As a pet parent, you want what’s best for your furry friend. Knowing the best activities, foods, and health tips can make a big difference in your pet’s life. It’s natural to want to share your favorite snacks with your dog, especially if you know that snack has health benefits for you.
Can dogs eat blueberries? If you’ve ever wondered whether you can share blueberries with your dog, the answer is yes, dogs can have blueberries. In fact, blueberries are a powerful source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that can help support various aspects of your canine’s health — there’s a reason veterinarians often recommend blueberries as a delicious frozen snack.
This guide takes a closer look at the benefits of blueberries, how to safely offer this superfood fruit to your pet, and how you can make sure they get a balance of nutrition in their diet. Read on to learn more.
Are Blueberries Good For Dogs?
Many pet parents assume their canines only need meat to stay healthy, but this isn't the case. Your furry friends also rely on fruits, vegetables, and grains to provide them with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients their bodies need.
Fruits like blueberries and other types of berries are excellent for your pup — strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries ofter similar benefits. Other fruits like peaches (with the pit far out of reach), pears, oranges, and even mango can make for nutrient-packed snacks. That said, never give grapes or raisins to your pups — they cause far more damage than an upset stomach and warrant an emergency vet visit.
Back to the berry at hand — not only can your furry BFF enjoy blueberries safely, but they can also reap tons of nutritional benefits from this tasty fruit.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of blueberries.
Blueberries & Immune Support
One of the most significant benefits of blueberries involves the immune system. Your dog’s immune system is made up of organs, tissues, hormones, and cells. This complex system relies on vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to continue to function properly.
The immune system is what protects your canine from diseases, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and germs in general. Since dogs encounter bacteria and germs on a regular basis, it’s important to support their immune system’s inner defenses.
Blueberries contain many vitamins that can help support immune health in your pup. For instance, blueberries are full of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.
Blueberries are also packed with antioxidants, compounds that are essential for protecting the mind and body. What gives blueberries their rich antioxidant content? The key is in their rich blue color.
Did you know that naturally colorful foods have antioxidant-based pigments that are behind their powerful antioxidant properties. Think of the rich orange hue in carrots, or the deep red of tomatoes. These colorful foods often pack a powerful nutritional punch as they contain antioxidants that contribute to their pigment.
The specific hue in blueberries is known as the anthocyanin pigment. This rich hue is responsible for the rich antioxidant content in blueberries, making it an excellent treat for your pup.
So, what are antioxidants and why are they so important for our canine companions? Let’s break it down below.
Antioxidants are compounds that help combat molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are harmful compounds that can arise from stress, waste production, pollution, smoke, other environmental stimuli, and even just the regular biological reactions that take place in our bodies. These free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause serious harm when not kept in check by antioxidants, which are also produced by our bodies, but can also come from our diets.
Luckily, fruits like blueberries are packed with antioxidants to fight free radicals, prevent oxidative stress, and keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
Benefits of antioxidants include the following:
- Immune support
- Support for the liver and brain
- Support for skin and coat health
Phytochemicals & Cognitive Health
Blueberries are also packed with phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are a powerful nutrient in fruits and vegetables that support many aspects of health and wellness. Blueberries are especially rich in this plant compound.
Some examples of phytochemicals include flavonoids and phenolic acids. Blueberries contain the flavonoids known as quercetin and myricetin. These help support your dog’s natural defense mechanisms and act as antioxidants in your dog’s body.
Phytochemicals and flavonoids are also powerful compounds for the brain. It can be easy to focus most of your attention on your dog’s physical health, but their cognitive health is important, too. There are many ways to support cognitive function, including interactive games and activities that help stimulate the mind. You can also support your pup’s brain through their diet.
Foods with antioxidants and phytochemicals help support neurological function and cognitive behavior, enriching the mind and body of your canine. Overall, these nutrients help support overall health and wellness for your furry BFF.
Blueberries also contain a range of important minerals for your dog. This includes manganese, which is essential for amino acid metabolism, protein synthesis, and the breakdown of carbohydrates.
Fiber is an essential nutrient for dogs. It helps support regularity, gut support, and healthy blood glucose levels. Fiber also supports healthy digestion, so your dog doesn’t get stopped up. Blueberries are a delicious snack that’s low in calories, making it a great form of fiber for your dog to benefit from.
How To Safely Feed Your Pup Blueberries
Feeding your dog blueberries is an excellent way to support their health and wellness. There are a few different ways you can include blueberries in your dog’s diet. Here’s what you need to know.
As a Snack
If you’re enjoying fresh fruit as a snack, feel free to offer your pup some as a healthy treat. A handful of blueberries on occasion is a great way to support your pup’s health in a low-calorie, low-sugar package.
It’s important to keep the practice of moderation in mind. While your dog can benefit from a snack of whole blueberries on occasion, it’s important not to feed them too much. Too many blueberries can fill them up without giving them the range of nutrients, protein, and other foods they need to thrive.
When giving your dog blueberries as a snack, it’s important to keep it simple. There’s no need to add any extra sweeteners or sugars to blueberries. You may enjoy blueberries and yogurt with granola, but this isn’t the best snack for your dog. Keep it simple by feeding them plain, fresh blueberries.
Similarly, be careful to avoid sharing blueberry foods with your dog. If you have blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, or blueberry yogurt, it’s best not to share this with your pup. These can have other ingredients that will likely do more harm than good to your furry friend — xylitol is a sweetener that can cause a lot of damage, and it’s included in many “sugar-free” recipes.
It’s also important to be careful of choking hazards. If you’re feeding blueberries to a smaller dog breed, consider mashing them up first to prevent your dog from swallowing them whole and choking.
In Homemade Dog Food
Many pet parents like to make homemade dog food. This is a great way to avoid overly-processed dog food brands that use unnatural ingredients, byproducts, and added sugars or sodium in their food. If you’re making homemade dog food, consider adding blueberries.
You can also consider making homemade dog treats with blueberries as a sweet treat for your pup. You can also make a homemade blueberry puree to put on top of your dog’s food. You can even pop a couple blueberries into an ice cube tray, whole or mashed, to freeze them and make a little blueberry popsicle.
Whether you make homemade dog food or buy dog food from the store, you can add a homemade blueberry puree using blueberries and water to add antioxidants and vitamins to your pup’s diet.
In Premade Dog Food
You can also look for fruits like blueberries in premade dog food. It’s important for dogs to get a range of fruits and vegetables in addition to meat and protein. Just like humans, dogs thrive on variety and balance.
While real meat should always be the first ingredient in dog food, our canine companions also need a mixture of whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to stay healthy. When considering different dog foods, always be sure to look for fruits and veggies on the dog food label in order to get the best option for your furry friend.
Best Dog Food With Blueberries
Optimeal® is a natural, premium food that supports health and immunity for many years to come. With fruits like blueberries and cranberries, and a range of vitamins and minerals like vitamins E, C, A, selenium, and zinc, you can keep your pup happy and healthy.
With diverse dog food options made with natural, whole ingredients, you can find the perfect food with fruits, vegetables, and all the other nutrients your pup needs to thrive.