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Blueberries are one of the most popular ingredients in summer fruit salads. These fruits are noted for their delectable taste and dense nutritional profile.
Blueberries are widely considered a superfood. So, as a dog owner, it’s only natural that you’d want to share these fruits with your canine housemate. But before you do, it would be best to find out if blueberries are really safe and beneficial for dogs. And that brings us back to the question, can dogs eat blueberries?
Dogs can eat blueberries in moderation. Like their botanically related cousins, such as cranberries, huckleberries, lingonberries, bilberries, blueberries are safe and potentially beneficial to dogs.
This article explores the various ways your dog may benefit from blueberries and some of the adverse effects to keep your eyes out for.
What Nutrients Do Blueberries Contain?
Raw blueberries constitute 84% water, 14% carbohydrates, 0.7% protein, and 0.3% fat. These fruits also provide considerable amounts of macronutrients, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Some of the predominant minerals in blueberries include manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc. The fruits also teem in vitamins C, K, and E, as well as the B-complex vitamins B1/thiamine, B2/riboflavin, B3/niacin, B5/pantothenic acid, B6, and B9/folate.
Blueberries also abound in vitamin A equivalents, including beta-carotene and lutein zeaxanthin. Besides, the fruits are loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as anthocyanins.
What Are Some of the Health Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs?
1. Blueberries May Combat Dehydration in Dogs
The blueberry is a juicy fruit noted for its high moisture content. More than 80% of raw blueberry is made up of water.
You probably already know that water is the main nutrient required by all animals. The immediate health benefit of moisture-rich foods like blueberries is the ability to combat dehydration.
2. Blueberries May Fight Constipation in Dogs
Not only might the water content in blueberries help in combating dehydration in dogs. The nutrient can also work in conjunction with dietary fiber (which also happens to be fairly abundant in blueberries) to fight constipation.
Water and fiber produce stool-softening and stool-bulking effects, respectively. This can help accelerate bowel activity, thereby relieving constipation.
3. Blueberries May Rejuvenate Your Dog’s Coat
Blueberries are rich in vitamin C. The vitamin is a powerful antioxidant best known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Research has shown that diets high in vitamin C, such as blueberries, may help rejuvenate the skin. The vitamin mainly improves your dog’s coat by slowing down the natural skin aging process.
4. Blueberries May Have Anti-Diabetic Effects
Blueberries contain anthocyanin, a compound linked to higher glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
Therefore, incorporating these fruits into your dog’s diet may help in guarding against the risks of type 2 diabetes.
5. Blueberries May Promote Stronger Bones
Blueberries are a great source of manganese, calcium, and phosphorus. These minerals play an important role in the formation of bones and teeth.
Foods high in all three minerals, such as blueberries, may increase your dog’s bone density while also cushioning him from osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases.
6. Blueberries May Lower Your Dog’s Blood Pressure
There’s mounting research suggesting that consuming blueberries regularly might improve the symptoms of hypertension. That’s mainly due to the fruits’ high concentration of dietary fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
Now, blood pressure is a major risk factor for various heart and cardiovascular diseases. Examples include coronary thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and even stroke. Therefore, it’s evident that feeding blueberries to your pooch may help reduce the risks of these conditions.
7. Blueberries May Improve Your Dog’s Cognitive Functions
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to age-related mental decline. However, your dog could also suffer pre-mature cognitive dysfunction due to neurodegeneration caused by oxidative stress.
Since blueberries are high in antioxidants, these fruits can slow down the degeneration of your dog’s neurons. This can have overall positive effects on the animal’s cognitive abilities.
What Are Some Of The Side Effects Of Blueberries For Dogs?
1. Risks of Blood Sugar Spikes
Blueberries contain anthocyanins believed to produce anti-diabetic effects by improving glucose metabolism and insulin resistance.
That said, these fruits are still worryingly high in sugar and might cause blood sugar spikes if consumed regularly.
2. Allergic Reactions
There’s also a decent chance that your dog might develop blueberry allergies. Allergic reactions can manifest in a wide spectrum of symptoms. Common ones include vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, coughing, labored breathing, hives, and pupil dilation.
The risks of blueberry allergy in dogs depend on three main factors – your dog’s age, the portions consumed, and the frequency of serving.
Puppies will obviously bear the brunt of blueberry side effects. That’s due to their sensitive stomachs, which may not process some of the nutrients in blueberries effectively. Also, dogs eating blueberries for the first time are more likely to develop sensitivity towards these fruits than regular consumers. Lastly, feeding blueberries to your pooch in excess will most likely result in devastating consequences.
Blueberries can serve as a healthy snack for dogs if fed occasionally and in small portions. The best way to feed blueberries to your dog is to start by mashing or pureeing them. You can then give a small portion of the fruit to your dog either plain or after mixing it into his regular commercial pet food.