberries are a great source of fiber. However, each dog has his own unique tolerance to fiber. For that reason, too many blueberries can cause anupset stomach. Other dogs may benefit from improved digestion and elimination because of the increased fiber. Thedigestive system certainly varies from dog to dog.
Dogs tend to have unique taste preferences when it comes to fruits. For this reason, many dogs will refuse to eat blueberries and will even pick them out of their food! If your dog won’t eat blueberries, there are still many other great fruit options to add to yourdog’s diet. If you are looking for another dark pigmented food, skinned cooked beets are also great!
Dog owners should be in tune with how their dog is tolerating any changes to theirdog’s diet. As with anynew food, start small to avoid anygastrointestinal upset. Even foods deemed “dog safe” have the potential to cause an adverse reaction.
Health Benefits Associated with Incorporating Blueberries into YourDog’s Diet
Blueberries arelow calorie and contain manganese, B vitamins, vitamin E,potassium, andmagnesium. While the essential nutrients are great, blueberries stand out because they are rich in non-essential but beneficial components. For example, blueberries containvitamin C. Dogs can synthesizevitamin C. Even thoughvitamin C can be synthesized by dogs, they may not be able to synthesize it at an optimal rate, especially when under stress.Vitamin C is used to help vitamin E stopfree radical damage in the body. This is just one way that blueberries provide ananti-inflammatory effect in the body and therefore support theimmune system of the dog.
Blueberries are known to be anantioxidant powerhouse - and for good reason! Blueberries are unique in that they contain stilbenoid - a polyphenol known for itsantioxidant capacity. This compound may have a higher capacity to act as anantioxidant compared to other compounds in the same family. There are still numerous other phytonutrients found in blueberries which include, but are not limited to, anthocyanins, flavonols, and flavan-3-ols.
Blueberry extracts have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in dogs and unwanted inflammation, overall providing much benefit to the cardiovascular system. Animal studies have also shown benefits ranging from blood sugar stabilization to blood-pressure regulation.
Thephytochemicals found in blueberries and other fruits are often not found inkibble. Most dogs are missing out on their numerous benefits because they are considered “non-essential.” This means processed foods likekibble do not have to provide phytonutrients, even though they likely will benefit the majority of dogs!
How to Feed YourDog Blueberries
If you are unsure how tofeed blueberries, start by feeding a half gram per pound of body weight. For example, a 56-pound dog would get one ounce of blueberries maximum to start. Keep in mind that your dog may not care for the taste of somehuman foods like blueberries, so avoid adding to a batch of food without testing them first.
Blueberries should be fed raw and for maximum digestion, try blending or mashing them.
Consider rotating blueberries with other dog-safe berries such ascranberries, blackberries, or raspberries for anoccasional treat! Each fruit has its own unique set of benefits and rotation with variety is the only way to provide maximum benefit and exposure.
For more nutrition advice, joinmy Community on Dogly where you can ask questions and get 24/7 access to me and other certified experts across nutrition, training & behavior, and wellness so we can all worry less and know we’re setting up our dogs to live long and well.
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